Sonia Skipper, a founding artist of Montsalvat died in 2008. A Retrospective of her work was held at Monstsalvat, Eltham in January 2009.
The paintings span a lifetime of work and include pieces from her early paintings under the tuition of Justus Jörgensen to recent pastel works on paper.
Sonia grew up around Ivanhoe and was the second eldest child of Mervyn and Lena Skipper. Helen Skipper, now deceased was the eldest child and Matcham the youngest and last surviving member of that Skipper generation.
Sonia moved with her family to a cottage on the grounds of Montsalvat as a teenager and began a life influenced under the guidance of Justus Jörgensen, the charismatic man who was able to inspire many people to fulfil his dream of creating an artists haven for creativity building and stimulation.
During her life at Montsalvat she was part of a large team of family and supporter artisans who laboured lovingly under Justus to create what we now know as the famous artist colony on the hill in Eltham. She had a well rounded artistic education which included stone carving, hand building, mud brick and pise building, oil painting, drawing and sculpture in all its forms. Many of the gargoyles around the magnificent buildings of Montsalvat seen today have been carved or sculptured by Sonia. The artefacts have been a collective effort and not easily identified historically as by a particular artist.
Sonia began exhibiting her paintings and sculptures in local and Victorian galleries and her work was readily sought after for private collections. She also worked in an apprentice master manner on many of the paintings seen around Montsalvat by Justus Jörgensen. Justus ran his collective of artists in the old world tradition of studio practice whereby the student would be responsible for many of the beginnings of his work which was seen as educative for the student.
The early influences of Sonia were directly in line with the Max Meldrum School of tonal painting. She was a family friend of the much acclaimed Clarrice Becket and attended the annual artists camp at San-Remo along with the Jörgensen and Skipper families.