SI Autumn Masthead

Women at Work: Bonnie McArthur

Molly McLaughlin

While most of us are able to maintain some semblance of work/life balance, Bonnie McArthur lives and breathes sustainable living and that’s the way she likes it.

Bonnie is currently travelling between sustainable communities in Australia in the bus that is her home as she researches her short film series entitled The Reality: Exploring Sustainable Alternative Lifestyle Options and Free Community Living. She also supports herself through portraiture.

Joy, by Bonnie McArhur

Joy, by Bonnie McArhur

“I attended the ANU School of Art in my hometown of Canberra for three years,” she explains, “before stripping my life of the non-essential and travelling in my bus to Australian sustainable communities to conduct independent research concerning solutions for our current environmental, social and economic crises.”

At age 11, Bonnie decided that she would live as minimally as possible because even as a child she was overwhelmed by the injustices and inequality around the world. She realised that she did not want to spend her time in the pursuit of material wealth, so instead she advocates reusing, recycling and exchange of services to reduce our environmental footprint.

“Although the world is full of problems which makes it easy to feel helpless and throw in the towel against them, I believe that if each person simply starts with their own life and makes the very best choices available to them then true progress will eventuate,” she says.


Her work as a portrait artist reflects theses ideals, as she offers her services to the public at affordable prices. This income pays for food and fuel to get her where she needs to go in order to continue her research.

“I have concrete beliefs that all should be able to afford oil portraits of their loved ones, not only those financially very well off,” she says. “It has been almost four years now and I only recently decided to put my business on standby and focus on the messages I wish to communicate through the vehicle of my art, so now I juggle my art with my minimalism advocacy, sustainability research and music.”

Kristina, by Bonnie McArthur

Kristina, by Bonnie McArthur

Bonnie is hoping to create her own sustainable community one day and remains positive about the prospect of a sustainable future for everyone. She finds joy in making connections with other people through her portraits and the potential for a new way of living through her research.

“Some people have the tendency to rear up in fear-based aggression at new ideas, despite research, if the ideas seems too idealistic,” she says. “But I am unwavering in my dedication to a system that benefits the people and planet where our current system fails and I will continue to band together with those out in the sustainable communities working towards big change.”

Find out more about Bonnie’s work at


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin is new to Canberra and is attempting to prove to her friends that the capital city can be cool. This mostly involves frequently going out for brunch and then posting about it on social media, along with trekking up hills and around art galleries. She is half way through her uni degree but spends most of her time reading, writing and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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