Paul Nash, ‘Equivalents for the Megaliths’ 1935
Paul Nash
Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935

The landscapes I have in mind are not part of the
unseen world in a psychic sense, nor are they part
of the Unconscious. They belong to the world that lies,
visibly, about us. They are unseen merely because they
are not perceived.
–Paul Nash, ‘Unseen Landscapes’, Country Life, May 1938

Nash’s experiments with found objects and photography helped him develop a new approach to landscape. No longer symbolic figure equivalents, objects were now present in the landscape in their own right and animated his paintings by the drama of their encounter with the landscape and with each other in what Nash described as an ‘imaginative event’. Nash also explored the mysterious ancient power of megaliths, and the dramatic potential of using abstract equivalents for the standing stones to emphasise their formal qualities and increase the incongruous effect of their presence in the landscape. His concept of ‘unseen landscapes’, in which the artist made visible what had previously been overlooked, enabled him to draw on surrealist ideas to interpret the British landscape. After his participation in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936, Nash painted some of his most intensely surrealist landscapes in which reality and dream co-existed, as fantastic environments were created from irrational juxtapositions of observed places and objects. The concept of the ‘object personage’ also remained important to Nash, particularly in his series Monster Field in which he created a narrative around the monstrous personalities of a group of fallen trees.