Threshold Column

1998
Charred oak
300 x 141 x 126 cm
Edition of 1

Charred columns have recurred regularly in Nash’s work since 1983. The column is clearly a form related to the vertical nature of trees, and Nash himself uses whole trunks to produce his column works. Threshold Column was made in David Nash’s studio in Blaenau Ffestiniog from Sussex oak. One of a series of works made on the theme of the ‘threshold’—an opening, but in this case not large enough to enter physically. This is the first version of Nash’s columns to be shown in the open air. The tree’s natural bulk has allowed Nash the freedom to carve robustly, but also to acknowledge the attributes offered by this particular trunk. The charred surface is achieved by cladding the sculpture with light combustible materials, which were held in place by floorboards, then set alight. This is a vital and risky moment in the progress of the sculpture, as the flames have to be controlled by spraying water over the surface so that it burns evenly. Steam and smoke combine to dramatic effect and the charred sculpture is revealed as the boards fall away. David Nash says “Charring transforms the surface from a vegetable material to carbon. The sense of scale and time are strangely changed. The charred form feels compacted yet distanced in space.”

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About The Artist

Nash’s sculptures are made from unseasoned wood, which inherently alter after his intervention, cracking and twisting as they dry. In harnessing not only the element of air, but also fire and water, Nash changes the form and surface of his sculptures. Charred columns have recurred regularly in Nash’s work since 1983 when he produced his first charred works in Japan in the early eighties, in a process that was almost ritualistic. Charring changes the surface of wood to carbon, which, when treated with preservative and linseed oil, gives the sculptures a longer life in the open air. In 1999, Nash embarked on making some works in bronze, using earth and fire in the process. The resulting sculptures, with their patina resonant of smoke and ash, hold echoes of his works in wood. The charred surface is achieved by cladding the sculpture with light combustible materials, which were held in place by floorboards, then set alight. This is a vital and risky moment in the progress of the sculpture, as the flames have to be controlled by spraying water over the surface so that it burns evenly. Steam and smoke combine to dramatic effect and the charred sculpture is revealed as the boards fall away. David Nash says “Charring transforms the surface from a vegetable material to carbon. The sense of scale and time are strangely changed. The charred form feels compacted yet distanced in space.”

David Nash

Born: 1945

Other Artworks by David Nash at CASS

1995

Mosaic Eggs

The oval has been used frequently by Nash, often in pairs, and has been explored in many different ways. Only slightly m…

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