A sculpture on the University of Warwick campus by one of Britain’s greatest living artists has been awarded the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association’s (PMSA) Marsh Award for excellence in public sculpture 2016.
Entitled ‘Habitat’ the artwork by David Nash OBE RA was installed in Diamond Wood on the university campus to mark the University’s 50th anniversary last year.
David Nash carved Habitat, a 7 metre high public sculpture from an ancient cedar tree that fell during a storm at Portmeirion in North Wales. It is sited at the entrance to Jubilee Woods at the University of Warwick and is designed to become part of the woodland’s eco-system as it weathers and becomes inhabited by birds, bats and insects.
At the Award ceremony in central London on the evening of Wednesday 2 November, a delighted David Nash said: “I’m surprised, very pleased, and particularly pleased for Warwick University for this recognition of their long term policy of commissioning sculpture for their campus. This project had a natural progression from the invitation to make a proposal, the gale that blow the cedar tree down, to the site that gave birth to the idea, the assistants who helped carve the form, and all those involved in the installation. Many projects are fraught with difficulties but “Habitat” had a very smooth path to realization.”
David Nash said of the sculpture: “I chose this site for the sculpture to be a signal for the biodiversity Diamond Wood will become in the future. The sculpture will change over the years, becoming part of the wood’s eco-system as it weathers and creatures inhabit it”.
Diamond Wood is open to the public and is part of the Jubilee Woods project which aims to create 60 new woods of 60 acres to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Diamond Wood is to the south-west of the campus on the Sustrans cycle path. It features native species including oaks, birch, field maples and hawthorns and incorporates paths and glades that the University hopes local people will use to explore and enjoy the natural environment.
A former artist-in-residence at the University, David Nash is regarded as one of the greatest sculptors working today. In 1996, while resident on the campus he produced a series of sculptures created from wood from local trees sourced with the help of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. After major solo exhibitions at Kew Gardens and at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, his work was included in the widely praised exhibition ‘Uncommon Ground’ held at the Mead Gallery in 2014.
Sarah Shalgosky, Curator of the University of Warwick said: “It is wonderful that David Nash’s sculpture Habitat has been given this award. It shows that commissioning of art is still a vital cultural process and as a result, a lot of terrific work is on show and freely available to audiences. Habitat is popular with both university staff and students and with the local people who come to share the University’s Diamond Wood.”
The Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture is offered for a sculpture installed in a public place within the last 2 years.
The award was presented at a ceremony in London this week. The PMSA seek to acknowledge and commend excellence, to increase awareness and discussion of public sculpture and fountains to celebrate new work that demonstrates originality, aesthetic quality and sensitivity to its site.
Photo caption: David Nash with his sculpture Habitat (credit: Martin Neeves)
Further images are available online
Notes to Editors
The annual awards are sponsored by the Marsh Christian Trust and administered by the PMSA. The awards are presented for excellence in contemporary work, and also for distinction in conservation of historical works. This encapsulates the PMSA's inclusive approach to public sculpture and fountains: as features in the urban and rural landscape, the association considers historical and contemporary sculptures and fountains to be equal in value.
Read more about the work of the Marsh Christian Trust
THE PMSA, founded in 1991, is a registered charity which works to promote, protect and preserve public monuments, sculpture and fountains. www.pmsa.org.uk.
About the artist
Born in Surrey in 1945, David Nash studied at Kingston College of Art from 1963 to 1967 and at Chelsea School of Art from 1969 to 1970. After graduating, he moved to a village in North Wales, to an environment and landscape which informed much of his boyhood and which still inspires his work today. Nash works primarily in wood and, for the last 50 years, he has explored the different properties of the material and trees from which they originate in a unified approach to art and life. His respect for wood and its own journey over time allows him to both honour and embrace its qualities, letting his own consciousness and the materials’ elemental forces work together. From warping and bending, to cracking, Nash allows nature’s environment to play a key part in his constantly evolving practice, which also involves carving, charring and sawing.
Nash's work is held in over 80 public collections worldwide. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1999 and in 2004, was awarded the Order of the British Empire. Many of you will remember when Nash was artist in residence at London’s Kew Gardens in 2012, where once again his work formed an extended comment on humanity’s relationship with nature; a direct connection between man and world.
Alex Buxton: Media Relations Manager, University of Warwick
Tel: 02476 150423
Mob: 07876 218166