Tuesday 14 January 2020

Human, nature: David Nash at the Towner Gallery

I am much later posting this than I meant to be, but there are still a couple of weeks left for you to make your way, if you can, to this superb exhibition at the Towner Gallery - located in Eastbourne on the UK's south coast.

(Currently, it is hard to pass by the gallery without spotting it.)

'200 Seasons' is a major retrospective of the wood sculpture of David Nash. I had seen previous exhibitions of his work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Kew Gardens, so certain pieces and elements of his style were familiar. What felt instantly different here was the sheer, concentrated intensity of bringing the entire body of work on display indoors. (I remember the Kew show in particular including some gallery pieces, but the 'main event' was of course to display his large scale work in the expanse of the Gardens.)

Nash has created a remarkable - and one assumes, still in progress - visual chronicle of his artistic development, called 'Family Tree'. It features sketches of his key works along interweaving, mind-map style timelines. To me, this seems to chart a journey of art profoundly shaped by nature, morphing into an expression of mankind's desire to shape and controlnature.

Clearly, there are callbacks to earlier structures, but overall the pieces seem to become more rigid, industrial, imposing, with more control, even violence against the materials. It seems timely, then, to contain this wooden universe within a bright, artificial, almost brutalist environment - and fascinating to see how well the two worlds mesh.

To this end, rather than focus my camera on individual pieces, I wanted to give you some idea of the 'hang' - I think the Towner has made brilliant use of its spaces, particularly in the cavernous ground floor area, where Nash's towers feel right at home. Many of the sculptures interact not only with the environment but also each other, echoing shapes and shadows.

I hope you enjoy these photos, and that they'll move as many of you as possible towards catching the exhibition before it closes on 2 February - more details on the Towner website, here.


1 comment:

  1. Great creativity... good luck.

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