Ellen Bell: Photography by Simon Cook 01736 360041

I’ve been preparing the text, placing each little wooden letter onto a balsa wood strip. One by one. Letter by letter. So slowly, so perfectly.

And yet, it isn’t perfect. Not ever. It can’t be. Does it matter? he asks. Does it?

I think about my text drawings. The work that I make with old texts. Letterpress printed texts. I zoom in close. The ink has bled a little and the letters are misaligned. Just slightly. Minutely. And how I love such mishaps. They speak of something human, a breath, a distraction, something untoward. It is OK. The mistakes of others. Why not mine?

Such errors, such imperfections are the traces of presence – the potter’s fingerprint’s, the gardener’s footprint, the glassblower’s bubble – they capture a moment, a something unexpected.

Turn your world upside down, he said. So be it. Enough of this seeking perfection. Not in this life. Not now. Not ever. The best is good enough. Good enough.

The blossom is blown in the wind like confetti. He carries some into the flat on his shoe sole. I find it, a fleck of white.

An actor reads from Philip Glass’s autobiography, who in turn quotes John Cage on his Silences. Cage wanted to the audience to bring their own stories, their own sonic narratives to his piece. Rather like the artist who made an empty gallery his show. See, he said, here is the space for you to project your memories of exhibitions onto. Charlatan, they mumbled, just like the Emperor’s New Clothes, they whispered. Do you think so?

How good it was to have an opportunity to write about my show prior to opening. Here it is:

It helps to clarify what I am trying to achieve, sort out the wheat from the chaff. Such experiences are generally internal ones, writing helps me to expunge, look afresh and value it all anew.

More white boxes. For that is what it shall be. A white box with the minute-est interruption of words. Peter Brook called it the empty space – minimalist theatre – beginning with nothing but a white vacancy for his ‘Dream’.


Come into my little white box and see what you can see.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.