Monday, December 7, 2009

Dale Chihuly at Kew Gardens 2005

Hello to everyone, Happy Monday.  It's a cold rain here in L.A., we got into the 40's over the weekend
so it seems our winter weather has well and truly arrived.  It's o.k. because we need the rain, and once we got our thermostat figured out, it's quite cozy in the house.  Although this morning that gold twinkly fireplace I last posted seems more and more appealing despite the resemblance it has for some people to some less than savory sanitary ware!

Anyway, it seems a good day for a little color.  These are photos I took oh four years ago now - can it be possible? - in London at Kew Gardens.  One of my favorite places in the world.  Dale Chihuly did this installation which was actually there for a full six months - from May '05 through Jan '06.  We saw it at Christmas time and I thought it was perfectly Christmass-ey.  (And of course the day ended in a dark pub of which there are many pleasant choices in Kew Village.) But I would very much have been interested in seeing it in full summer.  One of the glories of Kew is that it rewards visiting frequently, there's always something different growing depending on the season, and of course different colors depending on the seasonal foliage.  I won't comment on the "clever chappy" as they might say in England who's taken over the directorship there and thinks it's appropriate to start charging adults $12.00 for admission (that was in '05!) and turn it into a bloody Florida theme park with electric vehicles spilling over with people chugging down the pathways where OTHER PEOPLE WANT TO WALK!  and tracks suspended through hundred year old trees the better to view the people in the OTHER choo-choo trains below......oh well I guess I HAVE commented AND registered my displeasure.  Once Kew was a lovely peaceful Edwardian retreat where you could get away from the barriers and crowds and the traffic and the hustle and bustle and commercial activity of TOWN.  Where the only people you would encounter on wheels would be the garden's policemen on their push bikes with fat tires who rescued my handbag when I left it on a chair at the cafe straight off a redeye and did a whole Hill St. Blues shtick for my husband when he went along to retrieve it.  A little boy had turned it in to them and it came back to me intact, inclusive of passport, Macy's card, UK and US money, checkbook.  Nothing touched.  Those were the good old days.  But pay no attention to my grousing about how lovely Kew once was.  (When the entrance fee was only 25 pence!) Even though Concorde no longer shoots over it two times a day breaking the silence in a bracing graceful supersonic way, you still have the long, long vistas, the pagoda piercing the sky, the azalea dell, the camellias in April, the roses, the long swathes of naturalized daffodils and crocuses from January to March (truly something to see before you die), the nodding hellebores and grape hyacinths, the temples, the grouse, the peahens, the massive old old trees and the grateful-making lacy greenhouses where you can pretend that you're in Hawaii on a dark-and-chilly English winter day.

So never mind me, go to Kew and see what you can find to get excited about.  If you're not a garden person or it's the weekend and the gardens are too crowded, the village is lovely - except for the traffic at Kew Bridge. There are charming shops and restaurants at the station parade if you take the District Line and cricket on the green alongside the church in the summertime.  You can bring your glasses of beer from the pub and lie on the grass and watch the clouds (if you're not into cricket) and dream that your life is peaceful, carefree and un-troubled.  At least as long as the glass of beer - or the long summer day - lasts.

So I did crop these fairly tightly

the better for you to enjoy the glass sculptures

You'll see a little less of the actual gardens accordingly.

So I'll have to dig out some old PHOTOGRAPHS ON PAPER

to scan and share with you someday.

Meanwhile can you spot which is Dale Chihuly and which is Mother Nature?

And if you were not such a fan of Chihuly before,

as I was not, you might be more so now

in this context his work is very festive

and makes more sense

in the way his organic forms relate to their "real life" counterparts.

And the structure of the greenhouses and the plantings

impose the more formal visual reference points that his "freeform" style

lack in my humble opinion.

And then there is the entirely otherworldly aspect of these sculptures, 

as if Martians HAD finally landed

And decided to throw a huge old party to celebrate!


  1. wow, those martians sure know how to throw a party!

  2. I have grown more interested in Chihuly as he has gotten more involved in installations like this. His earlier sit the glass vase on a pedestal didn't do much for me. But as larger sculptures I think they are great.

    A few years ago I saw a similar Chihuly exhibit here in DC at the US Botanic Gardens and my parents recently saw one at the botanic gardens in Phoenix.

  3. Hi and Thomas - Thanks for stopping by. I do try to stay open minded about most things, I like to allow people/art to grow on me, and accordingly hope I've grown by coming around to them, ditto for Jeff Koons who I NEVER thought I'd say I "get" or even "appreciate" which I do, now. I might even have room for martians. If we haven't been taken over by them already. Corine - embarassed to say (to both of you, having visited Thomas' book blog) that I don't read so much these days. Books are like heroin to me, I would get nothing else done. So my Xmas choices are special holiday treats for vacation consumption only. I haven't read Munro or L. Moore for maybe 10 years but can't imagine they will disappoint me - only again "if" I've outgrown them. Can't imagine it. They are both super-wise women.

  4. Oh dear. Now I sound very stupid! I don't mean to say that EVENTUALLY I will like EVERYTHING. I will ALWAYS hate Dave Alvin and Madonna. There I've said it. And I did mean to address that comment to Corine also. A littlle tired today! But I have read half way thru "Utz" and "Black Hill" was huge when I lived in England. Can't remember if I've read it myself or just so many reviews of it back when. Will have to look into that.......

  5. Ah, fond memories! I visited Kew during the Chihuly exhibition and, for the most part, found his glass sculptures hidden away amidst the foliage and greenhouses utterly compelling. I think I went during the summer and the yellow and orange glass (which he used a lot of) looked magnificent against the (uncharacteristic for London!) deep blue summer sky. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, and thanks also for the lovely mention in your previous post - much appreciated :)

  6. Suzanne - so cool that you had seen them already! It makes me imagine harder how they must have been in the summer and yes it must have been so nice!

  7. I love Kew Gardens. I visit them at least once a year. I was in Kew Gardens during the last days of December 2005. What a beautiful day I spend there... Thanks for that. May I make a link to my facebook page?

  8. I went to see this exhibition!I fell in love with Chihuly's work. Wasn't it the most extraordinary show? He's got a wonderful chandelier in the main entrance hall of the V and A museum, but his work in Kew was out of this world! Love Vanessa xxx