Sonia Skipper

Sonia Skipper at Montsalvat Sonia Skipper at Montsalvat Photo: Sarah Chinnery photographic collection National Library of Australia

Sonia Skipper born May 8,1918 in Western Australia, died Renmark South Australia May 21, 2008. Her parents were Mervyn Garnham Skipper and Lena Cooper Skipper. She was the second of three children.

Her father was a telagraphist for the Telegraph Company which entailed frequently relocation. When Sonia was ten the family moved into a Walter Burley Griffin designed house in Outlook Drive, Eaglemont Victoria. Mervyn and Lena became part of the art scene in Melbourne and became friendly with Jorgensen. They helped finance the purchase the Eltham land for Montsalvat and were central to the colony's life.

Sonja started an affair with solicitor, Arthur Munday, one of Jorgensen's pupils. She moved, with her family to Montsalvat in the late 1930s. Here she became adept at carving, building in mud brick and all the many trades that the building of the artist's colony required. During this period she and Arthur Munday had a daughter, Saskia.

In 1947 she became forelady for Alistair Knox on the English house in Montmorency. She worked for him for some time and after she relinquished that role to Horrie Judd, took charge of colouring and plastering the mud brick walls, an essential aesthetic task.

In the 1950s she began working for the Department of Agriculture testing animals for disease. Returning to Montsalvat she began a relationship with Joe Hanna. They had a son, Mervyn in 1954 after which she, Joe and Mervyn set up house nearby in Research.

Asthma caused her to move to Renmark in South Australia where the family lived until first Joe and then Sonia died.

Her autobiography published in 2005 by Black Jack Press is called. 'My Story'.

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