Photo of Ella Whateley

Ella Whateley


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Personal profile


Visual artist Ella Whateley received her practise led doctorate in Painting - The Metaphysics of Space, Painting a Body of Light - in 2016 from the School of Art and Design, Australian National University, Canberra. During 2017-2018 Whateley was a Vice Chancellor's Visiting Artist Fellow collaborating with the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences ANU on perceptions of time duration and tutoring in Painting and Art Theory.

Whateley's passion for European inks and papers - a component of her doctoral work within the context of exploration into - the metaphysics of space - was further developed during a 2018 residency at National Táiwān University of Arts funded by Taipei Ministry of Education. She conducted conceptual and material research into traditional Chinese painting and Chinese calligraphy, using Chinese inks and papers combined with Western materials and culminating in exhibitions of hybridised works in both Taiwan and Australia.

Whateley's current research into prayer - What is prayer? - aims to further develop her interest in cross cultural understandings of metaphysical spaces, to offer alternative and surprising explorations into what is a common, interfaith practise, prayer.

Born in the UK, Whateley holds a Visual Communication degree from Bath Academy of Art and Design and a further post-graduate qualification in Illustration from St Martin's School of Art and Design, London. Having enjoyed a career in design based in London, Whateley then moved to the antipodes to pursue her career in the arts, working as Art Director for Vogue Living Magazine, Sydney and teaching Design at Massey University, Wellington, before moving to Canberra in 2002.



Research interests

ARC FoR Group 1905, including 190599 and 190502

- visual arts

- abstract painting:
Past funding included ACT Governmemt Open Access Funding Programme 

- explorations of metaphysical space and cross cultural spiritual traditions:
Past research funding included ANU VC Fellowship 

- inks and paper; Asian inks and European inks, Asian supports and contemporary Western supports (including paper): Past research funded by Taipei Ministry of Education 

- colour and light as metaphor and medium

- cross cultural prayer practises. Prospective research in Indonesia including Institut Teknologi Bandung.





Supervision interests

- Western religious art, particularly late medieval European painting but including contemporary visual art works, in the service of facilatative metaphysical space made to foster either spiritual experience or as didactic narrative.  

- Chinese traditional ink work, including contemporary interpretations from Greater China, in the service of sacred space

- cross cultural prayer practises including, within the context of South Eastern Asia, Australia, New Zealand, China, Greater China and Indonesia 

Education/Academic qualification

Fine Art: Painting, PhD, Australian National University

Award Date: 24 Jul 2016

Research area keywords

  • visual arts
  • abstract painting
  • metaphysical space
  • spiritual enquiry
  • cross-cultural prayer practices
  • ink and paper
  • Chinese ink painting
  • colour
  • light
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