As I am partial to all things luminous, it goes without saying that I’m rather partial to a bit of glass work too, and there is no glass work quite as stunning as the phenomenal and luminous creations of American glass sculptor and genius, Dale Chihuly.
He is responsible for installations in over 200 museums worldwide, including the glorious hanging chandelier in the entrance to the V&A Museum here in London, and an exhibition of his stunning creations spanning the past 50 years has just opened at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and runs until 27 October 2019.
The natural garden setting feels just perfect for these magical and beautifully organic masterpieces. Indeed, the master himself says “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.”
I just can’t even describe what these creations do to the synapses in my brain but it is akin to looking into the cosmos. Each and every installation is a wondrous spectrum of colours and intricate, organic shapes. Experiencing them, for it is visceral not just visual, they do appear to be wonders of nature rather than man-made objects.
Upon entering the gardens at the Victoria Gate, visitors are greeted by the dazzling blue Sapphire Star and like all of the creations, it is made up of a multitude of individually blown pieces, shipped from the States (how that feat is achieved is wondrous in itself!), and painstakingly reassembled at Kew.
There are 32 creations in all, and the one suspended from the roof in the cathedral-like, newly restored Temperate House, the exquisite Temperate House Persians, was created especially for this space. Chihuly really does push to the limits what glass can do.
Standing guard at the main entrance to the Temperate House and seemingly defying gravity are the Opal and Amber Towers.
There are then a number of exquisite treats within the Temperate House, either nestled within or bursting out of the luscious greenery.
Perfectly placed in front of the Palm House and parterre, overlooking the pond, is the splendorous Summer Sun made up of 1,483 separate forms.
The Mediterranean Garden is host to Neodymium Reeds and Turquoise Marlins a beautiful creation of purples and turquoise meandering through the shrubbery, overlooked by King William’s Temple.
There are many creations which I have not mentioned here and indeed some I have yet to see myself. This is a must see exhibition and one visit is unlikely to be enough. Get ready to have your mind blown, excuse the pun.