Mary Gillick was born in Nottingham in 1881 and was educated at the Nottingham High School for Girls from 1890 to 1898. She studied at the Nottingham School of Art until 1902 and was a scholar under Lanteri at the Royal College of Art from 1902 to 1904.
It was in Nottingham that she met her future husband, Ernest Gillick, whose high standards and searching criticism did much to influence her and formed the basis of an ideal working partnership which lasted some forty-six years, she produced a number of medals presented on occasion by learned societies and other institutions, notably the Royal Society, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Academy Schools.
In 1952 she produced her first coin portrait when she designed the uncrowned head of the new Queen for the coinage of the United Kingdom. She was one of seventeen artists who submitted relief sketches in plaster for the first coin effigy of the new reign, and won the competition with an uncrowned, almost informal, portrait of the young Queen Elizabeth. She chose to avoid the couped effigy of previous monarchs and by placing the portrait within a continuous inscription she recalled coins of the first Queen Elizabeth. This charming design appears on all of Australia’s & Britain’s pre-decimal coins of Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1967.