David Chalmers Alesworth

“Desi Unday” Bilal Gunj


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I went back to “Bilal Gunj” Lahore’s massive used car part market for a second sound sampling, a few days ago. This time with Huma’s 4 channel Zoom recorder.

In over an hour of walking the lanes I got reasonably varied ambient sound from the breakers, welders, paint-sprayers and a great many gas and kerosene burners heating food and tea. On this trip I realized there was a tremendous culture of food going on here.

Fish, tea, sweet-potatoes, chena, monpelli, carrot juice, egg-fried rice, subzi and dal, roti’s of every description and finally hot, boiled desi-unday. I’d almost given up on the eggs. I kept asking where the sellers were, because it was their presence selling these beautiful subtle-hued, small precious des-unday (local-eggs/free-range eggs) in the context of these ancient and smashed oily wrecks of cars and trucks that had given rise to the egg and engine photographs.

Suddenly they were there running through the lanes, two sellers I’d never seen before. They both carried padded bags to keep the boiled eggs warm, their cry was garam-desi-unday and I realized this would give a somewhat different spin on the photographs. They’d be read as engine heated eggs, not what I’d intended.

I’d intended the teeming living eggs as nature amongst the toxic waste of the man-made, the guts of the engines.

I produced a 12 minute mixed edit of the garam-unday criers and the ambient sounds on my stroll through the richly varied soundscape in the lanes of this market. Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh‘s shrine minarets can be heard throughout the work, a constant accompaniment at Bilal Gunj. This shrine to the patron saint of Lahore, lies right in front of the car market.

“966th URS Shareef is on 3 Feb 2010 Inshallah”
966 Urs Mubarak Of Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh Ali Hajveri Will Held On 19 Safar al Muzaffar And 4 February 2010 (Approx) At Data Darbar , Near Bhatti Gate, Lahore. Pakistan
Days Remaining In URS Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh

His birthday is being celebrated today which a holiday in most of Punjab.

(….haven’t been able to upload this clip as yet)

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Mochi Gate, Old City, Lahore 29th November 2009


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Over Bakra Eid in Lahore, November 2009, near Mochi Gate, Walled City.


Skinning a sheep, near Mochi Gate
(also see movie clip)




Wiring and speakers


BA English


Nan Katai shop


Nan Katai’s


Carolyn Guertin


Bazaar life




Cleaning Goats Heads


Goats Heads


Processing goat parts


also see the movie clip


Dry Fruit Stall




Carolyn Guertin


Brain Computers


Brain Computers


Beautiful animals for Eid




Skins on a bike


Skins at the roadside

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“The Home Front” travelling horticultural experiments


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All this has to become work too…….


Weddelia and Washingtonia in the front garden, October 2009.


Luca, from our room to the Olive orchard.


The Olive grove at alta Luca, Tuscan hills.



Unripe Ginko Biloba Seeds from near Cuvrystrasse, Berlin.
Prior to planting. None have sprouted in three months.


The vegetable garden and wormery on my return from Europe.
Almost everything is dead.


How the Tuscan Olive cuttings were at the begining, August 2009.
-three months later only one is still green.




Thuja orinetalis From near Camp Darby, Tuscany.


More unripe Ginko nuts


The summer’s seed gleanings


Stop Camp Darby.
Outside Pisa Botanical Garden.
Camp Darby is a 2500 acre US munitions dump in the Tuscan countryside between Luca and Pisa.


Congolese Avocado’s



Cat and slug proofing the Ruccola seedlings, moth balls and slug-bait.


Tuscan Olive cuttings


Tuscan olive cuttings


Pots at Lahore nursery.

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“Dream Flowers” (Context images)


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Urban Trees-ongoing (Work)


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I’ve been thinking about a work entitled “The Beautiful Painted trees of Pakistan”
It might be in the form of an English explorer’s portfolio of water-coloured botanical illustrations, maybe in miniature on wasli. Perhaps a combination of text, printed image and hand-work.


However the urban tree here faces many more challenges besides paint.




Tree that don’t sleep.
Constant light will eventually kill any plant.

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Riverside Leisure, Berlin 2009


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“Riverside Summer Home” Berlin. Summer 2009. web. 1.45 min

A sample of fifty-five perfect little homes.
The law states no one is allowed to stay here overnight.




I intend to present them as grid of vintage Kodachrome looking postcard sized images. Alternatively I may issue them as a set of postcards? Yet another Berlin work to resolve.

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“A Walk in the Woods” Berlin, 2009.


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Arno Breker’s studio in the woods.

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Bomb Damage, Yorkstrasse, Berlin.


