Naomi Frears


Upcoming Solo Exhibition: New Works   24 October – 30 November 2019 More Images coming soon

New Work for Summer Exhibition 2018

Naomi Frears: Solo Exhibition 13 October –  12 November 2016


Born 1963.

Based in Porthmeor Studios. St.Ives 1981 – 2 Foundation.


1982 – 6 BA (Hons) and Printmaking Prize.

Sunderland College of Art

1981 – 2 Foundation. Loughborough College of Art.



Exeter Phoenix. Films, paintings and works on paper as well as new film commissions at Exeter Phoenix and Royal Albert memorial Museum (RAMM), Exeter. May 2nd – June 28th.


New Work. Beaux Arts. Maddox Street, London. October 23rd – November 30th.

Bold Tendencies, Peckham. Esso-so-so (working title). New film with writing by Ella Frears about service stations between London and Cornwall.


Newlyn Art Gallery. The Picture Room. June – October.


Kestle Barton (Film ‘10’ and Works on Paper)

Beaux Arts London (Paintings and Works on Paper)


Newlyn Art Gallery (Film ‘Still Here’ and paintings)

2013, 2011, 2009

Beaux Arts Bath (Paintings and Works on Paper)

2010, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2001, 1999

Millennium Gallery, St.Ives (Paintings and Works on Paper)



Many & Beautiful Things. Plymouth College of Art Gallery. July 5th – September 9th.

The World As Yet Unseen. April 6th – June 15th.

2018 / 19

Many & Beautiful Things. Newlyn Art Gallery and the Exchange.


Ideal Science – A Risographic Survey. The Picture Room, Newlyn Art Gallery.

INK Miami Art Fair

Plymouth Contemporary open

St Ives Beaux Arts London

Screening of Study in Hindsight and The Proposal at the Future Imperfect Symposium. Plymouth University.


All Out of Love – New film ‘The Proposal’ selected for Tate Screening.

Exeter Contemporary Open. Exeter Phoenix.


Plymouth Contemporary Open. Plymouth University.

INK Miami Art Fair

Falmouth Art gallery Porthmeor Past and Present


London Original Print Fair, Royal Academy

London Art Fair, Islington, London

Collage Wilson Stephens. London


Picture Room, Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn

20/21 Royal College of Art



For Groundwork, Fieldtrip with sound by Luke Vibert


Invited to co-curate Late at Tate – a summer night of dance and performance.

Select and present work by four artists in a sound show. Porthmeor Studios, St Ives.

Co curate and host a screening of new films by fine art and experimental film students from Falmouth University.

Appear in Tate Britain’s Great British Walks with Gus Casely-Hayford and Miriam Margolyes. Sky Arts


Film Study In Hindsight wins award at Exeter Contemporary Open.

Initiate and co-host A Long Weekend of Uncertainty – an interdisciplinary residency at Kestle Barton.

Co-curate and host The Voyeurs – Frears Bayliss screening of a programme of selected films.

Study in Hindsight selected by Lux for Side by Side screening event.


Organise, select and present an exhibition of four artists (Strepitus Crepitus Fragor) in St Ives.

Co-found LDM, a monthly discussion group with artists and curators.

Start Printmaking for Boys – irregular printmaking sessions for contemporary artists (not just boys!).


Article published in issue 14 of Turps Banana.

2013 – 17

Work appears regularly on cover of London Review of Books


Sketch Open, Winner of Fine Art editioning prize – Rabley Contemporary

Selected for The Cornwall Workshop – A forum for dialogue and exchange with international artists, writers and curators, Kestle Barton.

