HSC Visual Art Resources

A resource site for visual art teachers and secondary students completing their HSC in the Visual Arts


Angela Ellsworth
Seer Bonnet IV 2009
19,872 pearl corsage pins and fabric
83.8 x 27.9 x 38.1 cm

Angela Ellsworth
Seer Bonnets: A Continuing Offence 2009-2010
Installation view, MCA Sydney

Born 1964 in Palo Alto, USA. Lives and works in Phoenix, USA.

Angela Ellsworth explores the body as a site, through various contexts and constraints, along with religious and social expectations. The series Seer Bonnets: A Continuing Offence (2009-2010), refers back to Ellsworth’s Mormon upbringing as a child. The bonnets are made to resemble the traditional pioneer headpieces worn earlier in Mormon history.

These sculptural pieces are made from fabric and thousands of corsage pins. The pins decorate the outside of the bonnets with a pearl like exterior, whilst the sharp ends of the needle pins point to the inside of the bonnet, towards the head of the person that would be wearing it, making the artworks un-wearable, due to the pain one would be in trying to wear such an item. The outside of these bonnets are decorated in monochromatic patterns through the pearl heads of the pins, these patterns refer to occult Masonic symbols and Seer stones used by early Mormon prophets.

The series title links back to  Ellsworth’s great, great-grandfather, Lorenzo Snow, a Mormon prophet who was documented as having nine wives and imprisoned for multiple counts of unlawful cohabitation, stated by the courts as “a continuing offense”. These un-wearable bonnets are a visual metaphor for the “sister wives” living in the polygamous Mormon lifestyle. The use of pins in the artworks refer to craft and needlework expected to be done at home by the women of that time, who would live their lives in cruelty and submission, exploring notions of oppression and control within Ellsworth’s rejected Mormon heritage.

Angela Ellsworth
Seer Bonnets X, XI, and XIII 2009-2010
installation view



  • Angela Ellsworth – works in sculpture, performance, painting and drawing
  • raised as a Mormon as a child
  • interested in the histories and rituals involved within Mormon religion


  • series of sculptural forms of pioneer bonnets worn by women in early Mormon history
  • thousands of pearl headed pins cover the bonnets in patterns and symbols resembling Masonic symbols and Seer stones used by early Mormon prophets.


  • responds to the beauty and intricacy of the objects as well as the uncomfortable and painful feeling promoted by the sharp ends of the pins facing into the wearer.
  • may or may not be aware of Mormon history or rituals
  • can walk through the space were the sculptures have been set up, allowing them to access the sculptures at every viewpoint.


  • inspired by Mormon history, its rituals, clothing and polygamous lifestyle throughout America
  • explores Mormon symbols and signs as decorative designs on the bonnets

Angela Ellsworth
Seer Bonnet (close up)



  • audience association to sharp pins pointing towards the bonnet wearer’s head
  • personal feelings of pain and discomfort
  • sense of damage towards the wearer, danger


  • patterns as signs and symbols on the bonnets as part of there design linking back to Mormon culture and belief systems
  • cream and ivory coloured pin heads on the outside of the bonnets
  • 3D sculptural artworks
  • textile techniques and materials used


  • explores roles and beliefs within Mormon culture
  • challenges Mormon values towards women
  • women and feminism, women’s rights
  • period of dress and culture relating back to pioneering Mormon times
  • decorative signs and symbols on the bonnets relate back to Mormon religious devices
  • influenced by artists personal history with Mormon culture


  • use of non-traditional materials for presentation as an artworks, such as the pins
  • reinterprets the Mormon pioneer bonnet and signs and symbols used within Mormon beliefs and rituals
  • reinterprets the ways women can be treated in traditional and historical Mormon culture
  • use of everyday objects to create a body of work

Angela Ellsworth
Seer Bonnet (close up)


  • technical skills in bonnet construction, planning and implementing of the insertion of pins as patterns into the bonnets with the pins pointing inwards and able to keep shape of bonnet
  • influence by Mormon culture and traditions, as well as signs and symbols used within the religion
  • interprets and explores women’s roles in Mormon culture from the artists position of a no longer practicing Mormon

Angela Ellsworth
Seer Bonnet XIX 2010
24182 pearl corsage pins, fabric, steel, wood
60 x 13 x 16 inches








Angela Ellsworth
Seer Bonnet V 2009
Pearl corsage pins and fabric
43.8 x 27.9 x 33 cm


This entry was posted on 28/06/2012 by in All, American, Installation, Sculpture, Textiles.