Three pairs of striped pyjamas belonging to the artist's late father have been delicately stitched with metallic thread. The words are those of the French Surrealist poet Robert Desnos (born 1900), who died in 1945 following internment in Terezin concentration camp. Desnos wrote about the night, sleep and dreams. Ellis became interested in Desnos after a chance encounter with his poetry. Later, when sorting his father's possessions, he found these old drawstring pyjamas. They eerily echoed the uniforms worn by the victims of Nazi concentration camps. To create 'Sleepwalkers', Ellis collaborated with a professional maker, the embroiderer Amanda Crewe.
Pyjamas with embroidery, 2005. Embroidery by Amanda Crewe, Velvet Stitch, Bristol.
The extracts are taken from the following poems:
I Have So Often Dreamed of You (1925)
Sleep Spaces (1925)
If You Knew (1925)
© Editions Gallimard, Paris, 1953. Translated by Professor Mary Ann Caws, CUNY Graduate Centre, New York in her book The Surrealist Voice of Robert Desnos, 1977