|Paul Nash, Landscape at Iden 1929 (Tate)|
|Paul Nash, Winchelsea Beach|
Driving around in the evening sunlight I found myself in Iden, a village I knew from association with Paul Nash and his haunting 'Landscape at Iden'. Perhaps it is because of the painting that the name of the village is so evocative; the name, which for some reason I associate in my mind with the poet Robert Frost, suggests beauty and antiquity and peace on the one hand and, on the other, death. Well, I suppose that is Nash's fault.
|Orchard at Iden|
|Paul Nash, Landscape, Stone Cliff|
Rye at the time had a small but boisterous colony of artists and writers, notably the authors EF Benson and Radclyffe Hall. Nash became friends with the latter and with her partner Una, Lady Troubridge, whose appalling taste in art he forgave for some reason, and with Edward Burra and the American poet Conrad Aiken.
|Rye: an unlikely outpost of Modernism|
|Chez Nash 1930-33|
The early 1930s were a tricky time for Nash, however, with a less-than-successful foray into abstraction and considerable soul-searching about his work. Visiting Rye, with its narrow streets isolated from the natural world (Burra, who lived there most of his life, called it Tinkerbell Town) one can understand how his mind became tight and tangled there.
He had got on much better along the coast at Dymchurch where, in the early 1920s, he painted at least two dozen pictures, both in oil and in watercolour.
|Paul Nash, The Shore 1923 (Leeds Art Gallery)|
He himself alluded to a certain therapeutic quality in his Dymchurch work, and one can see how the sheer bulk and wonderful geometry of the sea wall might have helped him to overcome the nervous strain of war.
|Paul Nash, The Shore, Dymchurch|
Look out for 'Paul Nash in Pictures: Landscape and Dream' - published this month by The Mainstone Press.
To be continued.