Ellen J. Hickman

 

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I don’t know about you, but when I visit someone’s website I like to learn more about them as a person.  When we know where someone comes from then we know more about where they are coming from!  I hope this page provides the insight you need.

I was born in England in 1968.  My first few years were spent on my Dad’s family farm in Kent.  My family emigrated to Western Australia in January 1971. My Dad worked as a manager on a farm near Manypeaks in the south-west of WA, but work opportunities meant we soon relocated  to Perth.


I grew up in Applecross, a suburb of Perth, where we had a mini-farm on our quarter acre block with fruit trees, vegie garden and chickens. My childhood memories are of making cubbies in the backyard, weekends going on picnics in the bush around Perth and holidays to the country, particularly the Stirling Ranges. I always dreamed of living in the country on a farm.  I was schooled at Applecross Primary and All Saints’ College, Bullcreek.  I have always loved anything to do with nature and my favourite subject was art.

When I left school I had to make a decision on a career.  I figured making a living purely from art was unlikely, and I would have more luck in the sciences, so I studied a Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Australia, boarding for a few years at St George’s College.  I got my first botanical illustration job in my 2nd year when my taxonomy lecturer, Dr Terry MacFarlane, commissioned me to do illustrations of grasses for the Flora of the Kimberley Region (1992).  I graduated with Honours in Botany in 1991.  I continued to work as a research assistant for the Botany Department under Professor John Pate for a few years, illustrating a monograph of the plant family Restionaceae, Australian Rushes (1999).

Dad, Mum, Howie and me picking wildflowers, 1971.
Howie and me playing cubbies
 in the backyard in Applecross, 1972.
Graduating with Honours in Botany
Working as a research assistant for Prof. Pate at the University of Western Australia, 1992.
Assessing plots on Bakers Knob, Stirling Range, March 1998.
BAGs Margaret River exhibition January 1995
 Katrina Syme, Penny Leech, Margaret Pieroni, Philippa Nikulinsky, Pat Dundas, Rica Erickson & Ellen Hickman

In 1995 I moved to Albany to work as a botanist for the Department of Conservation and Land management (CALM, now DEC) managing the threatened flora of the South Coast region. This was a great job, wandering around the bush looking for pretty flowers - well maybe it was a bit more involved than that but in an area of high floristic biodiversity it was a dream job for a botanist.


In 1995 I was also invited to join the Botanical Artist Group of Western Australia (BAGs) and exhibited with them annually at the Kings Park Wildflower Show. I found inspiration for my artwork during my fieldwork for CALM and spent my holidays madly drawing to have enough pieces to exhibit.  Although I loved the job with CALM I was not getting enough time for my art. So, when an opportunity to study art in Melbourne came up I went for it.

In 1999 I moved to Melbourne to study a Diploma of Visual Arts in Illustration at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE.  This allowed me to extend my skills from botanical illustration into children’s books, editorial and computer illustration.  It was a fantastic course, I adored doing art 24 hours a day 7 days a week and to top it off  I was awarded best children’s book illustrator for my year.


In 2001 I returned to Albany to start my own business as an independent Botanical Consultant and freelance Artist.  I purchased my home in Albany where I now live with my cat, Tiggy, pursuing my two passions.

NMIT Illustre exhibition, August 2000 with my prize winning children’s book illustration
Working in my studio at home