About the Artist
Born 1965, Whadjuk Country, Western Australia
Lives and works Undalup | Busselton, Wardandi Nyoongar Boodja, Western Australia
Badimia (Yamatji) and Yued (Nyoongar) Peoples, Western Australia
A Badimia and Yued woman, born on Whadjak Country, Amanda Bell has a diverse creative repertoire, working with sculptural materials, video, sound, textiles, found objects, and most recently neon lighting. Ambitious and experimental, her practice is dedicated to “… trying new ways of telling stories that are sometimes uncomfortable and painful, sometimes fun and frivolous.”
She has participated in several group exhibitions, including Fremantle Arts Centre’s Revealed and Bunbury Regional Art Centre’s Noongar Country, and her work is held in
various state and private collections.
Works for sale
Amanda’s Undertow work is available to purchase. Visit our sales page for details.
CURATOR’S REFLECTIONS: AMANDA BELL
Balak (Naked), 2022
glass neon, LED lights, sound, yongka (kangaroo) bones, salt, sand, tea, flour, sugar, dried flowers, synthetic polymer paint.
Amanda Bell’s newly commissioned work Balak (Naked), 2022, approaches the themes of wardarn or oceans through a lens of personal and collective trauma. This significant installation, comprised of neon glass, audio, written word, marri gum and collected yongka (kangaroo) bones, asks us to reflect upon recent histories for First Nations people, those of colonial invasion and dispossession inflicted by the British in their strategic assault and takeover of this continent.
Bell once again employs glass neon to convey deeply moving words, this time in bold red and in English, the coloniser’s tongue. The words ‘our silence is full of rage’ are etched in light as if scratched into the very wall. They cast a haunting glow across the gallery, as if it were blood-soaked, and speak to the silence she has encountered when talking about colonial and recent atrocities with her elders.
Bell reminds us that these silences are not empty spaces, but instead they are spaces of deep anger and immense sorrow, and that silence is not always powerless, that a lot can be said, conveyed and felt in responses made of silence.
At the end of the room, in a grave-like shallow illuminated with light, lay the skeletal remains of a kangaroo resting upon a bed of salt/sand. Delicately and reverently hand-painted in marri gum, they speak to the great horrors of this continent, of unwritten histories and of the blood spilled on boodja in the attempted genocide of First Peoples since invasion in 1829.
Bell’s use of neon, known for its role in advertising and signage, and LED lighting, now commonplace in both domestic and commercial settings, anchors us in there here and now, reminding us of the continuation of colonial rule, ongoing attempts of cultural erasure and systemic racism that plagues the psyche of this continent.
Untitled: BY AMANDA BELL
The following poem was written by Amanda Bell, with the response in this instance being that of the same words being translated into Nyoongar, one of the ancestral languages of the artist which often features within her work.
Untitled, by Amanda Bell
When did I know you?
Not when we were taken, and we had no voice.
Ashamed, you were hidden from me, or did you hide?
The wadjella took my skin and my kin
My kin! Hidden and hurting.
In my kambarang I felt you from inside,
just stirring, dawning like an old one remembering horror from the spring.
Silenced again in that tomb-sized classroom.
That fucking, racist, violent room,
where red and white lies, defile the last grave.
Again, in the Birak, you broke through my skin.
Bunuru touching me with your pale spider fingers.
This time you came screaming to the surface, breathless.
So breathless I could not speak,
I thought maybe I would never speak again.
And then came the change in the wind.
And, deeper I felt you clawing to get out, out of me and all of us,
when the world turns rusted red in Djeran
Is it worse that now my body knows yours?
Now our hot blood leapt and pumped on a Makuru flower
Now that it’s finished where I began.
Is it worse that now I know my tongue?
I’m tried and tired and can’t ever lie with you and make that crying, perfect Djilba koolang?
Is it worse than if we never met at all?
How can I say it’s worse, can I admit it’s worse?
It is worse…………..
Our silence is full of rage.
Amanda Bell, 2022
Nyoongar Word List
Birak – Nyoongar season (December and January)
Bunuru – Nyoongar season (February and March)
Djeran – Nyoongar season (April And May)
Djilba – Nyoongar season (August and September)
Kambarang – Nyoongar season (October to November)
Kalyakool – always, forever
Koolang – child
Makuru – Noongar (June And July)
Wadjella – white person