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Contemporary Art Practice (MA)

Ellis Parkinson

Ellis Parkinson [b.1999] is a London based practitioner. Ellis previously attended Camberwell College of Arts [2018] and The Slade School of Fine Art [2021], graduating as one of the most decorated students in the schools' considerable history. His work is held in University College London's Special Collection.

Ellis' interdisciplinary, research-based practice utilises photography, text and sculptural installation, incorporating multiple layers of critical and political subtext. 

Often quoting the forms and aesthetics of conceptual art, his work employs reverie, satire and surrealism as well as evocations of classic literature and cinema. Ellis invites audiences to challenge themselves to examine historical and intellectual legacies and showcase how contextualising them in new settings can provide space for considering intersectional thought and voices, especially in environments in which these voices would previously have been denied. Ellis aims to test himself within these environments by finding the limits of the institutions he is himself a part of, evaluating functionality and methodologies, translating his lived experience onto prospective audiences.

Ellis has been able to study at the RCA with the support of the pre-eminent abstract expressionist, Frank Bowling OBE RA.

A portrait of Ellis Parkinson, circa 2020s. He is wearing a black and yellow varsity jacket and a hooded sweatshirt beneath it.

Whilst undertaking his MA, Ellis has primarily been concerned with the exploration of imperial legacies and the effect that relics from a history long past and barely remembered have on modern audiences.

Following the death of the Britain's last imperial monarch, the deposition of multiple Prime Ministers and an epic financial collapse that has shaken our understanding of the verity and longevity of the constitutional, political and economic ties that bind, Ellis takes the opportunity presented in the wake of this great national upheaval to reconsider just how these institutions attained and maintain such integral and monumental status despite their proximity to imminent collapse.

Wars fought for the culture with borders and battlelines defined moment to moment, nationalism confused for patriotism, gargantuan cromlechs cast in stone, preaching a deadly diktat that nobody can recall, nor understand.

Ellis has formalised these notions with an analysis of narrative control through architecture, fabricating his own take on the ‘End of Empire’, constructing a monument to stagnation in the western tradition, exploring the transparent nature of the memorialisation of violence in Britain and beyond, asking audiences to confront personal fragilities associated with our own imperial legacy. In truth, his goal is to grant them the opportunity to see through the facade of a legacy forged in blood, and to recognise that its continued subsistence is a choice and not a law of nature.

A nation mourns over the loss of its patron
The death of Admiral Lord Nelson - in the moment of victory! (Horatio Nelson; Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, 1st Bt)
Britannia posthumously crowns Nelson as lord of the sea
Britannia crowning the bust of our late hero, Lord Nelson. Engraving by A.R. Burt
 Neptune rules the ocean with Britannia at his right hand
Britannia Rules the Waves – Nicholas Habbe, 1876
Neptune relinquishes control of the oceans to Britannia
Neptune Resigning The Empire Of The Sea To Britannia by William Dyce
A block of text on a white background. It is comprised entirely of the repeated term: Our Green and Pleasant Land.
The transcript of Ruminations on Cannonmanship




Dimensions Variable
Ruminations on Cannonmanship
A scale model of a Glass Cannon





The Sir Frank Bowling Scholarship

The Sir Frank Bowling Scholarship supports students from Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage, or mixed Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage, across MA, MRes and PhD study. This scholarship has been essential to enabling my ability to study at the RCA this year - without it, I might never have had the opportunity to explore higher education further and I am incredibly grateful to the Bowling family for putting their faith in me.