Walking across a brand new mall in immaculate Singapore, still largely unopened to the public I was first introduced to the talents of one Mr Chihuily. Set in a neat and tidy ceiling, all-white environment a burst of colour in a tizzy caught my attention. A chandelier that paled even the Venetian Murano glass, I was bewildered by the mastery and creativity of this glass-blower right in that steely lobby. It was so messy yet perfect, blasting away colour every angle, yet elegant and dazzling yet demure all at once. Like a good piece of art it was exciting and delightful sparking wonder and amazement. Soon after I returned to my usual workday though it did leave a lasting impression.
Now several years later I traversed upon the Chihuily museum in Seattle, all as a matter of chance. As we made our way to the Space Needle, sparks of bemused colour peeked through the branches. It brought forth all those wondrous excitement to discover the beauty of blown glass!
Dale Chihuily is an American glass sculptor and entrepreneur who is a master at his craft. As he walks about with an eye-patch, the imminent dangers of working with blown glass become very apparent, yet his high levels of technical skill with glass are palpable. Being well acquainted with the chandelier-like centre pieces in hotel lobbies or malls there is much excitement to see these beauties in the museum, but the themed collections are breath-taking. The Japanese inspired lanterns or the ceiling water-creatures and the animal-inspired art-work are beyond one’s imagination. The quality of glass, the bends, the turns are exceptionally well-done. Each installation is truly poetry. Chihuily works with his team, drawing up ideas for the next pieces of art on paper and displayed in the museum are some such working drawings! Except that they hardly look like working drawings! Working with such high temperatures, in a medium that is viscous and cooling it to change its constitution from liquid to solid is no easy task, but the rewards are multi-fold. Good things take time, but even greater things are worked in a matter of a few moments, a difference between oil-painting and blown-glass! Once glass is melted, the glass-blower has but very little time to craft his sculpture, literally making his strike when the iron is hot! Unlike the oil-painter who has more a few moments. This spontaneity in the craft is as beguiling as the final display of striking colours and reflective nature of glass. Light does play a huge part in enjoying glass-ware in general and the same applies to glass-sculpture including blown-glass.
Hugely inspired by nature, when the sculptures are set indoors they are beautiful, but when they are set outdoors amidst pretty flowers made by nature, they strike up an even more beautiful image, almost matching up to their inspirations! A walk in the park with several glass blooms standing up or a hugely optimistic sunny yellow and orange lighting floating overhead is a wonderful way to appreciate the beauty in art and in nature, all at once. There is after all great truth in beauty and beauty in truth. Getting blown-away by the blown-glass wonders is a must do, whether on the ancient island of Murano or in the busy suburbs of Seattle! And once the miracle of wonder sets in, glass can never be the same again!!