Saturday, 7 January 2017

Paul Nash at the Tate

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 had a good two days in London over the Christmas - New Year period, and ahead of my birthday...

One of the things that I enjoyed was the Paul Nash landscapes exhibition at the Tate Britain. This explores the development of Paul Nash's style, and his early landscapes, which were then transformed by his experience as a war artist. This was described in a room called 'We are making a new world'. There was a room which had the title 'Places', and described how important a sense of place was to his work at the time, and the landscapes that he painted repeatedly, close to where he was living. Some of these images were familiar, but there were many others which I saw for the first time.

There's also the way that those early landscapes were then altered by the impact of war: the shattered trees, and the sea made from downed fighter planes, and a modernist interpretation of these landscape elements. I wasn't so taken by his later surrealist work, which developed and abstracted elements of these landscapes, and added in new features, but these earlier works were wonderful, and offered a particular perspective on the representation of the English landscape. Would be interesting to connect some of these ideas that artists use, with the new GCSE specifications, with their focus on distinctive landscapes, and landscape elements.

It was also interesting to see the response of my children, aged 15 and 17 to the images.
I've finished teaching about landscapes with KS3 students, but colleagues teaching the new GCSEs are getting to grips with the UK's distinctive landscapes.

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