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 career highlights include a feature, “Gerwyn Davies’ Beast” in the British Journal of Photography (September 2013), being a regular finalist in photographic awards, and showing at Photo LA (USA) in 2011 and 2012. 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. Davies recently undertook the Australia Council Kyoto Art Centre Exchange residency in Japan and was an exhibitor in the Singapore International Photography Festival. He 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). Davies’ work is held in private and public collections, including Artbank, Gallery at HOTA Collection and Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.Download CV - pdf