Black Gum Conservation Group

Mel Hills on a Life of Ecology, Art, and All Things Nature

Mel Hills grew up in Orford on the east coast of Tasmania, where she was never far from nature. Whether it was the coastline, the wildlife, or roaming in the hills, Mel developed a deep love for Tasmania Landscapes from a young age. At 15, Mel attended a summer school in watercolour directed by well-known Tasmania artist Nigel Lazenby, and from there her love affair with watercolour blossomed.

What’s your fondest memory form growing up on the east-coast of Tasmania?

Having complete freedom to wander the local area and maria island. Bush and coast, explore and birdwatch. Random bike rides, star gazing night walks. Swims whenever.

Driven by her interest in wildlife, Mel went on to study Zoology at university, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Wildlife and Scientific Illustration. The combination of art and science is what brings her the most pleasure. Mel now specialises in wildlife art and scientific illustration, as well as watercolour landscapes.

Outside of your artistic pursuits, what are some of the opportunities that you’ve had to work in the field of ecology?

I trained as a zoologist/ecologist/biologist and have worked off and on in that field since the early 90’s. Mostly survey, monitoring and nest locating. I also had a lovely job as a taxonomist for a while. So much fun I could have happily slept in the lab!

Mel gets excited just at the thought of picking up a brush. Her artistic interests are diverse, with paper, canvas, and murals all forming part of her creative pursuits. She’s also always learning and has recently taken an interest in oil paints.

Are you working on any oil paintings right now?

Yes, a kingfisher. Getting the purity of that blue is challenging. I’m just breaking in a new workspace and am looking forward to sinking my metaphorical teeth into a big one – or six.

While Mel takes plenty of inspiration from Tasmania, her interests go further a field as well. Mel’s interest in interfaces, boundaries and edges draw her to desert landscapes where she can observe the interplay between landscape and light. Landscapes like Antarctica, Maatsuyker Island, and the Kimberly pique her interest.

What would be your dream destination to visit and paint?

Oh macca [Macquarie Island] for sure. That would be fun!

Mel considers herself extremely lucky to have so much fun with her work, and her passion for art and nature shines through in every piece. To learn more, see Mel’s previous works, or check out her online store visit her website here.

We’ve partnered with Mel who has generously donated a stunning collection of works, inspired by Eucalyptus ovata. This original collection of seven mixed media pieces each measuring 15 x 21 cm will be available for auction on January 1st. All proceeds from the auction will go directly towards Eucalyptus ovata conservation efforts in Tasmania.