David Nash at Kew - A Natural Gallery
20 February 2012
Saturday 9 June 2012 - Sunday 14 April 2013
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is delighted to announce that David Nash, one of the UK’s most prolific sculptors, will produce and exhibit his work across the Gardens from April 2012 through to April 2013.
The exhibition will open to members of the public in June 2012, with sculptures, installations, drawings and film in place throughout the Gardens, glasshouses, and exhibition spaces. Nash will work at Kew on a ‘wood quarry’ – the first he will have done in ten years – from April 2012, creating new pieces for the exhibition using trees from the Gardens that have come to the end of their natural life. This ongoing work will form part of the exhibition, with the fruits of his labour on display from October 2012.
In a career spanning 40 years, David Nash has created over 2,000 sculptures out of wood, many of them monumental in scale. These sculptures are sometimes carved or partially burned to produce a charred surface. His main tools are a chainsaw and an axe to carve the wood, and fire to char it. Through his work, he has gained a deep understanding of the properties of trees. The artistic process itself is, for Nash, deeply collaborative – between the artist, his material, and the natural world. He adopts a responsive and adaptable approach, allowing nature to dictate the direction that his creations will take. This approach reflects the character of the exhibition as a whole – the viewing experience will change and evolve from visit to visit, due to the nature of the materials used, the changing seasons that shape and colour Kew Gardens so dramatically, and the display of new work that will be created on site, throughout the course of the exhibition.
Working with wood made available naturally (for example by storms, lightning or disease), Nash excavates the tree by means of a ‘wood quarry’. His chosen term indicates the sheer physical effort of working with a whole tree, as well as suggesting a sense of drawing on something pre-existent. The quarry is an outdoor workshop – a work of art in itself – and takes place over several months.
David Nash and Kew make the perfect partnership; a combined force that will inspire visitors to understand their place in the natural world. Nash’s philosophy places particular emphasis on the fundamental role that nature plays in humanity’s continued existence. He sees the environment as our ‘outer skin’; we are not separate from it or its master – everything that we do impacts upon it, for better or for worse. His work results in sculptures in which form and material have a deep mutual sympathy, and retain some of the essence of their original form. Many of these wooden sculptures take forms that allude to man’s dependence on nature, and specifically wood, through the ages. Tables, ladders, chairs, and shelters, all basic human survival tools and utensils, all recur in Nash’s work.
This idea of nature as not only hugely inspiring, but also as a provider of our most fundamental survival materials, is reflected in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection, which illustrates the extent of human use of plants around the world. The huge variety of objects within the collection range from artefacts made from plants to raw plant materials, including a large collection of wood samples. Uses range from food, medicine and utensils, to social activities and clothing. The collection underpins this notion, that plants maintain the health of the world we live in – allowing us to have clean water, fertile farmland, productive seas, and a balanced climate.
Nash’s relationship with and ever-growing knowledge of his chosen material – wood –sits in perfect accordance with the conservation work that Kew carries out both in the UK and across the globe. Kew’s work with trees involves identifying new species, protecting areas of forest diversity, researching their ancestry, DNA, anatomy and chemistry, and studying the fungi that helps them to grow, and eventually, to decay and be recycled. Through projects such as the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Kew can share information, assist in research and in planting new areas of forest, and advise on long term planning.
Steve Hopper, Director (CEO) and Chief Scientist of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says: “We are extremely honoured to host an exhibition of the work of David Nash, a significant and innovative artist whose approach resonates with an important facet of Kew’s work - to encourage people to look at plants and the natural world differently. An exhibition of this kind really helps to convey a simple but vital concept; that we are part of the web of life and nature responds to how we care for it. David Nash at Kew illustrates that nature can act as a great source of inspiration for artists and scientists alike, and brings these two exploratory disciplines together.”
David Nash, says: “I am delighted that my work will be exhibited at as iconic a location as Kew Gardens. Working within the Gardens provides me with the opportunity to continue my explorations into the science and anthropology of trees. This is a unique experience for visitors to see the evolving nature of the exhibition – we will offer an insight into the energy and processes involved in working with wood.
“Every activity that takes place under the name of Kew, from saving plant seed for future generations at The Millennium Seed Bank project, to on-site plant based artefacts and collections, not to mention the overwhelming physicality of the Gardens themselves, carries a message which reminds us that we cannot separate ourselves from the natural world. Our actions, from everyday activities to often essential industrial work, have an impact upon it. My work invites the same consideration. Nature is the essence of our continued existence - it guides us spiritually and takes care of us practically. Wood, specifically, is a fundamental survival material, providing us with homes and shelter, and sustaining us by its use as fuel. The art that I create is fed by such a union, and should always be observed with this essential, unique, and sometimes challenging relationship in mind.”
