Hoare Lea lights Marc Quinn

Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life at the Sir John Soane’s Museum

The lighting team from Hoare Lea has designed the display lighting for ‘Drawn from Life’, an exhibition of new works by Marc Quinn at the Sir John Soane’s Museum. The exhibition features twelve ethereal fragmentary sculptures, made from life casts of Marc Quinn embracing his muse – collectively titled ‘All About Love’.

Marc Quinn Drawn from Life at the Sir John Soane’s Museum-

All About Love “Breathe” 2016–17 Courtesy and © Marc Quinn Studio

‘Drawn from Life’ continues the conversation Quinn’s practice has with art of the classical world. Placed among the antique casts and sculptures that fill the Soane Museum, the work takes the iconographic language of the historical artefact and reveals its resonance with contemporary life.

Due to the temporary nature of the Exhibition and the character of the Grade 1 listed, 19th-century townhouse, the design of the lighting was challenging. The vast collection on display, the need not to disturb the building fabric, and a lack of electrical supply points, meant a conventional solution was not possible.

Marc Quinn Drawn from Life at the Sir John Soane’s Museum

All About Love “Life” (left) and All About Love “Shines” (right) 2016–17 Courtesy and © Marc Quinn Studio

Instead, Hoare Lea  worked with the Museum and Optelma Lighting to devise a solution using battery powered spotlights. Careful consideration was given to the locations of spotlights and batteries, and the lighting effects required by the artist, including colour temperature and colour rendering.

MR16 replacement LED lamps were used in a variety of beam angles and intensities to suit each piece. The colour temperature of 2700oK adds warmth, complementing the grand domestic setting, with its wooden panelling and rich colour palette. Placed either to the back or front, individual spotlights light each sculpture. This results in a simple but compelling effect, which prevents the creation of multiple shadows and ensures attention remains focussed on the artwork.

All About Love : Marc Quinn Drawn from Life at the Sir John Soane’s Museum

All About Love “Untrimmed” 2016–17, Courtesy and © Marc Quinn Studio

Mounting locations for the spotlights and batteries were assessed to ensure each artwork is lit successfully and to prevent damage to the building fabric. Nothing is permanently fixed –  a number of spotlights were carefully clamped to interior mouldings, while others are positioned on shelves and bookcases. The bespoke spotlights, designed by Optelma, feature a weighted base for stability and an articulated head, which allows adjustment and precise aiming of light. 

Cable routes are hidden, either simply draped or suspended to avoid damage to the building fabric. Batteries have to be changed daily – they are therefore concealed within a purpose-made box at floor-level to ensure ease of access. There are two sets of batteries, one is operational while the other is charging.

Sir John Soane is famed for his ability to use daylight within his architecture. In the Museum, many rooms have lots of daylight, while in other spaces, such as the Colonnade and the Egyptian Crypt, natural light is limited. By allowing lamps to be changed and the intensity of beam width to be altered, the simple ‘spotlight’ solution accommodates these variations.

Hoare Lea also designed a solution for The Foyle Space, a restored area dedicated to changing exhibitions, in which another piece ‘Heaven’ by Marc Quinn is located.

The Foyle Space had perimeter picture lighting, but lacked lighting for the centre of the room, which features a glazed cupola. A curved extrusion was introduced within the cupola at high-level. This discreet fitting features a series of jack points to allow spotlights to be added and incorporates drivers and an additional mounting plate for the smoke detector.  Painted the same RAL cream colour as the mounting surface, the extrusion merges with the interior and is inconspicuous when viewed from below.

Marc Quinn Drawn from Life at the Sir John Soane’s Museum - All About Love Heaven Soane Foyle Space

All About Love “Heaven” 2016–17 Courtesy and © Marc Quinn Studio

Joanna Tinworth Exhibitions Curator at Sir John Soane’s Museum says: ‘One of the most distinctive things about Sir John Soane’s Museum is its light, and the range of stunning effects that Soane conjured using rooflights, coloured glass and mirrors. This, coupled with the density of objects around the Museum and the constraints of a Grade I listed building, made lighting Marc Quinn’s ‘Drawn from Life’ exhibition a huge challenge. Hoare Lea came up with a highly innovative solution, which is both sensitive to Quinn’s sculptures and to the backdrop of the Museum and its remarkable collection.’

Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life at the Sir John Soane’s Museum.
Now open until – 23 September 2017  
Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3B


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