Image courtesy Scott Heldorf

 

Luke Cornish’s aptitude towards creativity was inherent from an early age. Originally from Canberra, and now living and working in Sydney, Cornish is known in the urban art world by his moniker, ELK. 

Incorporating his background in urban contemporary art, Cornish traverses the expansiveness of the street environment, adapting his practice to more artistically controlled materials such as canvas, aluminium, board and glass, effortlessly. Cornish’s practice is meticulous. Each of his artworks are constructed from up to 1,000 sheets of acetate stencils and up to 243 different colours of layered aerosol paint, until they take on a photographic realism. Just like our footprint is merely momentary in the sands of time, Cornish’s work is founded in a style which had its fundamentals in ephemerality. Stencil art was one of the earliest forms of social and political activism and Cornish’s practice doesn’t stray far from this intention. 

Cornish’s oeuvre reads like a journal - each artwork a representation of either a first-hand experience or part of a broader narrative intent on capturing the human spirit. His documentary and activist artworks capture the social and political issues relevant to the macrocosm of our time and function as visual statements of war, portraying individuals directly affected by it. His portrait works are also deep in meaning, depicting accurately rendered and highly evocative representations of their subject. In 2012, his skill to portraiture was critically affirmed, with his portrait of Father Bob Maguire being selected as a finalist in the Archibald Prize. The first stencil artist to do so in the Prize’s history. This work went on to set a new auction record for a work by an Australian stencil artist, selling for AU$34,160 during the Bonhams Australia Important Australian Art Auction in late 2013. 

Over the last ten years Cornish has continued to refine his craft. Striving to push the limits of his medium and explore the universal power of street art, he has made multiple visits to Syria, Lebanon and more recently, Iran. These trips to countries profoundly affected by war, economic sanctions and a massive refugee crisis serve as an exercise in deep cultural entrenchment – evident in the meticulous consideration of his subjects and in the realistic representation of his documentary artworks. 

Cornish’s desire to share the advantages of his practice with young people bearing the brunt of war, stems from a personal preoccupation to humanitarianism. Cornish sees his practice as having given so much back to him, that he is strongly driven to giving back to both local communities and the communities to which his subjects belong. In early 2017 he co-founded the 'For Syrias Children' Charity organisation, which works in conjunction with Non-Government Organisations on the ground in Syria, raising much needed funds for Syrian children affected by conflict. 

Cornish’s accolades are in alignment with the trajectory of his career. He has won many awards including the coveted Holding Redlich People's Choice Award at the Salon des Refusés in 2017, the Churchill fellowship in 2013 and was a finalist in the Sulman prize in the same year. In 2011, he was a finalist in the Metro Art Prize, won the Australian Stencil Art prize in 2012, and in 2008 he won the most popular stencil at Melbourne Stencil Festival. In 2012, Cornish’s short film, ‘Me- We’, which documented the process and construction of his portrait of Father Bob Maguire for entry into the 2012 Archibald Prize, was shortlisted the prestigious Tropfest Film Festival. 

Cornish has exhibited his work in both capital and regional cities in Australia, and in major international cultural centres – Paris, London, Rome, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. 

Luke Cornish’s work is held in important public and private collections, both in Australia and Internationally. 

 

Exhibition History

  • 2020- Waverley Art Prize, Winner, printmakers Prize
  • 2020- National Gallery of Victoria, Acquisition
  • 2019- Kennedy prize, Finalist
  • 2019- Archibald prize, Finalist
  • 2018- Salon de Refusés, SH Ervine Gallery, Sydney
  • 2017- Salon de Refusés, SH Ervine Gallery, Sydney (Holding Redlich Peoples Choice Award)
  • 2016- Australian War Memorial, Canberra (acquisition)
  • 2016- Calleen art award, Cowra regional gallery, Finalist
  • 2015- Brisbane Art Prize, Finalist
  • 2015- Deakin small sculpture pize, Finalist
  • 2015- Moreton Bay Regional Art award, Finalist
  • 2015- Calleen art award, Cowra regional gallery, Finalist
  • 2015- Gold Coast Art Gallery, QLD (acquisition)
  • 2014- Black Swan Prize, Finalist
  • 2014- Bond University Collection, QLD
  • 2014- Corrigan Collection
  • 2013- Churchill Fellowship, Awardee
  • 2013- National Portrait Gallery, Canberra (acquisition)
  • 2013- Sulman prize, Finalist
  • 2012- Moran Portrait prize, semi-finalist
  • 2012- Archibald prize, Finalist
  • 2012- Tropfest, shortlisted
  • 2011- Metro Art Prize, Finalist
  • 2010- Australian Stencil Art Prize, Winner
  • 2009- Ballarat Gallery of Modern Art (acquisition)
  • 2009- Australian Stencil art prize, Runner up
  • 2008- Melbourne Stencil Festival, Peoples choice

