Meet Toni

Meet Toni
Author, creative and passionate advocate for mental health initiatives with awareness and recovery through creative processes.

My childhood home was a sugar cane farm in North Bundaberg, Queensland. I love that place. The smell of ripening cane. The burn before harvest. The space and freedom. Motorbikes. Dogs. Dams. Sheds. Machinery. Small crops. (well maybe not the small crops!)

I am fortunate. A simple life paved a pathway for a child with an active imagination.

A long time ago I graduated from the University of Queensland Gatton College. I obtained a Bachelor of Business (Tourism) and have worked in the NFP, environment, health, government and publishing sectors.

I’ve spent the best part of 25 years living in western NSW with my family. We love the west. But, I will always be a Queenslander!

As a child, my imagination was stirred by characters living in far flung places and leading quite different lives to me. Enid Blyton was my favourite author. Who can forget the Folk of the Faraway Tree and The Famous Five? Treasured books that remain in my library and I still read them, every now and then, for nostalgia’s sake.

Trixie Beldon, DC Comics and The Phantom came next. Then Little Women, Pride and Prejudice and a first taste of contemporary fiction in Polo.

These days I have wide and varied tastes. Adventure, history, sport. A sense of humour, great location, bit of mystery and a whole lot of action is important. The genre doesn’t really matter.

Les Norton. And Stephanie Plum. Or Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase. Earl Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

You see, it’s the characters. It’s always the characters. I love meeting them. I’m intrigued by their interactions and how they work around the constraints of their environs. And when their decisions lead to complex, awkward or hilarious situations, it makes for a fantastic adventure and sometimes, not unlike real life.

I believe this love affair with characters goes back to my childhood and the wonderfully talented Enid Blyton.

Do you want to know a secret? I have another passion equal to storytelling.

I’m fascinated when creative output embraces science. In particular, projects that help audiences grasp important social messages. The art science interface is critical. It’s magical.

For example, the BRAINSTORM project with Black Box Creatives in Dubbo in 2018. We explored the relationship between teenage behaviour and scientific research on the teenage brain. The original play was written in the UK by Company Three. It was a privilege to adapt Brainstorm to portray our western NSW youth.

Creating a focus on recovery outcomes in mental health through art is truly rewarding. During 2016 the Pen to Power exhibition utilised mind mapping techniques to plot emotions and find individual solutions to aid in the recovery of mental and physical trauma. We all gained so much through that process. The results were truly magical.

And that’s me. Well, some of me. Can’t tell you everything at once!