Gardens of Glass: Kew's stunning attraction

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The Independent Online

At first glance, the giant floral chandeliers dangling from the glasshouses and emerging from the foliage at Kew Gardens could be mistaken for the latest addition of exotic flower among the park's plant life.

But, on closer inspection, these psychedelic arrangements found in the glasshouses, ponds and greenery of the park in west London are among 25 breathtaking glass art works cleverly interwoven with the famed horticulture.

The dazzling forms, entangled across the landscape of the park, form part of a new exhibition, Gardens of Glass, by the American sculptor Dale Chihuly. The sculptures in the show, which is the first of its kind at Kew, were designed to blend in with the flowerbeds, listed architecture and Georgian perspectives of the park's 300-acre site. Each piece was created with hand-blown glass and assembled on the grounds by the artist. One of the larger exhibits, The Sun at the north end of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, is more than 4 metres high by 4 metres wide and is made from 1,000 pieces of glass.

More than a million visitors attended Chihuly's Light of Jerusalem show in 1999 in Israel, and the Victoria and Albert curated "Chihuly at the V&A" in 2001.

The Kew exhibition opens on Saturday and runs until 15 January next year.