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Fashion / Costume Designer , Illustrator , Painter
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The Naked Truth - Kee Mag July #46

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So the good people of Kee Magazine ran an article on my Doris series I did for the Dead Art Comes Alive exhibition at UFO Gallery a wee while back.

Kudos to Andre for making me sound profound and much more cool than I ever actually could be - Many Thanks to Ann at The Antithesis.


Here’s the feature:

Words & Portrait: Andre Cooper.



Full Article Below:

If Kate Moss and David Lynch had a love child, she might grow up to

closely resemble the ‘ Doris’ character in Tanya Bennett’s latest series of paintings exhibited at the UFO Gallery last month. Each image is labelled with its own ‘Doris’ moniker - ‘Rainy Day Doris’, ‘Melancholy Doris’, ‘Winged Doris’... Bennett, their quirky creator even has a Doris name of her own - ‘Pirate Doris’ - which in a way bonds the artist tightly with her art, like a mother to her slightly disturbed and severely malnourished offspring.


However, in all seriousness, as an interview with the artist unravels on literally a dark and stormy night, a little freakish for the pre-monsoon season, it turns out that Bennett is in reality, a ray of sunshine.


“When I was presenting the paintings, my dad asked if I was OK. He said my work was normally so happy, but now it seemed all depressed and weird,” says Bennett with a guffaw. The young Hong Kong-based artist with a wicked sense of humour and endearingly self-deprecating, is well aware of the impact that her images have on others. “All my figures are really exaggerated, very skinny and have strange proportions,” she confirms. “I think maybe it’s a conscious image that the fashion industry has constantly surrounded me with my entire life – and that’s just what comes out.” Without being preachy, the artist’s work creates a point of conversation in the fashion world’s own visual vernacular about itself and where it’s headed.


Her aloof, painfully waif-like characters appear to be inspired by today’s models or at least our perception of them. In fact, her images are the kind you’d perhaps expect to see on the wall of Grace Coddington’s home, or someone connected with the field. The ambiguous nature of her art is also part of the attraction. it’s not about next season’s collection, although it could be. And it’s not too shocking but at the same time, a little perverse in a way. The work is a Trojan horse of sorts, as Bennett’s images are pretty and stylish enough to be lapped up by the fashion community. “I think that’s what fashion is all about – projecting an image and trying to be the best that you can be aesthetically,” says the artist. That said, the ‘ Doris’ series offers a post-Modern take on the fashion scene as a whole.


While Bennett’s svelte figures are a reminder of the heavy image burden that befalls all women, she also appears to be embracing the female form regardless of body type – contorted limbs, elongated breasts, and all. “I just think women are awesome! They have this wonderful power to be very feminine when they want to be,” she enthuses. “So I try to make them strong, aware of their femininity but also as you can see, quite vulnerable at the same time.” Undeniably, the Doris characters share an outward vulnerability and an inner confidence despite their emotional and physical anorexia, and parallels to this,

albeit somewhat inverted, can easily be drawn with today’s models.


Bennett studied Fashion Illustration at the Scottish School of Textiles, where she kept trying to add art elements to her illustrations which she says somewhat baffled her teachers. Clearly, the calling to fuse the two worlds was too strong for her to ignore, so she ventured to Asia in pursuit of a career as an artist. “I always wanted to come to China, but because of my keen interest in fashion, I went and studied that first,” she states. “Coming here opened my eyes to just how many different cultures are around us, and I tried to develop the Doris series a little more.” Thus, the girls have taken on Asian and African identities, amongst others.


Ironically and rather interestingly, the trained fashion illustrator paints her subjects almost au naturel, save for their running mascara. “I keep saying to myself, this is fashion illustration, but none of them wear any clothes! And if they do, then it’s just a bottom and they’re topless or wearing a lace camisole. Something, but it’s still seethrough,” she acknowledges with a bright smile. Intentionally or not, Bennett uses the paradigms of fashion illustration as a tool to express a mood or feeling, and the way she sees the world in which fashion is a big influence. “I was having a really bad day,” she recalls. “It was raining and the first thing that went on to the canvas was this really blue, dark,  depressed, lace glove, with tears streaming down,” says Bennett in reference

to ‘Rainy Day Doris,’ the first prototype of her series. Doris according to Bennett, is a euphemism for women in general, a term that she confesses to borrowing from her rocker boyfriend, Craig Leeson of the local band Uranus.


Bennett’s next project will see her attempting to convey the expat psyche and

experience in Hong Kong. An artist to keep an eye on, this talented young woman is part of a new generation of young, up-and-coming, locally based artists that are reviving the scene, and slowly but surely releasing the SAR from the shackles of being culturally moribund.






www.alivenotdead.com/emiliesidea (Emilie Doris is an illustration of Emily Wallbanks work)

over 13 years ago 0 likes  3 comments  0 shares
Photo 63849
nice job! :)
over 13 years ago


Illustrator, cat obsessive unicorn believer and future castle owner.

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November 21, 2008