Exhibition highlighting a unique relationship with trees, not only as source material but also an understanding as we see their importance to our ecosystem.
David Nash: Seeing Trees at Oriel Môn
“Trees show their time-story through their form. At all stages trees and wood reveal their place and progress in this great cycle of coming and going, soaked in weather and time.”
For the very first time, Oriel Mon is thrilled to be hosting an exhibition of works on paper by world renowned artists and sculptor David Nash. The exhibition Seeing Trees opens its doors in Oriel Kyffin Williams at Oriel Mon on the 9th of September.
The main body of this exhibition was shown at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2022 as part of a celebration of David Nash’s long-standing relationship with the park and recognition of his 2D work. As many of the drawings are connected to north Wales, where Nash has his home and studio in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Oriel Môn was the obvious choice to host this special exhibition, which is further extended with a feature on Ash Dome, Nash’s celebrated planting work.
David Nash has dedicated his artistic life to an evolving study of trees and wood, absorbing knowledge through hands-on planting projects and making sculptural works, but throughout his career drawing has remained a cornerstone of his practice. This exhibition at the Kyffin Williams Gallery at Oriel Môn celebrates David Nash’s drawings of trees, which for five decades have generously provided subject, material and inspiration.
Seeing Trees captures this close relationship in drawings ranging from the observational and documentary, through to intensely coloured, abstract works that capture the very essence of their vegetation and life force.
Ian Jones, Collections Manager, Oriel Môn stated, “Many will be aware and amazed by David’s work with wood and environmental art, but this exhibition aims to highlights his skills as a draughtsman. Drawing is an integral part of his sculptural work and reveals his thought processes. As you will see in this exhibition, they make a powerful statement and stand-alone quite magnificently withing Oriel Kyffin Williams”.
David Nash says, “My father was born in North Wales. His work was in London but his heart remained where he grew up. Every holiday, Easter, Summer, Autumn half term and Christmas he drove us up to stay in Llan Ffestiniog with his parents. All my nature and seasonal experience was gained among trees in the Ffestiniog valley, and it is where I feel most at home. Drawing was a constant occupation as a child which led me to art school and finding a life as an artist in north Wales”.
Spanning five decades, the broad range of drawings shown reflect different processes and types of mark making, from fine graphite to thick, smoky charcoal, and bold swathes of colour achieved by applying pure pigment with cloth. The dynamic Big Beech Going at Space (1978) an early work made at Llan Ffestiniog, coveys the pure energy of growth through minimal yet highly expressive lines. This directness comes from drawing immediately and rapidly from life in the landscape and is driven by the particular qualities of trees and their environments. Other works reflect a greater distance, made in the studio and concentrating on embodying the sensation of a principal characteristic such as colour, as so vibrantly demonstrated in Red Tree (2012) or in May (2020) and July (2020) which capture and distil the colours in nature around us. Place is also often reflected directly in the process with the artists using materials such bracken char in Cae’n-y-Coed (1980) and earth from the surrounding ground for Ash Dome (2007). Autumn Leaves in a River, November, Llan Ffestiniog (1983), was made by drawing single leaves with ink as they flowed past and then repeatedly dipping the paper in the river water to build up layers of different densities and reflect the durational nature of making.
Sarah Coulson, Senior Curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park says of the work “the exhibition reflects the great energy and passion of a uniquely skilled draughtsman”.