Nicola Bealing, Chapter 1: Dead-man’s Fingers

1 Feb-5 Mar 2023
PV 29 Jan 2023, 2-5pm


Matt’s Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibition in two parts by Nicola Bealing. Drawing from two connected new bodies of work: Chapter 1 will present works from Dead-man’s Fingers and chapter 2, The Borough.

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 maritime environment is seen as a place of threat. This darkness forms the perfect accompaniment to the Gothic horror explored in Chapter 2: The Borough.

The series comprises paintings and a series of newly developed 3D works which take their macabre title from the common name of a coral – Alcyonium digitatum. The works immediately precede The Borough and are linked through their depiction, investigation and study of fictionalised underwater worlds which drift between beauty and menace.

Apart from a few scattered teeth and finger-bones, there is little human presence in these still and strange paintings. They are quiet images of sub-marinescapes which revel in the act of painting. Colour is heightened, controlled elements contrast with the random outcomes of Rorschach blots and scrapes.

After storms, lost, battered boat fenders, buoys and crab-pot markers wash up along the coast – links between natural & man-made elements in the sea, but also the detritus and jetsam of other people’s lives. These inherently sculptural objects became the basis for suspended constructions. These sculptures grew slowly – clustering & spreading across the studio like an inverted reef.

The sculptural elements of Dead-man’s Fingers developed after the paintings, as if growing out of them like eerie 3-dimensional embodiments. They echo a vertiginous effect of submersion, a feeling of being below the surface & looking up.


Nicola Bealing, Chapter 1: Dead-man’s Fingers | press release