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December 31, 2018

Investigating humanity’s relationship with the natural world


December 31, 2018

Over the last decade, David Chalmers Alesworth’s work has been predominately organised around ideas arising from the garden, writes the artist in the catalogue released by the Koel Gallery, which is hosting his solo art exhibition titled ‘The Glory of the Garden’ until January 3.

“However, this has been a much expanded ideation of the garden, more as a global forest of which we are all a part or as nature versus culture than of the urban garden, but of course that too.”

He says he has visited the botanical garden as prison camp, with plants confined for reasons of cultural purity. “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.”

His own hybrid identity as a Pakistani national of British ethnicity tends to inform many aspects of his current practice, he adds. “Lahore Cantt, where I lived for the past decade, brought me face to face with British colonial traces.”

He goes on to say that the project that began in the contemporary bazaars of Karachi in the 1990s 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 FW Alesworth, who has a rose named after him, and my first holiday employment was in a Surrey fuchsia nursery at the age of 12.”

He says that in the garden-based textile interventions of the last decade, he does not intend the iconic Western landscapes as obscuring elements upon the underlying designs, but he rather sees 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”.

Alesworth is a sculptor, photographer and researcher of garden histories, working between Pakistan and the United Kingdom. He is former head of sculpture at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, and professor of BA fine art at the Beaconhouse National University.

He is a member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, and a Stanley Picker Fellowship award holder. In 2016 he was shortlisted for the V&A Jameel Prize. He currently lives in Bristol and is a studio holder at Spike Island.

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