Dazzling new light installation to illuminate M Shed

Dazzling new light installation to illuminate M Shed

A new light installation highlighting Bristol’s connection to the sea will open at M Shed museum from Friday 11 February.

11 February 2022

Tidelight will use real-time water level data to illuminate M Shed after dark, in a display that will be visible around the harbourside. As the tides rise and fall, the colour of the light will change accordingly.

Sensors in the Bristol Channel will send data to M Shed where it converts into coloured light. Low tide translates into red light. As the water rises, the light transitions through shades of orange, yellow, green, and blue, all the way to purple at the very highest tides.

Tidelight runs alongside the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at M Shed and aims to connect people with the natural world and prompt visitors to reflect on their relationship with the environment.

Jon Finch, Head of Culture and Creative Industries at Bristol City Council said: “Tidelight reminds us of Bristol’s links to the tides, even if that isn’t always obvious to us in the city centre. It highlights our exposure to the impact of rising sea levels as the climate warms and sea ice melts. M Shed’s location on the Floating Harbour makes it a perfect venue for this visual gauge, which echoes the themes in Wildlife Photographer of the Year. This summer, M Shed will continue to explore this topic with Think Global: Act Bristol, a project responding to the climate and ecological crises.”

Chris Bodle, artist and project creator, said: "M Shed will become a giant lantern on the waterfront that symbolically reconnects the city to the sea beyond. The sea has always been a big part of Bristol’s identity and the coming and going of the tides has been inextricably woven into its story.

Tidelight will become a kind of beacon - on a very high spring tide, the building will be lit in a particularly intense violet, and during low spring tides, the ‘lantern’ will glow a deep, blood red. Tidelight aims to prompt conversations about Bristol’s history, its geography and our vulnerability to rising sea levels in the face of climate change.”

Prior to the construction of the Floating Harbour, the river Avon was completely tidal with water rushing up and down the river channel creating huge variations in water level in the heart of the city. The tides would lift boats up to the quaysides at high water and then strand them in the mud at low tide. Following the construction of the Floating Harbour in 1809, the water level was kept constant in the commercial centre of the city and the river was diverted to the south into the New Cut.

Tidelight will run at M Shed from Friday 11 February until Sunday 11 April and is funded by Arts Council England. More information is available at

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