New art works designed specifically for Chiswick House were unveiled at a special preview this morning ahead of the house and kitchen garden reopening on 27 May.
Three contemporary artists have created installations continuing the artistic legacy of Chiswick House and Gardens, which was originally conceived in the 18th century as a “complete work of art” with the grounds designed to frame and reflect the neo-Palladian building.
British Summer Time
Mark Wallinger’s analemmatic sundial, laid out in an elliptical pattern around a central “pavement” has been precisely calculated to the co-ordinates of Chiswick House
The Turner Prize winning artist Mark Wallinger, best known for his social commentaries, has installed a circular sundial, laid out on the lawn in front of the Exedra. Visitors can stand on a precisely calculated, marked strip and act as the vertical part, casting a shadow towards the correct time. A box at one side blows bubbles on the hour, whilst playing the Tin Pan Alley classic I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, giving this interactive installation a playful, joyous quality, while the shifting shadows and short-lived fragility of the bubbles evoke the transience of time. A magnet for Instagrammers and West Ham supporters; let’s hope it also attracts the sun to Chiswick.
Matter as the densest form of energy – energy as the lightest form of matter
The Upper Tribune and detail from “Matter as the densest form of energy – energy as the lightest form of matter”, by Jaimini Patel
Jaimini Patel’s installation can also be seen to explore ideas of time and change, using organic materials brought into the house from the grounds, echoing the idea of interplay between the spaces originally conceived by Burlington and Kent. From January this year Patel has collected, washed, dried, pressed and frozen leaves to create an eight point star spread out the floor in the Upper Tribune. The symmetry and repetition in the composition of the work mirrors that in the House and grounds and in nature itself.
We Bear the Light of the Earth In Red, Green, Brown and Black
Peter Adjaye’s work draws on styles of music and instruments prevalent across South Asia and West Africa
Peter Adjaye has used ‘a trans-historical approach’ to challenge prevalent historical narratives at Chiswick House. Haunting, layered soundscapes conceived by the composer and improvised by classical Indian and West African musicians on instruments as varied as the sitar, bansuri flutes, tablas, harmonium, cajon, udu, djembe, dhol, kanjira talking drums and alap vocals create a fusion of sound by. These collaborative sonic works have been strategically placed to bring attention to and invite reflection on lesser known stories connected with the site. One called We Bear the Light of the Earth in Red, Green, Black and Brown has been placed in the Red Velvet room by a painting depicting Pope Leo the Great and Attila the Hun.
“I was inspired by this painting as it shows a meeting of two worlds,” explains Adjaye, “I’m also inspired by the architecture and how Chiswick House borrows from different cultures – the architecture builds on influences from Rome and hence Greek, and Egyptian with the sphinxes and obelisks.”
Sunset in Rippling Bronze, can be heard near the Obelisk, pointing visitors to Europe’s entanglement with north Africa.
“History is about building on and borrowing from different cultures. And what’s interesting is when culture has been erased and that can be strange and uncomfortable,”says Adjaye. ” For some reason the discourse tends to stop at Greek civilisation, but I think it goes beyond that, and that’s what I’m looking at.”
Sunset in Rippling Bronze at the Ionic Temple and Obelisk and Sunrise of Invisible Gold can be experienced at all the entrances to the Gardens via QR codes.
Bring Into Being is a programme of multi-cultural and cross-disciplinary events introducing a new energy and perspective for visitors to Chiswick House and Gardens running until 31 October.
Tickets are available at chiswickhouseandgardens.digitickets.co.uk
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