The Changing Landscape
Today the woods on the Clumps do not have the full, rounded shapes that feature in Nash's paintings. It is easy to believe that Nash was simply altering what he saw to suit his imagination. But, though he certainly wrote of rearranging views in his later paintings, period photographs show that he was not exaggerating the forms of the Clumps. He painted what he saw: the plump, graphic shapes that have been variously compared to clouds, buttocks, women's breasts and tethered balloons.
At the time Nash was beginning to paint the Clumps, the celebrated landscape photographer Henry Taunt was photographing the same landscape.
Taunt's images of 1912 clearly show the outline of the Clumps.
A photograph taken in 1944 by an American serviceman from the tower of Dorchester Abbey ties in with the period of Nash's later paintings and confirms the full-bodied appearance of the Clumps.
By the 1960s many of the Clumps' original trees were reaching the end of their natural lives and needed replacement. 1985 saw a 15 year plan to plant more than 2,000 trees to restore and extend the Clump on Round Hill. In 2004 planting began to add new mixed species to the beech trees to ensure the survival of the Clumps.
The Clumps from Dorchester Abbey today.
Who knows what Nash would have made of the concrete towers of Didcot Power Station that came in 1968 to dominate the skyline to the south west?
Having ranged in subject matter from the atmospheric English landscape to the devastation of war, Nash may well have been fascinated by this surreal juxtaposition of the natural world and the man-made.
Didcot A, the coal-fired section of the power station, is in the process of being demolished and three of its distinctive cooling towers were destroyed in 2014. The three remaining towers were due to follow in 2016 but a large part of the former boiler house collapsed in February 2016, killing and injuring several workers.