Ella Koopman was born in 1947 in Dordrecht, The Netherlands. She worked simply as an artist until the mid-1980's when she switched over to working on individual, 'unstretched' pieces of linen, that she quickly fashioned with upright seams. She then immediately took liberty with the cloth, utilising it in several diverse places where it traditionally had never been destined for. They could, for example, in the tradition of an artist, end up on a wall, but they are just as at home hanging or lying spaciously in a living space - giving it definition, or worn on the body. Ella Koopman the artist became Ella Koopman the fabric designer.
Ella Koopman finds that her materials come into their own when they are unequivocally not employed as raw material; rather when they are worn as a shawl or apron or even as a skirt that may only be put on in one way. Think of a swath of linen draped carelessly over a sofa, a colour element in the composition in a living space, or as a fixed, permanent application of the material in the form of clothing.
The tension between autonomy and application in Ella Koopman's work calls for original solutions. For how does one unite his or her values and servitude with the impulses of the artist, which are especially about colour, form, composition and expression? In order to be worn, the textile has to be supple, washable, closely sewn and hold its form.
What the application of a specific piece of linen will be only becomes known to the artist at the moment when it is finished. Sometimes it is an abstract painting and as such, 'needs only to be itself', yet at other times she immediately sees the linen as a piece of clothing, as it will call up a strong characteristic image.
Under her own brand name, Ella Koopman makes shawls and large individual cloth items as well as designs her own 'textile decorations' such as shirt sleeves, head ornaments, collars and arm bands. In her clothing designs she takes pride in going against conventional standards for cut and beauty. For example she influences the manner in which her fabric can be draped by utilising hardeners such as rubber and glue composites, so that the female body relishes in an unusual, exciting, accent.
In the fashion world, well-known Parisian fashion designers including Louis Féraud, Claude Montana and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac have used Ella Koopman's fabrics in their own creations. In Amsterdam Frans Molenaar and Mart Visser have chosen for her work.
Her collaborations with designers outside of the world of fashion design have also resulted in interesting outcomes with hat designer Maria Olsthoorn, and especially shoe designer Jan Jansen, whose exposure to Ella Koopman's fabrics has led to spectacular creations.
Architects and interior designers employ Ella Koopman's fabrics in 'monumental' applications. Her creations have already found their way into many large-scale applications like wall coverings and curtains in movie theatres, churches, cruise ships, restaurants, university buildings and in a zoo!
Since 1985 Ella regularly holds exhibitions in museums and galleries and participates in group exhibitions with other textile artists.