Image courtesy  Nicole reed

Image courtesy Nicole reed

Luke Cornish’s aptitude towards creativity was inherent from an early age. Originally from Canberra, and now living and working in Sydney, Cornish is known in the urban art world by his moniker, ELK. 

Incorporating his background in urban contemporary art, Cornish traverses the expansiveness of the street environment, adapting his practice to more artistically controlled materials such as canvas, aluminium, board and glass, effortlessly. 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. 

Cornish’s oeuvre reads like a journal - each artwork a representation of either a first-hand experience or part of a broader narrative intent on capturing the human spirit. His documentary and activist artworks capture the social and political issues relevant to the macrocosm of our time and function as visual statements of war, portraying individuals directly affected by it. His portrait works are also deep in meaning, depicting accurately rendered and highly evocative representations of their subject. In 2012, his skill to portraiture was critically affirmed, with his portrait of Father Bob Maguire being selected as a finalist in the Archibald Prize. The first stencil artist to do so in the Prize’s history. This work went on to set a new auction record for a work by an Australian stencil artist, selling for AU$34,160 during the Bonhams Australia Important Australian Art Auction in late 2013. 

Over the last ten years Cornish has continued to refine his craft. Striving to push the limits of his medium and explore the universal power of street art, he has made multiple visits to Syria, Lebanon and more recently, Iran. These trips to countries profoundly affected by war, economic sanctions and a massive refugee crisis serve as an exercise in deep cultural entrenchment – evident in the meticulous consideration of his subjects and in the realistic representation of his documentary artworks. 

Cornish’s desire to share the advantages of his practice with young people bearing the brunt of war, stems from a personal preoccupation to humanitarianism. Cornish sees his practice as having given so much back to him, that he is strongly driven to giving back to both local communities and the communities to which his subjects belong. In early 2017 he co-founded the 'For Syrias Children' Charity organisation, which works in conjunction with Non-Government Organisations on the ground in Syria, raising much needed funds for Syrian children affected by conflict. 

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. 

Cornish has exhibited his work in both capital and regional cities in Australia, and in major international cultural centres – Paris, London, Rome, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. 

Luke Cornish’s work is held in important public and private collections, both in Australia and Internationally. 





Exhibition History


2019- Kennedy prize, Finalist

2019- Archibald prize, Finalist

 2018- Salon de Refusés, SH Ervine Gallery, Sydney

2017- Salon de Refusés, SH Ervine Gallery, Sydney (Holding Redlich Peoples Choice Award)

2016- Australian War Memorial, Canberra (acquisition)

2016- Calleen art award, Cowra regional gallery, Finalist

2015- Brisbane Art Prize, Finalist

2015- Deakin small sculpture pize, Finalist

2015- Moreton Bay Regional Art award, Finalist

2015- Calleen art award, Cowra regional gallery, Finalist

2015- Gold Coast Art Gallery, QLD (acquisition)

2014- Black Swan Prize, Finalist

2014- Bond University Collection, QLD

2014- Corrigan Collection 

2013- Churchill Fellowship, Awardee

2013- National Portrait Gallery, Canberra (acquisition)

2013- Sulman prize, Finalist

2012- Moran Portrait prize, semi-finalist

2012- Archibald prize, Finalist

2012- Tropfest, shortlisted

2011- Metro Art Prize, Finalist

2010- Australian Stencil Art Prize, Winner

2009- Ballarat Gallery of Modern Art (acquisition)

2009- Australian Stencil art prize, Runner up

2008- Melbourne Stencil Festival, Peoples choice



2019- Have a Go- Ambush Gallery, Kambri Precinct, Canberra

2019- The Sea- Bondi Pavilion Gallery, Sydney

2018- The Sea- Lock up Gallery, Newcastle

2018- (in)appropriate- Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2018- No place like home, Tuggeranong art centre, Canberra

2017- Zero to the left, Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2017- Road to Damascus, nanda\hobbs Contemporary, Sydney

2016- Vanishing Point, nanda\hobbs Contemporary, Sydney

2016- Concrete Jungle, Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2014- Louder than words, Stolen Space, London

2014- Clusterfuck, Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2014- Sex & Death, w/ Will Coles, Art Equity, Sydney

2013- Before Afghanistan, Art Equity, Sydney

2012- Not with it..., Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2011- Look what you made me do...., Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne

