March 11, 2022

Painting the north

Five paintings have been gifted to Northern Health and are now on display on the walls at Bundoora Centre.

The paintings showcase local northern landscapes, and are the work of Maria Monzon-White, who was a patient at Bundoora Centre during the last years of her life.

Maria’s husband, Ronald White, who passed away in 2020, left the paintings as a bequest in will to be displayed for all staff.

Paloma White, Maria and Ronald’s daughter, said her mother had always loved painting from an early age. However, she tried to pursue a different career at first.

“She started a law degree and, after a year, she realised she was more of a creative person. She always wanted to do art and then she decided to pursue it,” she said.

“She did five years of a combined teaching, painting and drawing course – Bachelor of Fine Arts, in Barcelona. She studied there in the late 1950s to 1960s. She worked as an art teacher for quite a few years and she started her own interior design business with a friend of hers. Then she met my father.”

Born in Spain, Maria met Ronald while travelling in Italy.

“He was from Australia. She went back to Spain after they met and they got back together two years later,” Paloma said.

Together, Maria and Ronald had three children, Paloma, Vincent and Laurence, before they moved to Australia. The family settled in Murrumbeena, then they moved to Ivanhoe in 1973.

Maria and her family’s move to Australia did not mark the end of her painting. She worked part time as an art teacher, she had a studio at home and she also was a Spanish teacher.

“She did a lot of work in the 1970s – a lot of local portraits and landscapes. She loved painting and she was very much into the natural world. We lived in Ivanhoe and we had a big backyard that looked onto Donaldson’s Creek – our local creek,” Paloma said.

During the mid-to-late 1990s, Maria began working on a collection of five paintings of local landscapes, including Donaldson’s Creek and Darebin Parklands. These are now on display at Bundoora Centre.

“She was in Bundoora Centre quite often. She was there three or four times a year and that was for about 10 years. The nursing staff are excellent and were kind and patient with mum. My dad appreciated that and my mother appreciated all the staff there,” Paloma said.

“They really cared about her and we were always impressed. Going in there all the time, and seeing the same people every week, we always felt we were in good hands. Knowing we could go to someone on that shift and we knew who that someone was.”

“Mum would be really happy that the space has been enlivened up because she spent a lot of time there. We are proud and happy that we can give back.”

Northern Health, and particularly staff and patients at Bundoora, are extremely grateful for this very special gift from the White family.

Featured image: Kirralee Jensen, Site Director Operations and Director Of Nursing, Bundoora Centre with Vincent White.

Maria’s five paintings on display at Bundoora Centre