Dale Chihuly Torchlight Chandelier
In November 2011, a dramatic new Chihuly ‘Chandelier’ was installed outside the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane, 20 years after the artist first developed the concept. He had seen a beautiful chandelier in a Barcelona restaurant that was hanging at eye level over the table, presented primarily as decorative rather than functional. It triggered possibilities in his mind for sculptural installations which are, remarkably, still being investigated as ways of transforming indoor and outdoor spaces.
On a practical level, the idea emerged from experimentation with multiple blown-glass elements. ‘One of the most important inspirations for me is the glass itself – the glassblowing process’, says Chihuly. ‘This wondrous event of blowing human air down a blowpipe and out comes this form. There’s no other material in the world that can be blown like glass ... it’s a completely unique process for a very magical material.’
To make his first ‘Chandelier’, Chihuly hung a great collection of blown-glass pieces from a framework to make a huge, suspended sculpture. An unprecedented mass of yellow, balloon-like creations with varying degrees of translucence, it was constructed specifically for a solo show at Seattle Art Museum. Since that initial work he has developed a range of armatures – pyramidal, four-legged, and treelike – that enable such sculptures to reach colossal heights, sometimes in excess of 15 metres.
The Park Lane Chandelier features similar hot colours to those Chihuly used in exuberant installations at four Napa Valley wineries in summer 2000, celebrating the importance of glass for both storing and drinking wine. ‘What Chihuly liked best about the “Chandeliers” was his ability to mass lots of color and then shoot light through it’, writes Oldknow. ‘The chandelier is one of the few forms in glass that has scale, is three-dimensional, is vessel-related, is animated by light, is airborne, and is capable of transforming the environment, which are important qualities for Chihuly’s work.’