June 3, 2005
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will present “David Nash: The Language of Wood: Sculpture and Drawings from the Andrew and Bronya Galef Collection” from Friday, June 10, through Sunday, July 31. This exhibition features 30 works by the contemporary British artist David Nash that were given to the Mead in 2004 by Andrew G. Galef (Amherst College Class of 1954) and his wife Bronya Galef.
Born in 1945, Nash is an environmental sculptor who now resides in Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales. Ash, birch, elm, lime, oak and other woods serve as his muse. His vision is propelled by live trees and other vegetative species—he is specifically inspired by their intrinsic forms and structures and the manner in which he can manipulate, stimulate and transform their growth.
Nash is internationally renowned for his sculptures and installations or plantings, and for the way in which he encourages and prunes, or “fletches,” this organic medium. Through the course of years, he has nurtured his living installations. Nash's ephemeral and conceptual works explore the ongoing and at times unpredictable forces of nature, as well as the delicate tension between the artist's hand and these elements. One of his most famous projects is the Ash Dome, which he first initiated in 1977 by planting a circle of 22 ash trees in Cae'n-y-coed, near his home on the coast of Wales. Over the years, Nash has directed and tended the growth of these trees while allowing the natural process to evolve. Through his patient efforts, the Ash Dome has matured, attaining mystical—even hallowed—status. Today, at the apex of its canopy of verdant foliage, there is a small dome through which sunlight can pass. Nash has documented the development of this grove with on-site drawings for years; 10 of these drawings are on view in the Mead's exhibition.
Nash's sculpture provides a commentary on the sublime and relentless forces of nature. Impelled by fallen or uprooted trees—the artist never cuts a healthy living tree down—these works rely on both his hand—which bears his mark by axe, chainsaw or fire—and the inherent properties of wood that cause it to crack, split, twist and warp. The Mead's collection includes several works that convey this tenuous relationship between intention and chance, strength and fragility.
David Nash is the subject of exhibitions in London this summer at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Annely Juda Gallery. His poetic and spiritual cultivations can be found growing in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and the United States.
The Mead Art Museum is open this summer while the construction of the adjacent dormitories continues. A temporary entrance is provided and the museum remains wheelchair accessible; please call ahead for details. The Mead's summer hours are 12 noon to 4 p.m. until Sunday, July 31. The Mead will be closed to the public from Monday, Aug. 1 through Friday, Aug. 26, and will reopen the permanent galleries on August 27. Hours again will be noon to 4 p.m. Regular hours resume on Thursday, Sept. 22. For more information, see the museum's Website, or call 413/542-2335. All events are free and open to the public.