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Escape into the 'Chronicles of Narnia' at Silicon Valley light show inspired by the C.S. Lewis books

Escape into the 'Chronicles of Narnia' at Silicon Valley light show inspired by the C.S. Lewis books
"Good Seed" is a beacon of light that represents the iron wrenched from a 19th-century London lamppost and transported into the world of Narnia. It will be displayed at Munro's first West Coast installation called "Stories in Light." (Mark Pickthall/www.brucemunro.co.uk)

British multimedia artist Bruce Munro, whose “Field of Light” sculpture continues to illuminate Australia’s Uluru, will be bringing a light show inspired by C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” to the Silicon Valley. It’s the first time his works will be featured on the West Coast.

“Bruce Munro at Montalvo: Stories in Light” will feature 10 installations that will be scattered throughout 175 acres at the historic Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, Calif. The Mediterranean-style estate was built in 1912 by then Sen. James Duval Phelan and later bequeathed to the state for the arts.

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Visitors can expect to see the main lawn covered in lily pads made from more than 4,000 light stems, crafted flamingos in the garden terrace and an abstraction of a tree that includes the equation for photosynthesis.

"A Parliament of Owls" refers to "The Silver Chair," the fifth of the "Narnia Chronicles."
"A Parliament of Owls" refers to "The Silver Chair," the fifth of the "Narnia Chronicles." (Mark Pickthall/www.brucemunro.co.uk)

Munro found the villa “quite quirky” when he first visited a few years ago. “People who know it love it.” The place felt familiar on the first morning he traveled through trees to go into the garden.

“I had a very strange feeling that I’d been there before,” he said. It reminded him of the third “Narnia” book, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” where kids discover an island with an empty villa that has manicured gardens.

Montalvo’s main house has a stained glass window that depicts three sailing ships of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. Munro is creating a projection through that window that “has a Sgt. Pepper feel to it.” He also has been working with “a kind of visual Morse code for about five years” using dots and dashes to create images.

Munro said he was first introduced to the “Chronicles of Narnia” when he was 10 years old and a cousin gave the books to him as a christening present. “I was brought up in the countryside and had a bedroom of my own that had a stable door that opened on the gardens. For a year or so, I was sure that animals could talk,” Munro said.

In the sculpture "Gathering of the Clans," the birds are represented by fluorescent clothes pins, which are color-coded by species and united in sound.
In the sculpture "Gathering of the Clans," the birds are represented by fluorescent clothes pins, which are color-coded by species and united in sound. (Mark Pickthall/www.brucemunro.co.uk)

After he began reading Lewis to his own children, Munro began to realize there were thoughts Lewis had inspired in him as an adult and a child, “and it made me want to translate this into art.”

When: Oct. 28 through March 17

Where: Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga. Visitors park at West Valley College at 14000 Fruitvale Ave. and take a complimentary shuttle to Montalvo. The villa is about 30 minutes from the San Jose International Airport.

Tickets: $27 for adults and $20 for children (12 and younger) and seniors (65-plus). Timed admission goes from 6 to 8:20 p.m.

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