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Rica Erickson (nee Sandilands) is well known and respected in many areas and by many people. Devoted to her family she has also gained renown as a naturalist, botanical artist, historian, author and genealogist and has been awarded many honours including having insects and plants named after her. In 1980 she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters for her work in the fields of Literature and Botany, and in the same year was WA Citizen of the Year for outstanding service to the Arts, Culture and Entertainment. She became a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987 for her services to the Arts particularly as an author and illustrator. The Department of Conservation and Land Management named a bush reserve after her (1996), and a commemorative plaque was laid in her honour in St Georges Terrace, Perth (1999). Throughout her life and career her work has been strongly linked to the development of the collections at the J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History.

The reasons Rica has done what she has with her life are best expressed in her own words taken from one of her interviews in the Battye Library Oral History Collection.

I don't know that I'm any different than anyone else except that I'm tenacious. Perhaps that's it. I've got curiosity about what I'm interested in. I'm tenacious and also, I think, instinctively when things are presented to me; I know which one to grab on to. I think you've got to be aware of what you want to do and then not be afraid to grasp the opportunity. You see, other people who would have read in Emily Pelloe's book that a certain red back to a leaf was interesting because it might be a different species, would just leave it at that. But I had the temerity (cheek, I suppose and yet it was a kind of innocence) to think that if I had found out something and they didn't and they wanted to know, I could tell them - I'd be happy to share. I always wanted to share things. I suppose you could just say it was tenacity - and the ability. Also there must have been some luck in what was presented to me. But if I hadn't grabbed the opportunity as it came I would never have done it.

If anyone asked me to live my life over again I'd say no, because I'd never be sure I'd take the right step at the right time. I might never have done this.
(Battye Library, OH 2528, p. 14)




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