Kathy Ellem


“I grew up on my family’s apple orchard in Beechworth, NE Victoria, Australia. After finishing school I thought the logical path would be to complete a Biology Degree with a major in plant science. I took a ‘gap year’ on an agricultural exchange program to Canada, where I met my future husband Chris, whom I would eventually join on his family’s farm in central Queensland. I began painting after we took on our own 20,000 acre property in south-west Queensland in 2003. Prior to this I spent many years pursuing a variety of career paths including high school teaching and financial planning, but it wasn’t until I picked up a paint brush that I finally found what I was put here to do. I also needed a creative outlet to counterbalance the struggles of rural life.
I found that painting didn’t come naturally: developing technical proficiency was something I had to pursue with dogged determination. I enjoy the challenge of creating an image that looks realistic but when the viewer gets closer they see a plethora of colours and textures that are created when mixed on the canvas rather than the palette.
My creative intent remains simple. The world we live in today is full of fear and anger. Rather than add to it, I want to create works which balance that out. I want people to look at my paintings and feel up-lifted; to feel a sense of joy. I also want people viewing my paintings to feel connected to rural life.
After 20 years in the Queensland ‘outback’, in 2015, we moved back to North East Victoria to settle on 1350 acres in the Greta Valley (Ned Kelly country), farming beef cattle.
The subject of draught horses has also caught my eye. These animals have become my muse because they are emblematic of rural life. I paint them to reflect on the values of hard work, and steady, calm strength, which ultimately draught horses symbolise for me.”

First Prize – Oils, Acrylics Mixed Media, Roma Show 2009
Peoples Choice – Barcaldine Annual art Exhibition and competition 2012
Champion of Show and a Highly commended– Bell art show 2013- prize was a scholarship to McGregor Winter School
Grand champion ‘Dancing through pink’, plus section winner of both Landscape and Flora and Fauna at the Bell art show 2015.
3rd place, John Villiers Waltzing Matilda Art show Winton. 2015. ‘I see the light’.
1st Bell Art Show, Oils 2016
1st Kilmore Art Show, Oils 2016
Best Oil/Acrylic, Lane Cove, 2016
First prize for the Inaugural creative excellence award- Wangaratta Rotary Art show.2016
Reserve champion- Bell 2017
National Equine Art Prize, Mansfield – First Place, 2017
Magenta, 2017, Best Landscape
Deniliquin, 2017, Fauna Section
Somerset art awards, Best painting in show,2017
People’s choice, Corowa 2018.
People’s choice, Currabubulla, 2018.
First place, Blackall, 2018. Purchased by local council.
First place in 2D and awarded Christine Drewyer Award of Distinction, WAOW 48th National Juried Exhibition, USA, 2018
People’s choice, Somerset Art Awards, QLD, 2019.
Top 13 Artistic excellence award – Southwest Art Magazine 2019
Best in show, WAOW Show, USA, 2020
John Villiers Outback Art Prize, Winton QLD, $10,000 Acquisitive award, 2020.
Clayton Utz Art Awards, Brisbane QLD, Peoples choice. 2020.
Pro Hart Outback Art Prize, Broken Hill, NSW, People’s choice, 2020.
Bright Autumn Art Show, 2022, Best in show
Published article and front cover of the Australian Artist Magazine, March 2019.
Published article about myself in Art of the West Magazine, May/June 2021.
Published in Outback Magazine, Issue 139, Oct/Nov 2021.

Artwork to be Showcased