Tuesday, July 27, 2010

David Nash Exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

If you want to see the full selection of photos of this exhibition you'll need to click over to Flickr.

Jrt Pickle and I went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park today to see the David Nash exhibition. I didn't know a great deal about his work (and if you don't I urge you to search him out - and definitely go to the exhibition if you can), I knew that wood and trees is what he is about and that he discovered Andy Goldsworthy when he was still a student and helped him make a name for himself. I'd seen some pictures of the exhibition too but that was about it. What I saw in those pictures didn't particularly inspire me (my pictures do not represent how stunning these sculptures are either, they really need to be experienced in real life) but I was still keen to see his work in the flesh. And oh boy what a treat!

Photographs of much artwork do not do the actual work much justice, especially with sculpture, which is why I put so much effort into taking the best pictures I can of my own work. We visited a Picasso exhibition recently and the power of the very famous "weeping woman" painting, in the flesh, really astounded me. The grief and feeling of bereavement just poured out of the picture and into my soul. Most art must be seen in the flesh (apart from mine obviously!) ;-).

What you cannot experience in these pictures is the strong smell of the wood, the different textures, the grain, the imposing size or the intricacy of the sculpting, the presence each one has and how they fill the space, stimulate the mind and the senses and stir emotions from deep within. Many pieces are created from a single piece of wood and we could only marvel at the skill required. The deep knowledge of the different properties of different woods and how he follows the internal structure and grain of the wood had me enthralled. On top of that his long term projects, his interest in how things change and grow, decay and degrade, how trees exist in a different time span to us just spoke to me deep inside.

It made me question why land art speaks to me more deeply than other types of art, why investigation of the cycles of nature interests me so much and it made me think that my country upbringing, the endless days I used to spend exploring the countryside as a youngster really have formed my inner core and now I need to let it out.

I was so inspired that as we walked around the park all I could do was "yak-yak-yak!" As ideas poured out of me. Much of it gibberish I'll admit! But good art really has a way of tapping into your unconciousness and releasing something.

This exhibition was his largest to date and spanned the entirety of his 40 year career. I loved seeing his early work which was raw and unformed and spoke of his struggle to find his feet, an identity and a way to channel his passion (I know how that feels right now!). Until finally his essence emerged into his work.

The power and presence of his sculptures really did something to me. Art is life and Nash lives his through his relationship with wood. And stood before or stood amongst a fragrant and lovingly crafted sculpture really makes you feel that life he is living.

In 1978 he created a wooden boulder and he placed it in a river to see what would happen to it. We sat and watched a film where the boulder sat in the river, the level rose and fell, the winter snows covered it with ice and finally a year later the levels rose high enough and it moved. It was found downstream wedged under a bridge. After a few more years it made it to the coast and the tide took it out and brought it back in again and dumped it in a marsh before finally disappearing in 2003. Nash's words were "the boulder isn't lost, it is wherever it is."

I absolutely love that! That idea just has me so inspired. To leave it to the elements, to discover what nature has done with it over many years. Just so interesting. I've only ever watched my sculptures degrade in months, never years and now my mind is in overdrive.

I can't really properly express how much I enjoyed this exhibition, how it has inspired me or indeed what a wonderful place the Yorkshire Sculpture park is so I might just shut up instead. But I will just say go see this exhibition if you can. If you can't then go and search out what is near to you instead. There is so much stuff to see and some of it may open a window into your soul.

I will sign off with the other highlights of today. The giant Sophie Ryder sculptures (really fantastic - see below for some), the squirrel ducking the swallows that were trying to harrass it before it scarpered in a most comical fashion, and finally the sheep who was having a very, very satisfying scratch along the flanks of a Henry Moore masterpiece...

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