Born in Melbourne of European refugee parentage, Bonney Bombach graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Arts (psychology and philosophy) and Diploma of Social Studies in 1966, spent a decade working as a social worker/student counsellor in Australia and abroad. Travelling to Europe in 1967 where she remained for all but a year from 1967-1973 provided an opportunity to access great art, music and architecture. During this time she moved from observer to participant – a new world unfolded as she explored her creativity in a sculpture class at Camden Institute, London. She returned to Melbourne via a nine-month overland adventure with her then husband, determined to nurture this newfound passion and direction. She subsequently gained a Diploma of Art from P.I.T (now RMIT University), Melbourne in 1977 where her main teachers were DAVID TOLLEY, Dale Hickey, Domenico de Clario, Peter Cole and Peter Booth. She began exhibiting and running life drawing classes for community groups.
In 1978 with her new partner Jon, she moved from Melbourne to a small farm to establish an alternative lifestyle in rural northern New South Wales where she developed her career. During these years, a close relationship evolved with fellow artist MICHAEL BAARTZ, founder of Community Printmakers Murwillumbah and several collaborative projects emerged from this (See COLLABORATIONS).
She and Jon remained on the farm until 1999 until relocating to the Coral Sea in the Whitsunday region of tropical Queensland where she continued exhibiting, now exclusively in public galleries. New opportunities opened to her – Public Art Commissions including major sculptural installations at Airlie Beach Lagoon and Mackay Courthouse Redevelopment and relief wall installations for Burdekin Shire, Queensland. Always enjoying her role as art educator, she conducted workshops and was involved in projects in primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions in Queensland and Melbourne and community groups, and has curated related exhibitions. Her environmental installations were twice selected for Strand Ephemera, Townsville’s public sculpture exhibition and her artist books for the National Libris Awards at Artspace, Mackay and Noosa Books ’04.
From 1978 to 2014, she exhibited paintings, works on paper, sculpture and installations in solo and group exhibitions regionally, nationally and internationally in a mix of commercial and public galleries, won many awards and prizes including an Australia Council grant, and engaged in artist-in-residence programs. She conducted workshops for Flying Arts, Mc Gregor winter schools, TAFE colleges and other art and community groups. Her commitment to multicultural issues resulted in further extensive travels and research with collaborative and exchange projects in the Philippines and Vietnam and the USA.
Bonney’s work is held in both public and private collections nationally and internationally including Queensland Art Gallery, Artbank, Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles and the Australian Embassy in Vietnam and the Australian Jewish Museum. Since a major survey exhibition in 2013, The Personal and the Political: selected work 1990-2012 at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, she has had a change of creative focus. She is now pursuing poetry , travel writing and most recently an ongoing memoir, The Émigré Story. Six of her poems are included in an e-publication of 2020 titled Outer Space, Inner Minds edited by Dr D. Reiter and copies of Part 1& 2 of The Émigré Story are held in several collections including Harvard Library’s Judaica Division, the Australian Jewish Museum and the Geneological Society of Victoria.