The Magical Glass World Of Dale Chihuly

My inspiration comes from many places, disciplines and artists. Recently I have become better acquainted with the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly and I can now also add the discipline of glasswork to my list of inspiration.

Dale Chihuly is a contemporary artist from Tacoma, Washington and was introduced to the medium of glass while studying interior design. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the United States. He has since exhibited at places like the Louvre in Paris, the V&A museum in London and over the canals of Venice. In 2013 a long term exhibition was dedicated to his work in Seattle called Chihuly Garden and Glass.

On my recent visit to Seattle I was happy to be surprised so I didn’t do a ton of research before hand. I just knew I had to do one thing – visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition! And so I did and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. If anything I was amazed to discover astonishing artworks of light, colour and of course the main ingredient: glass, the skill and attention to detail that went into them and the perfect presentation of it all.

Some of my favourite pieces were from the Seaform Series. The colour, the texture, the complex shapes, it’s hard to believe that these pieces are made from such an unforgiving material as glass.

There were recognizable forms such as the octopuses and the crabs, but also sea like shapes that do not necessarily depict an existing sea form but still convey an oceanic feel, reminiscent of sea weed, shells, coral or tentacles.

Watch the video below to hear Chihuly talk about his Seaform collection and see some of it come to be at his workshop. Skip to 00:08:12 to see a glass piece being shaped from start to finish (where a man in a space suit comes to remove the glass from the pipe, as the finished piece can easily break at this point).

Apart from the main collection there is also the Glasshouse which is a 12 meter long, glass and steel structure that houses Chihuly’s largest ‘chandelier’ type of installation. The artwork is 30 meter tall and suspended in the air, somehow giving the impression that the amber, red and yellow floral shapes are weightless, of course this couldn’t be further from the truth.

As you look up, you can also see the Space Needle which adds yet another interesting component to a remarkable recipe for wonder.

The Glasshouse connects the inside to the outside of the garden where another amazing display is waiting to surprise and delight visitors. All the sculptures bearing the likeness of natural shapes, they blend into the foliage as if they belong there and could be found in nature growing freely. At the same time they also stand out colour wise by the careful placement of contrasting plants.

They have such a natural quality to them, but yet they are quite different from any plants, bushes or rocks we have here on earth. I bet somewhere out there in one of the many galaxies there exists an alien landscape that looks just like Chihuly’s.

My phone died shortly after I entered the garden since not only had I been taking photos, I had also been using my phone to listen to the audio guide which is available from the website. So I only managed to snap some of the beginning of the garden as you come outside which is a real shame.

Nevertheless, I hope that what I’ve shown from the garden and the museum itself has inspired some of you and maybe next time you visit Seattle, you’ll make sure to stop by this little gem? If you do, please let me know what you think (and don’t forget to charge your phone to 100%)!