Dr Ella S. Mills

Dr Ella S. Mills

Associate Lecturer

School of Humanities and Performing Arts (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)

Associate Lecturer in Art History 
Modern and Contemporary Art
Module Leader: ARHI505, ARHI604, ARHI510, ARHI612
Stage 3 Dissertation Supervisor 


PhD 2016: History of Art, University of Leeds

        Dialectics of Belonging and Strategies of Space: Cultural Memory, B/black Women's Creativity, and the Folds of British Art History 1985-2011

MA 2009: History of Art, University of Leeds

BA Hons: 2008 Fine Art & History of Art, University of Plymouth

BA Hons: 2001 English Literature, University of East Anglia


Paul Mellon Centre Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, 2019-2020

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Black Artists & Modernism, 2017-2018

Teaching interests

ARHI505 and ARHI604 - Dawn of a Modern Century 1900 - 1950: Transatlantic Moments & Connections

ARHI510 and ARHI612 - Art After 1950

ARHI605 Dissertation I - Theories and methods
ARHI608 Dissertation II

Research interests

I am an art historian whose expertise lies in the intersections of feminism and art, histories of the black diaspora in visual culture, and the politics and representation of the black subject, from 1700 up to present day. My art historical practice is thus interdisciplinary, underpinned by international post-colonial, black and queer feminisms, cultural studies, sociology and museology. I also bring expertise in oral history and grounded theory interviewing and textual analysis with substantial experience in artist interviewing. I bring a core of care as a teacher, and a responsibility to unfold the backstories and in-betweens, paying particular attention to undocumented encounters between artists and arts institutions. I also bring expertise in oral history and grounded theory interviewing and narrative analysis with substantial experience in artist interviewing. 

I am currently writing my monograph (Bloomsbury, 2021) on fine art practices relating specifically to Black artist-women in Britain. The book is based on a series of analyzed one-on-one interviews I undertook with key figures in the British Black Arts Movement of the 1980s, who are still actively creative in British Art: Sutapa Biswas (b.1962), Sonia Boyce (RA, b. 1962), Lubaina Himid (RA, CBE, 1954), Claudette Johnson (b. 1959) and Ingrid Pollard (b. 1953). It is a theoretical intervention into the field of art history offering new concepts for the study of gender and race in contemporary art. Led by Himid’s practices of ‘conversation’ I introduce to art historical methodology an aspect of post-interview transcript analysis from the well-established, influential Constructivist Grounded Theory Methods (Bryant, Charmaz).

Other research

Selected Invited Speaker Presentations

 'A Methodology of Listening: Grounded Theory and the Artist Interview’, Visual and Material Research Culture Group Lecture Series, Northumbria University, March 2019

‘Human Ingenuity: Narratives of Creativity at the V&A’, Black Artists & Modernism Study Day, Manchester Art Gallery, May 2018

‘Ella S. Mills in Conversation with Lubaina Himid’, A Feminist Space at Leeds: Looking Back to Think Forward, University of Leeds, December 2017

 ‘Lubaina Himid: Invisible Strategies’, Creative Gathering: She Who Writes Her Story Rewrites History, Modern Art Oxford, February 2017

 ‘Moments and Connections: Cultural Memory, B/black Women's Creativity and the Folds of British Art History 1985-2011’, Framing the Critical Decade: After the Black Arts Movement, University of Bristol, March 2016 

‘Maud Sulter: History and Memory’, Lost Children: The Black Atlantic and Northern Britain, Institute for Black Atlantic Research, University of Central Lancashire, May 2015 

 ‘Lubaina Himid, Ingrid Pollard and Ella S. Mills: Talking on Corners, Speaking in Tongues’, Old Mistresses Revisited, The National Gallery, June 2013

‘Maud Sulter: As A Blackwoman’, Thin Black Line(s) Symposium, Conway Hall, London, in connection with Tate Britain, February 2012.

Grants & contracts

£10,000 Paul Mellon Centre Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 2019-2020


Black Women Artists: Voices of Resistance, Strategies of Creation Ella S. Mills, Bloomsbury, 2021


‘Artworks in Public Collections: Artist Interviews, Ella S. Mills,The Fissures of Modernism: Collections, Cultures and Black-British Artists (working title), edited by Sonia Boyce, David Dibosa and susan pui san lok, Duke Press, 2020.

‘Human Ingenuity: Narratives of Creativity at the V&A’, Ella S. Mills, The Fissures of Modernism, eds. Boyce, Dibosa, pui san lok, Duke Press, 2020.

‘Navigation Charts: An Artist Conversation with Lubaina Himid', Ella S. Mills, Framing the Critical Decade: After the Black Arts Movement, edited by Dorothy Price and Elizabeth Robles, manuscript accepted. 


'Doing the Discourse: Spaces of Black Feminist Subjectivity in British Art History', Ella S. Mills,
Claudette Johnson: I Came to Dance, ed. by Emma Ridgway (Oxford: Modern Art Oxford, 2019)

‘It's not an object it's an action', Lubaina Himid's Memorial to Zong, ed. by Alan Rice (Lancaster: University of Central Lancashire and Lancaster Maritime Museum, 2019).

 ‘Ingrid Pollard: Consider the Dark and the Light’, Ella S. Mills, (Chateau de Sacy 2015).


‘Lubaina Himid: Navigation Charts’, Ella S. Mills, Journal of Contemporary Painting, 5.1, pp. 200-2-5, 2019.

‘Navigating Non-Linear Art Histories: Sophie Orlando's Case Studies of British Black Art’, Ella S Mills, Image Re- Vues, (6), July 2018 (online).

Other Publications

‘Women Doing Nothing: Redressing the Imbalance of Women in Galleries and Museums’, Ella S. Mills, Into a Better Shape, May 2018, online

 ‘Lubaina Himid: Naming the Un-Named’, Ella S. Mills, History Today, v.67 (12), November 2017.

Other academic activities

Cultural & Historical Geography Research Group, University of Exeter

Kaleider Resident, Exeter