Paul Nash (1889-1946)
The Shore (1923)
The Shore at Dymchurch, Kent, is where Nash moved with his wife in 1921. It depicts one of Nash's 'places'. He portrays here the endless struggle between Man and Nature, a struggle which neither are destined to win.
Nash was born in London on 11 May, 1889. Educated at St Paul's independent school for boys, he planned to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather with a career in the Navy. However, he failed his entrance exams and therefore decided to take up art instead.
He studied at Chelsea Polytechnic, then London County Council School of Photo-engraving and Lithography, where his skills became first noticed by Selwyn Image.
In October 1910 he enrolled into the Slade School of Art following advice from friends, a place where he never quite fit in, leaving only one year later.
Nash's fellow students at Slade included: Ben Nicholson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, William Roberts, Dora Carrington, Christopher R. W. Nevinson and Edward Wadsworth.
Inspired by the poetry of William Blake plus the paintings of Samuel Palmer and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Nash had shows in 1912 and 1913. By 1914 he was establishing himself as a landscape artist in watercolour and drawing. It was also in 1914, that he married Oxford educated 'Suffragette' Margaret Odeh.
At the outbreak of World War I, Nash enlisted into the Artists' Rifles and was sent to the Western Front in February 1917. The Artist Rifles was eventually disbanded then reformed after WII to restart the SAS (Special Air Service). Not that this has any reflection on Nash, he was reluctant to join up at the outbreak of WWI. During the battle of Ypres he suffered a broken rib and was evacuated back home. While back in London he produced a series of front line drawings from sketches he has previously made. Later that year he exhibited them at Goupil Gallery. It was through these pictures that he came to the attention of the 'War Propaganda Bureau' and was then recruited as an official war artist. In 1917 he was sent back to the western front which resulted in his first oil paintings. Including some of his most poignant works such as: We Are Making a New World, The Ypres Salient at Night, The Menin Road, A Howitzer Firing, Ruined Country and Spring in the Trenches.
During the 1920s and 30s Nash became recognised for promoting avant-garde Modernism is Britain. Along with other artist such as Henry Moore, Hepworth, Nicholson and Wasdworth, they established the short lived 'Unit One' - Modern Art Movement.
When WWII came along, Nash was again called upon as an official war artist by the Ministry of Information and the Air Ministry.
Nash died of heart failure on 11 July 1946, at Boscombe, Dorset. He was buried on 17 July, in the churchyard of St. Mary's Church, Langley, Buckinghamshire.
Article By: Dave Roberts.
First Published: 04 March 2011.
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