Artist Q&A with Bella Kerr

Bella Kerr’s work is concerned with space, words and the power of objects. Drawing has provided continuity in a practice that has spanned installation, small-scale making, film, and set design, shown in a range of contexts from screenings in major London galleries, to museums, and regional galleries. Recent work has been expressed in the form of large-scale installation, digital prints and participatory and curatorial work.

"It is time for a complete redefinition of how we do all that happens around visual practice".

R&J: What are you working on at the moment?


With Lyndon Jones, I have started work on a second series of short films about architecture in Wales for the RSAW. At this stage we are talking to potential places and presenters, and hope to write scripts and record voice-overs over the next couple of months and film in the late spring and early summer (as Covid restrictions allow). The films are essentially documentary and unlike anything I have ever made - it is good to be learning.

I’m also working with a group of artists on a project called Finding Beuys. Joseph Beuys was born 100 years ago and we are looking at his practice to evolve a way of working together towards something – as yet unknown – later in the year.

I recently attended an online writing course with Arvon. I have been using words in my visual work for some time, and over the years have produced quite a lot of academic, admin and art blah writing, and wanted to explore other approaches and forms. I meet with others from the course once a month and we share what we have been writing – poems, shorts stories, autobiography.

I try to draw in my studio everyday and write somewhere else.


Are you an artist who prefers solitude or togetherness to thrive? Or do you need a balance of both? Have events over the past year and ongoing situation affected you? How have you remained positive?


I left teaching less than a year before lockdown and so stepped back quite abruptly from daily contact with a large number of people. Listing my activities above it seems evident that I thrive on collaboration and conversation, but I have enjoyed having time for solitude; spent working, reading or doing very little.

Most activities involving others are via email or Zoom at present, which is in some ways difficult, and in others quite liberating, as it permits otherwise unlikely meetings across greater geographical distances, without the cost or stress of travel.


What are you reading, listening to, watching right now/recently?


I have been able to read a lot over the past year – but I have always read, on the train to work or anywhere and whenever I could.

I read Hilary Mantel during the first lockdown, as many others did, and was similarly impressed by the parallels with our current experience of plague and government. David Grauber’s ‘Debt’ is a giant academic text and I tackled it in small portions over many weeks. His long view into history puts everything into perspective. I am currently reading short stories by Lucia Berlin (A Manual for Cleaning Women) – sent by a clever friend with extensive book knowledge – and they are brilliant.