painter, manufacturer and agriculturist, came to Sydney in March 1832 aboard the Marianne . Soon afterwards he was commissioned to paint the Decalogue boards for Francis Greenway 's St Luke’s Church of England, Liverpool (ie. boards bearing the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer). On 9 August 1833 they were inspected by Charles Cowper and/or Bishop Broughton at Hipkiss’s rooms in Goulburn Street, Sydney, and were rejected for unstated reasons. Perhaps their decorations were somehow too democratic for these Tory clergymen. As a member of the Birmingham Political Union, Hipkiss had been an active reformer in England before worsening economic circumstances made him decide to emigrate. He rapidly became active in Sydney’s public affairs and in 1833 was an inaugural committee member of the Mechanics Institute. The following year he helped found the Australian Union Benefit Society (one of the first steps towards trade unionism) and in 1835, the Patriotic Association. He formed a short-lived architectural partnership with James Chadley in March 1835.

Hipkiss was appointed secretary of the Floral and Horticultural Society in 1839. He showed a selection of his fruit and flower paintings at its 1842 meeting with the recommendation that they be awarded as minor prizes at the forthcoming exhibition. The society dismissed the suggestion, so Hipkiss decided to raffle them. This possibly inspired his more ambitious art union conducted between November 1848 and April 1849, the 120 prizes on offer all being his own paintings. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that some were 'certainly most exquisite, and stamp Mr. Hipkiss as an artist of great ability’, although finding their style and character 'somewhat monotonous’. Again they were mainly of fruit and flowers, plus 'several pretty landscapes’ and 'Australian scenes’. Despite a generally favourable press, subscribers were few and Hipkiss was obliged to move the exhibition from King Street to James T. Grocott’s better-known premises in George Street. At the end of March 1849 a disappointed Hipkiss announced that 'a large number of tickets are undisposed of, as he received much commendation but little support’.

When the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia was mooted, Hipkiss proved an enthusiastic supporter. Of more than 200 people who attended the meeting which founded it on 22 June 1847, Hipkiss was the only artist, amateur or professional, recorded as speaking. (He seconded Alexander Macleay’s motion that the society be formed.) His Painting of Fruit shown at the second exhibition of the society in 1849 was praised in the Sydney Morning Herald of 2 June, as 'a very excellent effort of art in this peculiar line, and evidently painted by one who had carefully studied his subject’. At this exhibition, however, the hanging committee ( Conrad Martens , James Wilson and William Nicholas ) dominated the show, and afterwards disgruntled artists resorted more frequently to art unions as an effective method for selling their work. Hipkiss entered several organised by James Grocott in 1850.

When the short-lived Australian Society of Artists, a mutual benefit group, was formed in March 1850, Hipkiss was a foundation member. He exhibited paintings at their conversazione in July although by then seventy-eight years old. He died at Ryde, Sydney, on 25 April 1853, survived by his wife. No paintings in any public collections are known, but some of the unsigned flower and fruit oil paintings attributed to William Buelow Gould might repay closer investigation.

Darby, Garry
Kerr, Joan
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