If you’ve visited Kew Gardens at all over the summer you can’t have failed to notice the fabulous creations of American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. They’ve just gone on show at night time, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until Saturday 26 October.
Chihuly uses blown glass for the primary medium for his installations, which represents a considerable technical achievement as well as and artistic one, resulting in the most beautiful, exuberant and colourful art works. An artist who initially studied interior design, he dropped out of college to travel Europe and the Middle East before picking up his studies again in the US. He gained his first success as a weaver in Seattle, incorporating glass shards into tapestries. He went on to develop his skill in glass blowing and learned sculpture, working in Venice and with contemporary glass artists Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová in the Czech Republic.
He is known not only as one of the world’s great artists, but as an entrepreneur. Chihuly’s largest permanent exhibit can be found at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and he has two retail stores in Las Vegas and in Macau, in partnership with MGM Resorts International. His achievements are all the more remarkable given that he is blind in one eye. He was involved in a head-on car accident in 1976, while he was in England. He was propelled through the windshield. his face was severely cut by glass and he lost the sight in his left eye.
More than 30 of his spectacular and photogenic works have been on display in the open air at Kew Gardens since April, and have proved popular with visitors. Now that the nights are beginning to draw in, they will be on show lit up by night.
Tickets are £18 (£12 members) and should be booked in advance.
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See also: Visit Kew Gardens