Art Talk | Gerwyn Davies
Today we kickstart the first of a new post, Art Talk, where I will be interviewing emerging and established artists and spotlighting their creativity. I'm so excited to share some incredible local talent with you - starting with Sydney-based artist Gerwyn Davies. I was recently introduced to Gerwyn and instantly in awe of his work. Gerwyn focuses on the idea of reinvention, playing with the concept of transforming the self and stepping out of his shell so he becomes unrecognisable - a modern day metamorphosis into something whimsically wonderful.
Hi Gerwyn, have you always worked in the creative field? I have been working more on the education side of the creative field for quite a while, which I love. I’ve been teaching at art school for the last few years as well as well as running costume and photography workshops with all kinds of participants - from inner city mature age camera club nerds to children in the desert who want to dress up like their pet dogs.
When was your love for art and photography first sparked? I don’t think I could really answer that definitively. I started studying photography at the Queensland College of Art in 2009 but before that, I was drawn to throw myself more into it from ad hoc Friday nights my house mates and I would have in our early 20's. We'd dress up and perform for the camera while we devoured white wine rather than going out! It was a playful and experimental process which it still is today, but now it’s done without the white wine.
What's the creative process around each photograph? There isn’t really a strict formula but I guess the material governs a large part of what the outcome is. I trawl through dollar stores seeking out objects that might make interesting raw material to redevelop into something wearable. The costume kind of leads the process from here on. Some material is pliable and lends itself to be reconstituted almost carving out the new bodily form for itself. Other materials are hideous and painful and end up in the bin as I cry in the corner. Sometimes I seek out spaces in response to the costume form, closing the narrative in on itself, making almost a digital habitat for the character I have turned myself into. Other times the space is the first step in the entire process. Digital construction has become a much bigger part of my work throughout the years as it has allowed me to save both a lot of money and time.
Artistically, who do you admire the most? Björk. Without question. She is a genius.
Where do you go for inspiration? Is there ever any shortage? Absolutely. It is fairly cyclical.
I start playing around with new ideas and I get instantly restless and must start again immediately - it’s a bit tempestuous, like a child.
What do you love most about what you do? There is kind of a revealing process that occurs as I work, which is in opposition to me slowly concealing myself - I enjoy the process of transformation.
Favourite location you have shot? I was living in Byron for a while and shooting a lot of work around Ballina. It's become my favourite place in Australia, it is really naturally beautiful but totally unsophisticated. It has all the graceless charm of Porpoise Spit - I’m totally in love with Ballina.
The colour in your imagery is very vibrant and bold - why is colour an important element in your work? I work with pre-fabricated materials that are often mass-produced such as cheap plastic, so there tends to be a predominance of colour. When I gather them together I guess it amplifies that further.
As an artist, what’s your favourite medium to work with? I wouldn’t say I have a favourite - I try to consistently seek out diverse and new materials. I have made a lot of images over the last few years in particular and for all those images that have been successful, there's countless more costumes that have failed me and haven’t been shot. I know my least favourite so far has been steel wool, that I know for sure.
We never see your face in any of the photographs - what's behind this decision? Obviously the face, the eyes in particular, establish the quickest and culturally most familiar connection to the viewer through a photograph. I think depriving the camera of that allows me to concentrate instead on the overall form as the carrier of meaning rather than a face peering out to make a connection. While each of these images necessitate my body as a kind of launch pad...
As an artist, what’s one theme you always return to? Myself. Endlessly.
What are you loving at the moment? Dollar stores are an eternal favourite, American gothic fiction, Essendon Football Club, going to bed obscenely early and admiring other people’s dogs and imagining they’re mine.
What’s in store for you in 2017? I have quite a few shows approaching that I'm feverishly working towards as well as chipping away at my PhD at UNSW Art and Design. But a really hot summer road trip trawling small Australian towns for new inspiration and restoring my tan is important business ahead too.