Artist Profile

Robert Ellis

Born 1929

When Ellis was 18 years old, he did compulsory military service with the photographic section of Bomber Command in the RAF. His experience aerial surveying bombed areas in Germany inspired his City series and his Motorway Paintings and established his early reputation in the 1960s. Focussing on urban imagery, these interchanges of thoroughfares are seen from above, stylised and abstracted.

Trained at the Royal College of Art, London, Ellis arrived in New Zealand in 1957 already appointed lecturer in design at the Elam School of Art Auckland and well equipped to provide a practical and professional background for art students. Since then his painting career has moved towards three-dimensional sculptural works in bronze and more recently, the large woven mural housed in Auckland's Aotea Centre.

His recent paintings include symbolic references to connections with the Ratana and Ringatu faiths through his wife's family, and although narrative in content and open to a variety of levels of interpretation, these works provide a new emphasis for Ellis in his adopted country.

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