Sunday, March 26, 2006

Wooden boulder

There is an interview with David Nash in Sculpture Magazine where he says “I think Andy Goldsworthy and I, and Richard Long, and most of the British artists’ collectives associated with Land art would have been landscape painters a hundred years ago. But we don’t want to make portraits of the landscape. A landscape picture is a portrait. We don’t want that. We want to be in the land.”

From a landscape perspective, one of Nash’s most interesting works is Wooden Boulder. This 25 year project is the subject of a documentary film, Boulder, by Pete Telfe, and various photographs and drawings by Nash. It began in 1978 when Nash was asked to fell an oak tree, for safety reasons, that overhung a cottage at Bronturnor, North Wales. Nash cut part of the tree into a large wooden ‘boulder’ with the aim of taking it back to his studio as a wood ‘quarry’. However, he decided instead to push it into the nearby stream, where it became wedged between rocks beneath a waterfall. This, Nash felt, was the right place for it. However, the wooden boulder’s journey had only just begun and in March 1979 it was washed into the pool beneath the waterfall. Nash then decided to give it a helping hand, pushing it over the next waterfall to another pool, where it rested eight years, taking on the appearance of a real boulder. What had originally been intended as the source of a sculpture had become a work of environmental art. The boulder remained in the stream whilst the landscape changed around it, but it continued to move intermittently when the river swelled.

By 1994, Wooden Boulder was resting below the road bridge just before the stream meets the river Dwyryd. David Nash has described the subsequent course of the boulder (see the Annely Juda Fine Art site): “I did not expect it to move into the Dwyryd river in my lifetime. Then in November 2002 it was gone. The ‘goneness’ was palpable. The storm propelled the boulder 5 kilometres, stopping on a sandbank in the Dwyryd estuary. Now tidal, it became very mobile…. The wooden boulder was last seen in June 2003 on a sandbank near Ynys Giftan. All creeks and marshes have been searched so it can only be assumed it has made its way to the sea. It is not lost. It is wherever it is.”

7 comments:

graham king said...

Love David Nash. He did some great work at Margam Park.

Plinius said...

Thanks. There is a rather hard to make out image of one of his sculptures at Margam Country Park here.

David said...

Was very interested in this post as my uncle owns bronturnor farm, the river Dwyryd runs right through. I even seem to remember a photgraph of myself as a youngster standing on a boulder near the bottom of a waterfall just up the mountain from the farm. I wonder if this was it. Any more info on this artist?

Plinius said...

Thanks David. I would like to have seen the boulder... too late now. Apart from the links here there is a book 'The Sculpture of David Nash' by Julian Andrews.

David said...

My aunt has just told me today that she has a picture of it. I will ask her to try and find it and will try and e-mail it to you.

Plinius said...

Pruned have just added a typically witty post on the boulder, including photos from Annely Juda. (Maybe I should make more of an effort to ask for permission to include photos like these? I just assume if I email a commercial gallery I'll be told 'no' or 'it'll cost'...)

james emmans said...

I wonder if the boulder was stolen? It captures your imagination. I wonder if any more artist have done this same thing. Maybe even Andy Goldworthy was influenced?