- 14 April 2012 – The Wood Quarry (Nash working on site)
The wood quarry will be sited on Cedar Vista, within view of the Pagoda. David Nash will transform trees from Kew’s collection that have reached the end of their natural life. Visitors will get a rare and intimate insight into Nash’s creative process – an exclusive opportunity to see evolving pieces of art in different stages of completion. Volunteers will be on hand to answer visitors’ questions throughout the duration of the wood quarry. A black board with chalk drawings will illustrate the ‘work plan of the day’. The sculpture that emerges from the wood quarry will be positioned in situ and also relocated to both indoor and outdoor spaces in the Gardens.
- 9 June 2012 – The Launch
The exhibition, which will open to the public in June, will run throughout the Gardens as well as within the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, the Temperate House, and, in the autumn, the Nash Conservatory. Fifteen existing outdoor works (and four new pieces, including an eight metre diameter cork dome sculpture) will be situated throughout the grounds, and will be supplemented with new works created on-site in October 2012.
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art will be used for the duration of the Nash exhibition, with additional work to be added in October 2012.
The new cork dome sculpture will be accompanied by cork tree drawings. Key works from the Nash collection, including Ash Dome and Bluebell Ring, as well as Wooden Boulder, will be presented in the gallery through drawings, photography and film. The Family Tree drawings will be presented in the gallery’s foyer. These illustrate the development of Nash’s practice from Tower I (1967) to the present day, depicting the different branches of thought and expression that Nash’s work embodies.
The Temperate House will house a host of Nash’s sculptures. These pieces, placed inside the house, will enable a narrative to unfold between the sculptures, the plants and the structure of the glasshouse itself; evoking the form and scale of the building, and the relationship between the living plants and wood-derived sculptures.
- October 2012 - Autumn
The Nash Conservatory will be used as an exhibition space, when a new phase of the exhibition opens in October with work that Nash has created on site on display. Nash will select pieces with forms that are in sympathy with the architecture of this historic conservatory. The Crack and Warp series will be a key feature for this space, made using wood from Kew and Wakehurst Place. The Crack and Warp series are a wonderful example of the collaboration with nature that characterises Nash’s work. The artist selects the wood and makes the cuts, the air then takes over and dries the wood, producing astonishing cracks and warps in accordance with the characteristics of the particular wood species used.
Notes to Editors:
- Born in 1945, David Nash studied at Kingston College of Art, Brighton College of art, and Chelsea School of Art.
- David Nash's first solo exhibition was in York in 1973. An artist of international renown, his work is held in private collections and public galleries all over the world including the Guggenheim, Tate and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. At the age of 21, Nash established a base in Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales, and lives and works at Capel Rhiw, a former chapel built in 1863.
David Nash is represented by:
Annely Juda Fine Art: • Established in 1960 • Specialises in British and International Contemporary, Russian Constructivism and masters of 20th century avant garde. • Represents artists including Anthony Caro, Christo, David Hockney, Leon Kossoff, David Nash and the Estate of Naum Gabo
Galerie Scheffel, Bad Homburg, Germany
For more information please contact the Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email email@example.com
Images are available to download from the Press Image Library. Please contact the press office for the username and password
The collection can be found in Museum No. 1:
- Adults £13.90, concessions £11.90, free for children under 17 (with an adult)
Visitor information: 020 8332 5655 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.kew.org
|Dates||GATES CLOSE (Last entry 1/2 hour before)||Glasshouses & Galleries||Climbers & Creepers||Treetop Walkway (Last entry 1/4 hour before)||Guided tours |
|Until Sat 24 March 2012||5.30pm||5.00pm||10:30am - 5.00pm||5.00pm (Closed until 2 March)||11.00am & 1.30pm |
|Sun 25 March to Mon 27 Aug 2012|| |
Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays 7.30pm
|5.30pm||10:30am - 5.30pm|| |
Sat, sun & Bank Holidays 6.30pm
|11.00am & 1.30pm |
Tues 28 Aug to Sat 27 Oct 2012
|6.00pm||5.30pm||10.30am-5.30pm||5.30pm||11.00am & 1.30pm|
Sun 28 Oct 2012 to Fri 1 Feb 2013
|4.15pm||3.45pm||10.30am- 3.45pm||3.45pm||11.00am & 1.30pm|
Last entry to the Gardens, the Glasshouses, Galleries and the Xstrata Treetop Walkway is 30 minutes before closing
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species). The aim is to conserve 25% by 2020, and its enormous potential for future conservation can only be fulfilled with the support of the public and other funders.
Kew receives funding from the UK Government through Defra for approximately half of its income and is also reliant on support from other sources. Without the voluntary monies raised through membership, donations and grants, Kew would have to significantly scale back activities at a time when, as environmental challenges become ever more acute, its resources and expertise are needed in the world more than ever. Kew needs to raise significant funds both in the UK and overseas. Members of the public can support the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership by getting involved with the ‘Adopt a Seed, Save a Species' campaign. For £25 an individual can adopt a seed or for £1000 anyone can save an entire species. www.kew.org/adoptaseed
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