mixed media on cut paper
Installation - dimensions variable
​“Biophobia” is defined as a sense of dis-ease in nature, and a derisive regard for climates and environments which are not man made or at least modified significantly by people.  It is thought to be an acquired urge to affiliate with technology, human artifacts, to the exclusion of experiencing the natural world outside a constructed environment.  This condition is a seemingly inevitable consequence of growing up in an urban environment where our interactions with nature may be limited to incidental encounters, strictly mediated and moderated by the perspective of urban planners, or those who generate media content (and sometimes benefit from propagating a fear of nature).  Many children spend more time with screens than dirt.  The binary separation of ‘man’ and ‘nature’ (and elevation of humans above all else) could be seen to be the crux of any conversation about the environment, and in particular climate change.  

Yellow Wallpaper
silkscreen, paint on paper
Installation – dimensions variable, each sheet H 20" x W 20"

  Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860 – 1935) was an American feminist.  In 1892 she wrote a book titled “Yellow Wallpaper” which portrays the narrator's insanity as a way to protest the oppression of women at the time.  Perkins witnessed the medical profession randomly diagnosing women as feeble in both mind and body.  As a consequence it seemed both natural and obvious that women’s contributions to society should be limited by their obviously inferior capacity.  This work is a homage to her.

Media Mothers
Acrylic, ink, enamel, cut paper
Installation – dimensions variable
Growing up in Australia I distinctly remember the trial of Lindy Chamberlain.  She was charged with murdering her two month old daughter Azaria and then stating, “a dingo took my baby”.  The case arrested the attention of the Australian public, leading to a guilty charge for the mother.  As it turns out, Chamberlain was to be falsely imprisoned for three years before being exonerated in 1988.   What was particularly remarkable about the case was the media obsession with Lindy’s demeanor.  Her character was torn apart, she was criticized for being cold, un-motherly, harsh, and removed.  Berated for lacking maternal instincts, the focus was as much on speculation about who she was as a mother, as the actual facts of the case.  The standards by which she was judged in the court of public opinion carried a lot of weight, and doubt has been cast about the verdict due to the inappropriate handing of the case.  I was interested in how Chamberlain was measured as a mother, and what this process says about the state of motherhood as it is both established by, and reflected in, the media. 

 The media is defined as a “means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, which reach or influence people widely’.  The images in this work were collected to bring to the viewers attention the contrast between idealized images of motherhood disseminated by advertising and popular culture, and images of motherhood as they are played out every day in the news.  Each of the women depicted in this series has appeared recently in the media, either print or electronic versions.  The stories vary from heroism, to history to shameful acts perpetrated by women who exhibit no behavior compatible with stereotypical ideas of maternal instincts.  This series is in effect a form of longitudinal study – reflecting changing ideas about motherhood over a period of time.  The series started in 2010 after the birth of my child.  The series speaks to changing ideas about motherhood.  Some of the stories relate to mothers who are challenging prevailing ideas about issues such as fertility treatment, breast feeding, playing competitive sports while pregnant, euthanasia, same sex parenting, the decision not to breed, personhood, and so on.  The series is a snapshot of where we stand now, and as it is ongoing and ever growing it is in effect an archive over time

Ways to Refer to Her
gouache on paper, framed
installation - dimensions variable

​​Language both reflects and creates realty - it has an impact on thoughts and actions.  How we use language alters the way we experience the world.  Such commonly used language to refer to women is inherently negative - steeped in age old biases, sexism and misogyny.  This series contains 100 words that have been, or are, in use to refer to women. 

Neither Shall You Touch It from the series "Reinstated
mixed media on cut paper
Installation - dimensions variable

​The scene is located in a liminal world, a version of the Garden of Eden, but one that might exist in a dream.  It is a place that only exists after twilight and before dawn.  I like the ambiguity of this times of day, when darkness impedes clear vision, tones are muted, and activities that seem improper during the day may be enacted at nighttime.  The world that is represented in this version of the Garden of Eden is not one of lush fecundity, nature’s splendor, but of probable doom, alluding to aspects of the natural world less cherished or celebrated.  The figures are shadowy; their mercurial bodies are constituted by a temporary conflation of elements, which could be perilously close to being disassembled at any given point in the future.  Freud once stated “Anatomy is destiny”.  The women in this work, Eve and Lilith, are social constructs, appearing and acting in accordance with a degree of biological inevitability.  Eve is every woman; her actions facilitating the expulsion of people from the garden could be expected, as it is thought by some that women are by their nature inherently duplicitous and conniving.

The Suburbs at 4 a.m.
mixed media 
Installation - dimensions variable

In 1932 Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti created a work titled “The Palace at 4 a.m.”  This piece drew heavily on personal experience, speaking to an experience where he had a romantic liaison with a woman we know only as “Denise”.  The work references automatic art making techniques and his association with Surrealist artists.  The work reads as a dream sequence, a stage like scene, with a suggestive narrative and clues indicating the presence of privileged people engaged in the activities at a luxurious palace in the middle of the night.  The ambiguity of the work is enchanting.  Born into royalty, the occupants of the palace are free from the drudgery of every day life and therefore able to indulge their whims, engage in any pleasurable recreational pursuits. "The Suburbs at 4 a.m." explores an idea about the experience of women in the post war era (with resonance in the present day).  The implied stories glimpsed through this installation address the anxiety of women who were grossly underestimated, unable to achieve a state of tranquility in their pastel hued homes, even when surrounded by the hallmarks of domestic bliss, and an abundance of Tupperware.  Their plight is one of quiet desperation, days that blurred into one another viewed through a haze of common tranquilizers, and excessive ennui.  Often the psychotropic drugs women imbibed were intended for specific diseases, but in this case they served to numb pervasive disquiet, a sense of unease associated with an inability to be charmed by everything they were told would be good for them.

Redware for Hysterics
mixed media  – dimensions variable

Hysteria is a disease of non-specific origin, and its potency lies in its ambiguity – its fickle nature acts as a cloak of invisibility.  The exceptional, mutating, and non-specificity of the hysterical condition defy western medical convention thus negating the efficacy of standard forms of interrogation.  A cure is impossible without clarity of condition. Hysteria exists in a liminal social state, between the biological and the psychological.  It is arguably one of the oldest medical conditions to be recorded, yet the actual nature of the disease remains elusive.  The mercurial nature of hysteria had never actually been pinpointed to a common or static set of symptoms, instead it could be said that the condition reflects a societal attitude towards women. “Redware” is a speculative series of medical tools intended to ‘cure’ women of hysteria.  They reference the mechanization of manual stimulation, and the birth of vibrators.  Doctors of the 18th century found that manual stimulation was an effective treatment to ease hysterical tensions, of both the psychic and physical nature. 

Anonda Bell