History

Image Stuart Lafford

Michael Hickey - founder of the society

The Society grew out of botanical art classes held in Cheltenham and Stroud taught by Michael Hickey, horticulturist, botanist, writer and illustrator for The Cambridge University Press and elsewhere. Stuart Lafford taught the watercolour element of the classes and continued to teach many members at workshops and classes following Mike Hickey's death in 2005 until his own in 2016.


The aim of the GSBI was to provide a friendly and welcoming forum in and around Gloucestershire for people having an interest in both botanical illustration and the study of plants.

The inaugural meeting was held in 1993 and Mike Hickey was elected chairman. Activities included:-

  • Microscope days at Cheltenham Ladies’ College where members learnt to use microscopes and drew and painted detailed studies of plants.


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

  • Visits to Birmingham, Oxford and Kew Botanical Gardens as well as museums, including The Fitzwilliam, The Ashmolean, The Natural History Museum and Kew Herbarium.


  • Social evenings were held where botanical paintings and books were shown and discussed.


  • Many illustrators gave talks about their work.

The first exhibition was held when Mike Hickey was invited to showcase his students’ work. This was in July 1994, at the College of St Paul and St. Mary’s Cheltenham. Subsequently, the exhibition has been held at a number of different venues including the Subscription Rooms in Stroud, The Cotswold Countryside Museum, Northleach, and The Corinium Museum, Cirencester. In 2003, the Society was invited to exhibit at Nature in Art, Twigworth, near Gloucester. This is a highly regarded national museum which attracts many well known wildlife artists and photographers as friends and exhibitors. This was a great compliment to the Society and we have been privileged to continue to exhibit annually at this venue.

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.


Below are some examples of Mike's work in pen and ink:-