David Nash at Kew Gardens
Saturday 9 June 2012 - Sunday 14 April 2013

October 2011

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is delighted to announce that David Nash, one of the UK’s most prolific creators of ecological art, will produce and exhibit his work across the Gardens from April 2012 through to April 2013.

The exhibition will open to members of the public in June 2012, with sculptures, installations, drawings and film in place throughout the Gardens, glasshouses, and exhibition spaces. Nash will work at Kew on a ‘wood quarry’ from April 2012, creating new pieces for the exhibition using trees from the Gardens that have come to the end of their natural life. This ongoing work will form part of the exhibition.

Please click here for David Nash images

In a career spanning 40 years, David Nash has created over 2,000 sculptures out of wood, many of them monumental in scale. These sculptures are sometimes carved or partially burned to produce a charred surface. His main tools are a chainsaw and an axe to carve the wood, and fire to char it. Through his work, he has gained a deep understanding of the properties of trees. The artistic process itself is, for Nash, deeply collaborative – between the artist, his material, and the natural world. He adopts a responsive and adaptable approach, allowing nature to dictate the direction that his creations will take. This approach reflects the character of the exhibition as a whole – the viewing experience will change and evolve from visit to visit, due to the nature of the materials used, the changing seasons that shape and colour Kew Gardens so dramatically, and the display of new work that will be created on site, throughout the course of the exhibition.

Working with wood made available naturally (for example by storms, lightning or disease), Nash excavates the tree by means of a ‘wood quarry’. His chosen term indicates the sheer physical effort of working with a whole tree, as well as suggesting a sense of drawing on something pre-existent. The quarry is an outdoor workshop – a work of art in itself – and takes place over several months.

A shared commitment to the environment make Nash and Kew the perfect partnership; a combined force that will inspire visitors to understand their place in the natural world. Nash’s philosophy places particular emphasis on the fundamental role that nature plays in humanity’s continued existence. He sees the environment as our ‘outer skin’; we are not separate from it or its master – everything that we do impacts upon it, for better or for worse. His work results in sculptures in which form and material have a deep mutual sympathy, and retain some of the essence of their original form. Many of these wooden sculptures take forms that allude to man’s dependence on nature, and specifically wood, through the ages. Tables, ladders, chairs, and shelters, all basic human survival tools and utensils, all recur in Nash’s work.

This idea of nature as not only hugely inspiring, but also as a provider of our most fundamental survival materials, is reflected in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection, which illustrates the extent of human use of plants around the world. The huge variety of objects within the collection ranges from artefacts made from plants to raw plant materials, including a large collection of wood samples. Uses range from food, medicine and utensils, to social activities and clothing. The collection underpins the notion, that plants maintain the health of the world we live in – allowing us to have clean water, fertile farmland, productive seas, and a balanced climate.

Nash’s relationship with and ever-growing knowledge of his chosen material – wood –sits in perfect accordance with the conservation work that Kew carries out both in the UK and across the globe. Kew’s work with trees involves identifying new species, protecting areas of forest diversity, researching their ancestry, DNA, anatomy and chemistry, and studying the fungi that helps them to grow, and eventually, to decay and be recycled. Through projects such as the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Kew can share information, assist in research and in planting new areas of forest, and advise on long term planning.

Steve Hopper, Director (CEO) and Chief Scientist of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says: “We are extremely honoured to host an exhibition of the work of David Nash - a significant and innovative artist whose approach resonates with Kew’s fundamental concern, to protect the natural world. When people can see themselves as part of the environment and appreciate that their everyday lives are dependent upon it, they begin to understand the urgent need to conserve habitats, and are encouraged to become involved. An exhibition of this kind really helps to convey a simple but vital concept - that we are part of the web of life and nature responds to how we care for it. David Nash at Kew illustrates that nature can act as a great source of inspiration for artists and scientists alike, and brings these two exploratory disciplines together.”


• April 2012 – The Wood Quarry (Nash working on site)

The wood quarry will be sited on Cedar Vista, within view of the Pagoda. A group of volunteers will answer visitors’ questions whilst Nash and his team will work with the trees and offcuts. A black board with chalk drawings will illustrate the ‘work plan of the day’ and how this evolves over the wood quarry duration. The sculpture that emerges from the wood quarry will be positioned in situ and also relocated to both indoor and outdoor spaces in the Gardens.

