Portraits: Live Friday at the Ashmolean Museum

art, drawing, Drawing in Public, Exhibition, Illustration, location drawing, press

Last Friday night I took a suitcase of hats and picture frames to the

LIVE FRIDAY: FRAMED at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford…

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The event was themed around Andy Warhol and having equipped myself with appropriate colours, and dressed up for the museums historical element…

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Portrait - 10

I settled down beneath some 15th Century Dutch paintings (including a rather scary portrait of Rembrandt’s mother), put out my hats for public perusal and invited the evenings visitors to sit for their portrait wearing the headdress of their choice…


Photo credit to Ian Wallman / IWPhotographic & The Ashmolean

All together they create a multi-coloured portrait patchwork..

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I was even lucky enough to have my own portrait done at the end of the evening by the wonderful Dot and Maya….

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It was a really great night so thanks to the Ashmolean, the Live Friday team and to all the excellent models that passed my way on Friday! Especially 10 year old Max who stood in as both model and critic…

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If you would like the original of your portrait from the event please email me at blancheelllis@gmail.com

Portrait - 8

Photo credit to Jessica Harvey

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Article: Anatomy and Distortion.


I wrote this post after giving a talk on anatomy,

and why I am fascinated by human distortion….

distortion egon shiele

“Distortion of the body is the most emotional thing you can depict. Because everyone has a body they know how it feels to be in one, this is why I find it so fascinating to draw the body past the edge of comfort or possibility whilst keeping it recognizable, and therefore, relatable. “


Read the full article here 



India: Travels and Drawings – Part V – Final!


The last of this trip and this sketchbook….

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We left Bagru for Jaipur and had a marvellous welcome by a tuktuk driver called ‘Lucky’ and his friend. We played guitar in the back as they sped through the streets and we got safely to our hostel.


Jaipur Literature Festival



The best thing about the visit to Jaipur, apart from Tem getting a 50p haircut in the backstreets of the pink city, was finding the Jaipur Literature Festival that we’d heard so much about. It was fantastic and we saw some great events and speakers including Atul Gawande who gave the Reith lectures a couple of years ago…


…and Stephen Fry who is one of the few famous faces in the world that could truly star-strike me. I really enjoyed his talk on Oscar Wilde.


Sketching in Mr Fry’s talk…


We recorded some of the talks on the second day for our own satisfaction (possibly having withdrawal symptoms from all the work we did on the Jagriti Yatra train)


The Pink City


Then we took off into the pink city where Tem got her hair cut, we found a shop that only sold gold fabric and thread (which Tem bought reels and reels of) and we stopped along the way to draw the fantastically colourful sari shops.


Returning to Mumbai

On our final train of this trip we kept tradition and travelled overnight. It was an interesting journey.

On our part of the train was a large group of women. I tried to surreptitiously draw them at one stage and failed spectacularly.  They cottoned on and all came flooding across the carriage to look at my sketchbook. I tried to draw one woman who had a lot of attitude and she posed regally for about 5 minutes then began to fidget and look very unimpressed that I wasn’t finished. I looked down at my drawing, and when I looked back up she was standing over me surveying the unfinished work with all the other women around her. I tried to explain it wasn’t finished but they overwhelmed me and began to riffle delightedly through my sketchbook.


Later that night Tem and I played a song to each other before bed and the women, first observing us with interest, followed it with one of their own. We continued swapping songs for nearly 2 hours before finally falling asleep.



Back in Mumbai

I spend my birthday, the day before travelling home, staying with some friends from the Yatra just outside Mumbai, it’s mostly buildings in all directions but in this little park I found some lovely vegetation to draw.


And then i traveled home and filled up the last few page of this journey with thoughts and portraits of people back home.


The journey started with the Jagriti Yatra which was inspired by the train journey that Gandhi took around India 100 years ago, learning about the conditions, culture, changes and challenges of India. So, this sketchbook ends with his face, on a 100 rupee note.


And then…… at last…..the sketchbook…


was done.

See previous ‘chapters’ of this sketchbook-journey here:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

And look out for the completed Jagriti Yatra artwork that will be going up online soon and hopefully emerge in an exhibition in all its 15 meter glory in London sometime soon.

pano-yatra Low Res

I’ll have to  way toput this up in sections so it can be seen!


Dancers in Pushkar