After the self-imposed containment triggered by sessions of intense CSS-ing, it felt good to get out and see as much as possible that didn't involve a computer screen.  On this packed Thursday, this involved bags, new stores previews of collections – the usual stuff – did I expect to see erm… this?  Definitely not… 

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The highly ornate set of nails are the creation of Sam Biddle, one of a group of ten highly respected, highly skilled nail technicians that form a new exhibition 'Nailphilia' at the DegreeArt gallery.  We're all familiar with nail art with it blowing up in particular in the last few years with the expansion of WAH Nails and thus spurring on ever-elaborate DIY nail jobbies.  The concept as nails as art themselves though has not really been explored in the context of a gallery.  Beyond the ComicCon-esque nail art contest Nailympics or the mahussive manicurist tradeshows in Japan (I plan on going to one in my lifetime so I can huff huge amoutns of acetone), nails are almost always considered to be accessory rather the central feature.

It's therefore odd to be confronted with so many incarnations of nail art that push practicality and function totally out of the window.  They might not even involve the painting of nails at all as seen in these metal rings that masquerade as giant nails were created for Beyonce in her 'Run the World video by Laruicci a jewellery designer.  I'd like to physically poke every one of my Facebook friends with one of these… 

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Here's Sam Biddle again with a nail-based interpretation of coveting an expensive bag as nails slowly morph into the croc pattern… 

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Most of the exhibition revolves around the mobile manicurist Sophie Harris-Greenslade of The Illustrated Nail who does the neatest illustrations on nails I've ever seen with a fine precision which makes her a ripe candidate to choose five artists from Degree Art's roster of emerging talent and interpret them in her own way.  Or vice versa in this instance where photographer Moses Powers takes Harris-Greenslade's nail patterns and collages them into his photographs…  

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The curator very kindly let me lift up the moulded hands (created by another DegreeArt artist Sophie Hanson) to hold the nails in front the original artwork.  I've got to say that I can't really look at super super long nails without thinking about that guy in the Guinness Book of Records who had those insanely long nails that curved around his body.  Still these lengths certainly allow the nail technicians to really show their skill in transfering a wee bit of art to your fingertips…   

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Names such as Sophy Robson who has worked with Louis Vuitton, Dior etc is represented at the exhibition with these beetles that sport logo-ed nail shells.  Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi or erm…skulls?  You choose… 

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The legendary Marian Newman is also represented with a film by SHOWstudio (who has also undergone a redesign!) where she interprets S/S 11 collections with her nail art.  Newman's stellar work has predecessors though.  I discovered the work of Sue Marsh at the exhibition who really pushed the boundaries of nail art during a period of time when it was barely established.  Marsh's archive nail work is on display including nails like the leopard ones created fro Mel B of the Spice Girls (you can only be scary if you can swipe someone with your talons), Boy George's long spindly silver nails, PJ Harvey's gradiated feather nails and most fascinating of all a set of REAL metal nails created for one of Alexander McQueen's early shows, back before the days of Minx Metallic fakies.  

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A lot of the nail art on display at the exhibition pushes the levels of grotesque and gaudy to the tipping point where you're undecided whether it's amazingly fab or kind of disgusting.  This Mike Pocock installation could well be a mannequin hanging outside a Stables Market Camden stall selling rainbow arm legwarmers and neon fishnets but the hyper kitchness of the nails is kind of awe-inspiring.  Even better if someone in real life was toodling along with these nails and holding a Tesco's shopping bag at the same time… 

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The curator also scoured blogs all over the world and with their consent, gathered up what appears to be a nail art obsessed population that has blown up beyond 'ghetto' nail salons.  Mine are embarrassingly shambolic at the moment – unpolished, unfiled and gnarled to bits.  This exhibition has spurred me on to rectify this IMMEDIATELY.   

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Comments (30)

  1. Alaina says:

    This is so fantastic. Though I personally have never gotten into nail art, it’s definitely a unique art form to respect!

  2. Kerry says:

    I was really on board with the flowers…..but some of it I’m unsure whether to love or loathe…. but I am totally spurred on to sort out my dull shambolic nails. P.s. loving the new look Miss Bubble.

  3. Bianca says:

    OMG! This is so amazing, a whole new way of looking at nail art. :)
    xo

  4. Joy says:

    These are totally beautiful. Because of school and sports and all that jazz I’ve never really had the room to play with them much.

  5. Im in love with the croc patterned nails! So bold yet sensitive? love it!

  6. AngelaQ says:

    This is so interesting, hardly see any one having nails like this. I’m not fan of fake nails.

  7. oooooh this looks like a fascinating exhibition! and loving the new layout too – such gorgeous colours and graphics

  8. Kat says:

    some serious nail-spiration here. i must get arty with mine immediately!
    http://www.popyourclutch.com/

  9. Bella says:

    These are fab. Really long nails can be a bit creepy, but these are seriously chic & fascinating.
    Love it.
    http://bellasbitsandbobs.blogspot.com/

  10. alicia says:

    Love the new layout!
    The nails are grotesquely fascinating. I’ve always wondered about women who have extra long press on nails in real life. Does food randomly get stick under there? Do they take extra care when eating? How does one grip utensils? Or is all that foregone when nails are on?

  11. pockiexx says:

    Oh interestingg! I personally can’t have long nails.. but the elaborate designs are seriously very artistic!
    Nice new layout too! :)

  12. Oh wow these are crazy cool, how immense!!

  13. Joy says:

    So amazing.thanks a lot,i like you post.

  14. Love the new layout!
    The nails are grotesquely fascinating. I’ve always wondered about women who have extra long press on nails in real life. Does food randomly get stick under there? Do they take extra care when eating? How does one grip utensils? Or is all that foregone when nails are on?

  15. Sasha says:

    omg, these are … interesting! I’ve never seen anything like this :) I like the geommetrical pattern nails :)

  16. loubehr says:

    so cool and tripping !!!!
    Really creative :)
    http://rocknrealprincess.blogspot.com/

  17. Sayaka says:

    hey,susie, lov ur new layout!

  18. Wow wow wow wow wow wow!!! Do you think we’ll be able to type with these nails on?? Also, those gold ones… they are SO the beyonce ones aren’t they???
    AMAZE!!

  19. I like this nail art is so nice.

  20. It’s quite some nail art here! Nail art is extremely hot at the moment with all sorts of sparkling crystals and colours but these long nails are impressive! Pretty but not sure how you can work or do things with them?
    Shan @ Orchira
    http://www.orchira.co.uk

  21. So beautiful nail art i love this.

  22. susie_bubble says:

    I could probably type like this….dhuoaiyuish[qeq[¬ªdk

  23. Fabulous! ABOSOLUTELY!

  24. anijnas says:

    Some of these are just mad awesome! Some of them, the bugs, make me go *hack choke wheeze wheeze* I don’t think I can eat food properly after donning those on. I will try to recreate some of the designs on my own (fake) nails though!

  25. Lucija says:

    I’m super in love with the new blog look!
    And this nails are just awesome!
    XO,
    Lucija
    WLL

  26. Kyboe USA says:

    The nail art is fabulous for the runway, but not everyday life. At least not mine!
    I love the new look of your blog! So fresh!

  27. nikkieve says:

    love love love nail art, This however would make daily life somewhat difficult but its very creative and beautiful all the same! xx
    http://nikki-inthenet.blogspot.com/

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