Rockingham parishioner Gonzalo Velasquez Skinner is an experienced artist, glazier, installer and fabricator – carrying out a profession where he feels he is working for God.
Across the Archdiocese of Perth, his works can be seen at Spearwood, Kelmscott, Ellenbrook, Cottesloe and Rockingham Parishes, as well as at Mandurah Catholic College.
Raised in a Catholic family in a small peninsula called La Punta located in Lima, Peru, Gonz is the youngest of three sons who all attended a Catholic school.
“On my Mum’s side, my grandfather was English and my grandmother French. On my Dad’s side, my grandfather was Spanish, and my grandmother was Italian,” he said.
Gonz inherited his artistic flair from his mother, who used to paint, create art and crafts, ceramics, and cookery, to name a few.
“From a young age, I liked to draw. I remember drawing abstract patterns on small pieces of paper and gluing them on my wall. One time, my brother Aldo said to me, ‘Stop drawing silly things, that is not going to give you any money when you grow up’. But that didn’t stop me!”
His mother continues to inspire him to carry out his work.
“My Mum led me; she was always doing artistic work with different materials and different techniques since I can remember. I was always curious when I watched her and always tried to help and learn. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was 26. I miss her every single day of my life; however, her art lives on with me.”
Throughout his life, Gonz has always placed high importance on his faith.
“While I was in school, I attended Mass every Friday with the whole class. Mum used to talk to me about Jesus, but I started to pray more when I was 13 and my brother got sick with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder.
“He never fully recovered from the illness, but he is fine and lives happily.
“I used to go to Mass sometimes when I was young, but I started going every Sunday and praying more when I met my beautiful wife, Gianna; she was raised in a Catholic family,” he expressed.
“Over the past few years, I have attended a few programmes in our parish that have helped me to grow more spiritually. Currently, I spend one hour a week in Adoration – I enjoy that quiet hour in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Prior to developing a design, Gonz prays to God and asks the Holy Spirit for inspiration.
“I think if God has given me this gift, then He should be included in all of my projects from the very beginning,” he explained.
“Who better artist than God himself that created the heavens and the earth!
“After I finish an artwork, I pray again to give thanks to the Lord, and I offer my work to Him.”
Gonz believes his career highlight is the opportunity to glorify God with his artwork.
“Other highlights are having met amazing clients with great stories; on most occasions, we end up being good friends after my work is finished.
“I also get the chance to help many people who I meet through my work, which I enjoy. I have also learned many things from very talented people like Gino Martini in Peru and Graciela de Calero in Colombia,” he added.
“I have completed many works for convents and churches, and it gives me a special feeling from before I start until I finish. I feel that I am working for God; He is my client.
“I also very much enjoy working in an empty church because I feel it is God and myself only, it allows me to pray and praise God. While doing my job, I put worship music on to sing along to.”
A typical day for the artist begins with an early start in his workshop with a prayer before playing worship music to aid his efficiency.
“Every day is different because I work with different materials, sometimes I am making stained glass, sandblasting glass, working with acrylic, creating a sculpture, etc.
“I really enjoy my job, I feel fulfilled, that is why time flies for me! I feel tired at the end of the day, but in a satisfied way,” Gonz detailed.
“I also like exercising, playing board games and cards with my family and friends – and I like to cook, always with music.”