The Ionic Temple at Chiswick House Gardens

London, United Kingdom


  • Chiswick House
  • London W4 2RP
  • United Kingdom

Opening times

Thur. 03 Dec – Sun. 06 Dec 2015 Opening hours: 10 – 3.30 pm last entry 3.00 pm


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Ionic Temple at Chiswick House opens to public for interactive Site Specific Installation

For the final Sculpture Shock HISTORIC installation Finnish artist HANNA HAASLAHTI merges past and present in an interactive intervention in Lord Burlington’s neo-Palladian Ionic Temple, usually closed to the public, in the dazzlingly beautiful recently restored gardens of Chiswick House.

Nestled in the 18th century birthplace of the English Landscape Movement sits the small but perfectly formed Ionic Temple. A miniaturised version of the Pantheon in Rome designed by Lord Burlington and William Kent, it originally housed three Roman statues, which over the course of the centuries lost their arms, and with them their ability to communicate power and authority through their gestures.  The artist reclaims their and other gestures and reincarnates them as fragments floating on the mirror lake.  Each limb points in a different direction as if to confuse the viewer as he enters the site as to what to believe, and which way to turn. 

Haaslahti uses the Ionic Temple to question the fabric of history itself.  She creates a stark contrast between the perceived solidity of the old and the very real instability of material and information in our own, the digital era.  Of course history often conceals more than it reveals, it is carefully manipulated and many layered.  Layering was a method used lavishly on the gilded surfaces in the interior of the house, making the cheap look precious and desirable.  The artist has inverted this process and added her own contemporary un-precious, artificial veneer to the interior of the Ionic Temple.  Constantly looking beyond the surface of the object in a bid to unearth its essence, Haaslahti makes the viewer a vital part of the work.  Stripped of passivity, once inside the Temple he becomes a source and conduit of the most ephemeral of materials – light. 

Sculpture Shock, in its third and final year, is the award that encourages surprising site specific spatial interventions in non-traditional spaces outside the confines of the white cube in the subterranean (the unseen world underneath our city), ambulatory (without physical confines in movement through space and time) and historic (an illustrious building in London) environment.  Haaslahti was selected by an illustrious panel of judges including artist Richard Wilson R.A and Dave Beech.  Past jury members include Sarah Kent, Richard Cork and Cornelia Parker.