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Big Ben Strikes an unusual pose

We are collaborating with Karen Tarleton Antiques to offer a collection of over 300 original photographs from the estate of Penelope Ellis who passed away in 2016 at the age of 80. Penelope worked closely with her mother, Rosemary, to produce images covering many different topics including agriculture, industry, the natural world and architectural projects. The first batch of photos to be released were taken in the early 1980s, showing Big Ben during its refurbishment. They were taken from the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (currently the subject of much debate!), during its construction. Rosemary and Penelope were commissioned by Philip Powell or Powell, Moya and Partners of London to document the construction and these Bromide printed photographs were exhibited at the Conference Centre on its completion.

Rosemary Ellis (1910-1998) was a graphic artist and illustrator. She worked in collaboration with her husband, Clifford Ellis, whom she married in 1931. Together they designed posters for Shell, The Empire Marketing Board and the General Post Office, as well as London Transport from 1933 onwards. Clifford was appointed Assistant Master at the Bath School of Art in 1936 and Headmaster in 1938. After the war, the original premises having been bombed, the School relocated to Corsham Court and changed status to an Academy, incorporating teachers' training. Clifford was Principal of the Academy from 1946 until his retirement in 1972. Rosemary served as a member of the teaching staff. Between 1945 and 1982 they also designed nearly 100 book jackets for the New Naturalist Series, published by Collins. Many distinguished artists taught regularly at Corsham, including William Scott, Kenneth Armitage, Gillian Ayres and Howard Hodgkin. The curriculum was broad including textile design, photography, sculpture, pottery, weaving and fabric printing as well as drawing and painting. 

Penelope Mary Ellis ("Penelope") was the elder and last surviving daughter of Clifford and Rosemary Ellis. Penelope was born in 1935 in Hampstead, London shortly before her parents moved to Bath. She had clear memories of wartime Bath, of fires and bombs and blackouts. She attended the High School in Bath and after the family moved to Corsham Court in 1946 she continued to travel daily to Bath to attend school. Her sister Charlotte was born in 1946. Penelope went to The Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1953 where she studied sculpture. After The Slade, she won a scholarship to study in France. On returning to England, she started working at Badminton School where she taught art until she retired in 1997. 

Planning for their retirement, Clifford and Rosemary purchased The Old Vicarage in Urchfont and Penelope lived there with them, initially in the Annex and, after their deaths, in the main house. Rosemary and Penelope shared a common interest in photography and provided a lot of material on a wide range of topics for use in education. They were also retained by many clients seeking photographic expertise, art and representation, including The Henry Moore Foundation to produce photographs for a book recording the production of the Henry Moore Tapestries at West Dean College. In addition to sculpture, Penelope made ceramics, jewellery, and models of all sizes to professional standards. Penelope died on 10th January 2016. 

Biographies for Clifford, Rosemary and Penelope are available at