Chez l'abeille

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


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Chihuly Nights

Dale Chihuly is one of my favourite artists and I have written about his exhibitions on several occasions. The most recent was my trip to Kew Gardens in the spring. Seeing the pieces in a natural environment, unhindered by the confines of a gallery space was something I didn’t think could be bettered. But I was wrong.

Kew is known for its Christmas lights but I’ve never been to see them. When I saw adverts for a night time visit to the Chihuly exhibition, literally seeing the works in another light, I was straight onto it. Tickets booked, friends organised…we were in!

We arrived around dusk and after a short wait to enter we were off on a magical walk. At first the paths seemed a little crowded but as we walked on into the nighttime, guided only by fairy lights and music playing among the trees we often found ourselves alone. Kew in the day is fabulous but at night it becomes more elemental. As you tread closer to the heart of the gardens the air gradually cools. Shadows tumble around you and it starts to feel like another world entirely. Add to this mix the illuminated sculptures, which  glow like jewels in the darkness and it is simply magical!

My favourite piece from the day time trip was the water lily house. Once again I was captivated by this installation and the reflections created by water and light was perfection.

Second place went to the indoor pieces which also cast otherworldly shadows across the walkways.

We were among the last people to leave the gardens that night and left full of plans to finally book for the Christmas lights this year…if it is half as good as this experience, I think it will become a regular calendar event!

©Chez l’abeille  2019

 


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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.

Enjoy!

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


Where the bee sucks…

Picture the scene. There we were, standing under a huge latticed structure, a wooden spill clamped between our teeth whilst poking it into a small hole in a tall pole.

The Hive Kew Gardens external view

The Hive Kew Gardens external view

This was all part of a beautiful structure called “The Hive”, designed by Wolfgang Buttress and currently installed in Kew Gardens. The reason for our rather ungainly interaction with the “bone conductors” was to hear the clicks and chirps made by the busy bees in two hives co-located in Kew. It was a most eerie sensation to hear without hearing, as the sounds were transmitted directly into our skull. As researchers believe honey bees are deaf, this gives us humans a way of experiencing vibrations in the way the bees might.

Even more interesting was the diversity of bee communication – something I am particularly interested in at the moment having completed a picture book story about a bee called Bea!

The same vibrations were in action in the upper part of The Hive, where they are converted into lighting effects. The lights glow more brightly and in an differing range of colours, depending on the intensity of activity in the linked hives. Standing inside the 17 metre structure, watching it glow and listening to a beguiling sound scape was quite a mesmerising experience.

“The Hive represents the important relationship between bee and human, bringing together beauty, science, sound and landscape through a multi-sensory experience.”

The whole structure and experience highlight once again the importance of bees to our future food security – a very similar message to the one which underpinned my recent visit to Gosnells Mead brewery. Bee populations are suffering declines globally, from habitat loss as well as parasites and disease. Alongside the installation, researchers at Kew have been exploring the relationship between plants and their pollinators. Research like this is crucial if we are to protect both our own food sources and the tiny pollinators who play such a large part in our world.

As the bees might say – when they go, they’re taking us all with them.

Louis Masai - Save the bees mural Hackney Road

Louis Masai – Save the bees mural Hackney Road

©Chez l’abeille  2016