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Ellen Bell

Conceptual artist working with text and textiles through performance.

With projects like Mordant (2015), in which overheard speech was captured and embedded into gallery walls, Call Me (2015), where fictional dialogues were reassembled as one incessant, spectral, phone call and sited in a public call box, Talk to Me (2011), in which a ‘conversation’ was constructed in an arts space from a continuous line of open novels and Billet Doux (2013), in which miniature nineteenth-century love notes were anonymously posted in library books, it is evident that all forms of linguistic communication have underpinned and informed Ellen Bell’s recent visual arts practice.

However, since completing an MA in Creative Writing Bell’s research has focussed more upon what Christine Bayles Kortsch refers to as the ‘dual literacy’ of sewing and writing. Though still making use of randomly-found texts and eavesdropped-speech, Bell’s current interest is more in making connections between the act of ‘making’ words and that of writing them. ‘Nothing has really happened unless it is written down’, said Virginia Woolf. As a method of reactive, journalistic transcribing, needlework is a slow, laboured one - one that demands a concentration on the performing of it rather than just its content. Words become disembodied symbols, shapes and pictures – their literal meaning on hold. The daughter of a seamstress for whom English was not the mother-tongue, by embroidering her texts Bell is re-visiting, re-embodying a state of mis-communication - language before, and beyond, understanding.





Solo exhibitions: 2017- Oubliette (performance), Oriel Davies, Newtown2015 - MORDANT, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown 2013 - Billets-Doux, various Public Libraries in England and Wales 2011 - Camera Obscura & Other Stories, The Gallery in Redchurch Street, London 2010 - 'Story' The Plinth Project, Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery, Bristol 2010 - Talk to Me, Chapel Row Gallery, BATH 2008 - Hard Words, Air Gallery, hosted by Four Square Fine Arts, Dover Street, London 2007 - Speaking Soul, City Gallery, Leicester 2005 - Texting, Charlotte Street Gallery, London 2005 - Woman's Realm, The Women's Library, London 2002 - Body Language, Charlotte Street Gallery, London.

Group exhibitions: 2015 - Call Me, Gallery on the Green (Telephone Box), Settle, W Yorks 2014 Surface & Depth, Strand Gallery, London 2014 -  Beyond the Book, Long & Ryle, London & Devon Guild of Craftsmen 2012 Genus Loci: A Sense of Place, Gallery at 32 Store Street, London 2012 - Only Connect Lab, Aberystwyth Arts Centre 2011 - Artists of Fame and Promise, Beaux Arts, BATH 2010 - Lingua Franca, Arnolfini, Bristol 2009 - Pulp Fictions, Rochester Art Gallery, Rochester, Kent 2007 - READesign, Mobile exhibition around North Shields, North Shields 2007 - READesign, Woodhorn Museum & Gallery, Northumberland 2006 - Prints Now: Directions and Definitions, Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2005 - Body Languages: Four Women, Four Visions, Art Vitam Gallery, Miami, USA 2005 - Paperworks 2005, b. j. spoke gallery, Huntington, New York, USA 2004 - Art, Age and Gender, Usher Gallery, Lincoln 2004 - Collect 04, Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2004 - Crossing the Line: Salthouse 04, Salthouse Church, Salthouse, North Norfolk 2004 - Hats and Gloves, City Gallery, Leicester; McManus Gallery, Dundee; Mansfield Museum, Mansfield; Hatworks Hat Museum, Stockport 2004 - Haunt, Sherborne House, Sherborne, Dorset 2004 - Made at Wysing, Wysing Arts, Bourn, Cambridgeshire 2004 - Sofa, Chicago, USA 2003 - Sartorial, England and Co, London 2002 - Art, Age and Gender, Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham 2001 - Body Beautiful, 20/21, Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe 2001 - Starting a collection, Art First, Cork Street, London 2000 - December Show, England & Co., Westbourne Grove, London 2000 - Kettles Yard Open, Cambridge 1998 - Barbarella:dolls and doll imagery, Sasson Gallery, Folkstone, national touring exhibition Live/Performance

Residencies/ Performance/Collaborations: 2018 Residency at Hafan y Waun Care Home, 2018 Collaboration on Still 4'33 with College of Arts, Farnham 2nd year FA students, 2017 Sunflowers performance, National Gallery

Education 2014 - MA in Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University (DISTINCTION) 2006 - PGCE in PCE, Oxford Brookes University 2001 - MA in Fine Art, Norwich School of Art 1994 - BA in Illustration, Manchester Metropolitan University 1984 - BA in Theatre Design, Wimbledon School of Art

Teaching: 2017 workshops NPTC students and young carers at Oriel Davies 2013-16 Freelance Workshop Leader NHS & Arts Care Wales 2008-9 Pathway Leader for Textiles, Swindon College 2006-8 Pathway Leader in 3D Design, Truro College 2002-4 Associate Lecturer in School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University

Employment: 2014 - Freelance journalist, 2012- p/t Studio Opener BBC, Freelance Illustrator for EMI Music Publishing

Awards: 2017 - Arts Council Wales for Oubliette 2015 - Arts Council Wales for MORDANT 2015 - Teeside University for Call Me 2013 - Arts Council Wales for Billets Doux 2012 - Bursary from Aberystwyth Arts Centre for Only Connect Lab 2010 - Commission from Container Arts for Plinth Project 2007 - Arts Council England for Speaking Soul 2007 Funding from SE Northumberland Public Art & Design Initiative for READESIGN project 2005 - prizewinner for Paperworks 2004 - Arts Council England for SALTHOUSE 2004 - Anglia Ruskin University for Haunt

Publications: 2017 Billets-Doux, Performance Research 2010 Playing with Books: Up-cycling, Deconstructing & Re-imagining the book, Rockport Publishing 2009 Paper: Tear, Fold, Rip, Crease, Cut, Black Dog Publishing 2006 - Prints Now: Directions and Definitions, V & A Publishing

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