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TRADA, Tate Britain and an artist who loves trees

24 February 2017

They do say fate is written in the stars, but in the case of TRADA’s latest networking event, it was firmly written in the trees – in this case, the trees of artist Paul Nash.

Call it happenstance, serendipity or just coincidence, but TRADA’s involvement with the Tate Britain’s Paul Nash retrospective was certainly fortuitous.

TRADA’s membership and marketing manager Rupert Scott received two calls on the same day, the first from Tate Britain requesting information on a wooden mural Nash created in the mid-1930s for the TDA (TRADA’s predecessor) which was displayed at Charing Cross as part of a timber exhibition curated by the artist.

To advertise this exhibition, the London Passenger Transport Board printed a specially designed poster with the slogan ‘Wood for Good’ which was seen by some 372,000 people. Good marketing ideas, it would seem, come in cycles – but TRADA has been there all the way.

The second call was from Oxfam, asking if TRADA would like to buy some old copies of Wood magazine, one of which featured an article entitled ‘Experiments in wood murals’ by none other than Paul Nash!

And so the idea of the networking event – around the Nash retrospective – was born. TRADA called in one of the UK’s foremost experts on Paul Nash, art historian Justine Hopkins, to give an enlightening talk on the artist who was the centre of developments in British modernism.

The night kicked off with a self-guided tour of the Tate Britain’s exhibition, the largest presentation of the artist’s work for a generation, which included oils, watercolours, assemblages and photographs. It covered all the significant developments of Nash’s career, from his early Symbolist manner, through to the iconic works of the First World War as well as his major landscapes of the interwar period.

Justine was on hand throughout TRADA’s event, which took place at the Chelsea College of Arts, to answer questions on just why Nash was so influential. “Of all the aspects of the landscape he loved, Nash was most entranced by trees at all stages of life, growth and death,” she told a packed room of Nash enthusiasts.

“He was interested in the particular qualities of different species and many of the trees in his paintings are recognisable by distinctive qualities of bark or foliage or both.

“At the same time he was acutely aware of the different characteristics of cut wood; he played a key part in the major revival in woodcut illustration through the 1920s, becoming expert on the particular qualities of grain and hardness needed for that precise and exacting discipline.”

Commenting on the evening, Rupert Scott, said: “Justine was able to bring Paul Nash’s work to life, with her passion and enthusiasm for an artist who thoroughly deserves to be recognised for his influence in the development of 20th century British art.

“TRADA is delighted to be able to continue our association with this influential artist, nearly 80 years later. The original ‘Timber Through The Ages’ exhibition saw some 372,000 people marvel at Nash’s work; we hope this most recent retrospective, with TRADA’s help, has enthused similar numbers.”

The works of Paul Nash can be seen until 5th March 2017 at Tate Britain. Please click here for more information.

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