born 1979, Sydney, NSW
lives in Fremantle, WA

The story of how Gillian Bencke came to be producing her quirky creatures begins at home in the scrub of Dudley, NSW, and leads to tales of plays and hikes and music and singing, as well as ones with chooks and sickles and bee stings. A degree in communications studies led to photography, self-publishing, exhibitions, installations and collaborations. Studies in digital media were followed by travel: a broken LOMO camera and the collecting of memories instead.

Somehow on the streets of Paris, while living on Rue St Denis - the sweatshop district, the idea of creating 'dolls' from rescued fabric came to be. The first pieces were based on fairy tale characters – the theme reflecting a literal transformation from ‘rags to riches’, then took inspiration from the quirky individuals who frequented certain Parisian quarters. On her return to Australia in 2005, Bencke began to make pieces from fabrics collected in her family, giving them another set of personalities which reflect life in Australia. Nowadays the source for her fabric is still often her mother’s and grandmother’s material cupboards. Bencke works from the principle of rescuing and redistributing; taking meaning from the old and giving to the new.

Bencke completed most of her studies in Newcastle, NSW, obtaining a Certificate VI in Business from Hunter Business Centre in 2005; a Certificate VI Digital Arts and the Media from Hunter Street TAFE in 2003; and BA (Communication Studies) from The University of Newcastle in 2001. She also completed Photography BA (Hons) at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, in 2000.