Nicola Ellis

I am interested in studying complex ecosystems and environments, in order to understand how their internal workings interact to function as a ‘whole’. I observe, document and subvert the intended function(s) of processes and communications, most recently within manufacturing and scientific research organisations.

My work is shaped by the relationships between people, materials and processes, and often contributes something back to that triangular dynamic. This might be in the form of disrupting an established process with the people who usually work with it, by presenting an existing quality of an object or infrastructure in a different way, or by carving out a new way of operating – as an individual, a collaborator or an outsider – in a specific context.


In 2018 I undertook a short Art in Manufacturing placement with Ritherdon & Co Ltd, a manufacturer of steel enclosures based in Darwen, Lancashire. Following this I secured ACE funding for the two year residency project Return to Ritherdon, which began in February 2019. During this residency I am studying the ecosystem of the factory and its associated business operations. New works and methodologies are informed by studying the application of Lean Manufacturing philosophy – a philosophy aimed at the reduction of waste in the form of time, energy and material – throughout every aspect of the workplace. The project will be contextualised by research into the original Artist Placement Group activity, along with more recent iterations such as Organisation & Imagination and Incidental Unit. The project facilitates situations in which an Artist and Manufacturer can witness each other work in the factory, studio, gallery and respective communities. Identifying, investigating and utilising their similarities and differences.


I am a member of Para-lab Manchester; a group of artists and material scientists interested in cooperation and collaboration based in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire. As part of my work with Para-lab, I am developing a relationship with scientists researching superalloys at Manchester University. This work will resume after Covid19 restrictions are lifted.



I am a member of Incidental Unit, the current iteration of Artist Placement Group. The Incidental Unit draws out key ideas, methods, process and rationale for maintaining the independent and critical work of artists and curators, connecting the historical legacy of APG with the complex nature of social practice now.

Incidental Unit





Return to Ritherdon: Photography and Drawings e-publication
Incidental Rendition essay by Nicola Ellis

Incidental Rendition essay by Manoli Moriaty


Podcast in-conversation with Matthew Pendergast


The Factory Residency. Article by Lauren Velvick in


No Particular Place to Go exhibition catalogue


Corridor8 review. Each Toward the Other by Derek Horton


Nicola Ellis in residence at Ritherdon & Co Ltd. An Essay by Lauren Velvick


Molten lines and metallic dreams: The recent sculpture of Nicola Ellis. An essay by Derek Horton


Corridor8 review. More room for error: Nicola Ellis


Corridor8 review. Meanwhile See This


Corridor8 review. Nicola Ellis & Aura Satz, Castlefield Gallery