Friday, 13 May 2011

Interview with Penny Davenport (Part 1)

I first encountered the work of Penny Davenport at (surprise) the blog now known as 50 Watts, A Journey Round My Skull. She was born in 1979 in Inverness, studied Fine Art at Liverpool John Moores University, and continues to reside in the city. You can see many more of her drawings on her blog. Penny very kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.

[This is just the first part of the interview, which I'm posting as it's my final deadline today; the rest will follow at a later date.]

When you first put pen to paper, do you have a clear image in mind that you’re trying to capture, or do you surprise yourself during the process of drawing?

Sometimes I have an image in mind, but normally I depend on the surprise or the mistake to further the process. I never sketch or plan a drawing, I like using ink because its permanence forces you to work through decisions that you sometimes regret, it also creates opportunities that otherwise would not be possible if the idea had already been fully realized.

You've said that your drawings are of characters from stories you've written. Do you intend that they should be seen alongside these texts?

Yes perhaps, but sometimes I don’t want the distraction. The text would be minimal; I prefer succinct descriptions to overly verbose self-congratulating tales. But that’s just my taste.

According to your biography you were originally an abstract painter. Did you do much drawing during this time? How has your work evolved since then?

I didn’t do too much drawing during that time. I was working with different ideals and disciplines. In fact at that point a decision to focus on drawing would have been considered a step backwards. After my degree I didn’t pursue fine art as career. I felt ill at ease with certain labels and terms being thrown around. I certainly did not consider myself to be an artist even though I had just completed a Fine Art degree. Years later I picked up a pen and started to draw partly because I desperately needed to focus on something and also because I’d been inspired.

Also in your bio there’s mention of collaborations with writers, artists and musicians, and a “loose collective” based in Liverpool. Can you tell us something about these?

I’m very lucky to be surrounded by some very modest, talented people. I’ve produced a book cover for a writer who lives locally. I’ve done some album artwork for musicians and bands. I think it’s important to have support from people working in similar areas. Everybody has different skills and approaches, which is great. Collaboration is not a priority for me; although it can be very rewarding.

You’ve mentioned Ted Hughes as an influence. How would you say you’ve been inspired by his writing?

A friend of mine bought me ‘Crow’ a few years ago and it really affected me, I find it hard to describe how it inspired me, but afterwards I felt hungry to draw, to reveal something more than I could ever say with words. I like the idea of nature being observed, thrown up and remoulded.