Gordon Ellis-Brown’s practice oscillates between social and environmental concerns, ranging from ancient history to pop-culture, and sustainability to space science; interests he credits to growing up in a seaside hotel in the 1970s, as well as childhood memories of American Westerns, the Apollo space mission and television tropes of alien visitations. Working with a range of media including paint, found imagery, raw and metallic pigments, photographic collage, resin and wax, Ellis-Brown composes rigorously constructed compositions which recall the aesthetic of advertising or product design.
Through this pop-art approach and inspired by the creativity and spirituality of pre-modern cultures, Ellis-Brown explores humanity’s connection to the natural world, revealing hidden connections between conflicting cultural traditions and belief systems. Often working in diptych format, he creates a dynamic conversation between these seemingly opposed positions as well as between notions of perfection and imperfection, for example the use of pure painted colour and the idiosyncrasies of early printing processes, often revealing hidden connections.
Whilst living in the United States in the 1980s, during which time he visited the Navajo and Tohono O'odham nations of Arizona, as well as the lands of the Indigenous Peoples of California and New Mexico, Ellis-Brown became interested in the misrepresentation of Native American Peoples in U.S pop-culture, particularly the damaging stereotypes generated by cinematic genres like the Western.
His Soul Shaker series responds to these preconceived notions of the historical American West, incorporating symbolism drawn from forms found in Native American petroglyphs. Constructed from collaged photographs, resin, paint and natural pigments, these graphic and boldly coloured works celebrate the enduring materiality of some images whilst recognising the vulnerability and need to safeguard others. In Soul Shaker, Ellis-Brown also raises questions about environmental sustainability, juxtaposing ancient and modern cultural signifiers to ask how we might reverse the devastating impacts of modernity and globalisation to preserve our precious natural resources.
In, Final Frontier, a series of mixed media works combining paint, pigments, metallics and photography, Ellis-Brown explores his fascination with humanity’s place in the universe, contrasting found images of modern day space exploration with ancient marks embedded in the visual languages of Inuit, Apache, Yanomami, Maasai and Bontoc cultures. Connections are drawn between classical deities and contemporary idealism, astronauts, the space race and Nineteenth-Century colonialism. With subtle humour Ellis-Brown lays bare the fragility and precariousness forever evident in human endeavour.
Gordon Elllis-Brown studied Graphic Design and Typography at Portsmouth University 1978-1982, becoming a member of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers (MSIAD) and the Society of Typographic Designers (MSTD). He was made a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists in 2018. Elllis-Brown has exhibited widely throughout the UK and abroad, including The Affordable Art Fair, Battersea, with NoonPowell Gallery (2019); Chapel House Gallery, Penzance (2018); Angus Hughes Gallery, London (2018); The Other Art Fair (curated by Saatchi Art), London (2018); NSA on View, Tremenheer Gallery, Penwith (2018); The Other Art Fair (curated by Saatchi Art) New York (2018); Newlyn School of Art Mentoring Show, PZ Gallery, Penzance (2017); 'Come Rain Come Shine', Beaux Arts Gallery, London (2017); Ten Years On, Porthminster Gallery, St Ives (2017); Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London (2013); Wild West, Solo Exhibition, Winchester Gallery (2011); Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London (2010); Adam Street Members’ Club Exhibition, London (2010); Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London (2007); Selected Photographs, Hamilton's Gallery, London (2006); Light and Shade, Southampton Art Gallery (2003) and Moments, Portsmouth (1998).
Ellis Brown has completed many art programmes and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Studio Practice Programme, Newlyn School of Art (2018); Mentoring Alumni Programme, Newlyn School of Art (2017); International Echo Award in Graphic Design (1995); and an IBM Bursary for Creativity in Photography (1988). He is an active member of the Mentoring Alumni, Newlyn School of Art.
Soul Shaker: - a collection of mixed media works (catalogue available on request)
Final Frontier: - a collection of mixed media works (catalogue available on request)