Dale Chihuly, Sapphire Star, 2010 final © Chihuly Studio
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Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on Nature

The world’s most celebrated contemporary glass artist will bring his work to the stunning backdrop of Kew Gardens, in a major exhibition of his work. 13 April – 27 October 2019
Release date: 
4 September 2018

Chihuly at Kew

Summer Sun glasswork by Dale Chihuly

Sapphire Star (for full image caption please see notes to editors)

  • Body of work curated for Chihuly at Kew demonstrates the evolution of the artist’s career over fifty years
  • Installations will respond to Kew’s architectural and horticultural glory, with 32 artworks in 13 locations including glasshouses, vistas, and galleries
  • Visitors will see a specially designed sculpture suspended from the ceiling of the newly restored Temperate House
  • Majority of the artworks have never been seen in the UK

The Artist

Seattle based, iconic artist Dale Chihuly will be exhibiting his luminous, utterly unique glass artworks across one of London’s most spectacular landscapes, in a perfect marriage of art, science, and nature. Famous worldwide for his dazzling coloured glass sculptures, Chihuly’s work has been exhibited in an incredible 240 museums around the world, over his 50-year career. As well as glass, Chihuly uses paint, charcoal, graphite, neon, ice, and Polyvitro to explore possibilities and realise his vision.

The Setting
At Kew, Chihuly’s artworks will truly sing – unrestrained bursts of colour commanding a space of luscious greenery, showing visitors one of London’s few UNESCO world heritage sites in an entirely different way; its rolling vistas and ornate glasshouses transformed into a contemporary outdoor gallery space like no other.

A reverie of form, colour, and light, Chihuly’s exquisite artworks are often described as exaggerated celebrations of what is found in nature. As the most biodiverse postcode on the planet, Kew’s breath-taking landscape is the ideal home for such work. Visitors will explore the Gardens and make discoveries in their own time, experiencing surprise and wonder at what they find – graceful, luminous colour juxtaposed with the solid earthiness of nature.

The Exhibition
32 unique art installations will be situated across the Gardens in a wide variety of locations.

As visitors enter through Victoria Gate, they will see Sapphire Star, the individual blown glass forms of which will radiate outward to create a celestial visual experience. The vibrant blue colour of Sapphire Star is highly concentrated at the centre, where the individual glass elements meet and become increasingly opaque. The installation’s translucent, achromatic tips reflect light and add to its intense radiance.

Kew’s Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art (the world’s only gallery dedicated to botanical art), will host 12 bodies of work developed over 40 years, as well as a film detailing Chihuly’s creative process. Visitors to the gallery will experience the expressive lines and abstract forms of Chihuly’s Drawings, as well as the Rotolo series - the most technically challenging work Chihuly and his team have ever created, and Seaforms, delicate undulating forms that conjure underwater life, among others.

Other stunning locations for the artworks include the ornate Waterlily House, and the resplendent Palm House lake.

The iconic Temperate House – the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse which has recently undergone a major restoration project – will be home to a brand new, specially designed sculpture, inspired by the cathedral like space, as well as nine other installations.

Artist Dale Chihuly says:
“I am honoured to bring my work once again to Kew, with its magnificent landscape and extraordinary glasshouses--structures which have always captivated me. How do you describe a beautiful building like the Palm House or the Temperate House? We are planning something special for the centre of the newly-restored Temperate House and I’m excited to see it come to fruition.”

Director of Marketing and Commercial Enterprise at RBG Kew, Sandra Botterell, says:
“Thirteen years ago, Kew Gardens was home to Dale Chihuly’s last major outdoor show in Europe. It was one of the most popular exhibitions ever held at Kew, and the return of the work of this master of glass is causing palpable excitement.

Bold and beautiful, surreal and seductive, these large-scale art works will stimulate the imaginations of all who view them. Prepare to see Kew – and nature – in a wholly different way.”

Chihuly Nights

Kew will offer Chihuly enthusiasts a truly special opportunity to see the artwork in an entirely different light, through an exclusive night-time experience.

Following a route through the Gardens, taking in some of Kew’s most stunning settings, guests will be able to admire the illuminated sculptures as the sun makes its descent (15 August - 26 October, Thursdays – Saturdays).

And for the Family…

A fun and interactive trail, designed for families, will take visitors around the Chihuly artworks. In addition, Kew will be running inspiring family activities during the Easter, May half term, and summer holidays, that will reflect on the science behind the beauty of Kew's amazing plant collection. 


Notes to Editors

For more information or images, please contact the Kew Press Office at pr@kew.org / 0208 332 5607.

Image captions

Sapphire Star
Dale Chihuly
Sapphire Star, 2010
9½ x 9½ x 9½'
The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, installed 2017

Summer Sun
Dale Chihuly
Summer Sun (detail), 2010
14½ x 14½ x 14'
Maker's Mark Distillery, Loretto, Kentucky, installed 2017

About Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly is known for revolutionising the Studio Glass movement and elevating perceptions of glass. Over his 50-year career, he has become known for his iconic glass sculptures, but glass is just one of the media he employs to realise his vision; he also draws, paints, and creates installations using other materials. Chihuly is renowned for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, museums and gardens. His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. Major exhibitions include Chihuly Over Venice (1995-96); Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (1999); de Young Museum in San Francisco (2008); the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2011); Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (2012); the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada (2013); the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada (2016); and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas (2017). In addition, Chihuly Garden and Glass, a long-term exhibition, opened at Seattle Center in 2012. For more information, visit chihuly.com, Facebook.com/Chihuly and @ChihulyStudio.

About the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s Wild Botanic Garden, attract over 2.1 million visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales