British Sculptor Makes Monumental Works Out of Aged and Diseased Trees

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Cairn Column, 2012

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a spectacular botanical garden on the outskirts of London that includes gardens, pavilions dating back to the 1800's and historic greenhouses.

An extra treat is the sculpture of David Nash, British artist. A passionate environmentalist, he is using trees from the site that have fallen due to disease or old age as the basis for his new works.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Flame Column, 2012

Nash has been working in wood for 40 years. His main tools are a chainsaw, an axe to carve the wood and fire to char it. It's a collaborative process for him: "between the artist, his material and the natural world." Some of the sculptures are black, the wood having been charred and then oiled. This protects the pieces from insect attacks.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Three Butts, 2012

Called Three Butts, 2012, these enormous eucalyptus trees were found in California. The artist said that "When we cut these pieces, they were just so good that I felt they really spoke on their own, in terms of their proportions--these raw, big, dense pieces of wood."

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Cork Spire, 2012

Many of the sculptures are displayed inside the historic and beautiful greenhouses and pavilions on the site. Cork Spire, 2012 is housed in the Nash Conservatory, a greenhouse built in 1836. The magnificent ascending pile of cork bark is made from cork oak trees from Portugal.

© Kew Royal Botanic Gardens Cork Dome, 2012

The works are spread across the gardens, looming suddenly around a corner, or hidden amidst a group of trees. A variation, this low, oval shaped, outdoor sculpture is also made of cork bark.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

A close-up of the bark from the Cork Dome, above.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 Oculus Block, 2012

Called Oculus Block, 2012, this one is made of eucalyptus. Nature dictates the shape and direction that the sculpture takes. The splinters, fissures and knots are an integral part of each piece.

Tags: Artists | Forestry | London

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