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Some abandoned railway bridges and some still in use. Frequently passed on our way into Transart, summer 2009. I didn’t get to make work from them on the residency but afterwards I went back and documented them with stills and video.

Similar to the Lola piece they too bear witness.
There is so much damage to the bridges and the surrounding walls. I tried to research why they were targeted to this extent, nothing conclusive as yet, although I did find logs of bombing raids on the area.

What I took to be C.I. sections must be steel given the extent of their gouging and distortion under the effects of the blasts.

Nature is reclaiming much of the surrounding post-industrial sites and railway sidings. Trees are actually growing into the edges of these fabricated metal bridges.

I also find the language of the ornamental capitals of some of the columns interesting.









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Research title update


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“The post-colonial garden as palimpsest”

This is the current working title of my second year paper.

I intend to take a very expanded view of the garden as culture and nature (including small farms, orchards and the landscape of the cities of Lahore and Karachi).

To investigate the possibility of obscured layers of garden practice and concepts that may originate in the land and region itself.
I will include sites in Baltistan as they would seem to have a very different conception of the garden and hopefully I will continue to work there some of this year.
-the poppy fields of the far north, what fantastic gardens they might be?

The current renaming of streets (and prior namings under other administrations) the removal of all Raj statuary and re-appropriation of sites Victoria’s memorial is now Jinnah sister memorial in Lahore).

My emphasis is probably to be on the soft-landscape rather than an analysis of architectural elements, though I’m sure that will form a part of the research.

Perhaps the result would be to argue that the naming of most plants and any particular conception of the garden will always be layered with obscured influence.

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Transart draft Proposals
Research and studio 2009-2

Work Year-1
davidalesworth.com (blog links also on home page)

Research-Proposal (year-2)

Draft title: “Working the Garden, a consideration of the garden in contemporary Pakistan”.

Towards my studio work “A Taxonomy of Eden” I will be researching gardens and urban landscape in contemporary Pakistan. This will include varying attitudes to the notion of nature, wilderness and the paradise garden. Also the legacy of aging colonial parks. Besides readings (see bibliography below) I will interview a cross section of contemporary society from career gardeners in Lahore’s parks, agricultural workers, religious scholars (and lay practitioners from various religions and sects) the educated and the less educated in the city and countryside of Lahore and Karachi (possibly further afield also). From nursery owners, the head of the Punjab Horticultural Authority to jobbing residential gardeners in the Defence housing authorities of Karachi and Lahore. This will follow a format of recordings, translations, transcriptions and analysis. Also photography and some video. I work as a freelance horticultural consultant in Pakistan and have done so for the past 21 years. My clients currently include Agha Khan Cultural Services Pakistan, with whom I am working on several restoration projects, including the uplift of the North Circular Park belt around Lahore’s old city.
(Sacred Texts. Garden Design. Garden History. Landscape. Popular Culture. Decorated Transport. Trees on the edge between nature and culture. Motifs. Carpets. Ageing colonial public parks in Lahore. The culture of the Mali.)

“Working the Garden”
Draft Bibliography (11 July 2009) Part Questia, part owned.

