Chihuly’s Dreamy Glass World at the ROM

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Trellis at the Chihuly exhibit at the ROM, photo credit Diana Condolo
Immerse yourself in the Chihuly experience by walking under the trellis covered by undulating glass, photo credit Diana Condolo

I have been a huge fan of Dale Chihuly for many years. I have encountered his spectacular pieces around the world including at the magical Desert Botanical Garden in Arizona where each piece was set in natural surroundings, so that the organic and inorganic melded and blended. Finally, I get to enjoy his work right here in Toronto. The presentation Chihuly: From Sand. From Fire. Comes Beauty opened June 25, 2016 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and features 11 monumental installations by the American contemporary glass artist. Seven were created specifically for the Chihuly at the ROM exhibit.

As you enter the exhibit, you see the boats — boats filled with magnificent shapes and colours. Chihuly first started filling boats with blown glass objects in Finland when he noticed young boys filling their rowboats with glass pieces he had been discarding into the river. The artist recognized the opportunity for a new installation.

This installation took my breath away, because it is purple, my favourite colour, and also because the shapes are mesmerizing.

Weathered boat at Chihuly exhibit at the ROM, photo credit Diana Condolo
Two weathered boats, Ikebana Boat and Float Boat are presented on a black Plexiglas surface, photo credit Diana Condolo
Chihuly's incredible versatility and technical execution makes each piece special, photo credit Diana Condolo
Chihuly’s incredible versatility and technical execution makes each piece special, photo credit Diana Condolo

As I walked further into the Chihuly exhibit, I realized a glittering garden of glass has bloomed within the walls of the ROM. It is obvious nature is key to his inspiration, be it the lush Washington State where he grew up or his mother’s garden. However, his art is always an interpretation, never a real-life rendering. An enchanted garden that takes you far, far away.

My observations are that people are so fascinated by his Chihuly’s art, that the first thing they do is take a selfie of themselves in front of the unique glass works.

Tower at the Chihuly at the ROM in Toronto, photo credit Diana Condolo
Icicle Chandeliers and Towers display two forms that complement each other much like cave stalagmites and stalactites, photo credit Diana Condolo

Some of the installations are really difficult to capture on camera such as Chihuly’s very popular Persian Ceiling, which looks organic and pulsating like brilliantly coloured jellyfish floating over your head. It is one of the artist’s most popular pieces. It is wonderful to sit or lie back on the pillows and take in the view.

The Persian Trellis, which was created specifically for the ROM, features Chihuly’s Persians. The forms involve blowing glass to produce a herringbone pattern and are then mounted on a large wooden trellis framework, allowing visitors to walk through to enjoy the artwork from a number of angles. If I can’t take this home with me, I’ll linger here a little longer, enjoying the romance of the colours and lights.

Trellis at the Chihuly exhibit at the ROM, photo credit Diana Condolo
Immerse yourself in the Chihuly experience by walking under the trellis covered by undulating glass, photo credit Diana Condolo

Inspired by Venice, the Laguna Torcello installation is a garden of glass that allows visitors to walk among Chihuly’s shapely creations. The name of the piece refers to one of Venice’s many islands. It feels like you’re wandering underwater in an octopuses garden.

Laguna Torcello is fantastic and spacious piece you can navigate around while trying to see every detail, photo credit Diana Condolo
Laguna Torcello is fantastic and spacious piece you can navigate around while trying to see every detail, photo credit Diana Condolo

Chihuly’s pieces bring together a team approach to glass-blowing with his unique artistic vision and the results are ground-breaking artworks.

The intricate patterns and colours in a globe are a feast for the eyes at Chihuly at the ROM, photo credit Diana Condolo
The intricate patterns and colours in a globe are a feast for the eyes, photo credit Diana Condolo

The exhibit is breathtaking and I just had to revisit the works several times before I could be coaxed to move on to another exhibit at the museum. The ROM is a great place to escape the heat for a few hours and a great place to stretch your mind and tickle your imagination. I’ll definitely visit Chihuly again when I next visit the ROM. Visitors of all ages can enhance their exhibition experience with outstanding and informative programming offered throughout the Chihuly at the ROM exhibit. Visit the ROM for details.

Chihuly at the ROM is on display until January 2, 2017.

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