Folkestone Lightbulb stands over the junction of the two most important streets in Folkestone’s old town: the Old High Street and Tontine Street, at the gateway to the Creative Quarter. The image is composed of Craig-Martin’s stylish strong colours, and formally picks up on the curving façade and spiralling structure of the building on which it is placed, while conceptually the lightbulb suggests ideas, (sustainable) energy, that moment of inspiration, expressing the essence of the regeneration that is happening around it.
Michael Craig-Martin is best known for his work An Oak Tree 1973, in which he claimed to have changed a glass of water into an oak tree; for his large-scale black and white wall drawings; and for his intensely coloured paintings, installations, and commissions, including the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, the Laban Dance Centre in London; the DLR station at Woolwich Arsenal, and the HDI Gerling Headquarters in Hannover.
His first solo exhibition at the Rowan Gallery, London, in 1969 was followed by his participation in the definitive exhibition of British conceptual art, The New Art at the Hayward Gallery in 1972. His work has been exhibited across the world, including at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and MoMA, New York, the Kunstvereins in Dusseldorf, Stuttgart, and Hannover, at IVAM in Valencia, and Kunsthaus Bregenz. He represented Britain in the 23rd Sao Paulo Biennale. Retrospectives of his work have been held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1989); the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin (2006); and the Serpentine, London (2015).
Michael Craig-Martin was born in Ireland, grew up in the USA, and studied Fine Art at Yale. He has lived and worked in the UK since 1966 and is represented by Gagosian Gallery and Alan Cristea Gallery.