Vibrant India triggered the passion for photography
Lona was born and brought up in Australia. Like many Australians who came from many parts of the world and immigrated to that country, her grandparents are from Hungary who shifted to Australia in the late 1950s.
“On my father’s side there is a mix of English and Danish. My grandfather was a classical musician and he taught me violin and clarinet as a child, although I was never disciplined enough to become a musician. But I grew up appreciating music,” she said. She also enjoyed photography.
Lona studied social work at James Cook University and received an associate diploma in business. “Then my wonderful children came into my life. I have three children--Xavier 17, Tara 13 and Dominic 11. Suddenly, the opportunity to work in India came in our lives. My husband had been with the Accor Hotel group and they wanted to open a Novotel Hotel in Hyderabad. We had one week to pack up in Australia and head overseas. At that time, my children were very young, Dominic was months old,” she recalls her initial days in Hyderabad.
However, Lona’s first few years were busy taking care of her children. “But I was consumed with the wonderful aspects of India. I began to take photographs which set the wheels in motion. I started a Facebook page for my family and friends back home, as they were interested in our life here. My page grew and I also started to get an Indian following”.
She was liked for the way she portrayed India. She says she always enjoyed observing people and their interactions. “I was amazed at the colours, festivals, religions and diversity of people. I wanted to experience and learn as much as possible. I saw small details in Indian life and how my perception was as an outsider”.
When Lona’s youngest child started full-time school she devoted more time to photography. She started taking pictures for her friends, and then click photos at parties and events. What started out as an interest became her passion and work. “I started to get offers for shoots and events. In the years that followed I worked for the Taj group and Trident for two years which was a wonderful experience. I did personal shoots for families and their events such as engagements and weddings. Hyderabad gave me wonderful opportunities and I am very thankful,” Lona says.
“After many years in the city I felt more Hyderabadi than Australian! I am very attached to this city and India. India transformed my life and led to a path in the direction of art and photography,” she said. Her first solo show was at Novotel Airport Hotel, Shamshabad. She called the show, “Yeh Mera Bharat”.
She then had a second solo show a year later. In all, Lona has held two solo shows and 20 combined shows. In addition to photography, she did some paintings in abstract style with acrylic. Lona then was commissioned for 22 pieces of abstract art for a boutique hotel in Hyderabad. “I love to paint as well, but my photography seems to take more of my time,” she added.
One of her Indian highlights was the concept “Colours of Novotel” she started with Neil Patterson, General Manager from the Novotel Hyderabad and Convention Centre. It started in April 2015. It runs on a three-month cycle with six artists from various mediums. It has been a wonderful success and now has just started with season 5. Another highlight was the first art show done in a mall. Lona and three other artists held an art exhibition over a weekend at Inorbit Mall in Cyberabad.
“In my art photography I have done a series called Indian Juxtapose, where I use my images around India and vintage images from the 19th and 20th centuries and join them together digitally...Past and the Present,” she says.
Because of her exposure to the images of Raja Deen Dayal, and her fascination for the Moghul miniatures, she did some remarkable works using her own format. Just recently she did a collage of different images of around India on canvas.
Currently, she is in Sydney, and hopes to come back in December to India. “Even my children are missing India. After being in India for such a long time, it does change you and the Western culture is very different. You have both positive and negatives for every situation. I miss the vibrancy, colours and activity of India. I can just walk out of my front door and there will be something to click. I miss the buffaloes and goats! The beautiful women in sarees casually walking on the streets. The sound of Namaz during the day. These are small things but they remain in your memory and heart.”
For future work, Lona is planning an Indian art show in Australia. “It will be my perspective from an Indian mindset to Australian one. But, you never know, I may create a new Indian-Australian Juxtapose!” says Lona signing off.