In 1977, sculptor David Nash cleared an area of land near his home in Wales where he trained a circle of 22 ash trees to grow in a vortex-like shape for an artwork titled Ash Dome. Almost 40 years later, the trees still grow today. The artist has long worked with wood and natural elements in his art practice, often incorporating live trees or even animals into pieces. The exact site of Ash Dome in the Snowdonia region of northwest Wales is a closely guarded secret, and film crews or photographers who are permitted to see it are reportedly taken on a circuitous route to guard its location. Nash shares in an interview with the International Sculpture Center:
When I first planted the ring of trees for Ash Dome, the Cold War was still a threat. There was serious economic gloom, very high unemployment in our country, and nuclear war was a real possibility. We were killing the planet, which we still are because of greed. In Britain, our governments were changing quickly, so we had very short-term political and economic policies. To make a gesture by planting something for the 21st century, which was what Ash Dome was about, was a long-term commitment, an act of faith. I did not know what I was letting myself in for.
Ice Swimmer says
A great piece of art. I wonder what led to the decision to use ash trees (their tolerance for cutting coppicing or the historical and mythical qualities, ash being the tree used for shafts of the arrows and spears, also the ash tree Yggdrasil in the Germanic mythology)
Ash (tree) is saarni in Finnish, they do grow here naturally but they are on their “final frontier”, on the southwestern coastal areas and the archipelago.
I imagine it had to do with their strength, and the ease of shaping and coppicing them. Nash spent many years of his youth planting trees, and according to the wiki, grew a great dislike of planting trees in rows.
Ash trees are steeped in mythologies from around the world, and well entwined in folklore from all over the place, too. I’ve read that one of the reasons Ash trees were so prominent is because they produce a great deal of honeydew, often called honey trees or manna trees. Of course, way back then, there was no knowledge as to the actual source of honeydew, so it was assumed the tree was magic.