I was born in the Netherlands and came to Australia as a nine year old with my parents and siblings.
'Bon Giorno', pastel by Elly Abrat
After attending Business College I worked as an admin typist/stenographer, 2-way radio operator and Secretary. For a number of years my hobby was ballroom and Latin dancing. In 1972 I met my future husband and it was then I decided to follow my interest in art. That year I met a portrait artist on the St Kilda Esplanade. I was in awe, he made such beautiful portraits. I showed him some of my portraits and he offered me a few lessons. It started the ball rolling. I enrolled in art classes with John Balmain who was taught by Max Meldrum, past president of VAS. I continued with art classes in oils, drawing and watercolour. I was curious and wanted to learn more so enrolled at TAFE to complete a Visual Arts Diploma on a part time basis. Here I was taught printmaking, photography, life drawing, illustration and art history. It was a long haul attending classes part time with lots of homework plus looking after the family and my husband’s business doing the book-keeping.
I was fortunate to have conducted art classes and workshops at art societies, and in 1992 I opened my own studio. A sign went up on the front fence advertising Art Classes. Students started to enrol and I was getting busier with classes for children and adults. During this time I held nine exhibitions with my students. I facilitated three large Community Art Projects (murals) funded by City of Casey. I was asked to judge ‘Casey Creations’ for a number of years and was invited onto the Arts and Cultural Reference Group to represent the visual artists in the area.
My husband was my biggest support, he always encouraged me to continue doing what I loved, I was grateful for this. Sadly in 2010 he passed away and I closed my studio, sold the house and moved to a smaller property.
In 2011 I travelled to Italy with a fellow artist friend to attend classes in life drawing at the Florence Academy of Art. Art history was also part of the course and we visited all the major art museums. Florence has a rich history in art and architecture. After spending a month in Florence we travelled to Venice, Cinca Terra and then Arles where we followed in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh. After Arles we visited the museums of Paris, Amsterdam, Belgium and Barcelona and after 11 wonderful weeks away, we headed home.
Some of my favourite artists are Rembrandt, particularly his drawings, Van Gogh, Isaac Israels, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, and Albert Namatjira to name just a few.
'Alison in Uniform', charcoal by Elly Abrat
2022 VAS Portrait Exhibition Highly Commended Award
'Sam, The Traveller', pencil by Elly Abrat
Life was about to change when I caught up with an old family friend who was also on his own. Life can bring many unexpected surprises. We decided to marry; I sold my house and moved to Bayside to live. I joined the Brighton Art Society and The Victorian Artists Society. I’m a member of the Friday Group and exhibit regularly in the Society’s exhibitions. I paint and sketch on location around Bayside regularly.
I was a finalist in the Alice Bale Scholarship Awards and received many awards over the years, the most recent is a Highly Commended for my charcoal drawing of ‘Alison in Uniform’.
Why do I paint and draw? It is pure joy and I can’t imagine life without art. An artist friend once told me 'being an artist is a lifelong apprenticeship', I agree, knowledge is a wonderful gift.
'Seascape, Black Rock', oil on canvas by Elly Abrat
'Proteas', oil on canvas by Elly Abrat
'The Guitarist', pastel by Elly Abrat
'The Writer', watercolour by Elly Abrat
We would like to pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land on which our building stands, their leaders, past, present and emerging.