Jaimini Patel

Part of Bring Into Being. Entry to the exhibition is included in your House ticket.

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Chiswick House and Gardens presents Matter as the densest form of energy – energy as the lightest form of matter, 2021 a new artwork by Jaimini Patel.

Patel’s site-responsive installation is composed of fallen, pruned and weeded leaves and flowers collected from the Kitchen Gardens and grounds of Chiswick House. From January to March 2021, the artist spent time on site and with the gardening team, who continued to work throughout lockdown, to understand the cycles and practices that are inherent to the Gardens and those that are implemented. Patel’s interest in natural and manmade systems informs this new work. The seasons and the interventions of the gardeners within the processes of nature determine the colour, shape, size and volume of the material collected.

Image: Jamini creating her work while in residence at Chiswick in early 2021

With Matter as the densest form of energy – energy as the lightest form of matter, Patel invites reflection on the natural cycles of decay and regeneration that occur all year round in the Gardens. From May to October the artist will present two works – the first at the start of the exhibition made during the late winter/early spring and the second made in the late spring/early summer – the works and the approach making visible inside the House the continual change occurring outside.

Time is a major feature of the artist’s practice and this piece, like many of her other works, embodies both the time that it has taken these materials to grow, but also the time taken to select, wash, dry, press and freeze these leaves ready to be used. The radial growth of the works is also durational – the first leaf collected in winter is placed at the centre of the work in the Upper Tribune, likewise the second work in the Link Room, will begin in late spring growing into summer.

The symmetry and repetition in the composition of the work mirrors that in the House and surrounding grounds and that found within nature. The artist states:

The leaves, assembled using different types of symmetry, alter from two-fold to eight-fold depending on the availability of like-leaves, as no two leaves are identical, variation is inevitable. The emergence and disappearance of these logics create complexity as one gives way to another – a sense of harmony is glimpsed then interrupted, frustrating an overarching logic. A considerable portion of each leaf is hidden during construction enabling the design to unfold and be revealed rather than predetermined. I wanted to make visible the meditative process in my practice as something to become lost in, and now more than ever, I wanted to create an experience of pleasure.

At a site where the House and Gardens were conceived as a ‘complete work of art’ by the 3rd Earl of Burlington and William Kent, the House dwells inside the Gardens much more than the Gardens inside the House. Patel’s artwork in many ways completes the desire of Burlington and Kent to have a complete work of art by deliberately placing the Gardens back inside the House. In doing so, Patel highlights a paradox – that the Gardens with their natural cycles of decay and regeneration embody a kind of permanence that the House cannot achieve. As this Grade I-listed building is being preserved against the elements through conservation, the real permanence lies in the surrounding nature via its ability to constantly regenerate.

The subject of Patel’s work is renewal and reimagination rather than loss. The pressed leaves capture a moment in time, a fleeting one which may not necessarily be witnessed. The materials will succumb to environmental forces much more rapidly than the stone on which they temporarily sit, underlining how all organic materials have a certain duration and lifespan before matter goes on to become energy for something else.  In many ways, Patel’s work highlights the fact that the permanence of something is in its ability to support the creation of something new and that our attempts to delay the process through preservation create a false idea of what permanence is and can be.