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David Nash in Poland: Documents from the Archive of Sculptors' Papers

24 February – 9 October 2020

In the summer of 1991 David Nash (b. 1945) travelled to Poland to make sculpture for an exhibition at Ujazdowski Castle Centre Contemporary Art, Warsaw. Nash had exhibited with Polish painter, Leon Tarasewicz (b. 1957), in a group show at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in 1986 and the two artists accepted an invitation to continue the dialogue in this joint exhibition.

Nash made the pieces for the exhibition in Warsaw in-situ in a forest district of Waliły in Eastern Poland. The project centred on a large rotten poplar tree found by the artist in the forest and recently felled oak and alder trees. He began with no preconceived plans of how the work might develop and reacted to the materials, the setting and the relationships he developed with local foresters, artists and gallery staff.

In a recording made for the British Library, Nash describes discovering that the craters in the land where he was working were the result of bombing during the First World War, and how that informed the piece Red and Black 1991, made from alder, a wood which turns bright red when first cut.

On display here are pages from Nash’s diary, illustrating day-to-day events and progress of the project along with the images taken by Polish photographer Tadeusz Rolke (b. 1929) of the works in process and on display.  

Extracts from the British Library’s National Life Stories: Artists’ Lives interview with David Nash are available to listen to on the sound pod in the Institute Reception.