David Nash at Kew Gardens Revisited

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Last September we travelled down to London to see the exhibition of works by the sculptor, David Nash, at Kew Gardens. We really enjoyed the exhibition, but while we were there we discovered that it was going to be reorganised during September / October to include works that had been created on site at Kew in a “wood quarry”. We were keen to both see the new works and have another look at the exhibition in a Winter setting, so we arranged another trip down to London at the end of the second week in January. We knew we were taking a risk – the weather could have been miserable, or worse, but we were lucky. Although the day started off grey and gloomy, the cloud cleared during the course of the morning resulting in a cold, but bright Winter’s day with blue skies and sunshine.

During the Winter the park closes quite early, at 4:15 in the afternoon, so to make sure that we could see everything we wanted to, we arrived early and were the first through the gates when they opened at 9:30.

The main changes were that the Wood Quarry had been wound up, leaving behind two major sculptures in situ, with other works on display in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art and the Nash Conservatory.

During our visit in September, work at the Wood Quary was almost completed, but we were still able to see some works in progress. These included the two works that remain on the site

Scuttlers

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and Cambium Column.

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The latter has been carved from a dead tree that is still rooted into the ground. It looks like a series of large, unwieldy, cups precariously balanced on top of each other. But this is an illusion. It’s all one piece of wood.

Most of the works created in the Wood Quarry are displayed in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, replacing the older works that were previously being shown.

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There were some larger works, including a cork spire, and Huddle Dome, made of pieces of oak branches, both of which can be seen in the above photograph, the Oval Rings

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inspired by the shapes of plant cells, and a series of smaller sculptures inspired by fruits.

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I particularly likes some of the small pieces, including these

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and these, which seem to be made of off-cuts of wood, charred with branding iron, and which, to me, resemble small versions of shields used by some African peoples.

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The Kew website has more information on the works displayed in the gallery here and a slideshow of pictures here.

There’s a major new work in the Nash Conservatory (this large glass greenhouse isn’t named after the artist) – Cork Spire.

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This large, conical structure is similar to the Cork Dome which is displayed outside the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, but it’s much taller. The colours of the cork bark changed with the light as the sun poured through the windows of the building. We thought it looked like a bonfire and you can almost imagine that it’s on fire when the sun strikes those pieces where the red coloured inner surface of the bark is visible, looking somewhat like flames licking the wood. (Well, it does if you use a little imagination!)

There’s a YouTube video of the Spire being constructed.

We spent a full day exploring the exhibition, and must have covered a few miles walking around the park revisiting the sculptures in the Temperate House and displayed outdoors. Tiring, but well worth it.

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2 thoughts on “David Nash at Kew Gardens Revisited

  1. You’ve beaten me to it again! I am still intending to do a second post with the new works. I thought they were really exciting and beautifully displayed. Glad you managed another trip!

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