I have always had a fascination for history and those stories which connect us to others and to ‘place’. The story of the murder of Jean Cicely Bell in 1915 at the age of 11 and the trauma and angst which must have been felt by those affected by this tragedy both her family, the police and even the man responsible for the murder; Cutay, resonated strongly with me. I was able to locate the site of this event, (though the original home is no longer there) but even better I discovered her small grave with its marble headstone in the windswept gravel of the Pinjarra Cemetery. I gained permission from her great nephew and the Shire of Murray to place my ephemeral work on her grave.
I began to imagine Jean Cicely; how she may have dressed, what clothes she would have worn or games she and her sister Antoinette may have played together on the family orchard. Her parents left the district soon after and moved to the wheat belt where later a further tragedy occurred with the death of Jean’s sister in a riding accident. The Bell family members I spoke with about this story were not made aware of it until they were adults and they presumed the reason for this was that ‘one never spoke of such events’ within their family. They said the family would have done the best they could to forget and would have simply ‘got on’ with their lives.
I chose to make paper using materials such as newsprint, shredded office paper from the Shire of Murray, plant materials- single Sided Bottlebrush, Marri blossoms, tea leaves, blowfly grass, Heritage Rose petals, Hydrangea petals and iron rich red clay which may have been part of Jean’s home environment in the hills at Marrinup.
Each pile of paper is wrapped loosely and tied with brown string and a small pile of gravel and dry leaves from her grave site sits ontop. There are ‘words’ no longer to be seen within the paper except for some of those pieces which form her pillow.
The paper both wraps and comforts her.
Insight Exhibtion Ceramic Wall Tiles
These ceramic tiles are made from bisque fired Paper clay. Each tile has been indented into the soil and leaf litter on her grave or the headstone. After firing they were painted with acrylic paint and then scrubbed back to give the appearance of stone or of the earth.