Elise Hurst

Coming from an artistic family, Elise has had a long involvement in the arts. With a strong background in portraiture and landscape painting she moved naturally into illustration and has worked as a highly respected freelance illustrator for 15 years. 2010 saw her 55th book published. As a champion of young and emerging artists, Elise is frequently invited to lecture and demonstrate in many universities and schools across Australia.

Elise's best known book to date is the picture book The Night Garden (ABC Books, 2007) which she wrote and illustrated. This book was named a Notable Book and received a coveted short listing in the 2008 CBCA Book of the Year Awards. She is the author of several other books and is currently working on two books in her trademark styles - the first in detailed pen, the second in rich oil paintings.

In 2010, Elise staged her first solo exhibition at the No Vacancy gallery in QV, Melbourne. This hugely successful show brought together a collection of oil paintings that combined the rich style of the 1920-50s, anthropomorphism, bold characters and captivating moments of story. Elise saw the show as a way to tell stories in an instant by giving the viewer a glimpse into another world that was both surreal and recognisable. In the austere setting of the gallery, and with adults as the intended audience, it was an opportunity to explore a new form of storytelling.

"This current exhibition is very exciting for me. For years I have been drawing in little Moleskines books - partly as a way to rediscover the joy of drawing after it threatened to be consumed by the job of illustrating. They have been my escape and they have led me to discover that I have a strong style, characters and stories that are all ready to jump onto the page. From this came the Strangely Familiar paintings of my last show and a series of drawings that I have been sharing with people around the world in card and print form. I have never been able to sell originals before, as these were all bound into the little sketchbooks. It has been a very enjoyable challenge to create a new body of work for this show, and to sell for the first time."

Professional Involvements

2009-2010 Committee of Management of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA).
2004-2010 Co-organiser of picture book retreats for the Society of Book Illustrators (SOBI).
Since 2004 Elise has had an ongoing part in the conception, design and running of the "The Style File" (www.thestylefile.com) - a website which showcases Australian artistic talent to publishers worldwide. The style file has grown in size and now features the work of over 200 illustrators and provides a important channel between publishers and illustrators.
2010-12 Judging panel of the Koko Black creative drawing prize.
2011 Plenary at the ALEA Melbourne conference, and presenting at the 2012 ALEA Conference, Tasmania. 2010 Presenter at the Bendigo Children's Literature Conference (run by La Trobe University) on anthropomorphism in art. 2010- Judging committee of the Children's Charity Network youth art awards.


Elise's Bachelor of Arts honours thesis examined artwork created during the late Palaeolithic era (a period spanning roughly from 60,000 years ago to the dawn of modern humans at about 10,000 B.C.). Ongoing: An occasional lecturer at RMIT in the area of children's literature, runs a short course through RMIT on publishing books for children and this year she will complete a professional diploma in writing and editing.