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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Ellie Cole

2016 (printed 2021)
Peter Brew-Bevan

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 108 cm x 150 cm, frame: 112.2 cm x 154.3 cm depth 4.4 cm)

Ellie Cole OAM (b. 1991), swimming champion, is Australia's most decorated female Paralympian. Diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in her right leg, at age three she underwent surgery to amputate the limb above the knee. Her parents enrolled her in swimming lessons to help with her rehabilitation. She was fifteen when she competed in the World Championships for the first time, winning a silver medal. Having qualified for the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008, she had few expectations other than to 'have a little bit of fun', but instead won three medals. At the Paralympics in London in 2012, she won four gold and two bronze medals. In 2016 – having recovered from two shoulder reconstructions and having won three world titles – she won six medals at the Paralympics in Rio. Her two Paralympic medals in Tokyo in 2021 bring her tally to seventeen.

Wylie's Baths in Coogee is the dramatic backdrop for Peter Brew-Bevan's 2016 portrait of Cole. Photographed for an article about Australian women competing in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio for Marie Claire magazine, Cole's portrait appeared again in 2020 to coincide with the launch of Rising Phoenix, a Netflix documentary profiling six athletes who competed at the 2012 Paralympics.

Purchased with funds provided by the Annual Appeal for Contemporary Australian Photography 2021
© Peter Brew-Bevan

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Peter Brew-Bevan (age 47 in 2016)

Ellie Cole OAM (age 25 in 2016)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Ellie Cole
Ellie Cole
Ellie Cole
Ellie Cole

Portrait Story

Magazine article by Ellie Cole OAM, 2022

For me, swimming was particularly special because it was the only sport that I could participate in as a kid where I could take my prosthetic leg off, jump in the water, and I could be the same as all the other kids.

Ellie Cole

'I always dreamed of being a mermaid'

Portrait story

Ellie Cole on the freedom of the pool and being photographed by Peter Brew-Bevan.

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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Phone +61 2 6102 7000
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency