Wednesday, 21 March 2012

David Nash: Wooden Boulder (1978+)

The year after he began Ash Dome, Nash set another radical work in motion, literally. He had started carving a very large oak where it had fallen in the highlands of Snowdonia. The location was not easily accessible and he had to consider ways of transporting the sculptures that he produced. This problem of practicality was the inspiration for a truly original piece of landscape art.

He carved a huge chunk of trunk into what resembled a large boulder and decided to set it in a mountain stream. He knew that the boulder would move downstream as the waters carried it. He also knew that the journey of this wooden boulder would be sporadic and directly affected by the levels of rainfall. It was heavy and needed considerable water to make it buoyant. The longer it sat in water, the more waterlogged it would become and less buoyant as a result. For the next quarter of a century the boulder would travel slowly but surely towards the sea, at the mercy of the elements. It was last sighted in March 2003 when the River Dwyryd carried it away. The journey of the boulder drew a line through the land and Nash maintained a relationship with the sculptural journey, tracking it and recording it in photographs, film and by producing his own drawings of the boulder as its situation changed.

With Wooden Boulder, Nash invented a new way for artists to work with the landscape. It is a drawing on a grand scale using the land itself as the canvas. The role of Nash, the artist, in this piece was as instigator and biographer. The art itself was part performance and as a result of its making, it disappeared, now existing only as documentation and concept.


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Click on image below for another, more recent, overview of the work of David Nash...

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