Blue Ring

Blue Ring began as a living work – a circle of bluebells on the hillside at Cae'n-y-Coed in Wales. In his exhibition at Kew Gardens, Nash represents this work through a series of drawings and a ring of bluebell seeds.

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Date and material

  • 1990
  • Bluebell seeds and pastel on canvas

The evolution of Blue Ring

In the winter of 1983, Nash moved thousands of bluebell bulbs into a 30 metre ring on an open slope at Cae'n-y-Coed. Every spring, just for two or three weeks, a circular concentration of blue was visible amidst a sparser sea of blue. This concentration gradually dispersed back into the general covering of bluebells after four years.

As a way of presenting this blueness, Nash has here gathered bluebell seeds, which are a deep indigo blue, to create a loosely scattered circle, accompanied by a loose blue pastel circle on canvas on the wall.

Making Blue Ring

Nash has experimented with ways of collecting seeds. He began by harvesting bluebells before they'd dried out and hanging them up in his studio. Lots of seeds would fall out, but he describes this as 'a sticky and smelly business' because the vegetation was still moist and began to decompose, also dripping a sticky varnish onto his floor.

Nash then discovered another system – he leaves the plants to dry out before harvesting them. He then places a jam jar carefully over the stem and shakes it to extract the tiny seeds. Although cleaner, this method is very labour intensive because it only produces ten seeds per plant. Nash later removes the dry, scaly protective casings around the seeds; in the past he has poured them out of a cup over a trough, using the wind to blow the casings off. He has also visited Kew's Millennium Seed Bank and saw where seeds are placed in seed cleaning machines to separate the casings from pure seed.

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