This November, installation artist Christina Reihill will recreate the prison cell of Ruth Ellis, the last woman in Britain to be executed by the state, after she shot her abusive lover, 25-year-old racing driver David Blakely in 1955. Glad I Did It will be an artist’s interpretation of Ruth Ellis’ cell, imagined moments after her hanging, informed by a close reading of the psychiatric notes, prison files and diaries. A video piece on the lower level of the gallery will feature an exclusive interview with the artist presented by Madeleine Keane, Literary Editor of the Irish Sunday Independent.
Ruth Ellis’ execution on 13th July 1955 was a turning point in the death penalty debate in the UK. Ellis unapologetically declared her intent was to kill her lover, who she shot five times at point-blank range. In court she infamously stated:
“It’s very obvious that when I shot David Blakely I intended to kill him”
Many sympathised with the abuse she suffered at the hands of Blakely, who famously caused her to miscarry following an alcohol fuelled row about another woman.
Glad I Did It asks visitors to step into Ellis’ mind at this crucial moment in history and to consider how easily they could have been in her shoes. The installation examines the thwarted desires and impulsive behaviours that led to Ellis’ execution, and explores how we all can be victims to our own addictions.