An Australian artist hopes to raise global awareness about endometriosis by painting powerful images detailing her struggle with the illness.
Ellie Kammer, from Adelaide, began creating the paintings shorty after she was diagnosed with endometriosis in December 2015.
While it started out as a personal project, she soon realised how she could use her work to raise awareness about the disease.
The 26-year-old has since caught the attention of women with endometriosis around the world, including ‘Girls’ star Lena Dunham, gaining more than 31,000 Instagram followers.
“The first painting was born out of desperation. I was completely overwhelmed with the new life I was faced with and I was in danger of allowing the diagnosis to beat me,” she tells HuffPost UK.
“That painting was a brilliant emotional release for me. I then decided to create a series of related paintings because it made me feel powerful again. I discovered the images I was creating were a unique and impactful way of attracting much needed attention to the mysterious disease.”
Endometriosis occurs when tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found outside of the womb.
It causes sufferers to experience painful or heavy periods, pain during sex and fertility issues. The condition affects one in 10 women of reproductive age in the UK.
Yet despite its prevalence, there are still a lot of misconceptions around the illness, which can be frustrating for sufferers like Ellie.
“Lots of people believe that a hysterectomy or having a baby is a cure and this simply isn’t true,” she says
“The disease is incurable, but it can be managed. It’s a multi-faceted disease and requires a multi-faceted approach to manage it.”
While some of Ellie’s images are self-portraits, others feature women she knows who also have the condition.
She hopes the paintings will either “introduce people to endometriosis or expand upon their understanding of the disease”.
“There’s a lot of ignorance surrounding endometriosis and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that reading about it, especially if you don’t suffer from it, can be difficult to understand,” she says.
“Endometriosis can’t be summarised in a swift and simple sentence, it’s an incredibly complicated disease with many layers and trying to learn about it can be difficult or not compelling enough for some.”
According to Ellie, art is a powerful tool when trying to teach a person about an illness because the viewer is likely to have an “emotional relationship” with what they see.
“Although a painting may be complicated and layered, it’s also rather immediate and intimate,” she says.
“I would hope that my paintings can raise an emotional response from a viewer and encourage them to engage. The endometriosis community needs people to care.”
Check out more of Ellie Kammer’s paintings below or follow her on Instagram to see more of her work.