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Gardened

This series of works was shown within the exhibition Pleasure Garden curated by Jim Waters (now Curator Nottingham Contemporary), was funded by The Nottingham Castle Art Gallery and Museum and included work from 10 artists including the internationally renowned Harvey and Ackroyd partnership. The show attracted over thirty thousand visitors.

A series was presented consisting of polished, bespoke one metre circular white panels with circular constructed collages in the center of each panel. Each image contained a garden feature eg, pond, sundial, greenhouse, hedge and seat. The work aimed to present a cool, diagrammatic and detached experience of gardens, with an underpinning questioning of pictorialism within western European garden culture.

The investigation was principally practice-led and deployed a systematic capture of carefully chosen objects associated with the pleasure of the garden.

Through the subsequent use of collage techniques it aimed to explore alternative visual strategies to the conventions of single-point image making associated with western European garden photography and the broader idealization of garden spaces. It questioned the holistic optical view of garden vistas and in turn favoured subversion through overtly constructed, topographical and diagrammatic forms bringing imagery and synthetic material together. In a counterpoint to the title of ‘Pleasure Garden’ the work alluded tensions that exist between two oppositional ways of looking at landscape – one in which we subjectively inhabit landscape and one which we objectively observe landscape through rational means, such as those used in scientific observation and forms of representation associated with construction and architecture.

Photographic images were subjected to wide ranging visual experiments which increasingly reassembled image segments into systematized constructions. Over time the work emerged as small-scale digital sketches which were increased in size to be sympathetic to the venue.

The work was informed by key texts in perception, geography, science and art, biogenetics and philosophy. In addition to the work shown in Pleasure Garden, a second body of work grew out of this research and was invited to be shown at Beyond Dolly (ICA 2002) and the Generative Art International Conference (Milan School of Architecture).

This parallel work used a database of one hundred and fifty cropped photographic details of Friesian cow backs. The images were randomly printed onto continuous dot matrix paper to form a collection (or herd) of beasts in graphic form. Each stack was placed onto a highly detailed photographic panel on the floor and each stack pulled upwards to be suspended from the ceiling of the ICA. The image collection and its division into groups attempted to make connections with the endless permutations of variety within animal types and the moral complexities of biological standardization through genetics and cloning.