Katrina Kell is an award-winning Australian writer. Her short stories, poetry and essays have been published in anthologies and literary journals including Westerly, Text, Raudem and Index, and her journalism has appeared in various magazines. She is the author of two young adult novels and in March 2020 she was the winner of an Australian Society of Authors Award Mentorship for her historical novel manuscript ‘Becoming Chloé’. Inspired by a vivid life-changing dream, ‘Becoming Chloé’ explores the untold history of the Parisian model who sat for Chloé (1875), a nude painting by the French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre. Chloé 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, Katrina interrogates myths and reductive identities that have been assigned to the Parisian model who sat for Lefebvre’s painting, and the interesting echoes between class warfare in Paris during the historical period of the artwork’s creation, and Chloé’s manifestation as mythic war maiden to generations of Australian servicemen.
Katrina lives and works on the unceded lands of the Whadjuk Noongar people.
Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.
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). Katrina took this photograph on one of her research trips to Paris. She was intrigued by the ‘Chloé’ graffiti at a site with strong significance to the young model who sat for Chloé (1875).
Katrina 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.