Born in Portsmouth, UK, Penny Davis is an artist, mother and researcher currently working in drawing and autoethnography to explore maternal embodiment. 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. Most recently her drawings and writings were published in Issue 1 of Maternal Art Magazine (2020), she has presented at the ‘Let’s Get Dirty’ conference at Loughborough University (2020) and will be presenting at ‘The Missing Mother Conference’ at Bolton University in April 2021. Davis was awarded the John Phillips and Dennis Holt Travel Prizes to visit the Mary Kelly archive at the Getty Centre in LA (August 2021).
Research Question/ Topic: ‘The maternal body as a palimpsest: drawing and autoethnography as a process of making meaning in embodying maternal desire and ambivalence.’
Penny Davis is exploring autoethnography as an approach to drawing maternal embodiment as a single parent to three children. Her practice incorporates time based practices of embodied and other drawing processes through recorded video to reveal a maternal palimpsest of maternal touch and speech, care and emotional labour, tacit and situated knowledge. Her drawing processes draw from embodied drawing processes in response to recorded physical actions of care such as hugging or folding laundry, along with drawing text developed from autoethnographic data as it flows digitally and materially through the home. This autoethnographic material incorporates diaries, digital and printed messages, family administration, government and other official correspondence, children’s drawings, handwritten notes and ephemera which are all drawn in stop frame or recorded in real time as they are drawn. Hand drawn images emerge as metaphors often drawn from nature and connecting to dreams and fantasies of her own maternal embodied experience. These multiple drawing processes intra-act with one another and are drawn together into thematic temporal structures that form a palimpsest as it centres upon a particular moment of maternal embodied experience.
- Drawings and Writings by Penny Davis in Maternal Art Magazine Issue 1 (2020)