Born 1979 in Inverness, UK
Lives and works in Liverpool, UK
Born in Inverness in 1979, Liverpool based artist Penny Davenport earned her BFA at Liverpool John Moores University in 2002. Davenport's depictions of anthropomorphic animal characters and daydreamed landscapes explore the psychological nuances of bodily experience and complexities of inter-personal relationships. The figures that appear in Davenport’s compositions are decidedly non-human, yet perform human traits: they stand on two feet, they often cluster together holding hands, and they gaze out at the viewer with eyes that suggest feelings of empathy and understanding. They sport furry snouts, feathers and other characteristics that mark these silent gentle beings out as recognizably different to human animals. However, they also encourage a projection of conscious agency and an uncanny recognition of selfhood in their display of gestures and facial expressions, indicative of an inner life just like our own. Deliberately emphasizing the ambiguity of non-verbal communication, Davenport’s images are filled with displays of enigmatic body language that often conjure dissonant but co-existent emotional cues. Whilst there is an interest in a certain kind of friendly intimacy or cartoon immediacy that underpins much of Davenport’s visual vocabulary, the work is also guided by another set of impulses that speak towards a more tragic position of experience and maturity. In many of Davenport’s images, the artist infuses a potent sense of repression, restraint, discomfort or loneliness into her work, in a way that subverts the impression of 'cuteness' that is often readable at first glance. Appearing like half-remembered images from childhood, or individual frames from an incomplete narrative, Penny Davenport’s works speak to the secret lives of human minds, in all their turmoil, elation and distinctive vulnerability.