Ellie Harrison is an artist & activist based in Glasgow (UK). Her work takes a variety of forms: from installations and performance / events, to lectures, live broadcasts & political campaigns.

Using an array of strategies, Harrison investigates, exposes and challenges the absurd consequences of our capitalist system: from over-consumption, inequality and alienation, to privatisation and climate change – and explores the impact free-market forces are having on our society, and our individual day-to-day lives.

As well as making playful, politically-engaged work for galleries and public spaces, Harrison is also the founder and coordinator of the national Bring Back British Rail campaign – which strives to popularise the idea of re-nationalising our public transport system – and is the agent for The Artists’ Bond – a life-long speculative funding scheme for artists, now with 160 members across the UK.

Harrison is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art Practice at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She has also written several critiques of higher education.

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Harrison (b. London 1979) studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University, Goldsmiths College and Glasgow School of Art. She was shortlisted for the 2011 Converse/Dazed Emerging Artists Award for her installation A Brief History of Privatisation (presented in collaboration with comedian Josie Long) and, for the 2014 Climate Week Awards for her life-long project Early Warning Signs. Her referendum-themed installation After the Revolution, Who Will Clean Up the Mess? formed part of the 2014 Generation survey show of contemporary art in Scotland and, in 2015, she was named one of Dazed Digital’s “top ten artists at the Venice Biennale” for her piece Life Raft, as part of Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf.

In 2016, Harrison slashed her own carbon footprint for transport to zero and made headlines with her ‘controversial’ project The Glasgow Effect, for which she refused to leave Glasgow’s city limits, or use any vehicles except her bike, for the whole calendar year – an action Scottish Rapper Darren McGarvey famously described as a “poverty safari“. Her first book The Glasgow Effect: A Tale of Class, Capitalism & Carbon Footprint was inspired by the 2016 project and published by Luath Press in November 2019. Since the book’s launch, Harrison has spoken at several literary festivals including Edinburgh International Book Festival and AyeWrite, and now features in the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature author directory. In autumn 2021, a new and updated edition of the book was launched at the UN Habitat’s Innovate4Cities conference to mark the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Harrison’s work features in two public collections in London: her 2002 project Eat 22 – for which she photographed everything she ate for a year – is on permanent display at the Wellcome Collection, and her Vending Machine – programmed to gift out free crisps when news relating to the recession makes the headlines – is installed at the Open Data Institute.

She is a member of the Scottish Artists Union and the University & College Union, and is a studio holder at Wasps Hanson Street Studios.


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