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Dale Chihuly’s whimsical art blows into Kew Gardens

Last updated on August 16th, 2020

Who needs an Easter Egg hunt when you can spring around Kew Gardens in search of Dale Chihuly’s ludic glass sculptures?  You’re going to need something larger than a basket in order to hop home with one of these 32 dazzling works of art which nestle amongst the flora or stand icily proud in 13 locations around the gardens. Prepare to be blown away by the world’s most famous glass trailblazer: Chihuly’s Reflections on Nature is a contemporary outdoor art gallery like no other.

Dale Chihuly, Kew Gardens, Summer Sun

Dale Chihuly’s Summer Sun radiates across Kew’s watery reflections.

The last time the 77-year-old Seattle-based artist exhibited at Kew was in 2005. Garden Cycle  was one of the garden’s most popular exhibitions, attended by 900,000 visitors. Of course, that was in the pre-Instagram era, and as this is surely set to become one of the most Instagrammable events that London has ever seen, prepare to be Chihuly-saturated.

Dale Chihuly, Kew Gardens, Sapphire Star

Dale Chihuly, Sappire Star

And it will be no easy task picking the one image you’re going to stick up on social media. This is an exhibition that will have you under its spell from the moment you walk through Victoria Gate, where you are welcomed by the spiky, ice blue dandelion-like Sapphire Star.

Dale Chihuly, Kew, Gardens, tulips

Chihuly’s glassy rods and Kew’s red-rose tulips perform a magical dance together. I’m wondering what Kew has choreographed next when the tulips fade. (No tulips were photo-shopped in the making of this image.)

Temperate House, Kew Gardens

Dale Chihuly Temperate House Persians

Many of the works in Reflections on Nature  have never been seen in the UK and include a piece commissioned especially for the Kew Gardens exhibition. The dramatic Temperate House Persians  is a 10-metre poppy blue sculpture which hangs from the ceiling, with glassy alien structures growing from the beds below.

Dale Chihuly, Kew, Ethereal White Persian Pond

Dale Chihuly Ethereal White Persian Pond

 ‘I want my work to appear like it came from nature, so that if someone found it on a beach or in the forest, they might think it belonged there.’ ~ Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly, Kew, Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower

It takes 1,882 pieces to create the vibrant Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower.

Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly Periwinkle Persian

The good news is, if you ask the Easter Bunny really nicely, you could bag yourself your own mini Chihuly for a few coins. I’ll take one Periwinkle Persian, please.

Dale Chihuly Macchia, Kew

Dale Chihuly’s Macchia or ‘Uglies’ as he calls them

Dave Chihuly: Reflections on Nature is on until 27 October. The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art includes an exhibition of some of Chihuly’s most technically challenging series: Drawings, Rotolo  and Seaforms. You can also experience the artist’s outdoor sculptures during Chihuly Nights with specially commissioned music, featuring wind instruments and the human voice to reflect Chihuly’s use of breath in creating his artworks.

More on Dale Chihiuly here and you can visit Kew Gardens here.

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A London arts and culture blog featuring articles about art, theatre, opera, dance, music and design.


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