9 October – 20 November 2012

Study for a Garden was the first UK solo exhibition by Toronto-based Iranian artist Abbas Akhavan. During a 10-week residency at Delfina Foundation, Akhavan produced a series of installations in response to the Foundation’s adjacent property at 31 Catherine Place. The exhibition offered visitors a unique opportunity to preview the un-renovated period building which the Foundation expanded into in Autumn 2013. Study for a Garden also marks the last exhibition at the Foundation before it closes for renovation in January 2013.

Folding the border between the garden and domestic space, Study for a Garden explored the intrusion of nature into a house where familiar spaces have gradually been taken over by foreign elements. The invasion of water and vegetation into various rooms of the house acted as a continuation of Akhavan’s research into the relationship between foreign and familiar, hospitable and hostile, domestic and wild. From the front door to the upstairs bedroom and back to the basement, the installation comprising invasive plants species and hedges governed the audience’s movements, rendering them at times as guests and at times trespassers. At one instance, visitors encountered an oscillating water sprinkler, keeping them at bay with its sprays of water; in another, the original floral carpet from the house created the illusion of sprouting with natural ivy. These territorial gardens addressed the naturalisation of barriers, where every garden is a guarded space, an enclosure, a compound. Water, vegetation and gardening tools created discriminatory spaces, keeping some species alive and others dead.

The residency and exhibition were hosted in partnership with Canada House Arts Trust and Iran Heritage Foundation. The private view is hosted in association with The Third Line Dubai, UAE.