SCULPTOR NICHOLAS PAIN is carving out a reputation as a sculptor of marine wildlife. The work of the BSAC and IANTD-qualified diver, who has been inspired by the movement of sea creatures, has won a place at the prestigious Society of Wildlife Artists annual exhibitions at the Mall Gallery in London on a number of occasions since he started sculpting in 2007.
Pain’s work has also been accepted for this year’s National Exhibition of Wildlife Art and has the Focus Optics award.
Although based in Warwick, Pain dives all around the UK and abroad with his partner and dive buddy Rose. Their favourite dive-sites are around Lamorna Cove in Cornwall and the St Abbs marine reserve in Berwickshire.
Cephalopods feature strongly in the sculptor’s work because of their ability to assume so many different forms, as shown in his depiction of an octopus resting on a rock and a cuttlefish poised to strike its prey.
The grace of other creatures is captured in a study of two seahorses clinging to a slender frond of sea grass, or the rhythmic movement of a school of hammerhead sharks. “The aim of my work is to portray the poise and movement of these sea creatures in their near-weightless world,” says Pain.
The octopus, his first piece, was inspired by a year of diving in which he often encountered these intriguing animals, from Scotland’s west coast to Los Gigantes in Tenerife.
The most memorable example, he says, was an octopus lurking beneath the stern of the Hispania in the Sound of Mull. It was bold enough to allow him to study it at close quarters for some time.
The reaction to this work by both the Society of Wildlife Artists and art collectors encouraged Pain to create further sculptures.

THE CUTTLEFISH SCULPTURE was based on observations made on a series of wreck dives out of Littlehampton and that famous site for cuttlefish-spotting, Babbacombe.
The Littlehampton wreck dives included the Indiana, a shallow well-lit site, where a particularly large creature was found.
The rock on which the cuttlefish is mounted is cast from crushed marble and then hand-painted by Pain to look almost real. The distinctive pattern is modelled into the surface of the sculpture, then inset with white enamel.
Having made a number of individual hammerhead shark models, Pain spent some time working out how these should be mounted to make a compelling sculpture.
The solution was to make a series of interlocking sharks that supported each other to reflect the movement of a full school of sharks.
This was helped in part by a careful study of the techniques used by Auguste Rodin, the famed sculptor of The Kiss and The Thinker.
Sales of Pain’s works have allowed him to buy a small RIB, which has extended his and Rose’s diving range.
They are now exploring the reef structures in North Wales’ Cardigan Bay known as Sarn Badrig or St Patrick’s Causeway in search of new subjects, as well as planning trips abroad to encounter more exotic species.
Each piece is hot cast bronze using the ancient lost wax technique at a foundry in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter, and hand finished and signed by the artist.
The collection is on permanent display at the No 4 Gallery in St Abbs, just at the top of the hill above the harbour.