Photo: Ellen Bell in Aberystwyth, Wales

Ellen Bell

Artist, Writer, Critic, Teacher

The nature of language, and, in particular, its limitations as a method of expressing deep and difficult feelings, informs much of my work. I work directly with books, texts and paper ephemera to create drawings, installations and sculptures that pose questions rather than deliver answers about how we communicate within our familial and intimate relationships. There is an intensity to the work – more akin to writing than drawing – involving a painstaking re-piecing together of texts that offer alternative meanings, narratives and contexts that question the role of language within emotive scenarios. The physicality of the books, the printed surface of the page and the design of the texts play an important role in the making of my work, as does the serendipity involved in the ‘finding’ of them – the musty smell, the grainy texture of the paper, the inconsistent heaviness of some of the type and the dated graphics of the book covers all play their part in seducing me into working with them. My work is pared down, seemingly simple. Some pieces involve a re-making of dictionary pages, where I focus on a particular word and expand upon its general definition by creating a stream of consciousness narrative that challenges the limitations of its given understanding. Other works feature figurative templates that contain text or other ephemera, such as stamps or fragments of book or magazine illustrations, through which memories are triggered or associations made. However, as with all drawings, the negative space plays an essential part in the understanding and reading of the pieces. The words and images in these pieces are animated, three-dimensional; they either jut off the page - casting rows of sharp, urgent tick-like shadows - or they undulate, forming an active, physical representation of speech, becoming tangible artefacts of intimate conversations.

Location Aberystwyth, Wales
Activities Residencies, Arts in health, Private commissions, Critical writing, Creative writing
Artforms / type of project Book Works, Drawing, Illustration, Installation, Text
Tags Text, Drawing, Collage, Illustration, Installation, Writing, Reviewing, Blog writing

News & Events


    24/05/2015 – 11/07/2015
    Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown

    A site-specific installation that reflects overheard conversations in Oriel Davies Gallery. Private view on Saturday 24th May between 5-8 pm.

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    I have just finished a week long residency at Oriel Davies Gallery collecting recordings and transcriptions of overheard conversations for my upcoming site-specific installation, MORDANT. ACW funded.


    23/05/2015 – 11/07/2015
    Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown, Mid-Wales

    A new site-specific installation that reflects a spoken soundscape of Newtown by Ellen Bell for Oriel Davies' TestBed space. Funded by Arts Council Wales.

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  • London Art Fair 2015

    21/01/2015 – 25/01/2015
    The Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N10 0QH

    New work by Ellen Bell being shown by her agent Four Square Fine Arts on stand G10.

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  • Surface & Depth

    30/09/2014 – 05/10/2014
    The Strand Gallery, John Adam St. London WC2

    A group show with work responding to the theme of Surface & Depth.

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  • Beyond the Book

    05/04/2014 – 17/04/2014
    The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devon, TQ13 9AF

    An exhibition celebrating the book and beyond.

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