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In conversation with Dale Chihuly on his latest exhibition at Kew Gardens

In conversation with Dale Chihuly on his latest exhibition at Kew Gardens

Dale Chihuly, the world renowned glass sculptor, has been pushing the boundaries of contemporary art over the last five decades. London’s Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew is hosting his latest exhibition, Reflections on nature, running until 27th October. Kew Gardens’ botanical collection of over 50,000 plants provides a scenic and unique backdrop for his colourful collection of blown glass from the past 50 years.

Unless you are following a map to find each individual piece of art, wandering around the gardens and glasshouses will become an exercise to spot the Chihuly masterpiece. The artist’s mesmerising blown glass reflects the shapes and colours found in nature, with some pieces standing out boldly like ‘Summer Sun’. Others are hidden surreptitiously amid the botanical plants. So keep your eyes peeled.

Chihuly cleverly uses these inspiring spaces to display art that looks like nature alone made it. Kew Gardens really does provide you with a necessary escape from the city and has the ability to transport you into different climates and continents. The sculptures blend into their surroundings and yet are conspicuous at the same time due to their contemporary originality. Here, Dale Chihuly discusses the inspirations behind his latest exhibition at Kew Gardens, exclusively for Euronews Living.

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2010, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio
Dale Chihuly, Sapphire Star2010, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio
2018, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio
Dale Chihuly, Summer Sun2018, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio

Why did you choose to display your exhibition at Kew Gardens?

“I presented my first exhibition at Kew in 2005, but I’ve loved the Gardens since my first visit in the 1970s. That visit introduced me to its many vistas and landscapes, which are extraordinary, and to its many beautiful glasshouses. I’ve been fascinated by glasshouses for as long as I can remember, and Kew’s are among the greatest in the world. I love presenting my work in glasshouses, and seeing my work placed in Kew’s historic glasshouses and gardens again is a special experience for me.”

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2018, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio
Dale Chihuly, Temperate House Persians2018, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio

What messages do you want people to take away from the exhibition?

“With every exhibition, my approach is to create experiences that make a person see the space in a different way. I’ve always loved to place my work outside, as the backdrop of nature gives me so many different environments to explore and the natural light really suits my work.”

2015, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio
Dale Chihuly, Turquoise Marlins and Floats2015, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio

Do you believe we need to respect nature now more than ever?

“Nature has informed my work in many ways, probably because my Mom was an avid gardener and because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where the landscapes are lush and surrounded by bodies of water and magnificent mountain ranges. I hope my work in gardens will expose arts enthusiasts to nature and that they’ll have a new enthusiasm for nature, and I hope those who already respect and admire nature will have a new enthusiasm for the arts.”

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1999, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio
Dale Chihuly, Hebron Vessels1999, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, installed 2019 Artwork © Chihuly Studio

The exhibition is lit up during the evening and complemented by musical performances at Chihuly Nights. For more information and to book Day/Night tickets, visit the Kew Gardens website.