Portfolio: Nicolas Deshayes

From hissing dragons to oozing amoebas: as his show opens at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, the London-based artist picks some favourite images


Gilbert and George, Go To Hell, 1980. Courtesy: the artists, White Cube, London

Gilbert and George, Go To Hell, 1980, 2.4 x 2 m. Courtesy: the artists and White Cube, London © Gilbert & George

Gilbert and George, Go To Hell, 1980

Gilbert and George’s Go To Hell (1980) features the hissing heraldic Dragon that sits atop London’s Temple Bar monument – a bronze variant of the many cast iron creatures that have crawled out of their sooty lairs to guard the City of London.


Fatberg, London Road, Kingston Upon Thames, 2013. Courtesy: Countyclean

Fatberg, London Road, Kingston Upon Thames, 2013. Courtesy: Countyclean

Fatberg, London Road, Kingston Upon Thames, 2013

Downstream from central London, a record breaking 15 tonne cooking oil Fatberg forced investigating sewage workers to thread a camera into the clogged tunnels, an endoscopy that offered us a view from the belly of the whale.


Mudchute, London. Photograph: Nicolas Deschayes

Mudchute, London. Photograph: Nicolas Deshayes

Mudchute (formerly Mud-Shoot), London

Mudchute Park is upstream from central London and in the shadow of financial district Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs. Mudchute was a designated dumping ground – at the end of a specially constructed conveyor belt – for the mud and silt that was dredged from the Millwall docks as they were being constructed (up until 1868). Today it houses the UK’s largest urban farm, as fertile, one hopes, as the banks of the Nile.


Henry Moore, Wall Relief: Maquette No.9, 1955. Photograph: Nicolas Deschayes

Henry Moore, Wall Relief: Maquette No.9, 1955. Courtesy: the Henry Moore Foundation

Henry Moore, Wall Relief: Maquette No.9, 1955

Emerging from the ground, and ergonomic to the palm of a hand, flint stones collected by Moore from the fields surrounding his Perry Green Studio became the basis for many of the Sculptor’s Reclining Figures.


Elephant, Palais des Glaces, Paris. Photograph: Pierre Antoine

Elephant, Palais des Glaces, Paris. Photograph: Pierre Antoine

Elephant, Palais des Glaces, Paris (installed 1988)

As if pressed against a slide of glass, the trunk, belly button and anus of this enormous Elephant feature on the same plane.


Steve McQueen, Barrage, 1998. Courtesy: the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Steve McQueen, Barrage, 1998. Courtesy: the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Steve McQueen, Barrage (Dam), 1998

Also documented by Eugène Atget, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Alain Fleischer, these ‘groundscapes’ of Parisian gutters feature stringed up joints of carpet known as Chiffons de Barrage; makeshift tools that to this day are used to divert the flow of gutter water when street cleaning.


Photograph courtesy: Sally Warring / Pondlife

Photograph courtesy: Sally Warring / Pondlife

Pondlife, 2015-ongoing

‘Amoebas move by oozing’ (Sally Warring, Pondlife creator). An Instagram project that documents amoebas, bacteria and algae from samples taken from New York’s ponds and puddles.

Main image: Elephant, Palais des Glaces, Paris. Photograph: Pierre Antoine

Nicolas Deshayes is an artist who lives in London. He is currently included in the touring ‘British Art Show 8’ and ‘Production Show’ at Eastside Projects, Birmingham. His solo show ‘Thames Water’ is on at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London until 24 September.

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