Photographs by Bill Henson

Bill Henson, Untitled

Bill Henson, Untitled # 20 (LMO SH177 N2A), 2000-03, © Bill Henson

'Now as the light from a row of TV screens blends with the last rays of the sun, both play over a face staring into a shop window, and as the sound of the mall dies away, imagine as that face curves off into shadow. Turn ever so slightly, a single camera movement brings the distant lights of a freeway into view, blinking through the darkening forest. And the sun goes down behind the mountains.' Bill Henson

Bill Henson, born in Melbourne, Australia in 1955, has returned consistently to the orchestration of available light, and in particular of twilight, using it to create a kind of modern mythology.

The quiet melodrama of Henson's photographs, and in particular his handling of light to create a transcendent effect, suggests a contemporary reworking of the Sublime. This concept, in which Nature's grandeur provokes the conflicting sensations of astonishment, terror and awe, was central to the Romantic movement of the early 19th century.

Bill Henson, Untitled

Bill Henson, Untitled # 115, 2000-03, (JPC SH203 N29A), © Bill Henson

Bill Henson, Untitled

Bill Henson, Untitled # 77, 2000-03, © Bill Henson

Bill Henson, Untitled

Bill Henson, Untitled # 84 (CL SH366 N18A), 2000-03, © Bill Henson

In Henson's work, twilight functions as an extraordinary illumination, creating dramatic chiaroscuro effects and conjuring up seemingly supernatural events. His Untitled series of 1998-2003 pairs landscape views of the periphery of Australian towns with scenes of brooding adolescents. In this no-man's land, meanings, morals and behaviours shift. Figures on the cusp of adulthood seem to inhabit a twilight, perhaps bacchanalian world.

Written to accompany the exhibition Twilight.

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain

22 March – 13 July 2014. Experience the world of William Kent, the most prominent architect and designer in early Georgian Britain and explore how his versatility and artistic inventiveness set the style for his age when Britain defined itself as a new nation and developed an Italian-inspired style.

Visit the V&A exhibition William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain

Shop online

Bill Cunningham New York (DVD)

Bill Cunningham New York (DVD)

The "Bill" in question is 80+ New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. For decades, this Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist …

Buy now

Event - Lunchtime Lecture: Shakespeare and the V&A

Wed 30 April 2014 13:00

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: As we celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, our new Head of Research, Professor Bill Sherman, goes in search of the Bard.

Book online