Born in Portsmouth, UK, Penny Davis is an artist, mother and teacher making sculptures, drawings and prints exploring her maternal identity through abstraction. Graduating from Chelsea College of Art (UAL) in 1999, and the Slade School of Art (UCL) in 2001, Davis was also a resident at Skowhegan (USA) in 2004 and The Edward Albee Foundation (USA) in 2005. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally and her work is held in public and private collections. Davis has a studio at Backlit Nottingham and lives in Nottinghamshire, UK.
In recent years my approach to making art has become enmeshed with and inspired by my maternal experience. With three children at my side, my work displays a consciousness being split between the identity of the self and the intense and intimate experience of being with those children, of watching them, listening to them, learning from them and loving them. Whilst the practice is informed by modern sculptural processes as they have been historicised through Anti-Form, post-minimalism and eccentric abstraction, I am seeking to redefine these practices within the specificity of my own maternal subjectivity. These experiments with form become re-organised through a maternal lens with the processes becoming attached to my experience of my children’s interaction with the world. Inspired by Richard Serra’s ‘Verb List’ 1966-7, this list of actions as they are applied to my own sculptural process also reveal the observations of my own children as they engage with the physical world. Using a wide range of low-grade, light and flexible materials combined with traditional sculptural materials I hope to create moments of physicality, fragility and tension as it occurs in my own daily maternal experience. The drawings and paintings are made directly in response to recordings of my children (audio and visual), are inspired by moments of love and care in looking after them or engage directly with drawings made by the children themselves, re-working, re-absorbing and re-valuing the time spent with them.