A Conversation With Bruce Ramus, The Man Behind Melbourne's Brightest Landmark

Each evening from dusk, the display reflects the real-time environmental conditions in Victoria Harbour, and more recently, it’s brought colour and energy to community celebrations including New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year.

The light display is the brainchild of light artist Bruce Ramus of Ramus Illumination. Originally from Canada, Bruce began his career in the live music industry, designing and directing live shows for some of the world’s biggest rock bands, including U2, R.E.M, David Bowie, Bryan Adams and James Brown. In 2006 Bruce moved to Melbourne and turned his focus to interactive lighting installations, architectural façades, and precinct activations.

We caught up with Bruce to find out more about his experience of working with light, and what he enjoyed most about designing Melbourne’s brightest landmark.

What was your inspiration for the Light House?

Melbourne is known for its tempestuous and changeable weather, and we wanted to create an installation that would reflect the environment and beauty of the area, but also reflect some softness that allows people to connect with the space around them.

What considerations did you have to give when designing the light installation?

As the Light House is a residential building and opposite other apartments, we wanted to prioritise the residents of the area and ensure the lights wouldn’t be obtrusive. We also had to consider the traffic below, and make sure the lights were angled in such a way so as not to distract drivers. In the end, there was no light fixture that could move in the way we felt was needed, so we developed a bespoke fixture that allows the quality of movement which defines the energy of the Light House.

What do you hope people will feel when they watch your light display?

My role as an artist in this instance was to reflect the environment and the people who live there. We wanted to make it gentle, non-imposing. It is an artwork, not a billboard. I really enjoy seeing people’s faces when they see it for the first time.

Reflecting our community celebrations, like New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year is a dynamic way the work brings people together in a shared experience, helping them to connect with the place and with each other.

Why do you think public art, like the Light House installation, is so important?

Public art reveals the creative expression in us all, and reflects our own lives through an abstract lens, which offers an opportunity to understand each other’s perspectives and discover our shared points of connection. In general, art speaks to a different dimension of our experience, calling on us to recall what we’ve learnt, experienced and remembered in order to interpret it. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what language you speak, or where you’re from, it’s open and accessible to all.

You can head down to the Light House to watch the evening light show from dusk every night. For the latest Victoria Harbour news and events straight to your inbox, sign up for our monthly newsletter.