Community Creatives: Ona Henderson & Syd Tunn

Having trained at Art Schools in the 1960s, Ona and Syd’s large Aladdin’s cave is abundant with magical adventures. Ona’s watermedia paintings and etchings have a mythical lyrical feel, while Syd’s have a lightness of touch and air of whimsy, highlighting the spirit of nature in their bushland studio.

Ona and Syd are represented in many public collections, have won dozens of awards and had numerous major exhibitions in galleries around Australia, Britain and USA, bringing them much recognition.

The pair are founding Nillumbik Open Studio artists and have been involved in the program for thirty-two years, celebrating their own thirty-seventh consecutive year working together, and a combined one-hundred-and-ten years of art-making.

How/when/why did you get into this area of work?
We both went to Art Schools in the 60s. Our Dads both said 'get your hair cut & get a proper job!' however we both came back to art full-time, built a studio across the road and haven't looked back since 1980.

What are you working on at the moment?
Syd: An acrylic 'womanscape' painting (landscape montaged with a figure)
Ona: A series of watercolours (moon, tree, dreamscapes)

Do you have a studio or work space? What is it like?
Our huge studio is jam-packed with inspirational stuff!

What influences, inspires or energises your practice?
Looking at each others work and thinking he/she is going well... I don't want to miss out!

What does a typical day involve for you?
An adventure every day, walking across the road to our studio with coffee and music before painting or printmaking.

How do you define success? How do you celebrate your successes?
Usually by selling a painting or keeping a client happy from a commissioned work. Champagne and chocolates are our reward for all parties.

Where can we see more of your work?
Currently at Eltham Library Community Gallery until the 28th October as part of Nillumbik Artists Open Studios Exhibition.


Ona and Syd's studio will be open to the public during the Nillumbik Artist's Open Studios events on the 16th & 17th, the 23rd & 24th of November 2019, and the 2nd & 3rd of May 2020. They welcome art lovers to visit for a cuppa and browse around their studio.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Yarra Plenty Regional Library