New works at the Wood Quarry

Nash created new sculptures at the Wood Quarry over the spring and summer of 2012. In this outdoor studio, his first in public view, he used chainsaws to carve wood from Kew trees that had come to the end of their natural lives, making them into works of art. Much of the work made there is now on display at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, but some large pieces remain.

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A photo of the Wood Quarry

The Wood Quarry in the summer of 2012 (Photo by Wolfgang Stuppy)

Date and material

  • 2012
  • Oak

The oak trunk slightly curves so I needed a form that worked with that fact - a stack of solid cup shapes seemingly in precarious balance.

David Nash

Disassembling the tree

Nash carved Cambium Column from a dead oak that is still rooted in the ground. First, the crown and branches of the tree were taken off - Nash worked in close collaboration with Kew's arborists to make sure sections of the tree were preserved as he wanted them. After this work, Nash removed the bark and sap wood.

Carving the oak in the Wood Quarry
Carving Cambium Column

Creating a column for Kew

To make each cut, Nash marked the ascending shapes with white cord, before marking his lines with two lengths of wood. By this method, he was able to cut parallel angles on each section, creating the illusion of a series of stacked ‘cups’. These give the column precariousness – tottering, tumbling.

The name 'Cambium Column' was inspired by the cellular structure of wood, which Nash explored while spending time with Kew’s wood anatomists.


Other members of the Wood Quarry
Scuttlers being carved







These big ‘running’ pieces are upturned branches, from the trunk of the oak that has now become Cambium Column. Scuttlers look like they might have emerged from the surrounding woodland of the Arboretum. They are relatively un-carved: Nash worked in close collaboration with Kew’s arborists to dismantle the oak, making sure sections of the tree were preserved as he wanted them.

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