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.
Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane
Queensland-born, Sydney-based Davies, 36, sews his own costumes. He wants to transform into sculptures, not create self-portraits, so he never shows his face in any of his photographs. Often, he cannot see out of the costume when he is photographing himself.
“There are times when I can vaguely see through a haze of fabric, but there are other times when the material is really restrictive and I can panic. It gets hot. It’s this PVC stretch, but it doesn’t breathe, so putting it on your face can be quite confronting.”
Steve Dow, The Guardian, December 2021