Albinia, Alice. Empires of the Indus. John Murray. 2008.
Anderson, Earl R. Folk-Taxonomies in Early English. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003.
Anderson, Edgar. Plants, Man and Life. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1952.
Anesaki, Masaharu. Art, Life, and Nature in Japan. Boston: Marshall Jones Company, 1933.
Arber, Agnes. Herbals, Their Origin and Evolution: A Chapter in the History of Botany, 1470-1670. Cambridge, England: University Press, 1938.
Aubrey, James R., ed. John Fowles and Nature: Fourteen Perspectives on Landscape. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999.
Aydon, Cyril. Charles Darwin, His life and times. Running Press. 2008.
Bailey, L. H. How Plants Get Their Names. New York: Dover Publications, 1963.
Barton, Gregory Allen. Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Baydawi, Abd Allah, and Mahmud Isfahani. Nature, Man and God in Medieval Islam: ‘abd Allah Baydawi’s Text, Tawali’ Al-Anwar Min Matali’ Al-Anzar, along with Mahmud Isfahani’s Commentary, Matali’ Al-Anzar, Sharh Tawali’ Al-Anwar. Translated by Calverley, Edwin E. and James W. Pollock. Edited by Edwin E. Calverley and James W. Pollock. Vol. 2,. Boston: Brill, 2002.
Bedford, Henry F. Citizen Politics and Nuclear Power Citizen Politics and Nuclear Power. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1990.
Bell, Simon. Landscape: Pattern, Perception, and Process. New York: Spon Press, 1999.
Benson, Lyman D. Plant Taxonomy: Methods and Principles. New York: Ronald Press Co., 1962.
Bracey, H. E. English Rural Life: Village Activities, Organisations, and Institutions. London: Routledge and Paul, 1959.
Brichto, Herbert Chanan. The Names of God: Poetic Readings in Biblical Beginnings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Brother, Nan. Men and Gardens. 1st ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956.
Burden, Robert and Stephan Kohl, eds. Landscape and Englishness. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006.
Busch, Lawrence, William B. Lacy, Jeffrey Burkhardt, Douglas Hemken, Jubel Moraga-Rojel, Timothy Koponen, and José De Souza Silva. Making Nature, Shaping Culture: Plant Biodiversity in Global Context. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.
Campana, Richard J. Arboriculture: History and Development in North America. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1999.
Carr, David M. The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality, and the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Conlogue, William. Working the Garden: American Writers and the Industrialization of Agriculture. Edited by Jack Temple Kirby. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
Dale, Stephen F. The Garden of the Eight Paradises: Babur and the Culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India (1483-1530). Boston: Brill, 2004.
Don, Monty. Around the World in Eighty Gardens. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 2008.
Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Bantam Press. 2006.
Ereshefsky, Marc. The Poverty of the Linnaean Hierarchy: A Philosophical Study of Biological Taxonomy. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Evans, David. A History of Nature Conservation in Britain. London: Routledge, 1997.
Eyler, Ellen C. Early English Gardens and Garden Books. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1974.
Foerster, Norman. Nature in American Literature: Studies in the Modern View of Nature. New York: Macmillan, 1923.
Fry, Michael. A Manual of Nature Conservation Law. Oxford: Oxford University, 1995.
Gardens of Prehistory: The Archaeology of Settlement Agriculture in Greater Mesoamerica. Edited by Thomas W. Killion. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1992.
Gatta, John. Making Nature Sacred: Literature, Religion, and Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Geikie, Archibald. The Love of Nature among the Romans during the Later Decades of the Republic and the First Century of the Empire. London: John Murray, 1912.
Gersdorf, Catrin and Sylvia Mayer, eds. Nature in Literary and Cultural Studies: Transatlantic Conversations on Ecocriticism. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006.
Grady, Wayne, ed. Bright Stars, Dark Trees, Clear Water: Nature Writings from North of the Border. Boston: David R. Godine, 1995
Harada, Jiro. The Lesson of Japanese Architecture. Revised ed. London: Studio Limited, 1954.
Hatton, Richard G. Handbook of Plant and Floral Ornament: Selected from the Herbals of the Sixteenth Century, and Exhibiting the Finest Examples of Plant-Drawing Found in Those Rare Works, Whether Executed in Wood-Cuts or in Copperplate Engravings, Arranged for the Use of the Decorator. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960.
Harberd, Nicholas. Seed to Seed. Bloomsbury. 2006.
Hawks, Ellison, and G. S. Boulger. Pioneers of Plant Study. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1928.
Henderson, John. Hortus: The Roman Book of Gardening. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Hoffenberg, Peter H. An Empire on Display: English, Indian, and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001.
Howes, Laura L. Chaucer’s Gardens and the Language of Convention. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1997.
Huggett, R
ichard John. Geoecology: An Evolutionary Approach. New York: Routledge, 1995.
Hunt, John Dixon. Garden and Grove: The Italian Renaissance Garden in the English Imagination, 1600-1750. 1st ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
Huth, Hans. Nature and the American: Three Centuries of Changing Attitudes. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.
Jacobs, Noah Jonathan. Naming-Day in Eden: The Creation and Recreation of Language. New York: Macmillan, 1958.
Keulartz, Jozef. Struggle for Nature: A Critique of Radical Ecology. London: Routledge, 1998.
King, Amy M. Bloom: The Botanical Vernacular in the English Novel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Lehner, Ernst, and Johanna Lehner. Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees. New York: Tudor Publishing, 1960.
Leiss, William. The Domination of Nature. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994.
León, Luis De. The Names of Christ /. Translated by DurÁn, Manuel and William Kluback. New York: Paulist Press, 1984.
Luger, Michael I., and Harvey A. Goldstein. Technology in the Garden: Research Parks and Regional Economic Development. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.
Merchant, Carolyn. Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Milton, Kay. Loving Nature: Towards an Ecology of Emotion. London: Routledge, 2002.
Noble, David W. The Eternal Adam and the New World Garden: The Central Myth in the American Novel since 1830. New York: Braziller, 1968.
Pavord, Anna. The Naming of Names, The search for order in the world of plants. Bloomsbury. 2005.
Prance, Ghillean and Mark Nesbitt, eds. Cultural History of Plants. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Reed, Howard S. A Short History of the Plant Sciences. Waltham, MA: Chronica Botanica, 1942.
Reed, Michael. The Landscape of Britain: From the Beginnings to 1914. London: Routledge, 1997.
Reynolds, Richard. On Guerrilla Gardening. Bloomsbury. 2008.
Robbins, R. H. A., ed. Religio Medici: Hydriotaphia: And, the Garden of Cyrus. Oxford: Oxford University, 1972.
Rojas, Carlos. The Garden of the Hesperides. Translated by Glad, Diana. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999.
Scidmore, Eliza Ruhamah. Winter India. New York: The Century Co., 1904.
Simmons, I. G. Interpreting Nature: Cultural Constructions of the Environment. New York: Routledge, 1993.
Stave, Shirley A. The Decline of the Goddess: Nature, Culture, and Women in Thomas Hardy’s Fiction. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995.
Gill, Simryn. Pearls. Raking Leaves. 2008.
Thomas, Julia Adeney. Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001.
Tillotson, Geoffrey. Pope and Human Nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958
Trowbridge, Peter J., and Nina L. Bassuk. Trees in the Urban Landscape: Site Assessment, Design, and Installation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2004.
Troyanov, Iliya. The Collector of Worlds. Faber & Faber. 2008 (Novel).
Turrill, W. B, ed. Vistas in Botany. New York: Pergamon, 1959.
Veenhuizen, Rene Van, ed. Cities Farming for the Future: Urban Agriculture for Green and Productive Cities. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2006.
Verdoorn, Frans, ed. Plants and Plant Science in Latin America. Waltham, MA: Chronica Botanica, 1945.
Webb, Richard E. The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1976.
Wiggin, Kate Douglas Smith. My Garden of Memory: An Autobiography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1923.

