David Nash at Kew: 9 June 2012 to 14 April 2013.
David Nash is an incredibly prolific artist and is known for his monumental-sized wooden sculptures, more recently because of his successful 2010/11 exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. While he enjoyed this exhibition he told us that he wanted to be with his show and this exhibition at Kew fulfills that desire as he and his wife are living in Kew so he can be with the artworks daily. David feels part of his role at Kew is to caretake and repair the pieces as many are displayed outside so he, and other Kew staff, walk around the gardens every day to check on things. It's not that the public will mistreat the sculptures -- although they are not for climbing on and coal is cleverly used on the surrounding ground to form a simple barrier to deter children as parents are much more likely to stop them if they'd end up covered in coal dust. No, the kind of repairs needed include checking for fox urine marks on the bronze sculptures as it turns the black to blue. David has taken the brave move to only display artworks that he personally owns so he may choose to adapt some pieces during the exhibition or afterwords.
All of David's work is plant-based so he has loved the juxtaposition of art in this scientific and heritage institution that this exhibition brings. And Kew are confident the sculptures will transform a day at Kew Gardens for visitors and bring the landscape alive.
The Quarry is David's outdoor workspace at Kew and while he's not there all the time -- he was keen to stress the sculptures are the exhibition, not him -- you can see the work in progress. The work he creates over the summer will move into the Shirley Sherwood Gallery and the Nash Conservatory. The exhibition is already in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery over the summer -- a space which David described as "perfect" -- and includes illustrations and diagrams to show how he uses a complete tree to create sculptures and artworks. He never cuts a healthy tree down and, therefore, only has his material as nature dictates. He then has a dialogue with the material, responding to what's being offered by nature, and he has to use the confines of what he's given.
Not all of the sculptures are outside and visitors are encouraged to have fun trying to find them all. Also trying to guess which are charred wood and which are bronze. You'd think that was easy but the Head of the Arboretum at Kew Gardens couldn't guess correctly!Click next to enjoy photos and find out more about the artworks on display.