27 OCT - 2 DEC 2018

Award winning artist Luke Cornish (E.L.K) presents a solo exhibition of works informed by three trips made to war torn Syria during 2016 – 2017.


27 OCT - 2 DEC 2018


Award winning artist Luke Cornish (E.L.K) presents a solo exhibition of works informed by three trips made to war torn Syria during 2016 – 2017. Compelling and often confronting, Cornish’s interest in conflict and the human condition has seen him travel to some of the most dangerous conflict zones in the world. 

In June 2016, Cornish traveled through Syria with Sydney’s Anglican Church Reverend Dave Smith, on his ‘Boxers for Peace’ mission. The life-changing journey brought him insights into the lives and stories of the people he encountered. Despite the poverty and plight of the war-ravaged civilization, Cornish was able to experience first-hand the hope, generosity and defiant positivity of the people of Syria. Taking these reflections back and pouring them into his work, Cornish was then invited to return to Syria to exhibit the show at the Damascus Opera House in 2017.  

THE SEA will include powerful stencil paintings that track the journey and interactions experienced by Cornish during his visits to Syria and are deeply informed by the personal connections he has made with the people he has met. A new video work that documents Cornish’s experiences in Syria will premier as part of The Lock-Up exhibition.   

THE SEA reflects on not only the destruction that years of war have had on the country, but also the everyday lives of people caught in the middle, people trying to get by, living under sanctions, aerial bombardment and regular suicide attacks.

Cornish artistic trajectory began with experimentations with stanley knives and spraypaint in the urban environments leading to the establishment of his street artist reputation under the monikor ELK. In the years since Cornish has adapting his practice to encompass materials such as canvas, aluminium, board and glass, gaining international recognition as an artist whose work traverses diverse environments from the urban landscape to public and commercial galleries.

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.

THE SEA provides an opportunity to Cornish to show some of the more challenging works created from his Syria trips outside the confines of a commercial gallery environment and to set his practice in a space more closely aligned with the environments out of which his work emerges. 


Luke Cornish is an Australian artist creating unique, powerful images from handmade stencils. His rise within the contemporary art world has been meteoric, becoming the first artist to be nominated for the Archibald Prize with a portrait created entirely out of stencils.

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. 

IMAGE: Luke Cornish No place like home 2017 Aerosol on canvas 230 x150 cm 
Image courtesy the artist and Nanda/ Hobbs.