To mark 70 years since the end of World War II I created a participatory installation in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, as part of Remembrance Day. Visitors to the Cathedral were asked to take a white butterfly and think about peace.
‘Butterflies like peace can be crushed by a closed fist. Sometimes they only live a short while, yet at the same time they can fly around the world and create wonder wherever they land. Take a butterfly. Hold it gently in your hand. Think about peace and place it for others to see’.
The response was beautiful and people were very thoughtful about where they placed their butterflies.
Peace Project - Diana Bell
The Big Greek Question Mark, June 2015
Livadi, Thessaloniki, Greece.
This was a land art project created during the symposium ‘The Meadow of the Ephemeral II’ organised by Thanassis Raptis and the Photography Center of Thessaloniki.
The Greek question mark was dug into the ground and planted with blue flowers. The idea is that the flowers will bloom and die and re-seed for the following year.
Questions written in Greek are set next to the installation and ask: Where are you going? Who is going with you? What will you take on your journey? Think before you advance and choose your path carefully. Tread sensitively, you do not know who has passed this way before. And finally: What have you learned on your journey?
Visitors were asked to walk around the question mark following footprints on the ground and they also participated by writing answers to the questions.
I was in Thessaloniki five days before the referendum and so the questions could be read personally or politically. I also painted a Greek question mark on the road using the local ochre coloured clay.
The work is part of a residency which took place near the river Drôme in France. The theme of the residency was ‘Rivière’. My interpretation of the river was based on the ancient Egyptian idea of the river as a symbol of life’s journey. People were invited to walk along the river passing through doors on their way. At each door they were invited to make a small symbolic action. At the last door they left behind a white butterfly, as a symbol of their passing & they stepped through the last door down to the bank of the river.
‘Doorways of Life’. Suggestions at each door.
• Vous êtes priés d’entrer par la porte rouge et de prendre une pierre de la rivière.
• En passant par la porte bleue, placez la pierre sur le tas et faites un voeu.
• Faites un petit noeud d’herbe et mettez-le sur la porte en souvenir de quelqu’un que vous aimez.
• Passez à travers le monde de la nature.
• Prenez un papillon dans la boîte s’il vous plait. Passez par la porte et quand vous l’avez franchi, tournez vers la porte pour y placer le papillon. C’est un symbole de votre passage.
'Remembering' was a public participatory work. Members of the public were asked to write on a small white square the name of someone special they remembered, but would not see again.
It was selected for the open submission exhibition at Modern Art Oxford in March 2004. Diana was chosen as one of twenty seven artists from a submission of over three hundred.
Make A Bed Day, 2004
As part of the hospital residency at the Radcliffe Infirmary and the John Radcliffe hospitals, visitors and patients were invited to make a paper bed and place it among a growing length of beds, as an installation in the hospital. Each bed is constructed in the same way, but each is slightly different. Over 500 people took part.
'The beds are symbolic of the fragility of life'.
Children of the Millennium, 2000
Created in the year 2000 the installation looks to the future. The material is 56 metres long and has a fingerprint and birthdate from over 7,900 children between the ages of five and eleven from 39 primary schools in Oxford. It took fifteen months to create. Any of these children could make a huge difference to society.
The installation also includes enlarged fingerprints of people who have in some way changed the world: Kate Allen - Director, Amnesty International, David Bryer - Director, Oxfam, Stephen Corry - Director, Survival International, Professor Kay Davies - Human Geneticist, Professor Susan Greenfield - Researcher on the human brain, Jonathan Porritt - Director, Forum for the Future and Sir Rex Richards - Researcher on magnetic resonance.
This installation has been exhibited in Christ Church Cathedral (Oxford), Dorchester Abbey, Southside Arts (Southampton) and the cloisters of the Münster (Bonn, Germany), where German children also took part.