David Nash at Kew: A Natural Gallery

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David Nash in the Wood Quarry, 2012 (© RBG, Kew)


Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB


Saturday 9 June 2012 - Sunday 14 April 2013


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Event Description

David Nash, one of the UK’s most prolific sculptors, will produce and exhibit his work across the The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from April 2012 through to April 2013.

The exhibition will open to members of the public in June 2012, with sculptures, installations, drawings and film in place throughout the Gardens, glasshouses, and exhibition spaces. Nash will work at Kew on a ‘wood quarry’ – the first he will have done in ten years – from April 2012, creating new pieces for the exhibition using trees from the Gardens that have come to the end of their natural life. This ongoing work will form part of the exhibition, with the fruits of his labour on display from October 2012.

In a career spanning 40 years, David Nash has created over 2,000 sculptures out of wood, many of them monumental in scale. These sculptures are sometimes carved or partially burned to produce a charred surface. His main tools are a chainsaw and an axe to carve the wood, and fire to char it. Through his work, he has gained a deep understanding of the properties of trees.

The artistic process itself is, for Nash, deeply collaborative – between the artist, his material, and the natural world. He adopts a responsive and adaptable approach, allowing nature to dictate the direction that his creations will take. This approach reflects the character of the exhibition as a whole – the viewing experience will change and evolve from visit to visit, due to the nature of the materials used, the changing seasons that shape and colour Kew Gardens so dramatically, and the display of new work that will be created on site, throughout the course of the exhibition.

Working with wood made available naturally (for example by storms, lightning or disease), Nash excavates the tree by means of a ‘wood quarry’. His chosen term indicates the sheer physical effort of working with a whole tree, as well as suggesting a sense of drawing on something pre-existent. The quarry is an outdoor workshop – a work of art in itself – and takes place over several months.

David Nash and Kew make the perfect partnership; a combined force that will inspire visitors to understand their place in the natural world. Nash’s philosophy places particular emphasis on the fundamental role that nature plays in humanity’s continued existence. He sees the environment as our ‘outer skin’; we are not separate from it or its master – everything that we do impacts upon it, for better or for worse.

His work results in sculptures in which form and material have a deep mutual sympathy, and retain some of the essence of their original form. Many of these wooden sculptures take forms that allude to man’s dependence on nature, and specifically wood, through the ages. Tables, ladders, chairs, and shelters, all basic human survival tools and utensils, all recur in Nash’s work.

Nash’s relationship with and ever-growing knowledge of his chosen material – wood –sits in perfect accordance with the conservation work that Kew carries out both in the UK and across the globe. Kew’s work with trees involves identifying new species, protecting areas of forest diversity, researching their ancestry, DNA, anatomy and chemistry, and studying the fungi that helps them to grow, and eventually, to decay and be recycled. Through projects such as the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Kew can share information, assist in research and in planting new areas of forest, and advise on long term planning.

Daily walking tour of Nash's sculptures
Sat 09 June 2012 - Sun 14 April 2013, 12 noon and 2pm daily

Join a guided walking tour and see a selection of Nash's sculptures around the Gardens at Kew.

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