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Nessie Stonebridge

At the heart of each of these new images is a fury of beaks, encircled by fanlike, semi-abstracted wings. The result is an aviary of attack and defence, intimating the basic fight-or-flight behaviour

Nessie Stonebridge’s art depict wild birds paused in crystalized units of time, their wings, talons and beaks contorted in frozen muscular action. Her brooding charcoal drawings and electric oil paintings capture the intensity of the bare life of animals. The iconography here is certainly loaded. For example, any depiction of a swan will invoke the Greek myths of Leda and its erotic charge in Renaissance art. Or, we could say that imagery of avian flight inevitably suggests the photographic motion studies of the 1870s (Etienne-Jules Marey, Eadweard Muybridge), which prefigures cinema and nature documentaries. These citations may help place Stonebridge’s work within human culture, but we must look elsewhere, to the non-human, to engage with them properly.


Stonebridge’s work draws on observations from life, not from art history books. She lives on a bucolic farm in Norfolk, her studio surrounded by fields, water, and avian passers-by. Nature here is torrid and calamitous. Recently, she spotted a swan with its head chopped off; nearby was a dead fox. It is the brutality of this encounter that fascinates Stonebridge, not the folksy obscenity that it conjures: namely, the possibility of witchcraft or animal sacrifice in modern Norfolk. The dead swan and fox are evidence of mortality, of everyday death in the animal kingdom. It is this mortality that excites Stonebridge’s imagination, and it may be no surprise that she was once an enthusiastic rock climber, a sport that dramatizes the vertiginous balance between life and death. Alluding to this love of climbing, Stonebridge often binds her paintings with climbing rope, as if keeping them from spinning off.


Like the climber resisting gravity, her paintings and drawings dream of flight. But while her vortex-like works appear to spin out into space, it is their slowness that is, perhaps, fundamental. Her painting and drawing process involves a durational labour of accretion and deletion. She applies paint or charcoal, removes and layers it, expending hours and weeks in a meditative focus on line, form or colour. Her works are ultimately the work of a walker, maker and observer. Stonebridge, like the rest of us, seems to love birds because they live and die at a velocity that we can only marvel at.  






2003                        Post Graduate Dip, Painting, City & Guilds, London

1994                        BA (Hons) Sculpture, University of Hertfordshire



Selected Exhibitions

2022.                     Charlotte Fraser Ceramic & Glass Prize

2022                       In the House Norwich Holkham House Norfolk 

2022                      Contemporary landings Snape Suffolk

2021                      Somewhere Unexpected Norwich Castle Open, Norwich

2021                      Nowhere, Cley21 (curated by Amanda Geitner)

2019                     Borderlines, Cley19, Cley Norfolk (curated by Dyad Creative) 

2018                     An Appetite for Risk The Cut, Halesworth Suffolk  (curated by Amanda Geitner) 

2018                     Bird after Bird The Steel Rooms Brigg 

2018                     Inheritance Norwich Castle Open, Norwich 

2017                     Bird after Bird  GroundWork Gallery Kings Lynn 

2014                     British Birds CARSLAW St* LUKES, London (solo)

2013                     Volta, Basel.CARSLAW St* LUKES Two person presentation

2012                      UNTITLED, Miami 

2011                      ‘100’, Langford120, Melbourne, Australia 

2011                      Charlie Smith London

2011                      “Polemically Small” The Torrance Art Museum, California.

2010                     “Black – A Referential Void”, Madder139 London

2010                     Tightly Drawn, Playhouse Yard, London (solo)

2009                     Postures of Delirium, Madder139, London (solo)

2007                     Under the Arches, Berlin

2006                     A little house in Peckham, Peckham London

2006                     Life2, Microsoft Corporation, London

2006                     Size Matters, Madder Rose, London  (solo)

2005                     Insignificunt, Rosy Wilde Gallery, London (solo)

2005                     Ravenous fish and tasty plankton, The Empire, Vyner Street, London

2003                     Fresh Art, London (solo)





2013-2014               Gore Point, Norfolk

2007                        Celeste Art Prize (shortlist) (catalogue)

2001                        Arts Fellowship, Digswell Arts Trust, Hertfordshire





                            2014 , Joe Turnbull, Garageland Review, May 2014

                           Art review of the year - adigest of 2014

                          2007  Jane Neal, Saatchi Daily Magazine, Emerging Artist of the Week


 2008 Phillips Art Expert, Phillips de Pury

 2009 Roy Exley, Postures of Delirium

 Modern Edition,  Contemporary Abstraction by UK Artists.                                                             



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