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David Nash: Sculpture Through the Seasons 

Derek Williams Gallery, National Museum Cardiff

Until 1st September 2019

Having popped over to our National Museum for their monthly organ concerts, one piece appeared out of place in the great Hall. The statue of Perseus and Medusa by Frederick William Pomeroy had been moved. The stairway in which this remarkable statue has frequented for decades was now been replaced with a large piece of wood, or perhaps two pieces. Intrigued, I choose to venture into the exhibition of David Nash: Sculpture Through the Seasons.

It’s now been 50 years in Nash’s studio in Blaenau Ffestiniog, or as it has been more poetically dubbed: 200 seasons. This is the largest gathering of his work in Wales, the place he calls home, with an undying love for the landscapes of Snowdonia. His use of wood is exemplary. It remains so satisfying just to see the way in which he gathers huge pieces of wood and slices them like the fine woodsman he is. There is a sensuality to his work, even the scurried drawings demonstrate this and video work shows him in action, during his relentless cutting and chopping sessions.       

Some of the pieces would not look out of place on stage, perhaps in a Dada performance or a surreal woodland scene. His artworks appears to border on the practical, though closure inspection proves more of an atheistic purpose. Tables look as if they might topple over at any moment, yet the load bearing wood below does all the work here. The use of burnt wood also adds a deeper richer mood with wood make into large shapes. The knife work here is also world class, as he appears to butcher the remains of these trees like an artisan chef. I found myself wanting to stay longer and longer to marvel at these megalithic joys. It would be easy to dub him the Henry Moore of woodwork.     

Even as you enter you are bowled over with Cork bark that towers up as if a giant darkened crown. A fascinating video work of a wooden boulder of his which fell into a stream and over the years began to drift into the estuary, vanishing or years only to return and then never be seen once more. His video work here of said boulder has greats simple cinematography, though due to Nash’ adoration of nature you know he doesn’t need to do much to capture magical things on camera. One wonders if the boulder will ever come back or if it found its way to the ocean. A live Twitter feed on its being found should be essential.  

It is the recycling of natural materials that really steals my heart, a bigger statement of artistry and the environment today. I have a huge respect for Nash, more then I thought I would have. These quirky and beguiling woodworks really seemed to have cast a spell on me. Multiple visits are essential to drink in this large body of work from an artist who has captured my imagination. I guess it stems from admiring an artist who is just so hands on with his craft, creating work seen the world over and admired by the masses. 

Strikingly sensual artwork, beyond satisfying.


Photo Credit: National Museum Cardiff Twitter Page

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