H elen Bonica designed the leadlight windows of the tiny chapel. Helen has carefully linked the wattle, the gum nuts and leaves and the Waratah with the flora on Serendipity itself. Wattle is the Australian National flower and the Waratah is the flora emblem of New South Wales.
Helen was born in 1958 in New Guinea and at an early age moved with her parents back to Australia to be educated. She was raised in rural New South Wales in The Blue Mountains. She is one of 6 children; her cultural heritage is Scottish and English.
After a career as a secondary Geography, Economics and Special Education teacher and later as Mentor to University Graduate Teachers, Helen is now an emerging artist. Since she has spent her adult life serving people through teaching it followed that this experience would be reflected in her work as an artist.
Helen recalls that throughout her life she has had a strong need to design and create. Since her creative needs were met in the work place with her innovative award winning educational programs, in 2008 when she moved to New Zealand she needed to learn a new skill to ‘replace’ her career.
After visiting the Christchurch Art Centre she attended classes with Marilyn Rea-Menzies, a leading New Zealand tapestry weaver. Weaving taught her about design, colour blending, the constructive processes and time management. Since tapestry is time consuming, Helen turned to painting which offered more scope for design and innovation as part of the creative process.
Painting allows her to share her views about the human condition. It provides an opportunity to reflect, to organise her thoughts and experiences to create images that are aesthetically pleasing and convey meaning and messages relevant in society today.
As learning has always been a focus of Helen’s life she adopts several different painting styles and as a visual learner she has a preference to process and recall information as images. Her learning style is reflected in her strong sense of spatial awareness, configuration and finds pleasure in the meditative process of constructing artworks. With this in mind she has learnt to use lead lighting to design and construct innovative art glass panels. She is particularly enthralled by the vibrant colours and textures that are offered by the glass medium and as it is ‘relatively’ impervious to the ravages of time; they are a small representation of her creativity for future generations.
The art mediums that Helen has chosen are vehicles for dialogue and she explains, “I miss the academic aspects of my career and art is a way for me to exercise my brain, to contribute and share”.