Katy Kell is an Australian author and visual artist. She has a PhD in English and Creative Writing, and has talked her way into numerous occupations including golf course attendant, handbag seller and manager of an environment centre. She has written two YA novels, Juice and Mama’s Trippin’, and her short fiction, poetry, essays and artworks have appeared in anthologies, journals, magazines and newspapers. Her new novel manuscript explores the untold female history of Chloe (1875), a painting by French artist Jules Lefebvre. Chloe has hung at Young and Jackson Hotel in Melbourne since 1909, and is a much-loved cultural icon.
Katy’s research has taken her on incredible journeys, from tracing a Parisian model’s footsteps through the cobbled streets of Montmartre, to the rugged Kimberley in north-Western Australia, an adventure which inspired her latest series of paintings.
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). The ramifications of this traumatic event are explored in my PhD thesis “Capturing Chloe: Reimagining a Melbourne Icon.” I took this photograph on a research trip to Paris. I was intrigued by the graffiti of “Chloe” at a site with strong significance to the young model who sat for Chloe.
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 colourful tail feathers, and those plaintive yodelling cries that send shivers down her backbone.