snails for eyes
Saelia Aparicio, Jack Bodimeade, Naomi Gilon, Maria Gondek, Guy Marshall-Brown, Anna Reading
16 November – 14 December 2019
PV Friday 15 November 2019 6 – 9pm
snails for eyes is about the sea and its unknown depths. The works in the exhibition are tender studies of; resourcefulness, myth, lost relics, rituals, sunken islands, tourism, bubbling waters and outer space.
The exhibition takes its title from the Buxton Mermaid ‘...made from wood, cloth, wire, carved bone and fish scales. She had snails for eyes' (1).
The Buxton Mermaid is an example of the practice of mermaid making popular in the mid-nineteenth century. These sculpted objects were often made by fishermen and occasionally passed as real mermaid relics. Gazing at the dried and leathery body of this merrow (2), you can imagine it back in the sea, its skin supple and softened again.
The maker’s choice of snails for eyes seems pertinent too. The eyes enhance the mermaid’s hypnotic power. They draw you closer, the coiling shapes like portals; entrancing and mesmerising the viewer. The merrow’s mouth is agape with a slight smile, as though it can see something we are missing.
The inspiration for the show came from a series of paintings by Kumataro Ito of sea slugs called Nudibranch. Kumataro was the chief illustrator for the USS Albatross, and was aboard the ship for 16 months from 1907-1910 as it surveyed the marine life of the 7,000 islands of the Philippines.
Nudibranchia are jelly-like, soft-bodied, seductively-coloured marine molluscs. Much like the mermaid, when out of water, nudibranch dry out and become rubbery and dull in colour. This, alongside their endless variety (there are over 3,000 species) explains why Kumataro spent so long at sea drawing and observing them, held captive by the alluring array of patterns, shapes and sizes. Nudibranch are checkered, dotted, striped, mottled, marbled, dappled, flecked, specked, speckled, spotted...
Nudibranch are named the ‘thieves of the sea’ due to their cunning ability to rob predators of their poisonous defences. They deflect the blows of approaching jellyfish or octopus and harvest their venomous stings, growing them into brightly coloured barbs on their backs. Like medals or a delicate feathery crown they adorn and accessorize their bodies with this ammunition. Then when a predator attempts attack, these spiny, feathery javelins are fired out in retaliation.
(1) Turner, E., (2018), The hidden history of fake mermaids, available at (Accessed 15 Nov. 2019)
(2) Merrow (from Irish murúch, Middle Irish murdúchann or murdúchu) is a mermaid or merman in Irish folklore. The term is of Irish-English origin: Merrow, (2019), Wikipedia, available at (Accessed: 15 Nov 2019)
Saelia Aparicio graduated with an MFA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London in 2015. Solo exhibitions include: Protesis para invertebrados, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain (2019); Your Consequences Have Actions, The Tetley, Leeds (2018); Peaks & Troughs, Turf Projects, London (2017) and epidermal speleology, Da2 Domus Artium, Salamanca, Spain (2015). Group shows include: In a World Where Immortality Is The Norm, The Future Is my Future, Galeria Duarte Sequeira, Braga, Portugal (2019); Not A Family Tree | The Anomalies, Joyce, Hong Kong (2019); The shape of a circle in the mind of a fish with plants, curated by the Serpentine Public Program, Earth Hackney, London (2019); Retour sur Mulholland Drive, La Panacée, Montpellier, France and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, at the ICA, London and The Bluecoat, Liverpool (2016). In 2016 Saelia completed a residency at SeMA (Seoul Museum of Art), South Korea and in 2017 she was selected for the New Contemporaries' Studio Bursary with Sarabande at The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation, London. In 2018, she completed a residency at The Bluecoat, Liverpool and this year Saelia was awarded Generaciones 2019 organised by Fundación Montemadrid in Spain and has been chosen to be part of the FIBRA residency in Mexico. Saelia also works collaboratively, some of her collaborators include: the product designer Attua Aparicio, the glass blower Jochen Holz, the fashion designer Craig Green, and artists Mire Lee and Paloma Proudfoot.
Jack Bodimeade graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths University, London in 2015. Selected group exhibitions include: Exeter Contemporary Open, Exeter Phoenix, Exeter (2019); Dust sheet embroidered snow, Project Gallery, Arundel (2019); CATS (2 person show with Jack Goldstein), Kingsgate Project Space, London (2017); and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA, London and Bluecoat, Liverpool (2016). In 2015, he co-formed and ran The Benevolent Association of Excellent Solutions (BAES) – a dedicated project/gallery space, and studios for six artists.
Naomi Gilon graduated from the Painting department at La Cambre (ENSAV), Brussels in 2018. In 2019 she had a solo show R S V P, Gallery Cdlt+, Liège, Belgium. Selected group exhibitions include: Biënnale van België / Biennale de Belgique, curated by Diesel Project, Floraliënhal, Ghent, Belgium (2019); Imbroglio (or the ability to incorporate possibilities), Like A Little Disaster, Polignano a Mare, Italy (2019); and A Glass Is Not A Reference for An Amount, curated by Van der Borght Bjornus, In De Ruimte, Ghent, Belgium (2019). Naomi was selected for the Prix de la Commission des Arts de Wallonie in 2018 and was awarded the Landschaft residency at Artoll Kunstlabor in 2016.
Maria Gondek graduated from the MFA programme at the Glasgow School of Art in 2018. Before that, Maria studied at the Audio Visual department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In 2014 she was a part of School of the Damned, an alternative peer led Masters programme based in London. Selected group exhibitions include: Burnout (with Emilia Bergmark), Kunsthal 44Møen, Denmark (2019); Th -Th -Th - That's all Folks!, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2018); So Natural, Like A Little Disaster, Polignano a Mare, Italy (2017); and Wiolators Reykjavík Edition, Reykjavik Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland (2015).
Guy Marshall-Brown graduated with an MA in Ceramics & Glass from the Royal College of Art, London in 2019. Selected exhibitions include Experiment | Control, Blyth Gallery, London (2018); Modern Masters, Galerie Handwerk, Munich (2018); and Claytime!, Side Gallery, Barcelona (2018). Guy was awarded the Sir Eduardo Paolozzi Prize in 2018 and has been selected for the Konstfack-RCA Graduate Exchange Residency this year, heading to Stockholm in 2020 to complete the residency.
Anna Reading graduated with an MFA in Sculpture from Slade School of Fine Art, London in 2017. In 2018 she was awarded the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award and as part of this had a solo exhibition The Pothole at Standpoint Gallery, London in 2019. The Mark Tanner Sculpture Award will be touring to Cross Lane Projects in Kendal and Bury Art Museum later this year. Selected group exhibitions include: Sugar Mountain, The Silver Building, London (2019); Shell Shelter and Raven Ravine (with Pallas Citroen), The Bomb Factory, London (2019); Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Biennial and South London Gallery (2018); A Field Guide to Getting Lost, The Art Foundation, Athens (2018); and Rotating Edible Object, Chalton Gallery, London (2018). In 2017, Anna was selected for residencies at Non-Space, Aarhus, Denmark and Academy for Visual Arts, HKBU, Hong Kong.
Image above and on the poster on our homepage: Nudibranch by Klaus Stiefel licensed CC BY-NC 2.0