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Tanya Powell forever young



This painting is the backstage version of what happens in the changing rooms during a fashion parade, it is part of a diptych I did on the subject close to my heart. As many of you know I was an international model (former Australian Model of the Year), modelling as Marie Jonsson (maiden name) after emigrating from Sweden with my family well before I started to paint for a living. Modelling is something that came about after I was a finalist in the then Beach Girl Quest held at Glenelg Beach each summer.

painting of models in semi stages of dressing during a fashion parade

Backstage at the Fashion Show


In this acrylic on canvas board painting you will find Tanya with the stopwatch in her hand waiting for the right cue to get her models going through the curtains.  The male and female models are being helped by the Dressers and the running sheets for the models are on the walls.  The models are brushing up on the choreography as well as having a drink of champagne.  Tanya’s trusty assistant Michael is in the foreground with the hats and ties.  These days when political correctness has crept into our society, the models may not get a well deserved glass of champagne nor change all together and smoking is a thing of  the past.


The former beauty queen and model Tanya Powell had just opened her own modelling agency and was looking for fresh faces to add to her new agency and called me up after my photo appeared on page 3 in The News (the newspaper of the day, since closed down).  Of course I felt very flattered and excited and it was just a matter of time until I left my job and started to model full time. The TANYA POWELL MODEL AGENCY very quickly became the most successful modelling agency in South Australia and the only one that also has a branch in Melbourne which is also still going strong to this day, run by Tanya’s equally stunning sister Candy.  Tanya’s highlights includes managing and choreographing the Elders Woolboard fashion parades for 5 years in Perth, Adelaide, Queensland and the Victorian rural wool growing areas.  She has also produced and choreographed over 900 fashion shows throughout her remarkable 38 years in the industry.

There are many wonderful qualities Tanya possesses but the ones I value the most is the fact that no matter who or what she is dealing with she is always very warm and down to earth.  You won’t see any diva behavior from her nor any airs and graces but you will find a genuine person, beautiful both inside and out.


Tanya Powell forever young

Just this week Tanya was interviewed on Channel 7’s program Today Tonight in reference to being in her early 60’s and still a knockout.  As she said she has never had any problems about disclosing her age, after all age is just a number and Tanya believes that good skin care, eating healthily, exercise and being happy is what has kept her looking decades younger than she is. She does have a rather unorthodox exercise regime though which includes walking around her hills property followed by her 2 dogs and her goats!


I also happen to know (insiders knowledge, lol) this fitness regime also includes tending to the prizewinning chooks, mucking out, changing the hay, watering etc, using shovels and a wheelbarrow.  Something I will just have to paint one day as I have never seen Tanya with a hair out of place and my imagination sees her doing this work in her Chanel suits or at the very least wearing last year’s George Gross and Harry Who’s outfit!

behind the scenes of a fashion parade painting by artist marie jonsson harrison

Fashion fun


I probably wouldn’t be that far wrong anyway as one weekend when we still lived on our farm in Balaklava our house quests included Tanya and her husband Jack as well as Candy (Tanya’s sister)with her then partner  Bob “Bongo” Starkie (guitarist & backing vocalist in the 70’s band Skyhooks). The wonderful image that stayed in my mind is of Candy, a natural in the saddle, was riding my horse Rumor in a big circle in our paddock when Bongo went out and stood in the middle serenading her with Skyhooks songs and playing his guitar.  The fact that Candy was at the time wearing a $4000 dollar lime green Armani jacket and Bongo was in one of the most successful ever Australian bands Skyhooks are just mere bagatelles.


So Tanya Powell became my close friend and mentor many moons ago and oversaw the start of my career (as she is doing with my daughter Hillivi now) as well as managing me whenever I arrived home from interstate or overseas.  Tanya with a dance background choreographes and supplies models to all the major department stores, shopping centers, fashion labels, TV channels, for commercials, movies,  magazines and the like both here and in Victoria.

She also organized several overseas tours to Manila for a group of us models to do lunch time parades in some of the top hotels there as well as touring to other parts of the Philippines with the show.  The show was called Jungle Fever and we were courted by the jet set with their learjets, fancy yachts and champagne all under the watchful eye of our “mother hen” Tanya.

Those were the days!

Here is a quote I believe fits rather well here by Marie Stopes;

“You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen.  But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul’s own doing”.

Till next time happy painting and sculpting to you all. Love Marie xxx

Why not come and have a look at Marie Jonsson-Harrison’s PAINTINGS FOR SALEGICLEE PRINTS FOR SALE and SCULPTURES for sale or WALLBASED SCULPTURES.  Enjoy an original artwork on your walls or perhaps one on your bed ARTnBED.

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