5 Highlights From the Dale Chihuly Exhibition at Gardens by the Bay
When it comes to the art of glassblowing, there are few names as renowned in the field as American artist Dale Chihuly. With his decades of experience and expertise, the award-winning glass sculptor is recognised as an innovative trailblazer, with his artwork installations being displayed in museums, public spaces, and botanical gardens worldwide.
For the very first time in Asia, the artist is holding his first major garden exhibition at Singapore's Gardens by the Bay. The exhibition, entitled Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom, will run from May 1 to August 1.
Organised in collaboration with Hustle & Bustle, the exhibition has been in the works since late 2019. The architectural installations, shipped directly from Seattle, span throughout the entire Gardens by the Bay. Besides demonstrating Chihuly’s artistry with glass, the artwork installations also showcase the way form interacts with both light and space.
For art enthusiasts, you’ll want to spend the entire day at the exhibition to observe the enthralling effect of light interacting with the glass forms from day to night. Besides creating a special large-scale installation that’ll make its debut at Gardens by the Bay, Chihuly has also featured plenty of his iconic artworks at the exhibition.
Below, we highlight five key areas of the exhibit that are part of the striking visual journey.
1/5 Dragonfly Lake
At Dragonfly Lake, two vibrant public installations that float upon the water brings life to the scenic site.
Float Boat, Chihuly’s 2014 creation that’s part of his unique Boats collection, is a colourful mixture of glass forms that are scattered and spilling out of the actual boat. Chihuly first chanced upon this concept in Nuutajärvi, Finland. After tossing his newly-created glass pieces into the river as a test, the spherical pieces began floating downstream and were collected by local teenagers in wooden boats. The experience inspired the glassblower to recreate the look and has remained a firm concept in Chihuly’s exhibits ever since.
Down the lake, you'll spot a vibrant array of floating glass orbs. These are Chihuly’s Walla Wallas, a playful iteration of his earlier work, Niijima Floats. These uniquely-shaped glass delights take after the look of onions, and are thus named after Washington’s famous Walla Walla onions.
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2/5 Outdoor gardens
At Serene Garden, Gardens by the Bay’s horticulture garden attraction, you’ll find various ticketed outdoor installations and sculptures. The 2-hectare themed green space houses the most number of Chihuly’s artworks for this exhibition.
Journey through the lush landscape and you’ll be treated to several striking Chihuly works, such as the Ethereal White Persians installation that’s fixed above an inky black pool. The obsidian pool casts a mesmerising reflection of the pearly white glass forms, creating a multidimensional mirror image. The Serene Garden also hosts Chihuly’s beloved Palazzo Ducale Tower, a sculpture that would never be sold as the heritage piece is one of the first towers that the glassblower created.
The exhibition continues at the other outdoor gardens as well. World of Plants, a zone featuring Gardens by the Bay’s multi-sensory realm of tropical plants, is home to several of Chihuly’s famous sculptures as well.
Installations you’ll be able to spot at this lush garden scape include the Pearl and Obsidian Fiori, a sculpture from Chihuly’s Fiori series that demonstrates the artist’s expertise when it comes to organic and fluid glass forms, as well as the Sea Blue and Green Tower that effortlessly looks right at home amongst the exuberant greenery.
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3/5 Flower Dome and Cloud Forest
Indoors, the cooling conservatories are also home to equally mesmerising artworks. Step into the Flower Dome and you’ll instantly be greeted with Chihnuly’s vibrant Electric Yellow & Deep Coral Tower. The towering sculpture is a sight to behold, and makes for an energetic addition to the dome.
Across the dome, soak in the sight of the main highlight: an eye-catching installation created out of varying different sculptures by Chihuly. The four works featured are from several varying series, such as the tubular-shaped Neodymium Reeds, and the ever majestic White Tower. Flowers and plants in enchanting pink and purple hues surround the sculptures; these foliage will be switched out regularly to keep the organic landscape fresh.
Enter the Cloud Forest, where the installations here are not to be missed either. Spot several of Chihuly’s famous chandelier works hidden in this tropical highland. Unlike traditional chandeliers, Chihuly’s colourful versions are created out of hundreds of blown glass elements, thus reflecting light instead of emitting it.
Chihuly’s aptly-named Cloud Forest Persians, created for his 2019 exhibition at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, is suspended near the indoor waterfall and forms a breathtaking sight with its exquisite cascading form.
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4/5 Glass in Bloom Gallery @ Bayfront Pavilion
Apart from Chihuly’s large-scale installations around the Gardens, you’ll also be able to examine his works close-up in the Glass in Bloom gallery at Bayfront Pavilion. The ticketed exhibit offers a closer look at the artist’s other ingenious works, such as the Garnet Flame Baskets series, which showcases Chihuly’s mastery at glassblowing with its delicate glass forms, as well as the colourful Macchia series, a collection of glass forms with a layered mottled effect, which Chihuly created in 1981.
Besides the stunning display of sculptures, the gallery also offers an expansive look at Chihuly’s Works on Paper, two-dimensional artworks that the artist utilised to communicate and express his ideas with his glassblowing team, as well as four different Glass on Glass paintings that is full of depth and layered meaning.
5/5 Creator's Cove
For a truly immersive experience beyond eyeing Chihuly’s works, head down to Creator’s Cove located at World of Plants for an opportunity to do some crafting of your own. Organised in collaboration with the US embassy in Singapore, there are a variety of activities for you to partake in. Try your hand at the fused glass jewelry workshop, where you’ll be able to create your own glass accessories, or the swizzle stick workshop, for an opportunity to design and create your own glass sticks to stir your drinks in style.
These workshops will rotate and switch throughout the entirety of the exhibition, so you’ll be spoilt for choice.