In celebration of the exhibition David Nash: Full Circle at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, we are delighted to present an online viewing room of Nash's works on paper.
David Nash is best known for his wooden sculptures, however, drawing has always been an important element of his practice. Interested in the nature of pigment itself, he often allows it to dictate the form of the image (‘colour-form’). The raw pigment is applied directly to paper through an energetic process and halos of colour around the main shape are deliberately left on the paper. Elsewhere, Nash observes forms and colours in nature, such as the change in the colour of oak leaves in spring from orange through yellow to bright green.
Working out of a dedicated drawing studio in North Wales, the artist’s drawings are inspired by trees, from the observational and documentary, through to intensely coloured, abstract works that capture the essence of their life force. It is a way of learning about and understanding his subject, of finding form for ideas, recording and responding to forms from life.
“environment and ecology are a first consideration for me as an artist”
Nash studied at Kingston College of Art from 1963-67 and Chelsea School of Art in London from 1969-70. In 1967 he moved to the remote village of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales, where he still lives and works. Nash’s early work was seen as a response to minimalism, but from the late 60’s his art became more of a collaboration with nature. He works mainly with wood which he carves (often with a chainsaw) and sometimes chars. He also makes ‘living sculptures’ including Ash Dome; a collection of living ash trees planted in 1977 and coppiced to form a natural dome sculpture. He treats the wood with great respect, allowing the natural qualities of each species to inform the final shape of the work. He now also casts sculptures in bronze. His charred wood forms have deep black, velvety surfaces contrasting with the rich natural tones and grains of the particular type of wood itself and are mimicked masterfully if cast in bronze. Alongside his sculpture he has always made drawings and stencil editions.
David Nash was elected a Royal Academician in 1999 and in 2004 received an OBE for services to the arts. His sculpture Big Black won the prestigious Wollaston Award in the summer of 2016 at the Royal Academy, the same year he also won the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association’s March Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture for his work, Habitat. He has had many international solo exhibitions throughout his career including the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield; Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew; Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany and the Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan and in 2019 an extensive retrospective exhibition was held at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff and the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne. Nash has works in over 80 major public collections around the world including the Royal Academy of Arts, London; Tate Gallery, London; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.