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Illustration

Ellen Walker

Ellen Walker is a UK-based illustrator and writer. Her practice blends narrative, autobiography and sequential image-making. She graduated with a First-Class degree in Illustration from Falmouth University in 2018, and will be continuing her studies through a PhD in Communications at the Royal College of Art.

Ellen’s work has received awards from the iJungle Illustration Awards (2017, 2019) and the Cheltenham Illustration Awards (2019). She has exhibited at New Designers, D&AD New Blood, Bridgnorth Open House Arts Trail, Bridgnorth & District Art Society Exhibition and Museum in the Park, Stroud.

My practice, having previously focused on pre-existing narratives or self-authored fiction, has begun exploring autobiographical writing, in the form of a graphic novel entitled Muses and Demons- A Very Normal Autobiography.

I have found the medium of comics to be a highly emancipatory outlet for discussing themes of neurodiversity in families, mental health and identity, and disability advocacy. Through this I hope to translate the convoluted inner workings of the neurodiverse brain, to not only spread awareness of disabilities, but to also highlight the very pressing issue of disability discrimination and ableist educational structures in the UK.

The story's narrative is anchored to the period during the early months of the 2020 pandemic, wherein I found myself becoming deeply introspective of my childhood and family, as I experienced a time where I was apart from them for the longest time in my life.

Through daily video chats my family and I reminisced about our shared anecdotes and personal recollections. Both happy and dispiriting memories arose from these conversations, and it was through this that I found our story was one which needed to be told to a wider audience; to not only provide a cathartic outlet for those from similar backgrounds, but to also raise awareness of the reality many disabled children and families are facing, which too often goes unnoticed.

I will be taking forward the idea of comics as a multimodal communicative tool into her PhD research at the RCA, exploring the phenomenon of internet/online storytelling.

Conversation With My Family

Ellen Walker discusses her autobiographical graphic novel and the themes explored in it with family members, whose anecdotes and first-hand accounts formed the basis of the novel's narrative.

Medium:

Digital Film

Size:

00:09:25
Parallel Universes
Playtime
My Daughter
Silly Comics

Selected spreads (in no particular order) from the third chapter of my graphic novel, which details my experiences growing up with my younger sister, who has autism, and how we both navigated the non-inclusive curricular structures of primary school.

Forbidden Fruit
The Zone
Car Ride
Crabs in the Crab Pot

Selected spreads from the fourth chapter, focusing on my experiences in secondary school as a child with undiagnosed disabilities, and the ways in which educational institutions often fail to recognise the needs of neurodivergent students.

Redefining Minkowski Space
Digital Skills Class
The Therapist
Uncovering An Enemy

Selected spreads from the fifth chapter, wherein I begin the process of finally being diagnosed with ADHD, Dyspraxia and Dyslexia at 21 years old, and how the revelation of the diagnoses impacted both myself and my family members.

Family Photos
Family Photos
Childhood Drawings and Workbooks
Family Documents

The collection of family photos, documents, videos and drawings used as reference for the graphic novel. Skype chats and recorded conversations were also used in order to collate anecdotes and perspectives which informed on the story's themes and narrative.