Michael Hickey

History of GSBI

The Gloucestershire Society for Botanical Illustration (GSBI) was formed in 1993 to cater for all in the County interested in botanical illustration, whether as botanists, botanical illustrators, gardeners or those involved in the collection and appreciation of botanical works. It came about from botanical art classes held in Cheltenham and Stroud taught by Michael Hickey (pictured right), horticulturist, botanist, writer and illustrator for The Cambridge University Press and elsewhere. The aim of the GSBI was to provide a friendly and welcoming forum in and around Gloucestershire for like minded people to share their interest in both botanical illustration and the study of plants.

The inaugural meeting was held in 1993 and Mike Hickey was elected chairman, a post he held until his death in 2005.
The activities in those first years were wide ranging :-

1. Microscope days at Cheltenham Ladies’ College where we learnt to use the microscopes and were able to draw and paint detailed studies of plants.

2. Nature walks at Siccharidge Wood, Cranham Common, Cricklade water meadows, Plump Hill, Swift’s Farm, the Forest of Dean and more.

3. Visits were made to Birmingham, Oxford and Kew Botanical Gardens and to museums, including The Fitzwilliam, The Ashmolean, The Natural History Museum and Kew Herbarium.

4. We had social evenings where our favourite botanical paintings and books were shown and discussed.

5. Many illustrators came to give talks about their work.

6. The annual exhibition came about when Mike Hickey was invited to show his students’ work, at Francis Close Hall on 16th &17th July 1994, on the occasion of the College of St Paul and St. Mary’s Old Student’s Association Reunion. The exhibition has been held at a number of different venues including the Subscription Rooms in Stroud, The Cotswold Countryside Museum at Northleach, The Corinium Museum, Cirencester and a venue in Gloucester. In 2003 we were invited to exhibit at Nature in Art; a highly regarded national museum which attracts many well known Wildlife Artists as friends and exhibitors. This was a great compliment to the Society and we have been privileged to continue to exhibit at this venue since then.

There is a substantial archive of Mike Hickey articles available to members. Please use the contact form if you would like to see what is available.