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Discover Dale Chihuly’s unique glass artworks outdoors at Kew

Town & Country UK logo Town & Country UK 14/04/2019 Ellen Peirson-Hagger
a close up of a building: Dale Chihuly's ‘Reflections on nature’ exhibition features 32 glass artworks in 13 locations, and opens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on 13 April. © Dale Chihuly, Temperate House Persians, 2019 and Yellow Herons and Reeds, 2007-13, Royal Botanic Gar... Dale Chihuly's ‘Reflections on nature’ exhibition features 32 glass artworks in 13 locations, and opens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on 13 April.

This summer, the glasshouses and vistas of Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens will be adorned with Dale Chihuly’s magnificent glass structures.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site will be transformed into an ethereal outdoor gallery space, with 32 artworks, many of which have never previously been shown in the UK, demonstrating the evolution of the Seattle-based artist’s 50-year career. Chihuly returns to Kew 13 years after his last major European outdoor show, which was one of the most popular exhibitions ever held at the Gardens.

Dale Chihuly, Sapphire Star detail, 2010, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, Installed 2019 © Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Dale Chihuly, Sapphire Star detail, 2010, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, Installed 2019

Chihuly’s works offer an exaggerated take on the beauty of nature, making Kew’s diverse landscape their ideal home. Sapphire Star has an allium-like structure, made all the more striking by its electric-blue colour, concentrated in the centre and more translucent at the tips, where light is reflected. Niijima Floats – coloured glass spheres named after the island of Niijima in Tokyo Bay – sit together in the tranquil Japanese-inspired Garden of Activity. Elsewhere, the vertical Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds in vibrant oranges grow between red tulips and reach towards pink-blossomed trees, a scene that will change over the coming months as spring turns to summer.

a close up of a flower garden: Dale Chihuly, Niijima Floats, 1992 - 2008, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London © Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Dale Chihuly, Niijima Floats, 1992 - 2008, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London a group of colorful flowers: Dale Chihuly, Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds, 2015, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London © Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Dale Chihuly, Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds, 2015, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London

In Kew’s Temperate House, the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse, a brand-new artwork, specially designed for the cathedral-like space, will be exhibited alongside nine other installations. Temperate House Persians hangs dramatically from the centre of the large glass structure, and can be admired both from the ground and via the glasshouse’s viewing platform. Elsewhere, in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, a film will detail Chihuly’s creative process, and the undulating Seaforms structures and Rotolo series will be on display.

Dale Chihuly, Temperate House Persians, 2019 and Yellow Herons and Reeds, 2007-13, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 © Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Dale Chihuly, Temperate House Persians, 2019 and Yellow Herons and Reeds, 2007-13, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019

Chihuly’s delicate glass-forms, made to attract, reflect and distort light, will take on a new form at sunset, when an exclusive series of evening experiences will illuminate the structures against the night sky. Visitors will be invited to journey through the exhibition to music by the American composer Nico Muhly, which features wind instruments and the human voice, mirroring Chihuly’s use of breath in his practice. Inside the reverberating space of the Temperate House and at the newly opened Pavilion restaurant, live musicians (including the UK’s only glass-harmonica player, Alasdair Malloy) will respond to Muhly’s music, creating their own ever-changing landscape.

a close up of a fire: Dale Chihuly, Summer Sun, 2010, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 © Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Dale Chihuly, Summer Sun, 2010, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019

‘Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on nature’ is at Kew Gardens from 13 April to 27 October.

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