How I Melbourne: Ellen Porteus

Published on 26 May 2021

Photo: Ellen Porteus (credit: Griffin Simm)

Ellen Porteus is an Victorian artist who creates bold and colourful worlds through illustration, animation and installations. 

Working from a Collingwood studio with her dog Maggie, Porteus uses humour and visual metaphors to explore human relationships and self-reflection. Her newest work, Emotional Baggage, is currently displayed at Pretzel’s South Yarra store. 

"I’m really inspired by self reflection, and the relationship you have with your inner self," she says. "I've explored this in Emotional Baggage to express the double entendre that plays into Pretzel's hotel-themed space, while also looking at those thoughts and feelings that we all carry with us."

Take a trip around Porteus's neighbourhood and pick up a börek from a market and an excellent vegan sandwich on the way. 

In the mornings you’ll find me power walking through Fitzroy, because I'm running late to the early morning class at Barre Body. I then like to brew myself a fresh coffee with beans from Everyday, make myself a big bowl of oats, and read something.

My local is Cibi on Keele Street in Collingwood, an understated Japanese cafe and store that's right around the corner from my studio. They make really good coffee and I like looking at the Japanese homewares and objects.

My defining food moment in Melbourne was the first time I visited Melbourne on holiday with my family. We ate at a tiny little Italian restaurant in Carlton, and in between courses the waiters would sing opera. I had never experienced anything like that before and I think it gave a great and exciting impression of Melbourne that eventually made me move here.

I know I’m in Melbourne when I see people lining up for ages to get their hands on something new and delicious.

My favourite image of the city in art is all the ever-changing street art that plasters the city and inner suburbs of Melbourne.

The best new thing I’ve found is the vegan king mushroom sub at Nico's in Fitzroy. Perfect fried mushroom, super tasty sauce; greasy, carby and delicious.

When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I go with a chef's selection menu. Can't go wrong.

When I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to stay away from the big, famous mega-restaurants, and pay a visit to the friendliest places in Melbourne, run by small business owners. There are numerous breweries, bakeries, sandwich shops, cafes, wine bars, and pubs who deserve showing off! Some of my favourites are The Mill, All Are Welcome, Admiral Cheng Ho and Cam’s Kiosk. 

There’s no better value in Melbourne than a big, rowdy dinner at Jim's Greek Tavern.

My favourite place to stock up on supplies is Queen Victoria Market. I like to go with my partner on weekends and pick out the best-looking fruit and veggies, with a fresh börek in hand!

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be more dining out! Less ordering in!

But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the value we place on creativity and pushing the envelope. I love that about living here and I think it pushes people to try new things.

Catch Ellen Porteus's Emotional Baggage installation at Pretzel, 397 Chapel St, South Yarra. You can find her at and @ellenporteus

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