An international political and conceptual artist, he trained at Carlisle College of Art, Liverpool College of Art and the Royal Academy in London. His work has always been centrally informed by his working class upbringing in Lancashire and contemporary political issues. Atkinson exhibits around the world and currently is a Professor at the University of California. He uses many different media, including painting, photography, embroidery and ceramics and often works with technical assistance.
An interview with the artist can be found on the Ceramic Collection and Archive web site, http://www.aber.ac.uk/ceramics/interviews/capg1.htm