James Turrell

“In a lucid dream, you have a sharper sense of colour and lucidity than with your eyes open. I’m interested in the point where imaginative seeing and outside seeing meet, where it becomes difficult to differentiate between seeing from the inside and seeing from the outside”

James Turrell

I have always been drawn to the art of James Turrell since I saw a piece of his work in Barcelona many years ago. It moved me emotionally and visually as a huge rectangle in a white room glowed and emitted intense blue light. It appeared to have no beginning or end, the source of the light being ambiguous. It was so beautiful, tranquil and all-encompassing it took my breath away and has always stayed with me.

Years later I also visited the Deer Shelter at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to experience the pleasure of viewing one of his Skyspaces. The event intimate, quiet and meditative. He literally ‘frames the sky’.

“The reason I started the Skyspace series was to get a situation where the sky was actually brought down in close contact – there’s long been an art where light is the subject, I want it also to be the material. How these things are brought close to you so that they become part of your territory is something very important to me” James Turrell

My interest in him has been heightened sinceĀ reading the book “The Sublime” ed Simon Morley

The book has collections of texts from a range of people from different eras which are collated into chapters concerning different aspects of the sublime.


There were many interesting perspectives but the one I enjoyed most was; Spirit and Light and the immensity within by Lynn M. Herbert 1998 under the chapter Transcendence.

He makes the light we need but never fully appreciate, an experience. The work is very minimal, pared down to the pure essence of light; the light is purely the light he gives no references to distract.

“I want to create an atmosphere ………….. like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire” James Turrell.

The spiritual, meditative quality of his work connects strongly to Rothko, however with Rothko you are looking at an abstract sense of the light and with Turrell you are being immersed in the light. He also connects to the Minimalist movement with a pared down simplicity. It brings to mind the feelings I get when viwing the Humber, it absorbs and fascinates me, I never tire of observing it.

Of course I am also concerned with scale as an immersion tactic, and you cannot get more majestic than Terrell’s Rodin Crater Project. See the link below to find out more about it, the place I would most love to visit before I die.


About Annemarie Tickle

I am a Lecturer in Textiles at Hull School of Art and Design. As a visual artist I am interested in atmospheric conditions and events and how the scale of nature makes mans mark on the landscape look insignificant. I enjoy the act of doing and getting my hands dirty so my practice is intensly process led. I use a wide range of media but am particular interested in dying techniques.
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2 Responses to James Turrell

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love getting these emails, great to see a bit of art that I would normally never get close to and I like the background information your comments give them. Even better to see the images of Hull and the Humber and keep in touch with my roots!

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