Penny Davis


Penny Davis


Penny Davis


United Kingdom

Artist Statement

I am an artist working primarily in sculpture but also, drawing and video performance. I am interested in exploring the connections between maternal subjectivity and sculptural form and process. Building upon the legacy of artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Phyllida Barlow but also inspired by Richard Serra’s ‘Verb List’, I make sculptural assemblages using materials for their specific values as they can be applied to my experience of motherhood. Most recently this practice has extended to video and performance and I have begun to use my own children as assistants in the work I produce.

Aesthetically and politically, I am engaged with a history of abstract sculpture which carries the weight of a very masculine modernism, minimalism and post-minimalism. Yet, I am particularly interested in how Kristeva’s psychoanalytic theories of maternal experience intersect with existing assumptions of abstraction in contemporary sculpture, of how sculpture might reveal the physical and emotional tensions of maternal ambivalence. I am interested in how abstraction can articulate maternal embodiment and the phenomenological experience of motherhood and how the interactions between form and material might reveal this.

The sculpture has become concerned with this relationship between mother and child as temporary and contingent. The materials are both fragile and of low value: willow, packaging, polystyrene, building materials. There is a combination of natural and synthetic, using materials and processes to explore tensions associated with fine art and craft. The integrity of support is always in question in the sculptures dependency upon the environment. The viewer is never quite sure of which part supports what, and if you took a part away, there is the feeling that the entire structure would fall apart. An illusionistic treatment of material generates a mystery around its original identity – natural apes synthetic and vice versa. Within the construction, qualities of weight and strength are confused by their placement in relation to other sculptural parts or to the architecture. Surfaces are intensely worked to create a contradiction in scale: the viewer must physically engage with the sculpture whilst also pausing to observe intimate surface detail.



penelopeanndavis, “Penny Davis,” Artist Parent Index , accessed July 13, 2024,

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