SOLO SHOWS

  • 2021- Don’t Shoot the Messenger- Ambush Gallery, Kambri Precinct, Canberra
  • 2019- Have a Go- Ambush Gallery, Kambri Precinct, Canberra
  • 2019- The Sea- Bondi Pavilion Gallery, Sydney
  • 2018- The Sea- Lock up Gallery, Newcastle
  • 2018- (in)appropriate- Metro Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2018- No place like home, Tuggeranong art centre, Canberra
  • 2017- Zero to the left, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2017- Road to Damascus, nanda\hobbs Contemporary, Sydney
  • 2016- Vanishing Point, nanda\hobbs Contemporary, Sydney
  • 2016- Concrete Jungle, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2014- Louder than words, Stolen Space, London
  • 2014- Clusterfuck, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2014- Sex & Death, w/ Will Coles, Art Equity, Sydney
  • 2013- Before Afghanistan, Art Equity, Sydney
  • 2012- Not with it..., Metro Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2011- Look what you made me do...., Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2011- This is why we can't have nice things..., Oh really Gallery, Newtown, Sydney
  • 2010- How you like me now Bitch?, Front Gallery, Canberra

GROUP SHOWS

  • 2020- Papers Please, Colab Gallery, Germany
  • 2020- Rise Exhibition, Carriageworks, Sydney
  • 2019- Primed, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
  • 2017- For Syrias Children, fundraising exhibition
  • 2017- Sign of the times, Gold Coast Art Gallery, QLD
  • 2016- Stencil, Next Gallery, Paris
  • 2015- Stencil Master, Urban art festival, Amsterdam
  • 2015- Fine lines, Sydney story factory fundraiser, Sydney
  • 2015- Brave new world, nanda/hobbs, Sydney
  • 2015- Bricks to canvas, Aarwun gallery, Canberra
  • 2015- YourKidCan'tDoThis, Ambush Gallery, Sydney (curator)
  • 2015- Contents Under Pressure - Stencil Art in Australia 2003-2010, Burrinja Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2015- Public, Perth
  • 2015- First Landing to Last Post, Parliament house, Canberra
  • 2015- Wonderwalls, Port Adelaide
  • 2015- Project 504, Sydney
  • 2014- Public Street art festival, Perth
  • 2014- RightNow, Liechardt, Sydney
  • 2014- ADIDAS Stan Smith show, Melbourne
  • 2013- Sulman prize, Art Gallery of NSW
  • 2012- A cut above 2, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide
  • 2012- Archibald prize, Art Gallery of NSW
  • 2012- E.L.K x ADNATE "killing it", Molecule gallery, Melbourne
  • 2012- Project 5, Sydney
  • 2012- Melbournes burning, Paradise hills, Melbourne
  • 2012- Young guns, Linton and kay, Perth
  • 2012- Climate change, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2011- Surface Tension, Ambush Gallery, Sydney
  • 2011- All stars show, Espionage gallery, Adelaide
  • 2011- Things to come, Metro Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2011- Facelook portrait show, Dark horse experiment, Melbourne
  • 2011- The new feild, Dark horse experiment, Melbourne
  • 2011- Metro art award, exhibition of finalists, Melbourne
  • 2011- A cut above, Espionage gallery, Adelaide
  • 2011- Sidewayz Art Exhibition, Sydney
  • 2011- up close (colour by numbers), sydney
  • 2011- Expo for Mattia, Naples, Italy
  • 2011- up the bend, Rancho Notorious, Melbourne
  • 2011- Paste up exhibition (ragad art kalliatsis), Hungary
  • 2010- Space Invadas, National Gallery of Australia (merchandise in Giftshop)
  • 2010- Don't push mong, China heights, Surry hills, Sydney
  • 2010- Australin Stencil art Prize, Oh Really gallery, Newtown, Sydney
  • 2010- Don't push mong, Canberra
  • 2010- Pop rocks, Urban Uprising gallery, Sydney
  • 2010- Sweet streets, 1000 pound bend, melbourne
  • 2010- Friends with knives, crewest gallery, Los Angeles
  • 2010- Urban art 10A, BSG, Melbourne
  • 2009- Old Skoolin, Art whino, Washington/Los Angeles
  • 2009- Get Trucked, per square metre, Melbourne
  • 2009- Melbourne Stencil Festival, Melbourne
  • 2009- YourKidCantDoThis, Sydney Show, North Bondi
  • 2009- Urban Art Agenda #3, Ballarat, Melbourne and Brisbane Powerhouse
  • 2009- September, Dirty Pilot Group show, LA, USA
  • 2009- Spin that thing, vinyl show, Famous when dead Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2009- In2change Exhibition, Belconnen Community Centre
  • 2009- YourKidCantDoThis, Melbourne Show
  • 2009- YourKidCantDoThis' Canberra Show, Legislative assembly
  • 2009- "Stencil" Art Whino Group show, National Harbour, MD, USA
  • 2009- Australian Stencil Art prize, Exhibition of finalists (runner up)
  • 2008- Spray 1387, Tehran, Iran
  • 2008- Melbourne Stencil Festival
  • 2008- Cacophony Group show, Manuka
  • 2007- Cacophony Group show, The Front Gallery
  • 2007- M16 Group show, M16, Canberra

Publications

  • 2017- Art Almanac, July 2017
  • 2017- Art edit Magazine, Issue 13
  • 2016- VNA magazine, Issue 33
  • 2015- StreetArt Basel and region, Die hot-spots I'm Dreiländereck (Kai Hendrik Schlusche)
  • 2015- Surface (Søren Solkær)
  • 2014- Planet Banksy (KET)
  • 2013- Street Art Melbourne (Lou Chamberlain)
  • 2012- Stencil Repubic (Olly Walker, Laurence King publishing)
  • 2010- Art monthly Australia (cover)
  • 2008- Art monthly Australia