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Paula Rego

Paula Rego

The Boy who Loved the Sea and Other Stories

With your help we reached our Art Happens target and have raised £25,000 to bring the first major exhibition of new work by Dame Paula Rego to a UK public art gallery for 10 years. What a way to celebrate the end of the gallery’s 5th birthday year! Find out more about our campaign here. 

The Boy Who Loved the Sea and Other Stories has at its heart a body of new paintings, drawings and sculptures, inspired by a 2005 story by Hélia Correia called The Boy Who Loved the Sea.  It provides the starting point for this exhibition that will also investigate both her genius for story-telling and her strengths as an artist.

Now 82, Paula Rego is one of the most significant artists working today. Best known as a painter of stories, she was born and brought up by the coast in Portugal and has had a fascination with the sea since her childhood. 

Stories have long been a fruitful source of subject matter for Rego and were very important to her from childhood: “An old woman would come and see my mother now and again. And I’d say ‘please, please, please let her sit in my room until I fall asleep’ because I was scared of falling asleep, scared of the dark and she’d sit there telling me stories. Her stories sometimes were really quite gruesome…”

Her use of stories functions as a kind of self-examination. Her paintings, pastel drawings and prints are not simply illustrations of the specific events that she finds in these stories, but rather they are a kind of reflection of her own experiences. 

Guest Curator Colin Wiggins says: “A new series of work by Paula Rego is always a cause for celebration. ‘The Boy Who Loved the Sea’ is her most recent exploration of a subject that has always fascinated her and we are delighted to announce that Dame Paula wishes that her work from this latest series should be given its first UK exhibition at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, with its unique seaside setting.”

Portrait of Paula Rego in her studio © Nick Willing