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About Katy

Female forest red-tailed black cockatoo perched on Katy’s shoulder.
Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, Perth Hills, Western Australia.

Katy Kell is an award-winning Australian writer and visual artist. Her YA novels Juice and Mama’s Trippin’ were published by Fremantle Press, and her short fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in Text, Raudem, Index and other anthologies. She was recently awarded an Australian Society of Authors Mentorship for her new historical novel manuscript “Becoming Chloe” which explores the untold history of the model who sat for Chloe (1875), a nude painting by the French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre. Chloe has been the star attraction at Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne since 1909, and is now a much-loved cultural icon.

In her PhD thesis Capturing Chloe: Reimagining a Melbourne Icon (2018), Katy interrogates the myths and reductive identities that have been inscribed on Lefebvre’s artistic rendering of a nude female body, and the interesting echoes between class warfare in Paris antecedent to the artwork’s creation, and Chloe’s manifestation as mythic war maiden to generations of Australian servicemen:

Capturing Chloe: Reimagining a Melbourne Icon https://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/42654/

Research

“Chloe” graffiti. Place Blanche, Cnr of Rue Blanche and Rue Fontaine, Paris. 
Photo: Katy Kell

Place Blanche in Montmartre was defended by an all-female battalion during the repression of the Paris Commune in 1871, a violent episode in modern French history when up to 30,000 Parisians were slaughtered by Versailles government troops during Semaine Sanglante (the Bloody Week). Katy took this photograph on one of her research trips to Paris. She was intrigued by the “Chloe” graffiti at a site with strong significance to the young model who sat for Chloe (1875).

Cockatoo Whispering

“The Sentinel” Carnaby’s Cockatoo
Photograph, Katrina Kell

Katy is also a passionate cockatoo photographer. Rain, hail or shine, she can be spotted behind a bush with her camera at the ready. A perennial source of inspiration, cockatoos appear in her stories and painted artworks, especially black cockatoos with their crests and stunning tail feathers, and those plaintive yodelling cries that send shivers down her backbone.