Transart Year-2
Studio Practice: “A Taxonomy of Eden”

Building upon “The Garden of Babel” 2009 as the initial format I will work towards examining aspects of various sacred texts in translation. Those of the Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam and possibly others in the broad grouping in relation to notions of the garden of Eden. In this respect I will be particularly focusing on the plants mentioned there. Using this with allied horticultural enquiry, and in consultation with various international scholars I would work to build a plausible taxonomy of Eden. The works may be gridded digital prints of botanical and zoological accession labels, as are to be found in Zoos and botanical gardens around the world. My work on “The Garden of Babel” revealed a pleasing lack of scientific rigour in the world of plant taxonomy. I would find reasonable botanical approximations of specifically mentioned plants in Eden (these will be real plants). I will aim for around 180-300 plants in a work. There may be one or more works. I will then make the labels in etched plastic laminates, as authentic botanical labels. Photograph them in particular settings, as I have learnt from the making of “The Garden of Babel”. These may then be composed as grids and printed as large C-prints. How the work will play out in other forms such as performance, video, audio, texts, woven carpets or illuminated manuscripts or their digital equivalents remains to be seen.

Notes/alternatives: Performative: (Autobiography/Horticulture/Video) The Lawn Mower. New Liberal Mowers, Lahore, producing Ransomes vintage 1950’s machines, monstrous machines evolving on their own paths away from their colonial models. Lawn grass is the white mans burden? Myself pulling a large mower around a massive lawn I have made, (re: Un Chien Andalou, the harness pulling all the mass of culture) I encounters at various Stations around the route (Columns of Stewardship for example). Garden machines, garden technologies, male (Machinery) and female (the land itself). A sort of Cremaster of the garden approach. Exploring the history of the lawn: it speaks of class aspirations, industrialization has allowing broad access to the privilege of the lawn, once the domain of the landed gentry. To make my own lawn-mowers and perform with them? (Very autobiographical). Greens, British racing greens (Brooklands, where I studied), English mower greens, the Suffolk Punch mower. Water cans, columns of Stewardship, a journey around the Tarogil lawns. Lawrence Mali’s. Howard Gem rotator’s. My grandfather’s horticultural medal. Events in the journey around the Tarogil play ground lawn, journeying on a ride-on mower?
Go down into the ground too, digging into the soil. Incorporate the “12.2.42” boxes in the fields of Tarogil.

Radical garden design, guerilla gardening? Imran’s early chainsaw, Bhor tree (at home), climbing trees, tree work equipment (I used to work as a tree-surgeon). Fruit bat counting Mali’s, Lawrence Gardens, Cantt. Water Towers. The canals, barrages and bal mitti of Punjab. Garden tools. Lahore Compost at the city dump. Shalimar Gardens in disarray. Punjab Horticultural Association, my meetings with them. Garden plans, graphics, plant taxonomy.
How to build upon “The Garden of Babel” work?

Car number plate grids? Hierarchies. Another trajectory.

DCA 12th
July 2009.

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