Dale Chihuly | CNN, 2005

Gardens glow amid greenhouse glass

CNN (London, England), July 15, 2005

Blue Herons, 2005, 66 x 150 x 72 inches. Photo by Andrew McRobb

A stunning exhibition of glass created by renowned American artist Dale Chihuly has gone on display against the backdrop of London’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

Fusing vibrant colors and organic shapes, Gardens of Glass is set throughout Kew’s spectacular 300-acre landscape and includes installations inside its famous Victorian glasshouses and floating on its ponds.

Three-meter-high glass reeds intertwine with cacti while glass herons cast reflections amid the water lilies.
“Dale’s work is bold, exuberant and bright and I think that the scale of it is perfect for the gardens here at Kew. The diversity of the natural forms work really well with the diversity of the plant forms,” Kew exhibition manager Laura Giuffrida told CNN.

“And I think the combination of the two has a real magic and lends a real excitement and the visitors going through the exhibition are visibly excited by that combination.”

Temperate House, Red Orange Reeds

The exhibition includes Chihuly’s newest series of work, Fiori, which has never been seen in Europe before, as well as pieces designed specifically for Kew and adaptations of some of his best-loved works including Macchia and Chandeliers.

Critics have hailed the collection, with the Daily Telegraph newspaper claiming that it “successfully melds art and craft with a deep intuitive understanding of the unstoppable creative forces at work in the natural world.”

Chihuly, who has been using glass since the mid-60s, creates all of his work in a studio in Seattle, building monumental pieces from thousands of pieces of hand-blown glass. Those have been carefully re-assembled at Kew, yet other pieces are barely visible amid the foliage and could easily be mistaken for delicate exotic flowers.

Chihuly describes working at Kew as “a dream come true” and says he wanted to create an exhibition that looked as if it belonged there. “My forms are made in a very natural way so they look like they come from nature. They work in a greenhouse and work with plants because they don’t really look like the plants that are there but they complement the plants that are there,” he said.

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