So, who invented the light bulb? Thomas Edison, right? Wrong! Mr Edison was a smart businessman who more often than not bought patents from other inventors, did some refining, and then marketed the products vigorously with his own brand. Woodward and Evans were the inventors, but were treated as crackpots, “Who needs a glowing piece of metal!!”
Amazing to think that for the vast majority of human civilization when the sun went down it was either pitch black or lit by oil or candle light [due to the availability of oil, candles were unknown in the West until the Middle Ages]. This thought always makes me think of Magritte’s Empire of Lights for some reason [or the fantastic Chiaroscuro candlelit works of Joseph Wright of Derby, especially the 1768 An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump].
I am fascinated by the fact that even before the advent of gas [let alone electricity] for municipal street lighting there were lamplighters [probably watchmen] whose job was to light all the street lamps by means of a wick on a long pole and to return at dawn to put them out again. And that early street lights were generally candles or oil with wicks.
He brought light in both his hands
Around the town each night
Lamplighter-Gvendur from long long ago
Luktar-Gvendur, Björk & tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar, Gling-Gló, 1990
I really love this ‘optical illusion’ candlestick by British designer Maya Selway, which might easily be mistaken for a half-finished sketch. However, it is a real solid piece of art made entirely from oxidised copper. Clever.