(Glass) Blown Away – Chihuly and the Halcyon Gallery

After deciding that Christmas shopping was causing me emotional and physical pain I stepped away from the hell hole named Oxford Street and decided to take a stroll down New Bond Street. This street boasts some of the most famous West End Galleries dealing with the pricier end of Art; here we are talking thousands of pounds of art for sale.

This blog will look at one show I found incredible. I found myself in The Halcyon Gallery, a gallery so grand it could easily be a public institution. The Gallery displays and sells work of contemporary artists as well as more established artists. This broad mix ensures that the Halcyon always has its finger on the creative pulse of art.

The show I went to see was that of iconic artist Dale Chihuly. This artist has revolutionised the perception of blown glass as an art form worldwide. If you are unaware of his work, next time you are in the V&A look up at the 27 foot high snake chandelier in the main foyer, this he made for his landmark show there in 2001.

Chihuly – Persian Wall

Chihuly has experimented with glass for many years he became obsessed with glassblowing in the 1960s. This exhibition acts as a retrospective of his impressive career.

This exhibition does not only feature his incredible and colourful glass blown sculptures, it also features paintings and drawings the artist has created throughout his career.

Chihuly has truly made this glass blowing technique his own; he has stuck to it and developed it meticulously throughout his career. He has manipulated and magnified the potential of this medium making this exhibition a mesmerising experience in colour. The dramatic installation adds to this mesmeration, the Halcyon has become a welcome home for his work.


Chihuly – Dusky Sky Chandelier and Cranberry & Clear Chandelier

 

 

 

What makes these pieces incredible is the way they interact with their surroundings. People are pulled in close and orbited around the pieces. I found myself trying to find imperfections in his incredibly smooth and finished pieces but found none. I found myself walking around each chandelier again and again seeing how the light was taken in and reflected off each piece of glass. I was entranced with how the sculptures projected and transformed light sending it in different directions.

Like the V&A, the Halcyon displays chandeliers made of snakes, elsewhere however they had grand shells, and various other shapes. Each of these chandeliers is an assemblage of hundreds of individually made glass elements, showing how detailed and meticulous each piece is. Each piece seems as if it could be a beautiful glass monster.

Chihuly – Waterford Sconces

A running technique in Chihuly’s work comes in the form of his use of the ‘lip wrap’. This technique is a traditional rim-strengthening method borrowed from historic Venetian glassmaking, this technique has become one of Chihuly’s trademarks.

The glass pieces seem to explode naturally from their surroundings, almost organic, they belong to the space. This can be seen best in the basement behind the cell like doors. In these rooms, glass sculptures seem to burst from beds of glass ice like plants bursting through the dirt of a carefully constructed garden. It feels like a garden, yet at the same time, it feels as if you could be viewing these pieces underwater as they slowly wave in the current. Chihuly has created a true sense of movement in his static pieces.

Chihuly – Sapphire and Sky Blue Fiori

His passion for glass can be seen throughout the main space, the basement and the side rooms, but where it truly bursts in to full bloom is in the Gallery’s Mezzanine space. When you enter you are confronted with the largest burst of colour I think I have ever encountered. In this room the 24 foot long Mille Fiori garden dominates. This piece was made especially for this exhibition, truly proving that Chihuly still has a great passion for his medium. This piece is made of many different shapes which can be seen individually in the Gallery’s other rooms, here however they form one complete piece that is completely overpower and intriguing. I felt like a bewildered child finding it difficult to take the piece in all at once, it was chaotic yet controlled. It was a true delight.

Chihuly – Mille Fiori

Head down to this show to witness Chihuly’s passion for yourself. With all the bright colours and dancing light it will set you in a good mood to face the cold and the horrible task of Christmas shopping.

Chihuly @ Halcyon Gallery – 5th December 2011 – 29th February 2012

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