Ella Joy Nelson

Ella Joy Nelson is a multidisciplinary artist from Leeds, and a recent graduate of BA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. Working predominately with sculpture, as well as drawing, print, and text, their work is often inspired by fictional pasts in relation to gender, the body as a landscape, reflecting back the ideologies or traits of the places it inhabits. 

Ella’s current practice is interested in the staging of the feminine body as a site of hysteria, medical debate, and sexuality throughout history and the inevitable, consistent intertwining of them. Fact, fiction, or teetering between. 

Through the entangled research of these ideas, she inserts her own perspectives into these narratives, not necessarily to rewrite but to reassert the relevance of these complex pasts. Reasserting histories, regardless of the practice, is of vital importance as it allows us to learn from and prevent repeating the same failures over and over. 

Reminding us of hysteria’s turbulent past is particularly important today, when authoritative figures are continually imposing new laws that are policing women’s bodies. Echoing the androcentric understanding of hysteria’s medical history. Considering this, some of Ella’s work incorporates the speculative repositioning of gender within these narratives, based on research of the Thackray Medical Museum and Wellcome Collection’s online archives, these works result in hyperbolic historical revenge.

Diagnosed as ‘testerical’, a type of madness that solely infects predatory men, it is now the ‘testerics’ that then play the role of the perpetual victims of ‘testeria’. They (don’t) become subject to archaic medical practice, or the equivalent violent, unwilling, or coerced cures. Done in part as a personal form of satirical revenge but more so to highlight the disparities in the sincerity of gendering disease. 

Curing Testeria 

Laser cut acrylic, bike chain, metal fixtures. 

A medical saw made of teeth used to cure predatory testerical men, through similar historical procedures to the cures for hysteria, the most extreme cases include FGM or unwanted hysterectomy. Influenced by fictional tales of the feminine body. Hyperbolic revenge for medical histories. 


Laser cut + hand engraved acrylic, hand-cut aluminium, metal fixtures. 

Etched onto a fictional medical saw are the portraits of staged hysteria. Augustine is the most photographed hysteric from the infamous Salpetriere Asylum, and Carol is the protagonist of the psychological thriller ‘Repulsion’. Both hold a seductive position, playing with ideas of staging and fiction.