THE bumper attraction at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park this summer is the huge exhibition by renowned artist David Nash whose 200 works in wood are bound to impress thousands of visitors.
The show ranges widely from monumental pieces in the open air to equally impressive works in the underground galleries. Wood is a material which can be changed in so many ways and even continues to change after the artist has finished shaping it.
It can be cut, gouged, drilled, charred – and it is some of the charred pieces that Nash seems to specialise in look so remarkable, like black basalt. Take Pyramid Sphere, for instance, a great ball of charred oak which is accompanied by a two-dimensional impression on the wall behind in one of the underground galleries.
Husk is a series of more than a dozen square vessels of different sizes in charred oak and there’s a tall King and Queen in the same material.
Two Vessels – canoe-like pieces – use burnt oak, Red Flash is in yew, Red Frame in sequoia.
The huge Oculus Block with its splits and indentations was sourced in northern California and had to be shipped over to the park because of its size and weight.
Nash, whose exhibition has been three years in the making but is really a retrospective covering 40 years of work, has been working on site at the park for several weeks, with 71 oak steps en route to the Longside Gallery among his works.
At the opening ceremony he spoke of his delight at the park setting for his show and said he had been inspired by YSP’s magnificent trees.
A spokesman for the park said the historic landscape of YSP was a fitting backdrop chosen by Nash and the culmination of a 30-year relationship with the park. He said: “This is envisaged to be the largest exhibition, present or future, by an acclaimed artist who has developed an eloquent understanding of trees, working with their traits to create sculpture, installation, projects and related drawings.”
Nash decided to use the unseasoned wood of whole tree trunks and limbs after re-discovering forgotten pieces of timber that had continued to change without his intervention.
The spokesman added: “This method celebrated the unique attributes of his chosen material as it continues to dry, warp and crack, changing in appearance long after the artist has finished shaping it. These works convey a wealth of expression from enormous force to exquisite delicacy produced by Nash’s unique use of chainsaw and charring, as well as natural drying.”
The artist’s home and studio are in a disused chapel on the slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog in Wales where he dubs his collection of work his ‘congregation.’
The Longside Gallery at YSP is showing a retrospective exhibition of his pieces. The Bothy Gallery is illustrating Wooden Boulder, a celebrated piece by the artist released into a stream in the Welsh mountains in 1978, while the Garden Gallery is showing works form the sculptor’s archive, exploring the development of his practice.
There is something in this show to capture the attention of every visitor and runs until February next year.