"They blew me away. They are timeless" – Michael Foreman, November 2023 Elise Hurst was born in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia. Her grandparents were English and so she recalls being ‘raised on a diet of Enid Blyton, Celtic Mythology and BBC programmes’. Other early influences include her grandfather and mother, both keen painters.
Elise Hurst trained traditionally as a fine artist herself yet found the genres of still life and landscape painting less engaging. She was more drawn to portraiture and the characters that come with it, so she turned her hand to illustration where her imagination could flourish.
While growing her career as an illustrator, she began a series of personal works, executed in either oils or finely detailed pen, in a vintage alternate reality.
Increasingly, this universe has crept into her published works including The Night Garden, marked a Notable and Shortlisted book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia in 2008, Imagine A City in 2014 and Adelaide’s Secret World, which was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award 2016.
In 2010 Elise Hurst held her first solo show of works at No Vacancy Gallery in Melbourne, titled Strangely Familiar. These early works capture Elise Hurst’s philosophy for ‘artworks created as complete worlds with incomplete narratives, thus involving the reader in the storytelling’.
In 2018 she began working with author and publisher Kobi Yamada. Together they created two books as part of a Mentor Series for all ages. He was a natural editor for her newest work The Storyteller’s Handbook. Published in 2022, her illustrations act as prompts to involve each readers individual imagination and is truest expression of her personal narrative style. The introduction was written by Neil Gaiman, who encouraged her early on in her career and subsequently followed her work. They collaborated in 2020 when Elise Hurst illustrated a special edition of Neil Gaiman’s book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Alongside publications, Elise Hurst’s illustrations have been globally distributed on greetings cards under the imprint Petit Sauvage with British card company Roger la Borde.
She is currently working on a sequel to The Story Teller’s Handbook, and lives in Melbourne with her husband Peter and their twin boys.