Paul Nash, Monster Field

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‘There are places, just as there are people and objects and works of art, whose relationship of parts creates a mystery, an enchantment, which cannot be analysed.’ —Paul Nash, Outline, 1949

I went to see the Paul Nash exhibition at the Tate Britain. It was an overwhelming show. A huge collection of his works including watercolours, engravings, large oil paintings, collages, illustrations and poetry from his varied career. I wasn’t overly familiar with his work before attending, though I’d perhaps seen a few of his more famous surrealist paintings.

I didn’t know that he was a war artist in both World Wars. That he began his career as an illustrator. That he took a major role in organising the International Surrealist Exhibition in London 1936. I’m very keen to get my hands on his autobiography and learn more about him, but for now I wanted to share a couple of the pieces from the show that chimed with me.

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Nash felt a strong connection to certain places. In 1938 he discovered ‘Monster Field’ a place where large fallen trees seemed to him to resemble beast-like creatures. He enjoyed returning there, though in a letter from the time he wrote that he had trouble remembering exactly how to find it. It seems to me he enjoyed the atmosphere of this field and those tree-creatures. They inspired him and he documented them in photos and a series of paintings. The branches reach out like tentacles and jagged shards of bark look like teeth.

I can relate to Nash’s Monster Field, some places have something very evocative about them. I have my own spots that can make me feel blissfully happy and serene, others that creep me up or that I feel strangely tied to though I can’t always explain why.

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The other piece I particularly enjoyed ‘Swanage’ (1936) is a collage composed of photographs from Nash’s collection of found objects. Along with his fellow artist and friend Eileen Agar, they would place unusual objects together to create new and surreal encounters between them. Which they would then photograph, draw and paint. I love the muted colours in this piece. The shapes and forms, shadows and details that create an alien landscape.

Swanage c.1936 by Paul Nash 1889-1946
The Paul Nash exhibition is running at the Tate Britain from 26th October – 5th March
Tickets approx £15

Exploring in the East

I’m back from two and a half months of travel in China and New Zealand. An adventure I’d been dreaming about taking for years and it did not disappoint! I’m afraid that I let blog and twitter updates slip while I was away. I really wanted to focus on the moment, just being there. Painting on the Great Wall, sketching sumptuous temples, drawing mountains and rivers in the wilderness of New Zealand. Exploring, being outside, getting away from screens and using my body. And it felt really good to do so!

Everyone says it, but I definitely learned more about myself whilst travelling. There were sides of my personality that came out that I didn’t know existed. Sometimes positive, other times negative. But I think my main takeaway, was reminding myself of something I already knew; I love to be outside, I feel alive when I’m outside, in nature, rooted on the earth and surrounded by plants.

Now I’m back I want to hold onto those things and keep them in my mind so I can continue to work towards them and make sure they stay a constant part of my life. I’ll be sharing my travel sketchbook with you soon, but for now, here are a few of my stand out photographs from the trip. Mainly plucked from instagram as I do love a good filter!