Light and Colour in Seattle Center: Chihuly Garden and Glass ~ WA, USA
“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.”
~ Dale Chihuly
Dale Chihuly’s Japanese-inspired Niijima Float Boat and Ikebana Boat.
I was first “introduced” to Dale Chihuly’s glass installation-artworks in Canberra in 1999.
It was while I was wandering around Floriade, Canberra’s festival of spring flowers which is held annually in the park along Lake Burley Griffin, that I came across a version of the Ikebana Boat floating in a pond. This was back in the days of film, but the sight of that glass-filled boat, in amongst the water-weeds, so impressed me that I made framed prints of one of the photos I took.
So, I was really pleased to be able to visit the relatively-newly-opened Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibition in Seattle Center, Seattle’s 300,000 square-meter downtown parklands, arts and entertainment complex.
Chihuly is a bit of a local hero in Seattle: billed as a “true Northwesterner”, he was born and raised in Tacoma, less than an hour away, and did his early study in the region before moving on to other parts of the country and overseas. In 1971 Chihuly co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School, an international center for glass-art education in Washington State, and he is still very involved with education and arts organisations in the region.
The Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibition opened on May 21, 2012, after being first proposed by the Space Needle Corporation in 2010, and being approved by Seattle City Council on April 25, 2011.
The International Fountain, build in 1962, is one of the features in the 300,000 square meter Seattle Center park, arts and entertainment complex.
Seattle Center is a centre-piece of every-day life.
The iconic Seattle Space Needle
Chihuly glass sculptures and Seattle Centre buildings reflected in the base of the Space Needle.
An attendant outside the exhibition space helps visitors find their way through the busy Seattle Center park.
The “Glass Forest” concept came out of an exploration of blowing glass to resemble botanical forms. The pieces are blown from the top of a stepladder so the glass can flow to the floor.
In the Northwest Room, walls are decorated with some of Chihuly’s early influences, as represented by his collection of Native American photographs, weaving and tapestries.
Delicate threads and beads are embedded in the soft shapes of Chihuly’s baskets, cylinders, and soft cylinders; all inspired by Native American basket and textile weaving.
Colours and shaped in the Sealife Room.
Part of the Persian Ceiling fixture.
Chihuly says the Mille Fiori (a Thousand Flowers) series was inspired by his mother’s garden.
Japanese-inspired Niijima Floats.
One of the many large “Chandeliers”.
Colour intensity marks the Macchia Forest series.
The 40-foot-tall glasshouse provides a bridge between the darkened inner rooms and the bright outdoor gardens.
The suspended glass flower-sculpture in the Glasshouse is 100 feet long.
In the garden, glass is part of the landscaping.
Chihuly is far from being a starving artist: he is a skilled marketer and his works – large and small – sell around the world.
The eight-inch “Jasmine Basket” retails at $5,500USD.
Shoppers browse and buy – even if it is only post-cards, trinkets and T-shirts.
After dark, the large balls in the gardens reflect the Space Needle.
The back-lit flowers in the Glasshouse provide a frame for the towering Space Needle next door.
It was a delightful sensory treat, and is well worth a visit – both in daylight and after dark.
Pictures taken: 10August2012