Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on Nature
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London
13 April – 27 October 2019
If, as Seneca the Younger claimed, “all art is but imitation of nature”, putting one’s works in amongst one of the most beautiful natural gardens in London – the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – might seem somewhat presumptuous, or asking for criticism at the least. Alternatively, of course, one could take the Matissian view, that “great art picks up where nature ends”, and thus see the intervention by American glass artist Dale Chihuly (b1941, Tacoma, Washington) as a challenge and, potentially, a bidirectional compliment.
I chose to review this, his second exhibition in the gardens (the first being Gardens of Glass in 2005, so popular its run had to be extended), as a challenge to myself, being a vehement disliker of his large, florid, and certainly over-the-top chandelier at the V&A, London. I wanted to see if I could be converted to appreciate Chihuly’s work, significantly inspired by nature – both plant and sea life – when presented in such a setting. And, indeed, I 90 per cent was.
Read the full review here