May 23, 2017 1:34PM

Artist, Model & Actress Tali Lennox Lives In A World Of Pure Imagination

"I love to live in my own little sparkly upside down bubble behind my eyes."

Multi-hyphenate human Tali Lennox turns dreams into reality. Her artworks combine fantastical visions of aquatic paradise with religious symbols and blurred female bodies that conjure up a beautiful kind of unease. The daughter of singer Annie Lennox and director Uri Fruchtmann also acts, models and is a pro at the internet (see: her very ~aesthetic~ Isntagram). We caught up with the young star in LA recently to talk about her creative upbringing, taking time off the internet, and following your bliss. 

Lucy Jones: Who are you and what do you "do"?
Tali Lennox: I am… my 'self' or at least I try to be. I also like the idea that I'm somewhat morphing into an altered entity each week. What I do is paint a lot, and act a little bit, and model here and there. 

Where did you grow up and where are you living now?
I grew up in London and Ibiza but have lived in NYC for the last five years. 

What were you like in high school?
I was a daydreamer, I doodled all over the school books, I never felt I fully "fit in", I was the tallest girl, I was named 'opinionated' in my year book, I was bad at math and science, I was good at art and drama, I was a dropout. 

 

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In what ways have you changed since then? 
I guess I have better understanding of myself. I think when you're younger and you're in a set class with a certain amount of others your own age, when you feel different to other people you can't make sense of it, you feel theres something 'wrong' with you. When I left school at 17 I started to understand myself better and appreciate the parts of me that I felt I couldn't express or relate to with my peers. I think it's great to see life as an exploration, to keep growing and changing enviroments, befriending new people, saying yes to new experiences. When I was out of school I felt I had that liberation. There are choices everywhere for you to follow, so if you are lead by your heart and eyes, bit by bit the people around you and the way you live begin to just feel more 'right'. 

What do your parents think of your art?
They're very encouraging — I'm very lucky that I can have a great dialogue with them about my art as they themselves are both creative. I enjoy asking their opinions on my work, my dad's honesty challenges me in a healthy way, and my mum has a wonderful way of understanding and articulating the meaning of my work.

Did they always encourage you to be creative growing up?
Absolutely, they're both creative, so it makes sense. They've always told me what's most important is to know what I'm passionate about, and work very hard at that. My parents have work ethic, I wouldn't say they were ever too strict but they have always told me the importance of focus and self-motivation. 

 

Good morning from my Moon Dust Babylon (no Donald's allowed)

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What was your first modelling gig?
I think my first big job was the Topshop campaign, alongside Ashley Smith, who funnily enough has remained one of my closest friends I've met through modelling. 

If you could change one thing about that industry, what would it be? 
I think it would be so good if there was more heart and understanding toward young girls who get into modelling without guidance of how to self manage. I very much believe that young models should always keep in mind what they would like to do aside from modeling. It isn't a career that you can necessarily better yourself at, much is based on luck, so I really think young models should be encouraged to keep thier passions alive, for a sense of identity and future stability. 

What themes and ideas do you find yourself returning to in your work? 
Recently my work has definitely had a strong feminine energy, being in my twenties I'm finding myself as a woman and trying to be very present with my emotions — which can be erratic to say the least! I've spent a lot of time alone in the past couple of years, despite living in a bigger city. I'm really closest to myself, so I feel that painting women, and self-portraits gives me a sense of belonging and really moves me along in my process of understanding self-love and inner healing. 

In other series I also reference a lot of old photographs — I've been collecting pictures from the 1800s onwards for a while, the mystery of a time gone fascinates me. They are ghosts, and personally for me this has been a matter of trying to grasp the profound mystery of death, and the windows of time. And with my portraiture it can be a way for me to understand communication, I often feel I soak up the energy of others, and have always loved to look more closely into individuals. I'm that girl at the party sitting with someone in the corner asking them to tell me their life story. At the same time, I'm a bit of a loner by nature and am actually quite shy. So to paint someone's portrait is a really beautiful way for me to deeply dive into their essence, without them psychically being there.   

 

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Your style is quite traditional, do you find painting to be therapeutic in the age of the infinite scroll? 
Definitely, its extremely meditative and grounding. If I don't paint for a week I start to feel my mind going totally fruit-looped. It also takes me away from being too sucked into the intangible world of social media and the internet. The tools with painting have been the same for centuries, the process is so pure and present. 

Do you see your work intersecting with the internet in any way? 
If anything, painting makes me slow down; with the internet you are constantly going from page to page, picture to picture, with a painting you are fully immersing yourself in one single image. At times this can make me feel insecure, spending two weeks on one image can led you to questioning its worth, but it deeply grounds me. Living in an age of a whirl of images, posts, tweets, videos, texts, it's so important to take a moment to soak in beauty or visuals completely, or else we don't end up truly valuing the meaning of art, and it's healing properties; it becomes instant and disposable.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
I think the mythologist Joseph Campbell spoke a lot of truth when he wrote, simply "follow your bliss".

 

Aquatic Convent

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What else are you working on right now?
I'm working on a short film I'm acting in and making with my good friend Dean Dempsey who also made an independent feature I acted in called Deadman's Barstool that will be released later this year. With acting, if I can, I would really love to do projects like this where I work with a fellow creative that I really see eye-to-eye with. There is so much more satisfaction in that process, whether is gets attention or not, it's the journey of creative collaboration that fulfills me. I'm also currently working on a portrait series I'm excited about, leading up to a solo show in fall. 

Fantasy or reality?
Fantasy! Absolutely. I love to live in my own little sparkly upside down bubble behind my eyes; I used to call that 'escapism' but recently I changed that wording to 'imagination'. I live alone and work from home and there is a lot of solitude with painting, so daydreaming and using my imagination to take adventures in my mind is what keeps me swimming. 

What's your idea of utopia?
Perhaps the mermaid scene in Fantasia, or falling into a Roger Dean painting.

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
A particle of glitter.

Photography: Darren Ankenman

Lucy Jones