Below are projects, news and events that I hope will be of interest to you.

If you would like any more information please Contact Ellen.

Posted: 3rd August 2021

Tribonanthes purpurea
machine embroidery tests 

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My illustration
Water colour pencil on paper

Just Sew Embroidery - test 1
Cotton thread on cotton poplin

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Just Sew Embroidery - test 2
Cotton thread on tulle

When I started the Tribonanthes dress project, I realised it would be a huge task to embroider all the illustrations on the dress in time to wear it to the conference. I decided to look at out-sourcing the stitching of the illustrations to a machine embroidery company. I asked Mike Compton at Just Sew Embroidery to digitise and embroider my illustration of Tribonanthes purpurea as a test. Here are images of my illustration and two  embroidery attempts. Although the results were amazing, there are limitations. Machine embroidery has a limited number of colours you can use with any one design. The digitising is done off-shore, so being able to discuss changes was difficult due to distance and language barriers. The complicated design layout meant that machine embroidering directly onto the velvet dress was not possible, so the embroideries needed to be done on a thin material, where the excess could be trimmed, and the embroideries made into appliqué patches to be stitched on the dress later. The test embroideries were done first on cotton poplin and then on tulle. In the end the purest in me felt it was a compromise to get a machine to do my artwork, so I needed to look at an alternative method to transfer my intricate illustrations to the dress . . . . . . . . . . 

Posted: 30th July 2021

Tribonanthes dress

Here are the paper mock-ups of the dress I plan to make as a memento of my PhD research. The dress will have a knee length, A-line skirt, fitted bodice and cap sleeves. It will be made in black velvet. The Tribonanthes plants will be embroidered in cotton silks on both the front and the back of the dress. They will end up larger than life size, wrapping around the dress, with the soil level indicated in white slip stitch. I originally started this project in February 2019, with the aim of having the dress to wear at the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators conference I attended in Brisbane, in July of that year. However, my ongoing eye issues put pay to that. Two years on and with my eyes fixed, I am now resurrecting this project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . with God's help.


Posted: 29th July 2021

Tribonanthes whole plant plate.jpg


This is my illustration of whole plants of the twelve species of Tribonanthes, from the Haemodoraceae plant family.

The illustration was done as part of my PhD research into using observational drawing of plant character traits to discover new plant species.

At the start of my research there were six described and one undescribed species of Tribonanthes. My illustration studies discovered four new species and reinstated two previously described species.

I am planning to embroider these illustrations onto a dress to have as a wearable memento of my research . . . . . . . watch this space!

"Revisiting the taxonomy of the Neotropical Haemodoraceae"

Collaborative research between  Marco Pellegrini, (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil), Jorge Guttiérrez (Universidad de La Habana, Cuba), Rhian Smith (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK), Stephen Hopper (University of Western Australia), and myself has resulted in the publication today of our paper titled "Revisiting the taxonomy of the Neotropical Haemodoraceae Commelinales" in the scientific journal PhytoKeys.

Based on extensive herbarium, field, botanical illustration, and molecular phylogenetic research, five genera and eight species are recognised for the Neotropical Haemodoraceae. New taxa include Cubanicula xanthorrhizon, Schiekia silvestris, Schiekia timida and Xiphidium pontederiifolium. We present an updated identification key, descriptions and comments, maps, photo plates for all species, and high-quality illustrations for most of the recognised species and their diagnostic characters.

Click here to view the  full manuscript  online, or download a pdf for free. These images show photos from my field trips to Cuba, Brazil and Guyana, to collect and draw the species illustrated in the paper.

Posted: 5th December 2020


Jorge Guttiérrez and myself collecting Cubanicula xanthorrhiza, near Sandino, Pinar del Rio region of Cuba.

Drawing Haemodorum brevisepalum

Here is a drawing progression of a pair of flowers of Haemodorum brevisepalum that I completed today.
It shows the initial line drawing. Then I made a copy by tracing this original drawing onto tracing paper, turning the tracing paper over, to re-trace the reverse image, which is burnished onto my watercolour paper, so I can start to add colour to the flowers using aquarelle pencils, without losing the integrity of the original drawing. The last slide is the completed illustration.
This is my first attempt at doing botanical illustration since all my eye issues started in March 2019. I am very grateful to God that my eyes are now on the mend, and I can draw again.

Posted: 7th November 2020

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Posted: 22nd October 2020

Article from Albany Advertiser, Thursday 22nd October 2020.

