Dismantling the Crown
21st March 2012
The crown of a great oak tree was dismantled carefully last week in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, London. Overseeing the work was sculptor David Nash. All the elements are beginning to fall into place and Nash's first Wood Quarry in 15 years will begin in mid April. There will also be a major exhibition of new works and well known works installed throughout the Gardens alongside the unique collection of trees and plants that Kew is world famous for.
This Wood Quarry is a massive undertaking. To ensure that there was no damage to the tree's limbs as it was dismantled (as each limb contains a number of potential sculptures), each section was cut from the main trunk and then lowered to the ground by a huge crane. Another 4 trees will also be brought to the Wood Quarry site. All of the trees that have been dismantled and brought to the Wood Quarry had reached the end of their lives and died of natural causes.
David Nash sees the trees that become available to him as seams of valuable material, in the same way that seams of minerals are made available from the Earth. Nash then works this seam, hence the term he has used since he first worked on whole trees in the late 70's - 'Wood Quarry'.
The big crane was a handy tool during the dismantling, enabling David Nash to see the potential in each limb as it was positiond and re-positioned while being held in the air by the straps of the crane.
The tree limbs and sections from the old oak at Kew are now safely on the ground, pregnant with the new life that art will bring to them in the coming months. David Nash will be working with his assistants, and the Kew team, making sculptures on site, and in full public view, from mid April. The first part of the exhibition will launch on June the 9th, with another launch, after the exhibition is re-configured, on October the 13th.
David Nash also took the opportunity to have another look around the Temperate House where an exhibition of his sculptures will also take place.
The logistics of installing large pieces of work among many rare, and sometimes delicate, plants requires a lot of planning and the logistics of the installation were worked out on site.
David Nash Profile
Photograph by Harriet Wallis