|Paul Nash, Pillar and Moon, 1940 - a view of Ascott Park, Stadhampton, nr Oxford - Tate|
|Paul Nash's last home at 106 Banbury Road - note blue plaque|
|Aircraft dump, Cowley|
By this time Nash was severely weakened by asthma, and unable to walk or stand for long periods. After the artistic camaraderie of pre-war Hampstead he now wrote that 'I wander in the College gardens or thread my way through the Oxford streets, jostled by the late British Expeditionary Force from France and the more recent force of female expeditionaries from Piccadilly and Leicester Square...'
|Paul Nash, Totes Meer, 1941 - Tate - can you spot the owl?|
|Paul Nash - a natty dresser|
But the war did not preoccupy him directly for long. In 1942 he was released from government employment and left to his own devices. Knowing that he hadn't long to live, his mood swung between black despair and a kind of elation. His 'ivory basement', as he called his flat, had a garden surrounded by a red brick wall, and here he grew the sunflowers which feature so strongly in his final paintings. Here too I imagine grew the magnolia tree, that suburban staple, which provided the blossom for 'Flight of the Magnolia'.
Not that he was entirely trapped in his 'subub'. He travelled to Gloucestershire now and again, took a tour around Dorset with his old friend Lance Sieveking, and discovered at Boars Hill, just outside Oxford, the view that was to preoccupy him more than any since Dymchurch twenty years before...
|Paul Nash, Flight of the Magnolia, 1944 - Tate|
To be continued.