Publications / Catalogues


Plymouth Contemporary Open


Exeter Contemporary Open

Kestle Barton. New Work

Beaux Arts. Essay by Simon Garfield


Newlyn Art gallery Still Here. Essay by Blair Todd

Plymouth Contemporary Open


Interview by Mark Osterfield

Porthmeor Studios & Cellars. The Architects’ Story. By MJ Long


Essay by Aidan Quinn


Essay by Gill Nicol (Head of Interaction, Arnolfini Gallery)

Art and Graft. FT Weekend Magazine


Artists Studios. MJ Long

Essay by Elizabeth Knowles CBE (Also essay 2003)


Emma Thomas. Telegraph Magazine


Art Now Cornwall, Essay by Susan Daniel-McElroy, (Director Tate St Ives)

On the Very Edge of the Ocean, Ben Tufnell, Tate Publications

Work in Education and Residencies


Printmaking/redacting/collage workshop during Palace of Culture Newlyn Gallery

2016 / 2017

Visiting lecturer School of Film and Television. Falmouth University


Lecture as part of Visiting Artists Series. Plymouth University


MA Lecture Series. University College Falmouth


Residency, Kestle Barton

Visiting lecturer, BA Fine Art, University College Falmouth


Tate St.Ives. Leads practical sessions, special events and talks


Newlyn Art Gallery – Involved in devising and leading courses including printmaking and Drawing a painting

2007 – 2017

Falmouth Art Gallery. Leading printmaking courses

2002, 2005, 2007

Vyner’s School. Artist in Residence

Collections include

Pallant House

Wilson Collection

University College Falmouth

Falmouth Art Gallery

Sunderland University

Cornwall Council

Royal Cornwall Museum

Slaughter and May

Selected Group Shows (pre 2013)


20/21 Royal College of Art

IMS Falmouth Art Gallery


Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London

Five by Five, Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn

Print! The Exchange, Penzance


House of Fairy Tales, Millennium, St. Ives


Insomnia, series of new prints. The Exchange, Penzance

20/21, The Royal College of Art, London

Double Vision, Exchange Gallery, Penzance


Treasures from the Wilson Collection, Falmouth Art Gallery

Drawing Show curated by The Drawing Room, The Exchange Gallery, Penzance

Crossing Over, Beaux Arts, Bath


Art Now Cornwall, Tate St.Ives

A Fine Line, Artonomy, Truro


NSA Exhibition, Goldfish Contemporary Fine Art, Penzance

Porthmeor Printmakers Show and Portfolio, Café. Tate St.Ives

From the Edge, Sherborne House, Dorset


3 Person Show, Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn


Critic’s Choice (John Russell Taylor), Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn

New Cornish Art, Edgar Modern, Bath

Drawing? Newlyn Art Gallery


Critic’s Choice (Joan Bakewell), Newlyn Art Gallery

Conflict and Resolution, Harbour House, Devon

ID, Newlyn Art Gallery

Selected Other Activity (pre 2013)


