Silas began his artistic career in his fathers studio initially designing furnishing fabrics and interior décor. He trained in the studio of Walter Sickert. With a main interest in marine art, he painted English coastal towns before sailing for Australia in 1907. After a brief period in Australia, he returned to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force at the outbreak of war in 1914. He fought at Anzio and was later commissioned as an official War Artist. He fought with the 16th Batillion on Pope’s Hill at ANZAC Cove in the First World War, and painted images of soldiers on roll call. He returned to England in 1925, where he remained working until his death. During the interwar years Silas held several exhibitions in London, including a private audience with the King, illustrated the book Honour and the Foreign Legion in 1927, and later set off for Papua New Guinea ‘where he probably produced his finest work. His delicate studies of native life were his trademark’. Silas was employed as a propaganda artist in an aircraft factory in the Second World War, described as ‘an artist who has travelled widely and has exhibited at the Royal Academy and other British and International exhibitions’, producing ‘a very fine collection of posters typical of the age’. He continued to work post-war, including several pictures of Weymouth painted in 1958. A watercolour painter who specialised in marine subjects, several of his pictures are currently held in the National Maritime Museum.
Information collated from: Pictorialsonline.net, ‘Pictorials – Ellis Silas’, http://www.pictorialsonline.net/artists/artistinfofull.asp?ID=17, accessed October 4 2003.
National Maritime Museum, ‘HMS “Wave” Ashore at St Ives, 1952’, http://www.nmm.ac.uk/mag/pages/mnuExplore/PaintingDetail.cfm?letter=H&ID=BH…, accessed October 4 2003; Anzacday.org, ‘ANZAC Cove’, http://www.anzacday.org.uk/spirit/hero/chp07.html, accessed October 4 2003; Contendo, W.D., ‘The FictionMags Index’, http://users.ev1.net/~homeville/fictionmag/t156.htm, accessed October 4 2003; Silas, E., ‘The Poster in the Factory’, Art and Industry, Vol. 38, No. 228, June 1945, pp.181-184; Pictorials Online, ‘Pictorials’, http://www.pictorialsonline.net/products/results.asp?SBA=true&ArtistSL=Ellis%20Silas, accessed October 4 2003; Luxury Liners of the Past, ‘Postcard Artists’, http://www.geocites.com/luxury_liners/Artists.html, accessed October 3 2003
Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.