Light installation by Liz West

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London, United Kingdom

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Lighting design

Liz West


National History Museum London


London, United Kingdom


Jim Stephenson, Ian Theasby, Trustees of NHM


Light installation “OUR SPECTRAL VISION” at Natural History Museum, London

British artist Liz West has created a new light installation “Our Spectral Vision” for the exhibition “Colour and Vision: Through the Eyes of Nature” presented at the Natural History Museum in London, UK. “Our Spectral Vision” invites visitors to explore their relationship with colour and our understanding of how we see it. The work creates a vivid environment that mixes luminous colour and radiant light. Rays of light from every colour of the rainbow will beam through seven prisms made from special colour filter glass, creating an atmospheric illusion that will stimulate your visual perception of colour. The work is an interpretation of and inspired by Issac Newton’s experiment with disassembling and reassembling white light into the visible colour spectrum using prisms.

“Colour and Vision: Through the Eyes of Nature” allows visitors to discover how the entwined histories of colour and vision have filled the natural world with the vibrant hues and shades we see today. Follow a 565-million year journey through the eyes of nature. Uncover how vision first evolved and how colour in animals suddenly became the difference between life and death. Marvel at nature's spectacular palette and see how a rainbow of pigments and iridescence can be used as a warning, a disguise or even an irresistible invitation. Colour in nature is a big influence for art, design and innovation. The exhibition features more than 350 rarely seen specimens, from beautiful birds to fossils of the first organisms with eyes.

Liz West says: “The iridescent patterns and colourings present on the birds, insects and animals in the Natural History Museum collection have inspired the variety and selection of colours in this artwork. The science behind the natural processes of colour researched here at the Museum has provided the backbone for my work.”

“Our Spectral Vision” is a new work by Liz West commissioned as part of exhibition “Colour and Vision: Through the Eyes of Nature” at the Natural History Museum, London from 15 July until 6 November 2016. For further details about Our Spectral Vision and about the future projects please visit

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