Ellie Kammer was born in 1991 in Adelaide, Australia.
In 2013, Kammer studied oil painting under Robin Eley and life drawing under David Kassan through Eley’s school, The Art Academy. Noting Kammer's passion and technical ability, Eley offered her a year long mentorship at the conclusion of the Art Academy Workshop. Eley trained Kammer in oil painting technique for one year.
Upon discovering the controversial and brilliant works of Gottfried Helnwein, Kammer became enlightened to the sheer power a single image can carry. Most arresting was his instillation ‘Selektion - Ninth November Night’, which featured large portraits of pale, innocent children. The large portraits were displayed in a considered line for public viewing in a country that had witnessed one of the most inhumane cases of genocide - The Haulocaust. Helnwein's children eerily resembled those that were forced to wait in line for sorting or 'Selektion' in concentration camps. This instillation had a profound impact on Kammer and once seen, she adopted the view that an artist has a responsibility to address and discuss issues within their work.
Kammer spent near four months traveling fourteen countries in 2014, with a mission to attend every gallery possible and study works by her favourite masters like Sorolla, Goya, Bouguereau, Caravaggio, Rubens and some modern and contemporary artists like Bacon, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg. Viewing such a diverse collection of techniques was invaluable to Kammer's understanding of paint application and she also became more established in her own reasoning for needing to create art.
At the pointy end of her travels, Kammer experienced some difficulties with her health which continued to worsen for some months. In 2015, Kammer was diagnosed with a chronic, incurable disease that she regularly requires surgical treatment for - Endometriosis. The disease’s impact on the artist is significant and the immune system component saw Kammer nearly lose her life to a blood infection in early 2017. Kammer was also diagnosed with a similar chronic pain condition, Adenomyosis, which can only be cured by removal of the uterus, forcing her to consider the difficult notion of sacrificing her fertility for an improved quality of life.
Kammer’s frustration with endometriosis took toll on her mental health in 2016. With the condition being under-researched, rarely discussed and difficult to learn about due to limited reliable resources, Kammer came to know the feeling of isolation like she never had before. Slipping into a dangerous slump of depression and at the realisation that she could no longer find motivation for carrying on, Kammer's relationships began do break down and her condition worsened. At the lowest point, Kammer acknowledged that she was at a crossroad. There seemed only two clear options; give up on life and let the disease swallow her whole, or utilise her artistic abilities, channel the pain and create work that can give relief to the artist and comfort to other sufferers. She opted for the latter and began to compose her own ‘Ninth November Night’.
Taking inspiration from the techniques of Freud and Saville, Kammer created a series of ten paintings during 2016 and 2017 and exhibited them in her first solo exhibition of paintings, which she titled ‘Nescience’ for the general ignorance that surrounds the disease. During the making of Nescience, Kammer was rushed to emergency a number of times, contracted Sepsis, had a major operation and was diagnosed with her second reproductive disease. Two days after her stay in hospital in a life-threatening condition, Kammer was back in her studio and accredits art-making to accelerating her recovery. The exhibition was opened by Robin Eley and garnered widespread attention and discussion within national and international media, which saw Kammer take on the title of 'Endo Champion' for the Non-Profit organization, Endometriosis Australia. The title allows Kammer to act as an ambassador for Endometriosis awareness as well as enabling access to verified information on the disease and the latest updates in research, which empowers Kammer and shapes her work.
In 2018, Kammer released her second series of Endometriosis themed works at Studio Bowden, Adelaide, in a solo exhibition she titled ‘The Host’. This body of work consisted of eight new paintings and a video installation. ‘The Host’, opened by Logan Macdonald (Adelaide City Art Planner), was a discussion about the expansive impact chronic disease can have on its host and how the devastation is not limited to the physical, but overflows into every aspect of the host’s life.
Kammer has been fortunate enough to collaborate with celebrities like Lena Dunham and Caitlin Stasey and has landed herself in a selection of Australian art prizes. In 2017, Kammer won the Myself Prize and took out the People’s Choice Award in the Emma Hack Art Prize in 2018 as well as the South Australian Living Arts Festival Awards.
In July 2018, Ellie was the recipient of the Arts SA Richard Llewelyn Deaf and Disability Arts Grant for her project ‘Art Prizes’ to assist her in focusing attention creating entries for the major art prizes. Kammer has been selected as a finalist in the Shirley Hannan Portrait Award as a result and will travel to Melbourne to take Stanislava Pinchuk AKA MISO’s portrait for the 2019 Archibald Prize.
Kammer currently lives and works in Adelaide. She is a marketing manager for a company in Adelaide part time and dedicates at least seventy hours per week to painting and making. Kammer is now working on prize entries and her next body of work, which will include paintings, drawings, video installation and sculpture with a view to hold a solo exhibition in 2019/20. In this body of work, Kammer will discuss the shift in dynamics that occurred in her relationship with her twin sister after Ellie’s diagnosis, and the reconnection that was sparked by her sister's unfortunate presentation of symptoms of Endometriosis some time later.