Albany Advertiser article
Albany Advertiser article

Posted: 13th October 2020

Second-Sight Exhibition
Albany's Historic Whaling Station
13th-30th October 2020

Now Open


Come and meet the artist
Sunday 18th October 2020
10 am - 3 pm


Posted: 6th October 2020

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Article from Southerly Magazine, Issue 23, October 2020

Posted: 4th October 2020

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Second-Sight Exhibition
Albany's Historic Whaling Station
13th-30th October 2020

After two retina detachments (March 2019, July 2019) and subsequence cataracts forming, my cataract operations were cancelled a week before surgery (March/April 2020) due to COVID-19 shut-down. As my eyes deteriorated and I could do less and less, particularly my artwork, I began to feel useless. One morning I decided to ignore my predicament, and go for walks into the surrounding bush to do impressionist landscape paintings.


This small exhibition is the resulting paintings and the story behind them.

I would love to see you there, but if you can't make it, and would like more information on the story behind the exhibition and paintings, please Contact Ellen

Posted: 15th November 2012

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Two with Nature
Launched in Albany

Last night was the Albany launch of Two with Nature, a pictorial and poetic tribute to WA’s floral diversity, by Ellen Hickman and John Ryan, published by Fremantle Press. The event was held at the Co-op Building of the WA Museum Albany, where over 100 guests enjoyed bush food canapes created by the Bush Food Factory and Cafe, washed down with a glass of wine from Montgomery Hill Wines. The book was successfully launched by local conservation biologist, Alan Danks. Paperbark Merchants, sold copies of the book to eager guests, to be signed by the authors. The place was buzzing and a very enjoyable evening was had by all.

Two with Nature is available at all good bookstores

or by visiting

Posted: 9th June 2010

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Foundation Day WA
Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, London

On Monday 7th of June, Chris Hopper invited me to join her and her daughter, Claire, at the Commemoration service for Western Australia’s Foundation Day. It was held at the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy. This was another perfect occasion to wear the dress, and how appropriate was that, to have Anigozanthos manglesii, the state’s floral emblem, on display for the occasion. Again the dress was much admired and in fact we were chased down the street by avid admirers who wanted to know where they could get one! . . . maybe I could sell my design to a haute couturier!

I am picture here with the High Commissioner for Australia, HE Mr John Dauth LVO and the Agent General for Western Australia, Mrs Kerry Sanderson.

(Photo courtesy of Anne Giacomantonio,

Information and Research Officer,

Government of Western Australia, European Office)

Posted: 5th May 2010

Dressed for the Opera

Last night we went to the opera Romeo and Juliet at the Amazon Theatre (Teatro Amazonas) in the heart of Manaus. It is a splendid building inside and out, one of the most important monuments left by the exhilarating rubber boom period. Its construction was proposed in 1881 and it was inaugurated in 1896. We were seated on red velvet chairs in a box for 5, on the top floor. The opera was sung in French but there were subtitles in Portuguese on a digital screen above the stage, . . . thankfully I knew the story as I didn’t understand a word of it!

It was the first occasion I was able to wear my Kangaroo Paw dress. I hoped to impress the ‘elite’ of Brazil, and apparently Marijane over heard a number of Brazilian ladies oohing and ahhhing suitably!!!


Posted: 20th August 2009

Ellen wins a Churchill Fellowship

Earlier this year I applied for a Winston Churchill Fellowship to complete the oversea drawing studies of the Haemodoraceae. My written application was selected for interview by the WA panel of the Trust. In order to make an impression on the interviewing panel I made my kangaroo paw dress, which is a hand stitched applique design of Anigozanthos manglesii (Red & Green or Mangles Kangaroo Paw). I must have made an impression because my project was successfully awarded a Fellowship.

The WA applicants were presented with their certificates by the WA Governor Dr Ken Michael at Government House. To dress up my dress for the occasion I made a little bolero jacket styled on Anigozanthos rufus (Red Kangaroo Paw). I bought some red cotton velvet some years ago, thinking it would come in handy one day, and it was perfect for the job (note the sleeves).

I will use my Fellowship to visit Cuba, Brazil, Guyana and UK to do illustrations of the Haemodoraceae from the Caribbean and South America.

(Photos courtesy of Christine Glenister)

Ellen (in Kangaroo paw outfit she made) receiving Churchill Fellowship from WA Governor Dr

His Excellency Dr Ken Michael, the WA Governor, presenting me with my Winston Churchill Memorial Trust certificate.

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Mum & Dad join me at Government House for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust 2009 Fellowship Awards reception.