Premise is based in a collection of sketchbook drawings Bell made while visiting the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Bell herself is not quite sure of what it means – she finds that it often takes some distance in time before she understands her own work and symbolism used. As discussed in Annunciation, the lion is a symbol used frequently in Bell’s work. In Premise a female figure is shown being devoured by a lioness, she is surrendering, but also in a state of ecstasy, making the power relations ambiguous. Also present is the figure of Artemis/Diana – once again a recurring figure in Bell’s work. Artemis, often depicted carrying a bow and arrows, was the Hellenic hunter goddess, as well as being the goddess of childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls. In Premise Artemis is depicted with her hand out, in what could possibly be interpreted as her saying “no” to the scene of the lions in front of her. Bell further suggests that possibly the owls in the foreground are there to represent witnesses to the scene.
Premise by Deborah Bell