Nash sourced the wood for this imposing sculpture near a site he was working at in northern California. His original aim was to find wood for a series of huge spheres. But this piece - four eucalyptus trunks naturally fused together - suggested a square form.
Oculus Block: from wood yard to Kew Gardens
Date and material
Making Oculus Block
Oculus Block required a wide-load escort to the wood yard - it originally weighed 25 tonnes and each cut took a day just to mark up.
Nash wanted to cut each side of Oculus Block in one smooth line, but the tree was so massive that to do this his team had to make a bespoke chainsaw that would reach right across.
'Oculus' is Latin for eye; in this context it refers to a space that runs down the centre of the wood between the multiple trunks that have fused together. Nash also observes other instances of 'oculus' near to his home in Wales, such as an opening in a nearby mountain used by miners to get their slate down the hillside, creating a hole that is perfectly in line with the blue sky.
Discovering the wood for Oculus Block
Eucalyptus are native to Australia, Tasmania and the surrounding islands but were first introduced to the rest of the world in the 1700s. They were widely planted in California to provide fuel for locomotives, there being no coal on the west coast. Eucalyptus are now proving problematic in this environment. Nash discovered the wood for Oculus Block because this tree was being cut down as part of a programme to eradicate eucalyptus in California.
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