Art In Cornwall BBC Four


Art and Graft FT Weekend Magazine, photos by Rosie Hallam


Filmed for Memory Bay as featured artist

Interviewed for ARD, German radio


Telegraph Magazine. Photographed by Paul Massey and interview by Emma Thomas

Featured artist in film by Ray Bird about Porthmeor Studios

Featured in Merian German magazine

Photographed by Max Edelman

Photographed by Andreas Sterzing

Photographed by Gary Treadwell


Coast, BBC One

Subject of Process a film by Stuart Lansdowne


Guardian Artist of the Month

Cover of Guardian Supplement Living on the Edge


Naomi Frears Simon Garfield   Sometimes you may just have to look away. To spend time with the work of Naomi Frears is an overwhelmingly evocative experience, full of open endings and expectations, a period of ambiguous haunting. To say that she makes emotional paintings would be to sell them short: they are psychological explorations, always charged, modestly euphoric. She doesn’t let the viewer off easily, in other words. Something supremely fertile happens in her new collection of work, and while some of the pictures talk directly to the artist’s previous concerns – errant nature, ethereal pleasures, wandering figures in outlying scenery – much is strikingly new: a stronger figurative expressiveness, a toughening of the images in a lusher context. The paintings carry both intensity and serenity, and a clear maturity. You can’t leave this display unaffected or underwhelmed; you may need a break before re-entering the plain world. As befits an artist whose process involves continual overlaying and reconfiguring, there is little straightforward comfort in Frears’s works. The layers are both journeys and realities, atmospheres steadied by concrete houses in a field or rooted landscape. When the figures within them glance at us directly they don’t let much slip. The canvases are sculptural in their depth, and they remain lodged in our memory. But perhaps they have been our memories all along.   Frears occupies what is unquestionably one of the most desirable studios in the world, unless one has hopes of productivity. Looking out through vast windows onto Porthmeor Beach and the Atlantic, it’s St Ives at its holidaying best, and it’s always been a wonder that precisely none of it appears in Frears’s work. Here it is the artist who must look away, although she doesn’t appear to struggle with the manoeuvre. The sea is not a common visitor to her canvas, and nor is cloudless blue; perhaps the storms intrude more often, and the town’s legendary light transmutes to melancholia. Previous occupiers of her studio were headstrong too, not least Francis Bacon, whose brief sojourn is said to have marked a discreet lightening of his work, in hue if not in menace. Away from the beach window there are stauncher stimuli: the pattern of a studio sofa has seeped into a vast amber palette; music seeps in too; and her small sketchbooks are packed with jumping-off points – a bit of airport ceiling, moods from her travels, an engraving in a poetry collection – that are often reconfigured on grander scales in fresh work. The fragments may later merge with personal history, as when a brief sketch of Walt Whitman from a book takes on the guise of her father in British Summertime (JF as WW) and a landscape from elsewhere is rotated to become the bower above his head. The notion of creation by happy accident is a consistent one for Frears, although one shouldn’t mistake this for loose thinking. One of the most strident works on display, Couldn’t Love You More, is a typical amalgamation, and novel in its rare depiction of something so plainly salty. But the two people in the high-sided boat may not be having the best of times, and that denim blue threatens to envelop. And note how the thin paddle and sails combine in their uncertainty. The title comes from a John Martyn song on the radio during creation, while the boat has been extracted from a busy scene of herring boats on an old St Ives postcard. The canvas itself has a bit of previous too, a palimpsest of other creatives: a group of young visiting artists were let loose on it for a while, although their efforts are now entirely hidden. ‘I seem to feel a bit more at ease when things are upside down,’ Frears says. The painting was so much of a departure for her that while she was making it she locked the studio door. Would an intruder ridicule her folly? Or would the bristling unshackled image make a run for it? Her images remain disturbingly present. Recently she told me, ‘I am more attracted to working from a source if I don’t have all the information I need. Quick drawings and parts of images with gaps and unknowns are more interesting for me.’ She had previously reasoned that she was always looking for an edge, an awkwardness to make things right. The potter Edmund de Waal has described similar reevaluations in the paintings of JMW Turner. It is simply what being an artist is about, a constant disruption and reinforcement. ‘The ode on mourning becomes a lyric on spring.’ Frears has the instinct down pat: the soft destructiveness imbued in the creation of the work results in pictures that could never be anything else, or anything less. I’ve experienced these transformations first-hand. A picture that appears to be settled one day is, by the following week, almost unrecognizable. What was once the central concern has become a feint glimpse on one side: a new impression from another source has taken its place. And sometimes the image stays solid but shifts its emphasis: viewed full-on, the woman standing assured in Inlet becomes translucent from either side; flip the title and we’re all let in. The painter’s narrative is not necessarily our own, although Frears once told me that sometimes she thought she was telling the stories in other people’s lives. There is certainly a desolation that sets her human figures apart, but has seclusion ever seemed more inviting? And with all the fluidity and volatility, it is the authority of Frears’s work that shines through. That her solo exhibition somehow resembles a themed group show is testament to the strength of the imagery, at once hefty and weightless, and to the flirtations with adversity so beautifully contained within each piece. Wherever one rests ones eyes there is the muted power of suggestion from an artist with much to say.   Simon Garfield, author of Mauve, Just My Type and Timekeepers. September 2016