Very Valerie Ellis (Valerie Ellis) is a visual artist of British and Australian nationality specialising in abstract expressionist oil paintings and works on paper. Ellis' style has evolved from more strict representational still life and portraiture towards abstract art and conceptual art reflecting her former career as a psychotherapist.
- ING Discerning Eye Competition, November 2020
- "Touch Me", Espacio Gallery, London May 2021
- "First Impressions", The Other Art Fair, London October 2021
Ellis was born on November 1969 in Adelaide, Australia to parents previously married in and emigrated from the UK. When she was 6, Ellis' parents divorced and her mother took her back to England to live with grandparents. Both grandparents and mother were harsh critics and quick to denigrate leaving Ellis with emotional stress.
Ellis graduated from Park Barn Secondary School in 1984 with the highest mark for an art examination in the country. Despite gaining entry to Epsom College of Art to study fashion, Ellis emigrated back to Australia to live with her father. This relationship failed quickly leaving Ellis living with strangers and flatmates for years until entry to The University of Queensland to study psychology.
Ellis graduated from University in 1995 with an honors degree in psychology. Her thesis was on the topic of attribution theory. In the year following graduation, Ellis married the US/Australian citizen, Charles Barber.
After graduation from The University of Queensland, Ellis worked for Queensland Corrective Services Commission as a community corrections officer - case-managing probationers and parolees. Thereafter, she started a private practice in the western suburbs of Brisbane serving mostly women going through divorce and re-partnering.
In 2000, Ellis and her husband divorced and she moved to Maleny in the Sunshine Coast area for three years and then back to Brisbane's eastern suburb, Bulimba. At that time, Ellis returned to her artistic origins, started an interior design business, then a scarf design business and also developed her ability to paint still life subjects in oil paint. In 2019 she completed a graduate diploma in business. She also published a book of relationship advice, "Compatibility: 8 Pillars of Lasting Love" in 2019.
Back to England
In 2019, Valerie Ellis moved back to the UK, 30 years after leaving as a teenager. She moved to the Surrey town of Leatherhead and then Weybridge, establishing a studio dedicated to developing an art practice. In 2020, the painting "Beauty and Determination" was selected into the ING Discerning Eye exhibition for that year by celebrity art-collector Beverly Knight. This success reflected a focus on painting portraiture after which Ellis developed an interest in post impressionist and abstract art from the 1930's - 1970's.
In 2021, the "Touch Me" collection of abstract expressionist oil paintings (painted in 2020) went on display at Espacio Gallery in Shoreditch, London. The show was attended by the London Art Critic, Tabish Khan, the author of the Salterton Arts Review, Erin Caswell of Christies Auction House and a director of a prominent London gallery who acquired one of her charcoal drawings.
In 2021, the "First Impressions" series of works on paper debuted at The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art in The Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. This series of framed pastels and charcoals were symbolic representations of people wounded by their childhood - pieces of paper crumpled and then smoothed with charcoal-covered hands to represent the way childhood treatment effects people for the rest of their lives - "a topography of hurt". The First Impressions series was the first really explicit combination of Valerie Ellis' career in art and career in psychology.
Influences & Style
Ellis identifies her influences as the New York school of abstract expressionism, the post-impressionist Chaim Soutine, Franz Kline, and Frank Auerbach for their painterly style. Also, for the extent of their personal ambition and social impact, Paula Rego, Helen Frankenthaler and Cecily Brown.