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Interview with the Artist, Tanya Modlinne

Creative Bharat interviewed Tanya Modlinne, an artist living in Israel. She caught our eye when we saw her work online and we were curious to know more about her work.

MN: I can tell that you don’t have an Israeli accent. Where are you originally from?

TM: I was born in Cape Town, South Africa. I grew up there and came to Israel after studying at university. I’ve actually lived in Israel most of my life and, yes, I speak Hebrew fluently.

MN: So you have family in South Africa and in Israel?

TM: Yes, most of my family live in Cape Town. In Israel, my husband and I have three sons and we often meet up with my husband’s family.

MN: What is your background in art?

TM: I’ve always been interested in art and have had various projects over the years, making handmade cards, making beaded jewellery, mixed media painting and drawing cartoons. I have also done courses in photography and created useful household items out of my photographs like pot rests and placemats. I actually took some of these photographs in India. My latest venture is the wonderful world of decoupage.

MN: How would you describe your artwork?

TM: I decorate various useful items such as jewellery boxes, bins, trays, bowels and plates by a technique called decoupage. This means the item is either wholly or partially covered in material by using a special glue that is also a sealant. I often paint part of the item – for instance, a jewellery box – so that there is a pleasant contrast between the parts that are decorated with fabric and the painted areas. Sometimes I add faux pearls, crystals or trimmings.

02_jewellery box (1)

MN: How do you choose the fabric that you use?

TM: Sometimes I choose the fabric myself according to what I like. If someone likes the design of a jewellery box I’ve posted, then they may ask me to make them one just like that. There are also cases when the customer wishes to choose the fabric they like from my stock of fabric. Sometimes it is good enough for me to ask their preferred colour scheme and then I am able to suggest designs of fabric in those colours. 

MN: What motivated you to make your pieces of art using decoupage?

TM: The driving force in making the items that I have made is that they be not only aesthetically pleasing but also useful. I like the idea of using something that is handmade and has the human touch as opposed to production-line, factory-made products. I suppose it shows my sentimental side. 

Preservation of the environment is another motivating force. The idea is to make something useful out of something that would otherwise be thrown away. For instance, I make stationery holders out of tins, fridge magnets out of lids of jars and bins out of large 5-litre tins.

MN: I see you work on a wide range of household items, but you also have gifts for children. What made you make items for children?

TM: I have a bit of a soft spot for fabric that is made for children’s clothes or children’s rooms. I love the colours and the naive prints most of which have different sorts of animals. My youngest son is a Leo and I found this amazing orange fabric with cartoon-like lions on it so I made him a fancy dustbin for his room. Then, a friend of mine had a baby and I made a bin with brightly coloured elephants on it for storing all the baby things that you need handy. After that, another friend wanted me to make a toybox for her small son. That was quite a big project. It is such fun working on things for children.

MN: Have you a dream decoupage project that you would like to work on?

TM: I plan on replacing the mirror in our bathroom so I have this idea of having the new mirror framed. I will have a frame made in unvarnished wood and then I will decoupage it and have the frame attached to the mirror. You see, the benefit of decoupage is that you can choose exactly which design you want without having to compromise.

Follow: Tanya Modlinne

Follow on Instagram: @Tanyammod

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