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

Wooden row boats filled with colourful glass by 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.

Purple poster for the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibition against trees.

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.

International Fountain, Seattle Center

The International Fountain, build in 1962, is one of the features in the 300,000 square meter Seattle Center park, arts and entertainment complex.

Man on a cement bench examining one foot.

Seattle Center is a centre-piece of every-day life.

Seattle Space Needle against a blue sky.

The iconic Seattle Space Needle

Reflections of Chihuly

Chihuly glass sculptures and Seattle Centre buildings reflected in the base of the Space Needle.

Portrait: Smiling young woman.

An attendant outside the exhibition space helps visitors find their way through the busy Seattle Center park.

Red white and blue glass forms against a black background.

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.

Warmly lit cream yellow glass bowls - Native American tapestries in the background.

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.

Cream yellow free-form glass bowls.

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.

Yellow glass nails in blue glass waves.

Colours and shaped in the Sealife Room.

Colourful glass forms with light shining through.

Part of the Persian Ceiling fixture.

Colourful glass balls and shapes.

Chihuly says the Mille Fiori (a Thousand Flowers) series was inspired by his mother’s garden.

Wooden boat filled with colourful glass balls.

Japanese-inspired Niijima Floats.

Orange conical glass structure, suspended from a black ceiling.

One of the many large “Chandeliers”.

Ruffled glass edge in rich blue and orange.

Colour intensity marks the Macchia Forest series.

Large glass and chrome glasshouse with suspended orange and yellow glass "flowers".

The 40-foot-tall glasshouse provides a bridge between the darkened inner rooms and the bright outdoor gardens.

Yellow-red glass flowers.

The suspended glass flower-sculpture in the Glasshouse is 100 feet long.

Blue glass forms in an outdoor garden.

In the garden, glass is part of the landscaping.

Shelves of Chihuly books.

Chihuly is far from being a starving artist: he is a skilled marketer and his works – large and small – sell around the world.

Yellow nested glass baskets.

The eight-inch “Jasmine Basket” retails at $5,500USD.

People in a dimly-lit giftshop.

Shoppers browse and buy – even if it is only post-cards, trinkets and T-shirts.

Reflection of the Seattle Needle in a dark glass globe.

After dark, the large balls in the gardens reflect the Space Needle.

Seattle Space Needle framed by Chihuly glass flowers at night.

The back-lit flowers in the Glasshouse provide a frame for the towering Space Needle next door.

Text: Happy TravelsIt was a delightful sensory treat, and is well worth a visit – both in daylight and after dark.

Happy Travels!

Pictures taken: 10August2012


  • Gabe - September 20, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    U always amaze me. Well doneReplyCancel

  • dietmut - September 20, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    Ursula, prachtige Japanse kunst. Groetjes DietmutReplyCancel

  • lisa - September 20, 2012 - 8:15 pm

    Beautiful artwork, beautifully captured!ReplyCancel

  • Signe - September 21, 2012 - 2:08 am

    Stunning… I adore the blue glass/garden, they are all so beautiful, magestic even.ReplyCancel

  • Signe Westerberg - September 21, 2012 - 2:11 am

    Glorious, I particularly love the Blue/Glass garden. However they are all so lovely, glass is amazing and his use of colour, the flow and movement is wonderful. Must have been an amazing experience walking amongst it.ReplyCancel

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