Jenny Allan Reflects on The Royal Botanic Gardens, Seattle and Dale Chihuly

Chihuly: Reflections on Nature

Luxurious magazine writer, Jenny Allan, was invited to Kew Gardens to experience the work of famed artist Dale Chihuly and his link to the city of Seattle.

Kew Gardens is a magical place to visit at any time but a private tour in the early evening when the crowds have gone and the air is ethereally still, is particularly special.

The tour was organized in association with Visit Seattle who were collaborating with world-renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly as part of his “Reflections on Nature” exhibition at Kew Gardens.

Since the 1960s, Seattle based Dale Chihuly, has been one of the pioneers in the studio glass movement, creating pieces of contemporary sculptural glass for exhibitions and museums all over the world.

Prior to visiting the main sculptural displays, we were told about the beautiful city of Seattle, the vineyards, the cultural attractions and the stunning landscapes surrounding the city. This set the scene for the collaboration and so the tour began.

The Chihuly artworks are dotted around the gardens in strategic locations at Kew with the main installation in the Temperate House – the world’s largest surviving Victorian Glass House. Each sculpture is given a name and the visitors make their own interpretations of each piece.

My personal favourite is the celestial blue Sapphire Star which is located near Victoria Gate. It has a mesmerising appeal that is so beautiful to look at and appreciate with such similarities to a blue globe thistle. Another large imposing sculpture is Chihuly’s sun which is positioned directly overlooking the lake. Its originality is incredible and it evokes the fierce power of its name.

Once we arrived at Temperate House for the crescendo of Chihuly works, it was breathtaking. The art was integrated throughout the tropical plants and blended in as if it had been there for years, not just days. Some of the sculpture is easier on the eye than others. The “Red Reeds” display is like red hot pokers immerging from the soil and admiring it for too long can almost feel agitating, whereas the calming tones of the Turquoise Marlins and Floats have a softer more peaceful feel.

The highlight of the collection in the Temperate House has to be the bespoke chandelier-like blue installation called “Temperate House Persians”, that Chihuly has created to hang from the ceiling. It reminded me slightly of the Chihuly Chandelier in the V&A but it was clearly designed to complement the aesthetic of Temperate House and it’s structure.

The installations are a marvel, from the awe-inspiring thought process and creation to the admiration for those installing the precious pieces. The whole exhibition is truly a feat of genius from concept to completion and it is not surprising that Seattle is so proud of this export. It was a privilege to visit and I would recommend it to everyone.

Chihuly: Reflections on Nature – Where and how?

For more information on Kew Gardens Reflections on Nature Exhibition, click here.
The exhibition is open at Kew Gardens until 27th October 2019.

Other useful links:
Visit Seattle: www.visitseattle.org
Dale Chihuly: www.chihuly.com

Chihuly: Reflections on Nature overview by Jenny Allan

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