Glory of the Garden

0“OUR England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye…”
– Rudyard Kipling (1911)

Over the last decade my work has been predominately organized around ideas arising from the garden. However this has been a very expanded ideation of the garden, more as a global forest (1) of which we are all a part or as nature versus culture (2) than of the urban garden, but of course that too. I have visited the Botanical Garden as prison camp, with plants confined for reasons of cultural purity (Linz : 2007). The Post-Colonial garden in the video work “Joank” 2008, several public Botanical Interventions in Berlin, 2009-2010 and Botanical Taxonomy in “The Garden of Babel” 2010. Also ideas of garden perfection in the on-going textile works “Garden Palimpsest” 2010, “Versailles, Kashan” 2018 and “Hyde Park, Kashan” 2018. I take the garden as my key metaphor with which to probe humanity’s culturally specific relationships with the natural world and toward understanding nature more as a social problem.

My own hybrid identity as a Pakistani National of British ethnicity tends to inform many aspects of my current practice. Lahore Cantt. where I lived for the past decade brought me face to face with British Colonial traces and the project that began in the contemporary bazaars of Karachi in the nineteen-nineties (with Karachi-Pop) came to maturity in the post-colonial Royal Artillery Bazaar of Lahore Cantt. I grew up in Surrey in The Garden of England,where my grandfather was the horticulturalist F.W. Alesworth who has a rose named after him and my first holiday employment was in a Surrey Fuchsia nursery at the age of twelve.

In the garden based textile interventions of the last decade I do not intend the iconic western landscapes as obscuring elements upon the underlying designs, rather I see them as distantly rooted in the fabric of these garden-carpets and growing out of the quintessential landscape beneath and in dialogue with their world view.

1. Diana Beresford Kroeger’s concept.
2. Ideas arising from the works of: Vista. (The Culture and Politics of Gardens). Ed. Tim Richardson and Noel Kingsbury. Frances Lincoln and Second Nature. Michael Pollan. Random House, and The Botany of Desire. Michael Pollan. Random House..