Artisan Works at Kew Gardens
David Nash @ Kew Gardens
by Dana Stoll
For the first time in over a decade, wood artist David Nash can be found “mining” sustainably sourced wood at his quarry in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. World renowned for their research and conservation efforts, Kew Gardens seems the perfect backdrop to host an exhibit by the prolific sculptor. It is a deeply-embedded concern for the environment and for the appreciation of nature that unites the two and resonates in everything they do. Nash’s own method is environmentally-minded and in alignment with RWF’s “Respect the Tree” philosophy. In his wood quarry at Kew, Nash mines trees made available naturally through storms or disease. One tree, for instance, was killed by an infestation of beetles. Signs posted all around the exhibit inform the visitor that these trees have reached the end of their natural life, they were not harvested for the sake of art. Utilizing wood that has been sustainably sourced is an integral part of Nash’s creative method, and his long career working with this medium has enabled him to gain a special appreciation of trees.
As an artisan, Nash does not impose his will upon the wood; rather, he views the sculpting process as a synergistic collaboration between the tree and the artisan – one in which he listens to the wood, and lets it speak. In viewing Nash’s sculptures strewn throughout the glasshouse gardens of the Temperate House, it was the imperfections of the wood – the cracks, the warping, the knots – that speak the strongest. Nestled in and among the plants and trees, Nash’s natural art, in the splendor of its flawed beauty, is enhanced by the contrast with the perfection of nature itself.