Across two Sundays, this lecture series explores how light takes centre-stage in critically acclaimed paintings, sculptures, photographs, films and installations by ground-breaking artists through the centuries.

DAY 2 – GLOBAL MODERN AND CONTEMPORARYLecture 1: [Design] History Retold: Connecting the Dots between the Bauhaus, Abstract Experimentation, and Indigeneity

Presenter: Nan O’Sullivan

Considered to be the most famous experiment in art education of the 20th century, the Bauhaus did not only produce incredibly influential pioneers in light and colour, but also had a deep and lasting impact on modernity and its aesthetic cultures. After it was claimed to be counter-intuitive, degenerate, and ‘no less than a crime’ in the early 1900s, Indigeneity has long been ignored in the Bauhaus design narrative.

Drawing on some of the works included in Light from Tate: 1700s to Now, this talk reviews predominant historic design narratives by acknowledging the commonalities between Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, specifically of Māori and Pasifika peoples, and the development of abstraction central to the modern aesthetic and the works of many Bauhaüsler.

Lecture 2: Artificial Light in Installation Art, and How It connects Us with the Natural World

Presenter: Kenneth Brummel

Whereas the Impressionists explored science and new paint technologies to depict a more exact impression of nature, contemporary artists like Olafur Eliasson have experimented with artificial light in large installations to return our attention to the natural world, and to generate the experience of light conditions on earth.

Eliasson, now globally renowned, has created a series of installations that aim to absorb visitors in fields of light and shadow. A famous example is his The Weather Project, 2003, which transformed the central hall of Tate Modern into a sun-filled lounge room to evade the notoriously bleak British weather. By examining the adoption of artificial light in sculpture and installation practice and its use of magnetic perceptual fields, this lecture will discuss our ongoing fascination for light within the experience of art.

Presented by Natasha Conland

Nan O'Sullivan is the head of the School of Design Innovation at Victoria University of Wellington. Her teaching and research focuses on positioning social and cultural issues as central to contemporary design research and practices, and explores the opportunities held within Indigenous knowledge and cultures to foster the understanding and designing of sustainable, holistic and inclusive futures. She was awarded the Victoria Early Career Teaching Excellence Award in 2016 and the Victoria Equity and Diversity Excellence Award in 2017.

Natasha Conland is the Gallery’s Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, and has over twenty years’ experience developing exhibitions. She has been the coordinating curator of the Walters Prize since 2006, and most recently curated the exhibition Walls to Live Beside, Rooms to Own: The Chartwell Show. She writes for several contemporary arts journals and catalogues in the Asia Pacific region and has a specific interest in art in public space and the dissemination of the historic avant-garde.

Book Tickets:

Sunday 21 May, 10.30am–12.30pm

Tickets from $40

Find details for the second lecture in the series below.


  • Sunday 21 May, 10:30am - 12:30pm
  • Sunday 28 May, 10.30am–12.30pm


  • From $40


  • Sun 28 May


  • 10:30 am — 12:30 pm


  • Wellesley Street East
  • Auckland CBD, 1010