Discover the Seashells Hidden in Unexpected Places All Around You - ELEPHANT

It’s time to spiral down with Nice Shells into the ocean of shells secreted away in art and pop culture.

 

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Who is Nice Shells?

Welcoming you with the promise of “niche delight”, Nice Shells does not disappoint. It is an endearing tribute to these patterned exoskeletons, an eclectic collection of images showcasing the many iterations of shells as a design motif, in everything from fine art to video games.

“The driving motivation behind Nice Shells is to create a beautiful scroll,” says its New York-based founder, who wishes to remain anonymous. “To have Nice Shells floating in the gram without credentials attached to it was part of the reason I made it.”

The idea for the account, which now has more than 1.7k followers, was sparked by a morning stroll around the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2018. Beside a jewellery cabinet in the Department of Greek and Roman Art, she found a piece of marble carved into the shape of a shell. “The light in there is very beautiful in the morning, and when marble’s carved really thinly the light will go through it,” she recalls. “So I remember seeing this glowing shell in a place I wasn’t expecting to see a shell, which wasn’t actually a shell at all. After that, I started seeing shells everywhere.

 

 

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Why should you follow?

The account reveals the surprising prevalence of shells in the forgotten corners and crevices of visual culture. Snail shells adorn 15th-century French music sheets and are carved into the drains of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, while dreaming clams populate 19th-century Japanese netsukes. Shells feature in tarot decks and in the art of Hilma af Klint, Dora Maar and Charles White. They crop up on the runway in Y2K scallop bodysuits designed by Jeremy Scott, and on the red carpet in Cardi B’s Botticelli-inspired Thierry Mugler gown.

Beyond the glamorous and the erudite, these sculptural forms inspire “shellephant” models, garish French pill boxes and gaudy furniture. With catalogue-like precision, Nice Shells identifies the specific types, allowing you to glean important titbits along the way, such as the fact that the logo of CLAM cryptocurrency is actually a scallop. The meditative repetition of the shell motif across this grid is also very calming, imitating the intricate morphology of shells themselves.

 

 

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What Instagram doesn’t tell you…

“The delight of the niche delight: I don’t think that gets across on my feed,” says the founder, who describes the joy of “going shelling” on the internet. “You don’t get the laughter at finding something really crazy that’d be perfect for Nice Shells, or somebody that you haven’t talked to in ages sending you an amazing shell out of nowhere.”

Her favourites include the efforts of outsider art. “There are these weird and intense shell animals and figures, like little dogs or witches. To make the opening line of a clamshell into a mouth has this insane mood and energy about it. You see very clearly how the personality of the shell becomes absorbed into the personality of the figurine. That I love.”

Madeleine Pollard is a Berlin-based journalist specialising in culture and current affairs

 

 

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A post shared by Shell (@nice_shells)

 

 

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A post shared by Shell (@nice_shells)

 

 

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A post shared by Shell (@nice_shells)

 

 

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