• June 2012 – The launch

The exhibition, which will open to the public in June, will run throughout the Gardens as well as within the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, the Temperate House, and, in the autumn, the Nash Conservatory. Twelve existing outdoor works will be situated throughout the grounds, and will be supplemented with new works created on-site during the exhibition period.

The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art will be used for the duration of the Nash exhibition, with additional work to be added in October 2012.

The centrepiece of the gallery exhibition will be a large scale cork dome sculpture, which will be accompanied by cork tree drawings. Key works from the Nash collection, including Ash Dome and Bluebell Ring, as well as Wooden Boulder, will be presented in the gallery through drawings, photography and film. The Family Tree drawings will be presented in the gallery’s foyer. These illustrate the development of Nash’s practice from Tower I (1967) to the present day, depicting the different branches of thought and expression that Nash’s work embodies.

The Temperate House will house a host of Nash’s sculptures. These pieces, placed inside the house, will enable a narrative to unfold between the sculptures, the plants and the structure of the glasshouse itself; evoking the form and scale of the building, and the relationship between the living plants and wood-derived sculptures.

• October 2012 - Autumn

The Nash Conservatory will be used as an exhibition space, when a new phase of the exhibition opens in October. Nash will select sculptures with forms that are in sympathy or juxtaposition with the architecture of this historic conservatory. The Crack and Warp series will be a key feature for this space, and new columns will be made using wood from Kew and Wakehurst Place. The Crack and Warp seriess are a wonderful example of the collaboration with nature that characterises Nash’s work. The artist selects the wood and makes the cuts, the air then takes over and dries the wood, producing astonishing cracks and warps in accordance with the characteristics of the particular wood species used.

Notes to Editors:
• Born in 1945, David Nash studied at Kingston College of Art, Brighton College of art, and Chelsea School of Art.
• David Nash's first solo exhibition was in York in 1973. An artist of international renown, his work is held in private collections and public galleries all over the world including the Guggenheim, Tate and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. At the age of 21, Nash established a base in Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales, and lives and works at Capel Rhiw, a former chapel built in 1863.

For more information please contact the RBG Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email pr@kew.org

Images are available to download fromwww.kew.org/press/images. Please contact the press office for the username and password

For more information on the Shirley Sherwood Gallery please go to:

For more information about the Economic Botany Collection please go to:
The collection can be found in Museum No. 1:

• Opening hours: 

DatesGATES CLOSE  Glasshouses & GalleriesClimbers & CreepersTreetop WalkwayGuided tours
Up to Sat 29 Oct 20116pm5:30pm10:30 - 5:30pm5:30pm11am & 2pm
Sun 30 Oct to Sat 4 Feb 20124:15pm3:45pm10:30 - 3:45pm3:45pm11am & 2pm
Sun 5 Feb to Sat 24 Mar 20125:30pm5pm10:30am - 5pm5pm11am & 2pm

• Last entry to the Gardens, the Glasshouses, Galleries and the Xstrata Treetop Walkway is 30 minutes before closing

Opening times from March 2012 to be confirmed, please check the following link for details: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/visit-information/opening-times/index.htm

• Up until March 2012, Adults £13.90, concessions £11.90, free for children under 17 (with an adult)
• Prices from April 2012 to be confirmed
Visitor information: 020 8332 5655 or info@kew.org
Website: www.kew.org

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species). The aim is to conserve 25% by 2020, and its enormous potential for future conservation can only be fulfilled with the support of the public and other funders.

Kew receives funding from the UK Government through Defra for approximately half of its income and is also reliant on support from other sources. Without the voluntary monies raised through membership, donations and grants, Kew would have to significantly scale back activities at a time when, as environmental challenges become ever more acute, its resources and expertise are needed in the world more than ever. Kew needs to raise significant funds both in the UK and overseas. Members of the public can support the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership by getting involved with the ‘Adopt a Seed, Save a Species' campaign. For £25 an individual can adopt a seed or for £1000 anyone can save an entire species. www.kew.org/adoptaseed