• Image shows a painting of coral and sea anemones
    Image: Nicola Bealing, Party Rock (With Bones), oil on linen. Courtesy of the artist and Matt's Gallery, London.
  • Image shows a painting of a man underwater with his skeleton showing
    Image: Nicola Bealing, Baited, (detail) oil & spray paint on linen. Courtesy of the artist and Matt's Gallery, London.

04 May — 02 Nov 2024

Newlyn Art Gallery


Sea is a series of figurative paintings developed over 10 years from 2013 – and shown together here for the first time. The series started with the simple premise of a single figure largely submerged in the sea – and the contrast that could be explored between what is visible, as opposed to what might be going on under the surface, out of sight.

Dead-man’s Fingers is a body of work made during lockdown when total immersion in an alien world seemed a logical response to darkness beyond the studio door. The works developed into an intense investigation of heightened, imagined sub-marine landscapes.

The series of paintings and suspended sculptural works take their macabre title from the common name of a coral – Alcyonium digitatum. Apart from the title and a few scattered teeth and finger-bones, there is little human presence in the paintings. Humanity has perhaps been washed away in a final cataclysmic flood. The colour in these marine-scapes is heightened, and controlled elements contrast with the random outcomes of Rorschach blots and scrapes.

After storms, boat fenders, buoys and crab-pot markers wash up along the coast – battered and bruised by their voyaging and carrying clues to their past existence. They are links between natural and man-made elements in the sea, hinting at the detritus and jetsam of the lives of people unknown. These evocative objects became the basis for a suspended sculptural installation, developed after the paintings – as if growing out of them like eerie three-dimensional embodiments. They echo a vertiginous effect of submersion, a feeling of being below the surface and looking up.


painting of colourful email of coral with title 'Nicola Bealing Dead-Man's Fingers'


two framed red and yellow worm monster prints

Nicola Bealing is a painter and printmaker based in Cornwall with a studio at CAST, Helston. She is represented by Matt’s Gallery, London.

Dead-man’s Fingers was commissioned by and first shown at Matt’s Gallery.


Venue: Newlyn Art Gallery
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