Art meets industry as David Nash sculpture launches art season at Coalbrookdale

By Edward Lowton | 19 June 2015

A sculpture by David Nash marks the launch of a contemporary arts programme exploring the impact and legacy of the Industrial Revolution at Coalbrookdale

Photo of a man standing on a coal mound beside two wooden pillars
David Nash beside his latest work© Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and Meadow Arts Commission
A new sculpture by David Nash marks the launch of Shifting Worlds, a new contemporary arts programme at Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron exploring the impact and legacy of the Industrial Revolution.

Three Black Humps will go on public display for the first time at  on June 22 as part of the ongoing art project running throughout 2015.

Nash visited the site in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire on June 16, to install the newly commissioned sculpture.

Photo of two blackened wooden pillars
The oak pillars during the charring process© Rebecca Farkas for Meadow Arts
The piece is made from charred wood and is embedded in a circle of crushed coal, reflecting the history and cycle of iron.

Located in a landscape considered to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the sculpture is set against the brick remains of former Coalbrookdale Company buildings.

Next to it is the Old Furnace, where in 1709 pioneering industrialist Abraham Darby perfected the technique of smelting iron with coke rather than coal.

His grandson, Abraham Darby III, later used the furnace to smelt the iron for the Iron Bridge which spans the River Severn, the first arch bridge in the world to be made of cast iron.

Ffestiniog-based sculptor David Nash has been described as a Land artist, and is part of an artistic tradition working outdoors or in rural spaces. With major works at both Yorkshire Sculpture Park and at Kew, he is renowned for his large-scale sculptures, often fashioned with chainsaw and axe, of living trees.

“I am guiding the trees in the manner of the ancient Chinese potters who kept their minds on the invisible volume of space inside their pot and worked the clay up around the shape of that space,” says Nash.

Photo of a 19th century painting depicting industrial works
Coalbrookdale by Night (1801) by Philip James de Loutherbourg© Science Museum London
Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron is one of ten museums which form the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, dedicated to Shropshire's industrial heritage.

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