This is an archived page from the Website Archive of British artist Ellie Harrison from Version 3.0 (active 2008 - 2015). New website:

last updated
15th July 2015

On 27th February 2008, Ellie visited Plymouth College of Art to give a lecture about her practice to the Fine Art students. She presented an overview of her ‘data collecting’ projects and discussed the reasons why she had decided to move away from such introspective working methods. It was during this visit that she was invited to return to the college in 2009 as artist-in-residence. It was acknowledged from the beginning that this period of time would oversee a major shift in Ellie’s practice and, through a solo exhibition at the college’s Viewpoint Gallery, would provide a platform enabling her to signal the direction of her new ideas and outlook as an artist.

To support and complement this period of change and development, Plymouth College of Art Press agreed to work with Ellie to produce a special publication summarising and critically reflecting on her previous works - assisting her in moving forward. The resulting book, Confessions of a Recovering Data Collector, features a specially commissioned text in which Sally O’Reilly takes on the role of the ‘therapist’. Through discussion with Ellie she devised a bespoke treatment in order to analyse the obsessive act of collecting data about one’s own everyday life. By exploring the social, political and historical context of this behaviour, she outlined its possible root causes in the target-driven worlds of Thatcherism and New Labour in which Ellie grew up.

After quitting data collecting, Ellie’s original goal was to begin to develop a practice which looked outwards to real political events happening in the wider world, rather than inwards to the minutiae of her own everyday life. During the residency, Ellie explored this shift quite literally by developing Vending Machine - a new work which, through specially designed software, could instantaneously respond to actual events, as reported in the news. An old vending machine installed in the Viewpoint Gallery space and connected to a networked computer, was programmed only to release food when news relating to the recession made the headlines. Visitors to the exhibition were invited to take any snacks which were released free of charge.

Ellie continued her research into how global events, as reported in the news, affect the work artists produce, by running the workshop How can the world affect my work? with the Fine Art students. Over the course of the day on Tuesday 25th February, the students studied, dissected and critiqued the full range of the day’s newspapers and, in an atmosphere similar to a bustling pressroom floor, made spontaneous works in response to what they saw and read. At the end of the day the work was edited and compiled to produce Our Newspaper - an alternative paper for the day. A limited edition run of Our Newspaper was produced to coincide with Ellie’s exhibition at the Viewpoint Gallery and was available free for visitors to take. You can download a PDF version of the paper by clicking on the link to the right under ‘Further Reference’.