Australia's gay marriage vote lights up London Design show
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Australia's gay marriage vote lights up London Design show

London: Flynn Talbot was home in Perth with his wife and children in December last year when inspiration hit.

The source was unlikely – Parliament House in Canberra – a place known for inspiring betrayal and back-stabbing, but rarely beauty.

But on December 9, Flynn and his family tuned in to watch history being made as parliament legislated to enact Australia's overwhelming vote of "Yes" to legalising gay marriage.

Australian artist Flynn Talbot with his rainbow flag-inspired work at the London Design Biennale.

Australian artist Flynn Talbot with his rainbow flag-inspired work at the London Design Biennale. Credit:Latika Bourke

"And I just thought that's the most perfect symbol for me to work with," Talbot said. "The pride flag being such a global symbol of love, I just knew instantly that I wanted to create a rainbow coloured light space, and work with the emotion of love because it has a new, tangible feeling in Australia."

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In October last year, Talbot had been invited by the London Design Biennale's artistic director, Christopher Turner, to create Australia's submission to the festival. The theme was "Emotional States".

"It's a very turbulent time in politics, it's very politically polarised, emotions run high, there's a lot of anger and outrage and a lot of charged feelings," Turner said.

"We wanted this Biennale to confront and reflect that because that's not just confined to Britain, it's around the world, the resurgence of nationalism that seems to be happening."

So, effectively, we have here this pride flag light show that's wrapping all around you and it's a safe space.

Australian artist Flynn Talbot

While many other countries' entries pinpointed the darker currents running through their nations, Talbot said he wanted to create something that would "envelop" people with the positivity of Australia's gay marriage decision.

"So effectively we have here this pride flag light show that's wrapping all around you and it's a safe space but you're being gently forced to be closer to other people," he said.

"I wanted to try and bring people together for this intimate experience to try and create that same feeling of how people feel about what love means in Australia.

"I wanted to create an installation that was a space within a space – that was open but beckoning you to come inside. And I wanted to have a tactile element, so the fibre optics was quite a nice way to create a tactile light screen that you can pass through."

Full Spectrum, by Flynn Talbot is a light installation showing at the London Design Biennale showcasing Australia’s gay marriage vote.

Full Spectrum, by Flynn Talbot is a light installation showing at the London Design Biennale showcasing Australia’s gay marriage vote. Credit:Latika Bourke

Talbot only works with light – a medium he says has a "magic quality". His rainbow light circle consists of 150 strands of fibre optic illuminated with moving LED lights.

Turner says Full Spectrum's interactive and immersive qualities position it as a frontrunner for the people's choice awards at the second ever festival, which involves 40 countries.

"In the last edition the most successful installations were the ones that affected people on a physical and intellectual level, that were immersive and interactive and we wanted to kind of encourage those."

Australia’s High Commmissioner to the UK George Brandis was one of the Turnbull's government's cabinet leading supporters of gay marriage.

Australia’s High Commmissioner to the UK George Brandis was one of the Turnbull's government's cabinet leading supporters of gay marriage.

The Australian High Commission in London sponsored the submission. High Commissioner George Brandis, whose final achievement as Attorney-General was passing the same-sex marriage legislation, said Talbot had done a "superb job" in capturing the happiness of the moment.

"His installation is a touching and heartfelt tribute to this important act of law reform and modernisation," Mr Brandis said.

Regardless of whether Talbot wins the people's choice, his submission to the biennale is set to further cement the reputation the 37-year old is making for himself in London. Turner also works at the V&A museum where last year's Talbot's Reflection Room was a runaway success, particularly on Instagram.

The Biennale welcomed 30,000 guests in its first year in 2016 and has set a higher target for it's follow up instalment. Promoters are already using Full Spectrum as one of its showcase works, no doubt to lure the Instagram "grammers". Not that Talbot says he designs with social media in mind.

"I never think about it, he said. "But I do have a history of things going pretty well on Instagram."

The London Design Biennale is showing at Somerset House, London until September 23.

Latika Bourke is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age based in London. She has previously worked for Fairfax Media, the ABC and 2UE in Canberra. Latika won the Walkley Award for Young Australian Journalist of the Year in 2010.