Dale Chihuly at Kew Gardens

Glassmaker extraordinaire Dale Chihuly is back at Kew Gardens. Aptly titled “Reflections on Nature”, his 32 artworks are scattered around the gardens, glasshouses and galleries.

So many of the pieces resemble exaggerated natural forms, they look entirely at home among the wonderful lush greenery of Kew.

Alongside his works in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art is a fascinating film where he explains that his work is all about pushing the boundaries of what can be done with blowing glass. There is also some heart stopping footage of him tossing some of his glass pieces into a river!

Pictures in this case definitely speak louder than words.

“Reflections on Nature” runs at Kew Gardens until 27 October 2019.

Chihuly at the Halcyon Gallery

On Friday I visited the Halcyon Gallery in New Bond Street to see the exhibition by Dale Chihuly, the contemporary glass artist.

It was a spectacular experience of colour, light, form and texture. Unlike at the V&A, you can get really close to the pieces  and examine them in detail. While we were there, a cleaner came in and started gingerly dusting the glass with a feather duster – what a heartstopping task!

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The Halcyon Gallery is at 144-146 New Bond Street. The exhibition is free and runs until 31 March.

 

Origin

I was lucky enough to win a ticket, courtesy of Liberty, to the private view last night of Origin, the contemporary craft fair organised by the Crafts Council. It was a wonderful collection of 200 makers from every discipline – and a glass of something bubbly and delicious canapés helped things along!

There did seem to be an awful lot of jewellery (I’m not really a jewellery person, much to ESP’s relief!), but naturally I was mostly drawn to the textiles, though there were some fascinating lighting displays as well. Favourites below.

I’ve mentioned Michelle Griffiths before, so it was great to meet her in person. Her pure, pollen-inspired forms are rooted in shibori techniques of stitching and pleating, but she does use dye as well. She showed me a beautiful indigo shibori piece with a pattern based on a spectogram of a blackbird’s song. And she also makes lovely heat-set “bubble wrap”.

More shibori – Anne Selby makes the most amazing sculptural pleated scarves using the arashi shibori method. This is not just pleating – it’s double pleating and layering, steaming, discharging and redyeing that produces such exquisite pieces.

Johannes Hemann, storm series from Victor Hunt on Vimeo.

And now for something completely different. Johannes Hermann‘s “Storm Series” consists of lamp shades and other objects that look like organic crystal growths. He makes them by using a fan to blow granules of styrofoam or other light plastic around a heated box. The combination of heat and wind causes the granules to clump together. Fascinating!

I guess you could call Jasmin Giles‘ work jewellery, but it’s more like wearable art. She combines knitting with glass, wax and resin to create bold statement pieces. Not something you’d probably wear to the office, but certainly wonderfully eye catching.

Joanne Bowles works in metal and ceramics – her work has a very Japanese feel. I love the contrast between the linear ridges of the metal basket and the smooth translucence of the bowl.

Gill Wilson works with paper, forming pulp into large-scale multi-layered geometric structures encased in clear perspex cases. Like Michelle Griffiths, she has trained in Japan, and some of that aesthetic purity comes through here.

Rachel Gornall combines layers, colour and stitch to produce textile artworks that remind me of stained glass windows – beautiful!

Finally, Claudia Phipps works in real glass. She was exhibiting glass wings, based on patterns from dragonflies and lacewings, cutting the holes using waterjets. It’s inspired me to think about felting a scarf in a similar shape.

Origin is on from 22 to 28 September, at Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 6EW, 11am-7pm. Admission £10.