He has developed this process by utilising raw lighting such as LEDs, Neon and other light sources and materials. In recent years Raphael has worked on many public art commissions, art council grants projects to develop his work, and has shown his work in galleries around the UK and abroad.
I feel that both light and colour have the power to transform mood, atmosphere and meaning while generating an immediate and powerful response to the viewer. Light and colour may be easily dismissed in a world where the streets and cities are saturated by electric lights and neon signs, but my sculptures abstract form and coloured light from its commercial function and in doing so emphasise their uniqueness.
It has been ten years since I first started working with light, inspired by artists such as James Turrell, Olafur Eliasson and Dan Flavin, to create sculptures that produce intangible, ethereal forms. I am still as enthused by the diverse effects and influences produced by working with light, as I was when I began. In the modern urban world we are saturated with artificial light and it has always been the aim of my work to encourage the viewer to re-look at the aesthetic qualities of artificial light forms and the ambience and emotions they can invoke.
Through this re-evaluation the audience is also encouraged to see anew the environment that contains the sculpture. My public art installations such as Light at the end of the Tunnel, Light Columns and Continuous Flow all utilised light to transform dull urban spaces into an enchanting, playful experience for the human traffic encountering the artwork as they go about their business. Light has an integral ability to transform existing spaces and structures, blurring the boundary between the artwork and the environment that contains it. This consideration always informs my work, making each piece site specific in its interplay with already existing features and structures.
There is a certain modernity which is integral to light sculptures and often my work is contained within an urban environment. In my current pieces, however, I am interested in finding ways to juxtapose the modern with the ancient, the urban with the natural and to incorporate elements of rural and coastal landscapes into pieces that will be put into a metropolitan environment. This is a theme I have been working with since 2005 when I created ‘A Million Years Under the Sea’, which included a selection of pre-historic sea creatures that once lived in the local area, their fossilised remains cast in resin. Identifying the imprints of ammonites and trilobites that existed 300 million years ago gives real context to the place where the sculpture is standing and creates a sense of wonder within the viewer at the vast periods of time stretching behind us. The resin casts of wave patterns used in the wall-set sculptures I created for Belfast City Hospital not only incorporate the natural world into a modern structure, but also utilise light’s ability to affect the viewer’s emotions and well-being. Whilst artificial light in a modern context is often invasive and vibrant, this piece develops the meditative properties of light to transform and soothe the mood of visitors and staff within the bustling hospital environment, and bring their attention to the natural beauty of their local coastline.
Light has a uniquely transient quality and this is something, which also informs my current work. In a series of light-boxes at Broomfield hospital, six photographs of the local waterways taken throughout the day highlight the diverse moods created by the changing light. Just as my urban light sculptures transform the environment that exists around them, so the ever-changing quality of natural light transforms how we see the world. I am working to reflect this transience in my current work Shedding Light, a series of movable light sculptures that will be toured around various locations. Through placing the pieces in diverse urban and rural environments, Shedding Light will explore the interplay between artwork and environment and how this affects the context of the sculptures.