Many of Ellen Gallagher’s works are rooted in found images or refer to historical events. She draws upon a range of sources that include science fiction, social history, marine science and Black lifestyle magazines from the 1930s to the 1970s. Her variety of techniques is just as wide. It includes painting, drawing, cutting, print-making, sculpture and collage. Techniques and materials are often combined to create complex textures and multi-layered images.
At first glance paintings such as Paper Cup 1996 appear to be abstract, with grid lines and geometric patterns. On closer inspection the surface is a collage made using handwriting paper and covered with hundreds of tiny drawings of body parts.
Gallagher often returns to similar themes and motifs. ‘Like jazz, you revisit and repeat with slight changes and build structure’, she has said. ‘It’s a shifting loop that with each rotation doesn’t line up precisely.
ARTIST ROOMS is a collection of international modern and contemporary art jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. ARTIST ROOMS was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments.