The Footy Almanac 2013 cover art

The Footy Almanac 2013


Kate Birrell is busy. Always. She has little time for sitting around watching TV.

An artist, living and working in Melbourne, Kate started contributing to earlier this year with a series of delightful stories and sketches which convey that classic intersection of sport and family life.

She hasn’t always been an artist. Kate’s working life began as a student nurse at St.Vincent’s Public Hospital in the late `80s. “Casualty was very much the classroom of life,” she explains, “and served to really open our eyes to the stark reality of how people live in our city.”

As she had her own tribe of kids (five), she spent less and less time as a professional nurse, and more and more time as a mum.

“I found myself buried in not just the ever-present demands of raising a family,” she says, “but also in the seasonal cycles of junior sport – football in particular.”

“Around this time I sought to fulfil a creative need to express artistically what was happening around me. The green of the grassy ovals, the colours of our kids in their footy gear, the politics of clubs and the camaraderie amongst parents were all fascinating aspects of the game. So I began to paint.”

“My paintings are very much an exploration of life in Melbourne. I am constantly amazed that we live in such a vibrant and dynamic city. I am intrigued by our game – football. And how it has evolved over time, from the muddy gum-treed paddocks of East Melbourne to the grand and majestic stadium that is the MCG.”

“I am interested in the way sporting events such as footy and horseracing have become the backdrop to our modern lives; creating seasonal shifts in the way people live, communicate, socialise and even in how we look and dress. My interest and fascination with football lies as much with that which takes place around the game as it does with the game itself. The dramas of the crowd, the fans, the observers are as important to football as that of the on and off-field dramas of its players.”

“I have found that I like to make use of the vibrancy and texture of oil paint to best express what I feel is the colour, the movement and the character of our city and our game. In a manner not too far removed from my nursing days, I can further explore the nature and dynamics of our people.”

Kate’s footy paintings were also hung at The Footy Art Show in Fitzroy (an annual September exhibition well worth seeing) at The Artist’s Garden alongside artists like Yvette Wroby, Jim Pavlidis and Martin Tighe.

Kate’s work can be seen at Her use of strong colours is evident in her footy, racing and beach images which capture, as she says, everyday life.

Kate hopes to one day sit down and watch more TV.


Kate’s painting of Luke Hodge is oil on canvas, 51cm by 41cm. It can be viewed by appointment at Kate’s Glen Huntly studio (phone Kate 0400444138).


We are conducting an on-line auction. Bids are in already (currently at $1200). [email protected]

Order The Footy Almanac 2013




  1. That is absolutely beautiful. I think, my favourite cover yet.

  2. Can you get Kate to do the Trent Cotchin cover next year please Harmsie?

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great Painting Kate , have enjoyed your sketches which personally I have felt really added to your articles . I wonder if , The Wrap has been with , Peter Argent in the past
    24 , hours not sure which is a bigger call ! Richmond to go top or , Kane Richardson to progress and become a gun .
    Thanks Kate keep painting and drawing !

  4. Love it Kate. His right arm is exactly Hodge.

  5. Hi Kate

    Thank you, and thank you again.

    I could not but love this cover, Hodge being intrinsic to the rise of the mighty Hawks over the last 10 years.

    However, I was still knocked down by the immediate evocative feelings this picture produces and how it captures the spirit of Hodge and footy so simply and truthfully.

    Another Almanac cover that goes straight to the heart of the relationship between footy and fan.

    This is my favourite cover!


  6. Brilliant artwork Kate. I am sure that like WEG you painted an alternate take on the Grand Final outcome.
    I am prepared to bid a raspberry (I may even go to a pineapple) for your painting of Nat Fyfe with golden locks flowing as the ball screws elegantly of his boot toward the Punt Road pocket.
    I will redonate it to the Dockers so they have something to christen their trophy cabinet with.

  7. Congratulations Kate and congratulations to The Almanac!

    Always good a spotting talent on-field and off.

    Hope it makes a motza!

    Best wishes,

  8. G’day Kate

    Great to have you involved. When I saw your original painting I knew it would make a classically Almanac cover. Congrats to you – and to designer John Kingsmill.


  9. Hi John

    Thanks for the opportunity and for taking a punt on a roughie like me.

    And thanks too everyone for the comments.



  10. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Congrats Kate, beautiful work. Great cover Knackers, but what do we have to do to get a Collingwood cover?

  11. I agree with Phil, we need a Collingwood cover – there’s the ‘Illiterate Collingwood Supporter’ market that potentially runs into the tens of thousands that we’re missing out on.

  12. Great painting Kate and well done to JTH for getting it on the Almanac.

    Good luck with the auction!

  13. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Just thinking of the masses Litza.

  14. Hey, Litza & PD, keep it down or take it outside please. This is an art gallery if you don’t mind, not yer run of the mill comments page. Let’s be respectful of both artists, Kate and the King of Colac. Sorry Kate, sometimes the riff-raff sneak their way in :)

  15. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Ricky, that’s so typically West Preston of you!

  16. Most evocative cover yet produced. Absolutely love it.

    Not only do the colours brown and gold look so magnificent on the football field, they are indeed a work of art.

  17. love it :)
    Still waiting for a Magpie to get a cover gig though!

  18. David Zampatti says

    Looking forward to the Hayden Ballantyne cover next year.

    Oh, Harmsie, and maybe then we can have an Almanac launch on the shores of the Big Indian as well (perhaps rather than in a town where “footy” means “league”…)

  19. Peter Fuller says

    Briiliant work, Kate; the new volume will certainly grace my bookshelf, the more so because of your superb artwork. Congratulations also John K., as Harmsy suggests that your design is a fine work of reproduction.

    Peter B., you certainly don’t let up. You remind me of an anecdote from way back in the summer of 1980. Those were the days when the mighty Blues won premierships, but the 1979 triumph was immediately followed by an unseemly battle at board room level. George Harris tried unsuccessfully to fulfil a promise of a substantial salary increase to the winning captain-coach, the immortal Jezza. The unhappy result when the board knocked back the proposal was that Jezza decamped to St. Kilda to complete his storied career anti-climatically.
    However, part of the process was a meeting of members at Festival Hall (where else but the House of Stoush). The queueing Carlton members were affronted by the sight of a Collingwood jumper hanging out of the open window of a Telstra building. Telstra in its sheltered workshop era was a hotbed of Magpies. The Magpie fans hadn’t forgiven or forgotten the great victory of a few months earlier, and the pivotal role of that wonderful warrior, Wayne Harmes. Liike you, they maintained the enmity/competitiveness through the ensuing summer, not just renewing hostilities the following autumn.

  20. Ben Footner says

    Possible the most beautiful football based painting I have seen. Love the vibrant colours.

  21. Kate,
    Wonderful evocative image. And wonderful craft on your part, allied with wonderful courage.
    Without wishing to generalise about other contributers to these pages, I think it fair to say that most producers of creative work require some form of courage in order to place their thoughts & feelings & works up for comment.
    This is true perhaps moreso of an artist of images, as opposed to words. Images tend to provoke a cutting, a raw, an immediate response.
    You’re daring greatly.
    Long may you continue to do so. Congratulations to all concerned. We are all of us daring greatly. Well played.

  22. To all who have commented

    A great range of opinions and flavours to all comments. Thank you for taking the time to do so.

    With regard to the image itself, I think the last comment sums up some of the thoughts and feelings one goes through when putting up an image to the scrutiny of the public eye.

    Images undoubtedly create an immediate reaction when, not always but often, compared to the written word. One can gloss over a written article with ambivalence whereas an image tends to create an ” I like it’ or an “I don’t Like it” response that will be expressed by the viewer almost instantly.

    And I think at at some level most people who create do feel somewhat exposed when they put their “stuff’ out there.

    Thanks again

    and back to my own tribe of riffraff.


  23. DBalassone says

    Beautiful piece of work Kate. It really encapsulates the season 2013 and the premiership captain perfectly. I recall seeing this so many times with Hodge directing traffic and distributing the football out of the half back line with pinpoint accuracy – a homage to left footers all over the country! Also love how he is slightly in mid-air, yet perfectly balanced as his boot is about to make contact with the ball.

  24. Ah DZ, will put something in place for December – what about Test eve? In Freo.

  25. PF – They started it. I was provoked (again). See Gorman Minor’s ‘orrible comment on the Dave Warner 2013 Season Review thread.
    JTH – You had better provide a map if you want DZ to visit Fremantle. Subiaco is as far south as he gets. The Mount Lawley Bowling Club offers excellent facilities for the discerning book launch audience. And it keeps those ‘orrible stevedores like Gorman and Everett at a distance. If you must go south St Pats Refuge in Freo offers an auditorium with a $5 bed and breakfast package.

  26. Thanks Kate. I like your work.
    The OH&S dudes might want a pad on that point post. :-)

  27. Fantastic piece of art.
    Brilliant decision to put it on the cover of the Almanac.

  28. Barb Smith says

    Fabulous action portrait Kate, well done! It even makes brown and gold look snazzy.

  29. Barkly St End says

    Continuing the proud tradition of fantastic Almanac covers.

    Love ’em all.

    Isn’t it about time that Malarkey Industries Inc expanded into selling prints?

  30. Shane Kennedy says

    This cover is right up there with Richo.

    As a former left-footed loose man in defence type myself, I think this one gets the nod.

    Congratulations Kate, a terrific piece of work.

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