Gerwyn Davies

During his undergraduate study, Gerwyn Davies’ practice of costume-making and photography merged into the imaging of surreal characters. His mature practice sees Davies construct a mis en scene which becomes the backdrop for a single elaborate, exaggerated, over-the-top character, such as a human-sized lobster, with Davies’ own tattooed legs and Doc Martens footwear visible below the costume, looking at the Big Prawn (in his series Subtropics). The person in the costume is always Davies himself, and these garments, made from utilitarian products, brightly coloured, are piled on his body like uncomfortable, claustrophobic “clothes”. His body is the platform for the characters with whom he is intrinsically involved. 

The scenarios depicted may be nightmarish, as in A Million Bucks where our character lies on a sun lounge, swathed in a checked tube with head covered in white fur and large bunny ears, while (plastic) sea gulls descend on chips covered in tomato sauce beside the lounge. As images they draw a laugh, particularly when Davies’ legs emerge from the carapace of yet another garish and extravagant costume, but at the same time they present situations we would want to close down – fast. “I am really drawn to the low brow”,
he admits. 

Davies was born in 1985, and recent career highlights include major solo exhibitions ‘Iridescent’ at the Museum of Sydney, and ‘Plush’ at UNSW Galleries, Sydney. In 2018, he held a solo exhibition at Sydney’s Australian Centre for Photography and he was selected for the inaugural Biennale of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

He is a five-time finalist in the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award and has been a regular finalist in The Sunshine Coast Art Prize, the Alice Springs Art Prize, the Bowness Prize and Clayton Utz Prize since 2014. In 2021 he was awarded the Director’s Choice Award in the Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, NSW.

Davies’ has been an academic staff member (Photography) at the University of NSW (formerly COFA) since 2017 and taught at Queensland College of Art (2012-16). His work is held in public collections including the Museum of Brisbane, the Museum of Sydney, Gold Coast City Gallery/HOTA, Redlands Art Gallery, Artbank and the Queensland Centre for Photography.

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