Chez l'abeille

Culture. Travel. Writing. My world in words and pictures


The Streets of London: Chihuly at Kew Gardens.

During the Easter break we were fortunate to have some extraordinarily unseasonable weather – the sun shone, the sky was a bright summer blue and the thermometer rose – so this seemed the perfect opportunity to see an outdoor glass installation by a favourite artist.

The Dale Chihuly Exhibition, “Reflections on Nature” at The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is a sequence of artworks, both indoors and nestled within the famous glasshouses. It took a couple of hours of gentle strolling to see them all and to spend time really looking at these beautiful works within the natural environment.


As well as seeing the installations in the garden, we visited the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art (located inside Kew and included as part of your ticket). There is a large exhibition of classic pieces by Chihuly, some of which I already knew. However, I particularly liked seeing his drawings, which detail the swirls and undulations of the final pieces with an immediacy that is fascinating.

As I write this post, the weather has turned into Storm Hannah, wet, cold and far more like April. However the spirit of these wonderful works is continuing to keep a warm glow inside me. Later in the year there will be the chance to see them lit up at night. Something tells me I’ll be going!

The installation will be at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew until 27th October 2019

©Chez l’abeille  2019

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Mirror, Mirror

Sometimes things just happen. That, I guess is what constitutes a happening. The arrival of a mirror maze in Peckham for one weekend only is always going to be a happening. Add that it’s in the Copeland Park/Bussey Building’s achingly hip enclave and it is always going to be up there in the zeitgeist.

I’m not going to write a lot about the background to the work – there’s a really decent article by Creative Review, which tells you everything you need to know. Briefly, the work is by Es Devlin who has a background in stage design. It’s exploring scent, memory and identity. It’s created in partnership with i-D and Chanel to celebrate creativity from women in arts and culture aross the world.

What it actually is: a really fabulous, immersive, mesmerising artwork!

I’m glad I went down early on the opening day as I think visitors would be queuing round the block by the end of the weekend as word spread. By the time this post goes out it will all be over, but that I suppose is what makes it the best kind of memory – a transient moment of total magic.

©Chez l’abeille  2016



Chihuly Lumiere

Dale Chihuly: Lumière

Out of adversity comes opportunity: In this case, adversity was the London transport system (post Christmas transport scheduling) but the opportunity proved worth the stress of late trains and slow buses. Short cutting on foot along Bond Street I discovered a new exhibition at the Halcyon gallery by a favourite artist, Dale Chihuly.

At first glance I didn’t realise that this was in fact Chihuly’s work – moving away from the organic, three dimensional forms, these works are “acrylic light drawings”. In this first ever drawing show, the exhibition demonstrates both a shift in the artist’s approach to bringing together light, glass and colour and celebrates a fifty year journey in exploring new ways of bringing these elements together.

The works however still have an organic feel; colour appears to be applied in a random fashion, yet there is clearly a sense of purpose and structure within them. Both sides of the light box surface are used and the colours are applied in a variety of ways, even, I discovered, with implements like brooms. This gives each piece an interesting mix of textures and tones. You can see how the artist creates his drawings in this video.


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As well as the light drawings the exhibition also includes work in neon and the more familiar glass forms. Collectively they celebrate the work of an artist who has been instrumental in defining work in glass as fine art, yet who continues to excite with new and innovative approaches to capturing light, form and colour.

Halcyon Gallery

Dale Chihuly, Lumière

05 Dec 2014 – 31 Jan 2015

©Chez l’abeille 2015

Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert "Human Nature" V&A installation


The London Design Festival 2014 at the V&A: Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert – “Human Nature”.

I have always been fascinated by glass. How it is created and shaped seems so elemental: earth, fire, air and water combined with real human effort. Yet all this intensity produces such ethereal pieces, beautiful and fragile yet strong and solid in equal measures.

I was thrilled, therefore, to be invited to write about a new installation in the Victoria and Albert Museum, as part of the London Design Festival 2014. The designer is Paris based Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert. The installation  is called “Human Nature”.

The piece is made from hand blown cylinders in shades of green, blue and white. Now when I say glass cylinders, you may be thinking something the size of a champagne bottle…and you’d be very, very wrong. These cylinders are really, really BIG!

Reading about the work, I discovered that inspiration for it came from a visit by the artist to Glashütte Lamberts in Germany – one of the oldest remaining hand blown glass factories in the world. I chatted with one of the LDF team at the V&A who had visited the factory herself. She was clearly impressed by the impact of walking into the workshop; heat, fire and noise combined into a total assault on her senses. In preparation for being made into flat panes, the glass is blown into cylinders. Wintrebert saw these cylinders as a means to create something entirely different.

The video clip gives a great insight into the production of the cylinders!

The installation is located in two connected areas of the V&A. This museum focuses on the decorative arts and design, so makes a natural home for this work. There are two main sections situated in what would be fairly forgettable spaces by the lift and on a connecting walkway. They comprise of a long free standing wall of single height cylinders placed next to each other and a separate construction where they are piled up on each other, four high and two deep. A nearby shelf of single, white cylinders completes the overall installation.

Each single piece of glass gives the sense of being at first brittle (I kept looking to see how the piled glass was holding itself together) but then quite sturdy. The solid wall of glass uncompromisingly divided the walkway and forced museum visitors to make a deliberate choice of direction. Yet where you can see through the cylinders there is an ever changing play of light. Combine this with glimpses of other spaces in the gallery the form becomes airy and delicate as a result.

Wintrebert has been supported in developing the work by the champagne house Perrier-Jouӫt, who, I learn, have the largest private Art-Nouveau collection in Europe. The geometric shapes created by the circles and curves in each piece of glass do reflect the sinuous style of Art-Nouveau design, which also sought to harmonise design with the environment, making quite ordinary spaces and objects into works of art.

Here, I think, the artist has succeeded. This striking work has transformed an otherwise pedestrian space into a place to linger and enjoy.


The London Design Festival runs from 13th – 21st September 2014 at venues all over London.


©Chez l’abeille 2014

Disclosure: I was invited to write about this installation by the sponsor. I have received no compensation for doing this piece and all opinions are 100% my own.

Chihuly glass work in Berkeley Square

Dale Chihuly: Beyond the object.

I love the glass art works by Dale Chihuly. They inspire, intrigue and delight in equal measure. This exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery in London’s New Bond Street is simply a celebration of colour, light and movement. Alongside the works in the gallery space, The Sun, an outdoor installation is sited in nearby Berkeley Square. It’s beautiful in the day but looks even more so by night.

The gallery staff encourage photographs!

The exhibition is open until 18th May 2014.