Heather Lopdell, a top 30 finalist in the New Zealand IHC Art Awards, is anything but boring.

Joking about Andy Williams, the late American singer Lopdell long had a crush on, she and IDEA Services team leader Phil Sudlow tell of singing along with him in the car on the way to art class.

Lopdell says every Thursday she attends Art Studio Kāpiti, a group for local artists who are differently abled.

"I love it," she said.


"I have to make sure we're up there on time otherwise I'm in trouble," Sudlow adds.

With five members making the Top 50, Lopdell is the only artist to make the Top 30, meaning her painting will be auctioned off at the awards ceremony tomorrow night.

"I think her art is just amazing. It shows her true soul," Art Studio Kapiti co-ordinator Rebecca Bond said.

Deep by Heather Lopdell.
Deep by Heather Lopdell.

"I'm personally really proud of this as she has overcome a lot in order to paint, express herself, and be seen as an artist rather than someone in a wheelchair."

Producing a stunning abstract painting called Deep with a mix of blues and a gold streak down the middle, Lopdell is particular about the colours she uses.

"I think Heather's art is her expressing her inner beauty in many ways," Sudlow said.

"She is a warm, loving, kind person who is very spirited and family orientated.

"She knows life is about having fun, being accepted.


"I think art is something that allows anyone to express themselves and I think that what's important about the community art group and how they are working with people in our community, and giving to people like Heather."

Heather Lopdell and IDEA Services team leader Phil Sudlow having a laugh. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Heather Lopdell and IDEA Services team leader Phil Sudlow having a laugh. Photo / Rosalie Willis

Living in a supported flat with four other flatmates and two carers, it is places like Art Studio Kāpiti where Lopdell is able to express herself and share with other people.

She has attended Art Studio Kapiti for nearly three years.

"She's just flowered as an artist working with Rebecca," Sudlow said.

"She has such a great sense of humour which we see every week," Bond said.

"It's amazing she has made it through to the finals, with all the money raised from going back to the artists."

"The awards are always 'very well to do,' with a lot of corporates attending.

"It will be nice for Heather to earn a bit of money for herself."