Stephanie Neville

A South African artist living in the United Arab Emirates, Neville focuses on contemporary, conceptual art. Her works deal with issues of the feminine, diaspora and absence. Neville’s current body of work explores the sustainability of the self and various inter-personal relationships in the current climate of transient lifestyles as is evident in the migrant working environment in the UAE. Textiles and embroidery are the main mediums employed by Neville to translate the fragility and tension within such transient relationships.


here not here (2012 - )

The installation 'here not here' was created in 2012 as part of Neville’s university exam exhibition, for which she received an Excellence Award. Examining the effects of absence on relationships, here not here narrates everyday life with a frequently absent partner due to work- related separation. Hand embroidered portraits serves as a process of remembrance, while the empty frames denote the lost- or the missed opportunities to create- memories. Embroidery is traditionally associated with chastity, solitude, submission and femininity. It was seen as an acceptable pastime for women, “because it kept the hands and minds active, not allowing for impropriety that could come from idleness” (Method 2008:15). Through stitching by hand Neville translates the obsessive, constant thinking and missing of an absent partner: trying to stitch together a life and memories. The movement of the needle- in and out, translates the cycles- here/ not here. The fraying of the thread relates to the loss of memory and the negligence of the relationship. Unfinished portraits signify the interruption of routine with his return.

Embroidery Portraits “Embroidery Portraits”

The Embroidery Portraits examines the state of relationships

Confessions of a Bored Housewife

Fantasies are an aid, an escape. They are a way to survive periods of a partner's absence and are safe adventures that accompany
sexual stimulation. My previous work dealt with the effects of separation on relationships due to short-term work-related absence. An extension of this theme, my installation shifts to focus on the sexual fantasies that surface during periods of separation.
Confessions of a bored housewife attempts to debunk some of the stigmas related to fantasy experience and indulgence.

The installation presents the opportunity to embrace fantasies. Furnished with anthropomorphic ‘fantasy furniture’, audience
interaction is encouraged. Furniture is fashioned from elements reminiscent of masculine and feminine forms. The yonic and
phallic floral imagery suggests abstract anatomical characteristics, illustrating the bizarre that oftentimes exists in a fantasy world.
Visual and tactile stimulations are invited by the various jewel coloured fabrics.

My research methodology investigated the traditional role of a housewife and the psychology behind fantasies. I became
intrigued with the notion of ennui . Teysott and Seavitt (1996:49) define ennui: to be “bored by idleness” stemming from
“solitude or loneliness, monotony or dullness”. Using their scale of identification, I classify as a ‘bored housewife’. I am childless
and have little responsibility in terms of household duties. My fantasy world develops from boredom, especially during periods of
separation from my husband.