Ash Dome

Ash Dome is one of the most celebrated of Nash's living works. Since planting this work, Nash has produced a series of charcoal and pastel drawings inspired by this piece. You can see these works in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art.

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Date and material

  • Planted in 1977
  • Ash
David Nash drawing Ash Dome
Nash drawing Ash Dome in North Wales

Cae'n-y-Coed (field in the trees)

Cae'n-y-Coed is a five acre woodland on the south slope of the Ffestiniog Valley in North Wales, near where Nash lives. In the early 1970s it was almost clear-felled by an unscrupulous woodman. After this, Nash began working in the woodland, on the understanding that in exchange for clearing up the site, he could use any left-over material in his sculpture.

As he spent time there, re-planting the wood, Cae'n-y-Coed prompted Nash to explore how to make wood sculpture exist outside. He says, 'I quickly saw a distinction between a tree growing or "coming" and wood decomposing, breaking down or "going";. The Ash Dome, conceived in 1976, and planted in 1977, was my first "coming" engagement.'

Over the years, Nash made many drawings that document the appearance of Ash Dome through shifting stages of growth, different weather and seasons.

Photo of Ash Dome being pruned
Pruning Ash Dome (Photo by David Nash)

Creating a living work

Nash planted twenty two ash saplings in a 10 metre circle and for over 30 years has been nurturing and pruning them into this domed space. The method evolved from studying hedge rows and observing how different species respond to intervention. Ash is light-seeking so can lean a long way from its root base. It is also very resilient, and responds vigorously to pruning.

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