Death and Taxes
‘...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’
Benjamin Franklin 1789
Instability and lack of financial security are features in the life of both the single artist and the life of a single parent. Notions of insecurity, growth, chaos and flux are explored through an assemblage practice of biomorphic abstraction and conceptual play in this exhibition by artist Penny Davis. Made over a period of four years (2015 - 2019) (a time during which the artist’s children grew from 4, 6 and 8 to 8, 10 and 12) the sculptures are an assemblage of multiple parts which interact to create physical tensions between materials, textures, colours and biomorphic forms. Utilising a combination of craft and industrial processes the sculptures are structurally interdependent with parts maintaining a contingent relationship to one another as they balance, interweave and create support suggesting the interwoven experience of family life. The sculpture ‘Death’ is considered through the total number of ‘kills’ achieved by her twelve year old son whilst playing first person shooter games visualised through magnetic numbers, whilst ‘Taxes’ records the number of pounds earned by the artist during the four year period by the number of steel crochet stitches that weave through the sculpture.The invisible and unpaid labour of parenting becomes apparent through the derisory quantity of pounds in the amount of tax paid in stark contrast to the hours of ‘useless’ toil in the traditional craft processes of weaving, rag-rugging and crochet. Care is visualised in the presence of toys and childhood play and a whimsical abstract nod towards sculptures associated with maternal care such as Michelangelo's Pieta or Modernist abstractions of mother and child by Hepworth or Moore, but also through the way in which the sculptures are deliberately unplanned evolving over time and through a playful interaction with materials.