In the shadow of the Seattle Space Needle, almost alien crystalline forms wrap their deft tendrils through the Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Every single petal, bowl, stem and branch of cascading glass has been handblown under the guidance of Washington State native Dale Chihuly (in fact he grew up in nearby Tacoma), and we couldn’t quite believe our eyes.
Having discovered this exhibit through the magic of Jaime’s instagram (she’s a self-named Angloyankophile who grew up in Seattle before moving to London) I knew we would have to visit.
My photos don’t do the undulating forms any kind of justice; but they might just convey the incredible scale of the exhibition.
I’d always been curious to learn more about Chihuly, after being introduced to his incredible sculpture suspended over the V&A Museum information desk, a glowing confection of green and white glass whisps.
In 1968, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship, he went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice, observing the team approach to blowing glass, which is critical to the way he works today. In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State. With this international glass center, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art.
His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including twelve honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has also lost an eye to his passion, and now mostly directs the sculpture design and assembly.
It was truly amazing.
In 1999, Chihuly started an ambitious exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem; where more than 1 million visitors attended the Tower of David Museum to view his installations. In 2001, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London curated the exhibition Chihuly at the V&A. Chihuly’s lifelong fascination for glasshouses has grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings.
Which brings us with a nice narrative arc back to the Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle where dark rooms with eye catching marvels of technical skill sit next to gardens full of exotic blooms and vibrant colours slashing the natural rythyms…
…and some of the tendrils need a double take or two.
It really was astonishing – and more so for being in amongst quite an industrial city that hugs the curve of the ocean. Seattle did have a couple more surprises, especially as a city known more for Grunge culture, a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged during the mid-1980s.
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