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

  • 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. 

  • Exhibition is supported by DS Automobiles, to promote and showcase its electrification strategy.

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 glass artworks, Chihuly’s work has been exhibited in more than 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 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 artwork’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, 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 new artwork, specially designed for 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 an opportunity to see the artwork in an entirely different light through an exclusive after-dark experience with fabulous food, drink, and music. Throughout the evening, visitors can take in some of Kew’s most stunning settings, among which the illuminated artworks will be framed by the sun as it makes its descent.

Visitors’ journey through the exhibition will be accompanied by beautifully elevating music commissioned by Kew partner Guest Artists, and based on a composition by the acclaimed American composer, Nico Muhly. Resonating with the exhibition, the music features wind instruments and the human voice to reflect Chihuly’s use of breath in creating his artworks, and the glass used in many of Kew’s own iconic structures. Other composers and live musicians will respond to Muhly’s music to create their own original and ever-changing soundscapes inside the reverberating Temperate House, and at the newly-opened Pavilion restaurant.

For an extra special addition, visitors can pre-book dinner in the elegant Botanical restaurant, and seasonal ice cream and prosecco bars will be available for all to enjoy as dusk falls at the Temperate House.

Chihuly Nights runs from 15 August - 26 October, Thursdays – Saturdays. Tickets on sale from March at www.kew.org.

And for the Family…

For families visiting Kew, a fun and interactive, specially illustrated trail will take visitors around the Gardens, encouraging children to respond to the Chihuly artworks.

The Sponsor - DS Automobiles

Support for Chihuly at Kew comes from DS Automobiles, an avant-garde, quickly-emerging, premium car brand with a new, second-generation range that is offered with every model being available as a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) or PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid petrol-Electric Vehicle). These low/zero emissions vehicles, build on the low emission’s reputation of its parent Company Groupe PSA, manufactures its products in solar powered and eco facilities fully respecting many other environmental aspects.

Key aspects of DS Automobiles include it being charismatic in design, incorporating French luxury know-how and advanced technology, the key among which are its LED headlamps. 

Support for the exhibition aims to bring awareness to the credible alternative premium DS products and its appealing attention-to-detail features, which is a similar fit to its partners in this initiative.

Ends

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

Notes to Editors

Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on nature (accompanying book):
To accompany the exhibition, Kew is publishing Chihuly at Kew. The book will feature stunning photography of the artworks throughout, as well as an introductory essay by Tim Richardson.

Exotica: From the Shirley Sherwood Collection of today’s Botanical Artists
13 April – 27 October 2019

In this new exhibition visitors can find exquisite paintings of curious plants. Many of the pieces were created in the plants’ native country, often in the tropics, although some specimens were drawn in Kew’s own diverse glasshouses. Species include gingers and banana passion flowers, insectivorous plants and jade vines, and waterlilies and lotuses - including the smallest waterlily in the world from Rwanda, now extinct in the wild. These plants each bring a dramatic flair of their own, and a flavour of the world’s exotic flora.

Image captions

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

Summer Sun
Dale Chihuly. Summer Sun, 2010. 14½ x 14½ x 14'. Maker's Mark Distillery, Loretto, KY, installed 2017 © Chihuly Studio.

Portrait

Dale Chihuly. © Chihuly Studio.


About Dale Chihuly
Dale Chihuly is an American artist noted for revolutionizing the studio glass movement and elevating perceptions of the glass medium. Known for ambitious architectural installations in cities, museums, and gardens around the world, Chihuly utilizes a variety of media to realize his creative vision, including glass, paint, charcoal, neon, ice, and Polyvitro. Chihuly’s work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum and 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), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2011), Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (2012), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada (2013), 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 located at the Seattle Center, opened in 2012. For more information, visit chihuly.com, Facebook.com/chihuly and @ChihulyStudio.

 

About 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 celebrates its 260th anniversary in 2019. 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.

 

About DS Automobiles

Driven by the avant-garde spirit and backed by an exceptional heritage of the 1955 DS, DS Automobiles, launched in 2015, aims to embody French luxury savoir-faire in the automotive industry. DS Automobiles is PSA Group's Premium brand. Designed for customers seeking personal expression and eager for the latest technologies, the second-generation DS models combine refinement and advanced technology. With the SUVs DS 7 CROSSBACK and DS 3 CROSSBACK, the DS brand is launching a range of six worldwide vehicles, all offered in electrified versions under the E-TENSE signature. For its demanding customers, DS Automobiles has created ‘ONLY YOU, the DS experience’, its exclusive service program for a unique brand experience. Present in 32 countries, the DS brand has created and is developing an exclusive distribution network that includes 400 DS STORES and DS SALONS throughout the world in early 2019.

 

Contact

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