Oubliette 2017

A performance for Oriel Davies's Drawing Room space

Funded by Arts Council Wales
15 February 2017
Oriel Davies, Newtown, Wales

Oubliette

Though ostensibly a one-off enactment about the process of writing through the performance of sewing, Oubliette is also an embodiment of the interplays and tensions that inform artistic practice.

Redolent of Bell's enduring fixation with nineteenth-century literature and classic European fairy-tale, Oubliette, meaning dungeon, aims to represent the punishingly-impossible household tasks given to fairy-tale protagonists, such as spinning straw to gold, fashioning shirts from nettles or separating poppy seeds from grains of soil and symbolise the locked rooms in which they executed them.

Making connections between writing and needlework through authors who often had to temper their literary ambitions against their domestic obligations (both Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters are said to have suspended their writing to make shirts), Bell's intention is to act as a chronicler of all that occurs in The Drawing Room during that particular day. Restricting herself to using the simple block-printed, cross-stitch alphabet of the sampler, Bell will sew, rather than pen, her response to what occurs around her.

Aping many of the female characters of Grimm and Perrault and indeed, the stereotypical image of the Victorian woman sitting in her drawing room, her head lowered demurely over her embroidery, Bell will carry out her slow, painstaking undertaking in complete silence.

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Ellen Bell Call Me

Oubliette

Ellen Bell Call Me

Oubliette

Ellen Bell Call Me

Oubliette

Ellen Bell Call Me

Oubliette

EllenBell_Talk_to_Me_book_installation_detail1

Oubliette

Ellen Bell Call Me

Oubliette

Ellen Bell Call Me

Oubliette

Ellen Bell Call Me

Oubliette

Photographs of Oubliette by Andy Chittock

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