Blog, Exhibitions

Chihuly at Kew

Visit Kew Gardens to see the iridescent glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly and the magnificent Hive installation by Wolfgang Buttress.

At the end of Chelsea Flower show and the opening of many Gardens under the International Garden Scheme it seemed like a good time to visit Kew gardens. If like me, you choose a bank holiday Monday, go by public transport as it is near impossible to find a place to park. Having said that, once you are in the gardens they are so vast even with the large numbers of visitors it feels tranquil and not crowded.

         I had two reasons to visit, beside all the magnificent plant specimens, the first was the Hive the 17 meter high Installation and the second was to see the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly in the natural surroundings for which it was intended.

   From a distance the hive looks like a swarm of bees, as you get closer you can see the honey comb structure. The hive is made up of 169,300 pieces of aluminium and steel. You can climb up and see the sky through the hole in the top  of the structure or look down through the glass floor beneath your feet.

         The Hive, a symbol of UK creativity and innovation was commissioned by the UK Government for 2015 Milan Expo. It was created by Wolfgang Buttress, Simmonds Studio, Stage One and BDP. It gives a glimpse into the life of a bee colony.

         Honey bees communicate through smells and vibration, different pulses translate into different messages. Installed in the hive are 1,000 LED lights that connect to one of Kew’s bee hives. The illumination of the lights represent the bees’ ‘communications’ and the vibrational changes occurring within Kew’s hive.

         Accompanying the dazzling display  is a beautiful symphony of orchestral sounds performed in the key of C – the same key that bees buzz in.

        

         Chihuly is one of the most daring and innovative artists working in glass. You may already know his work, as his Chandelier ice Blue and Spring hangs under the glass rotunda at the entrance to the V&A museum in South Kensington.

Chihuly’s dazzling sculptures transform Kew Gardens and glasshouses into a contemporary outdoor gallery space.

Unique art installations are situated across the grounds, including the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. Here you can see his Drawings and Rotolo series – the most technically challenging work Chihuly has ever created – and Seaforms, undulating forms that conjure underwater life. 

One of the highlights is the film that is shown in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. it includes Chihuly’s progression as an artist , his working methods and how each piece is conceived made and installed. His ambitious site specific  projects include Chihuly over Venice, Chihuly in the light of Jerusalem and his current work in Kew.

There are many outstandingly beautiful pieces to see.

The celestial vibrant blue masterpiece Sapphire Star welcomes you as you walk through Victoria Gate.

The Temperate House is home to a brand new, specially designed sculpture inspired by the cathedral space it inhabits until the end of October. 

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

Kew is decidedly family friendly and amongst other things there is a Family trail following the art works with a booklet for children. The Chihuly exhibition runs until 27th October 2019 kew.org

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