Bell’s practice is founded upon a textile sensibility, which draws upon both fine art and craft histories. Resisting Africa is an installation that references elements of the exotic and wilderness of Africa. Animals, relocated indoors and transformed into furnishings within a domestic setting, are simultaneously recognisable and unsettling.
This installation is based on my own experiences of being a tourist and idea that we construct our conception of another place based upon our own cultural and personal experiences.
I have used my studio making as a medium through which to explore my consumption of Western tropes of Africa as an ‘exotic’ or ‘savage’ locale. In particular, I have chosen to focus upon the uneasy relationship between safari experience (imagined danger; ‘wild’ animals) and the Victorian drawing room (colonial culture; ‘domestic’ restraint) which converge in tales of ‘Africa’.
In 2006, Bell was included in Ann Packer’s award-winning publication Stitch: Contemporary New Zealand Textile Artists. In 2005, she received the Olivia Spencer Bower Award. Bell is also an arts educator and has taught at the Dunedin School of Art since 2007.