STORYTELLING CABINETS



Art based on popular devotion, the lives of saints and reliquary.


Holy Houses (Sacred Cows) and 10 Strong Women

I was born in 1958 in the Netherlands and I am currently living in the dreamy Eifel since 2010, right on the border with Luxembourg.
I graduated in 1995 with the theme  'Heilige Huisjes' ('Sacred Cows'): a series of three theatrical bags with a nod to religious heritage.

After a short period as an art teacher I made a side step to a musical career as a percussionist. In 2012 I returned to visual arts again, starting with a series about ten strong women from (religious) history.
In 2014 my book 'Vrouwen Bestempeld' was created from this.

Reliquaries and 55 Virgins

In 2015 we decided to travel and because my workspace and storage was limited, I decided to make small reliquaries based on religious and magical events from each place we visited.
This resulted in: 'Het Maagdenkabinet' ('The Virgin Cabinet'), consisting of 55 reliquaries in total.  

 

Skulls and Cabinets

In between travelling, I work on slightly larger objects, with skulls of small animals, still based on historical events.

They are all housed in The Charnel Cabinet

 

 

Digital or physical photo books can be ordered for all projects.

 


Corpus Corvus  Assemblage Ellen Eva Brouwers, gebaseerd op de Catacombenheiligen. Onderdeel van De Gulden Knekelgalerij  Ellen Brouwers

'Corpus Corvus' 
Ellen Eva Brouwers 2018


A Mysterious Mix of Wonder and Doubt


Because charnels, or bones, often play a role in popular devotion, I describe my assemblages as  storytelling charnel cabinets. Together with the underlying stories, based on historical facts or traditions, they form a whole: I therefore consider myself a storyteller in which my charnel cabinets are the medium.

 

I try to evoke a mysterious mix of wonder and doubt, inherent in traditions and legends. The mystical surrounding, and the theatrical expression of popular devotion, as stories about the lives of saints and reliquary,are a lasting fascination for me. 

 

The use of bird skulls

The use of skulls and bones in relic worship is centuries old: seeing and/or touching them is said to have a healing effect, but at the same time we also find them somewhat sinister: after all, they remind us of the unavoidable end.

 

I limit myself to skulls of small found dead animals, preferably bird skulls. I do the preparation myself from start to finish. Combining them with beautiful fabrics and objects gives them an alienated mix of attraction and repulsion and that is exactly what I want to achieve in my work.

 


THE CHARNEL CABINET


The Last Supper, Het Laatste Avondmaal Het Laatste voedermaal  www.ellenevabrouwers.com   Ellen Eva Brouwers

'Het Laatste Voedermaal en de Vreemde Eend in de Bijt'  
 Ellen Eva Brouwers
  2020

During the first Covid 19 lockdown in 2020, various challenges were organized on internet. One of these was the imitation of paintings by famous masters. Likewise, the Last Supper was used as a subject numerous times.

 

To stay in my own imagery, I formed the Last Supper from songbird skulls, using a duck skull for the apostle John to the right of Jesus.

The last part in the title:...een Vreemde Eend in de Bijt, is a Dutch saying which means in English: ‘a stranger in our mids'. 

Litterly translated it says: ‘a Strange Duck in our Group’', so that is why I used the skull of a duck.

 

Many paintings shows this apostle depicted as a very androgynous appearance and often in a special emotional relationship to Jesus.

After the book of The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown), a comparison with Mary Magdalene is indispensable. I have therefore positioned her in arm with the host. 

 

More pictures of The Charnel Cabinet

 


The Golden Gallery


Het Knekelkabinet   Sint Catharina van het wiel  Alexandrië  Ellen Eva Brouwers   www.ellenevabrouwers.com

 

 'St. Catharina' 
 Assemblage Ellen Eva Brouwers 2020 


The Golden Gallery holds a separate place within the Charnel Cabinet

The objects, all framed in antique copper display cases, are inspired by the so-called 'catacomb saints'.
In 1578, an underground cemetery was accidentally discovered in Rome, where the skeletons of thousands of people from the 1st to 3rd century AD were found and considered as murdered Catholic martyrs.

They were transported to German-speaking countries to replace the holy relics that had been looted and destroyed there by the Protestants.
Often by nuns, the skeletons were artfully decorated with gold and jewelry of indulgences (gifts in the form of money to buy off their sins in order to get a place in heaven), and were displayed in churches.

For more than three centuries, these 'Holy bodies' acted as miracle workers and patron saints of their parishes, until doubts arose about its authenticity towards the end of the 19th century,

From that time on, they gradually became a source of shame for the Catholic Church and unfortunately, most of them were destroyed or hidden.


More pictures of the Golden Gallery


In my search for relics, both literally and figuratively, I often used a flashlight to see the details. Flashlights are available during this exhibition for you, to share this exciting experience!


More impressions: 
Vimeo  or on  Youtube   
View all the projects in my Portfolio


Upcoming exhibition: 

Kunststroom Roerdalen-Wassenberg

Huis Hoosden, St. Odilienberg, Holland

October 1-2  2022