Nicolas Deshayes

Mermaid Café

Credit: Thierry Bal

Nicolas Deshayes has created a site-specific permanent artwork for the Sunken Garden, taking the form of a functional gate for the garden’s grotto. Using the technique of sand-casting – where a pattern is buried in sand which is then filled with molten metal and excavated in its new fossilized form – the artist has developed a sculptural relief that borrows from traditional ornamental iron work, but that also of speaks of organic plant and marine life that are so intrinsic to this unique setting. Describing the relief as a line drawing, Deshayes has used a can of common construction foam to create the undulating outline of the gate, in a play between the opulent nature of Georgian and Victorian vernacular and DIY construction techniques. The swollen quality of the foam was also used for its organic quality; like a DNA sequence gone awry, its motif recalls rope patterns, algae, flora and internal organs.


Nicolas Deshayes makes sculpture from a wide range of industrial processes and materials such as cast iron, factory ceramics and vitreous enamel. Drawing on the history and temperature of these processes he explores the relationship between industrialisation and the human body.


Nicolas was born in Nancy, France (1983) and lives and works in Dover, Kent. He graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Sculpture (2009) after completing a BA in Sculpture at Chelsea College of Art and Design London (2005). His work has been included in exhibitions at E:Werk, Luckenwalde, Germany; Tate St Ives, Cornwall; Pump House Gallery, London; Modern Art, London; Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow; S1 Artspace, Sheffield; Ca’ Pesaro Museum of Modern Art, Venice; Museion Bolzano, Italy; Museum Fridericianum, Kassel; Inverlith House, Edinburgh; Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds; Kestnergesselschaft, Hannover, FRAC Ile de France and FRAC Grand Large, France.


Casting: Maybrey Reliance, Aylesford
Metal finishing: Ty Locke
Structural engineering: Bedir Bekar