2011- This is why we can't have nice things..., Oh really Gallery, Newtown, Sydney

2010- How you like me now Bitch?, Front Gallery, Canberra



2017- For Syrias Children, fundraising exhibition

2017- Sign of the times, Gold Coast Art Gallery, QLD

2016- Stencil, Next Gallery, Paris

2015- Stencil Master, Urban art festival, Amsterdam

2015- Fine lines, Sydney story factory fundraiser, Sydney

2015- Brave new world, nanda/hobbs, Sydney

2015- Bricks to canvas, Aarwun gallery, Canberra

2015- YourKidCan'tDoThis, Ambush Gallery, Sydney (curator)

2015- Contents Under Pressure - Stencil Art in Australia 2003-2010, Burrinja Gallery, Melbourne

2015- Public, Perth

2015- First Landing to Last Post, Parliament house, Canberra

2015- Wonderwalls, Port Adelaide

2015- Project 504, Sydney

2014- Public Street art festival, Perth

2014- RightNow, Liechardt, Sydney

2014- ADIDAS Stan Smith show, Melbourne

2013- Sulman prize, Art Gallery of NSW 

2012- A cut above 2, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide

2012- Archibald prize, Art Gallery of NSW

2012- E.L.K x ADNATE "killing it", Molecule gallery, Melbourne

2012- Project 5, Sydney

2012- Melbournes burning, Paradise hills, Melbourne

2012- Young guns, Linton and kay, Perth

2012- Climate change, Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2011- Surface Tension, Ambush Gallery, Sydney

2011- All stars show,  Espionage gallery, Adelaide

2011- Things to come, Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2011- Facelook portrait show, Dark horse experiment, Melbourne

2011- The new feild, Dark horse experiment, Melbourne

2011- Metro art award, exhibition of finalists, Melbourne

2011- A cut above, Espionage gallery, Adelaide

2011- Sidewayz Art Exhibition, Sydney

2011- up close (colour by numbers), sydney

2011- Expo for Mattia, Naples, Italy

2011- up the bend, Rancho Notorious, Melbourne

2011- Paste up exhibition (ragad art kalliatsis), Hungary

2010- Space Invadas, National Gallery of Australia (merchandise in Giftshop)

2010- Don't push mong, China heights, Surry hills, Sydney

2010- Australian Stencil art Prize, Oh Really gallery, Newtown, Sydney

2010- Don't push mong, Canberra

2010- Pop rocks, Urban Uprising gallery, Sydney

2010- Sweet streets, 1000 pound bend, melbourne

2010- Friends with knives, crewest gallery, Los Angeles

2010- Urban art 10A, BSG, Melbourne

2009- Old Skoolin, Art whino, Washington/Los Angeles

2009- Get Trucked, per square metre, Melbourne

2009- Melbourne Stencil Festival, Melbourne

2009- YourKidCantDoThis, Sydney Show, North Bondi

2009- Urban Art Agenda #3, Ballarat, Melbourne and Brisbane Powerhouse

2009- September, Dirty Pilot Group show, LA, USA

2009- Spin that thing, vinyl show, Famous when dead Gallery, Melbourne

2009- In2change Exhibition, Belconnen Community Centre

2009- YourKidCantDoThis, Melbourne Show

2009- YourKidCantDoThis' Canberra Show, Legislative assembly

2009- "Stencil" Art Whino Group show, National Harbour, MD, USA

2009- Australian Stencil Art prize, Exhibition of finalists (runner up)

2008- Spray 1387, Tehran, Iran

2008- Melbourne Stencil Festival

2008- Cacophony Group show, Manuka

2007- Cacophony Group show, The Front Gallery

2007- M16 Group show, M16, Canberra



2017- Art Almanac, July 2017

2017- Art edit Magazine, Issue 13

2016- VNA magazine, Issue 33

2015- StreetArt Basel and region, Die hot-spots I'm Dreiländereck (Kai Hendrik Schlusche)

2015- Surface (Søren Solkær)

2014- Planet Banksy (KET)

2013- Street Art Melbourne (Lou Chamberlain)

2012- Stencil Repubic (Olly Walker, Laurence King publishing)

2010- Art monthly Australia (cover)

2008- Art monthly Australia