Kammer's work, while it currently has a focus on women's health, deals with much bigger, systemic issues like gender equality, ableism, feminism and human rights. For these reasons, Kammer has evolved into somewhat of an activist and feminist artist and has taken on the role of a public figure who advocates for awareness in all of these important issues. Future works by Kammer can promise dialogue, ideas, collaborations, controversy, dignity and sincerity.
2013/2014 - Private oil painting instruction with Robin Eley for one year, Adelaide
2013 - The Business of Art with Michael Zavros, Kim Buck and Robin Eley, Art Academy, Adelaide
2013 - Drawing a Life with David Kassan, Art Academy, Adelaide
2013 - Oil Painting Workshop with Robin Eley (scholarship)
2018 - The Host, Studio Bowden, Adelaide, South Australia
2017 - Nescience, Light Square gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
2012 - Poor Unfortunate Souls, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
2018 - Made to Inspire - Raj House, Adelaide, South Australia
2018 - Finalist Exhibition - Wyndham Art Prize, Wyndam Art Gallery, Victoria
2018 - Finalist Exhibition - Emma Hack Art Prize, Burnside Village, South Australia
2018 - Works on Paper, Scott Livesey Galleries, Armadale, Victoria
2017 - Finalist Exhibition - Myself Art Prize, Jugglers Art Space, Brisbane, Queensland
2017 - Loreto SpringART Fair, Loreto College, Marryatville, South Australia
2017 - Finalist Exhibition - Emma Hack Art Prize, Burnside Village, Adelaide, South Australia
2016 - Loreto SpringART Fair, Loreto College, Marryatville, South Australia
2016 - Six Contemporary Painters, Floating Goose Studios, Adelaide, South Australia
2013 - Athena Nochua, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
2012 - The Game, Tooth and Nail Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
2012 - About Face, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
2012 - Ingrained, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
2012 - Winter, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
2012 - This Is It, These Walls Don't Lie Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
2012 - Les Dessinatrices, Espionage Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia
Harrison Kronfeld, The Endometriosis Foundation of America, March 24, 2018
Sara Radin, Depicting the Hidden Agony of Endometriosis in Paintings, Broadly, March 16, 2018
Sharmonie Cockayne, Pain on Canvas: A Portrayal of Endometriosis, CityMag, February 8, 2018
Rachel Moss, Artist With Endometriosis Channels 'Desperation' Into Striking Portraits to Raise Awareness, Huffington Post UK, October 24, 2017
Anneta Konstantinides, Artist Who Depicts Women Suffering From Endometriosis Spreads Awareness Around the Globe After Connecting to Fellow Sufferer Lena Dunham and Painting Her Portrait, Daily Mail UK, October 24, 2017
Emily Blatchford, The Artist Making Art of Endometriosis, Huffington Post Australia, October 3, 2017
Lauren Williamson, This Aussie Woman is Turning Her Struggle With Endometriosis into Breathtaking Artwork, Women's Health, September 27, 2017
Gayatri Nair, Ellie Kammer: Making Endometriosis Taboo Free, The Adelaide Life, July 26, 2017
Ellen Scott, Meet the Artist Painting the Reality of Living with Endometriosis, Metro, July 21, 2017
Anneta Konstantinides, How One Artist Who Didn't Recognise Her Own Body After Endometriosis Diagnosis Began to Paint it Instead, Dail Mail, July 20, 2017
Amy Clark, After Surgery for Endo, Ellie Hardly Recognises her Own Body, Mamamia, July 17, 2017
Georgina Tselekidis, Nescience by Ellie Kammer at Light Square Gallery, The Adelaidian, July 15, 2017
Rachel Darling, Ellie Kammer: Endometriosis in Art, This is Radelaide, July 3, 2017
Nadia Bailey, Ellie Kammer on pain, feminism and turning suffering into art, Oyster, June 30, 2017
Nina Karadzic, Ellie Kammer paints her pain and perseverance, The Adelaide Review, June 2017
Aimee Knight, How Adelaide’s Ellie Kammer is Channelling Her Battle with Endometriosis into Art, Sydney Morning Herald, March 2017
Fela M’tima Dunfee, Healing Through Paint, Endo Twins, March 2017
Marta Bausells, The Painter Turning the Pain of Endometriosis into Art, Huck, February 2017
Katherine Gillespie, Chronic Painting: Making Art From Endometriosis, Vice, February 2017
Brett Williamson, Endometriosis: Ellie Kammer’s Confronting Art Provokes A Much-Needed Conversation, ABC, February 2017
Masya Zabidi, Artist Spotlight #39: Ellie Kammer, Adelaide University Art History Club, October 2016
Ellen Morgan, Meet the Upcoming Stars of the SpringART Exhibition #2, Currant Magazine, August 2016
Sophie Perri, Before They Were Artists: SALA Artists Share Their Childhood Artwork, The City -The Advertiser, July 2016
Nina Karadzic, Ellie Kammer Conquers Pain with Art, The Adelaide Review, June 2016
Semi Permanent Book, 2013
Eloise Fuss, ABC's The Mix, July 2017
Henry Thong, Makers Who Inspire, June 2017
Alex Kanevsky, Jenny Saville, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Gottfried Helnwein
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