Biography

Penny Evans

I am visual artist based in the Northern Rivers, NSW.

My practice is a process driven enquiry informed by time spent in landscape and part of a broader decolonizing process that I’ve been experiencing over my lifetime and spurred on by my continuous art practice.

I produce ceramics and collaged, mixed media work on paper. Each piece created is unique and an evolution in my artistic practice.

Design work on my ceramics reference my Gamilaraay/Gomeroi cultural heritage in combination with my unique and evolving graphic style. The technique of sgraffito is a strong feature of the ware and links to Gamilaraay/Gomeroi men’s traditions of carving into trees, weapons, utensils, emu eggs as well as ground carving for ceremonial purposes, communications and storytelling. My 2D mixed media works examine more recent histories as opposed to narratives connecting culture to country. My investigations in one area inform my work in the other. My concepts relate and refer to my identity through a decolonising process; learning about my Aboriginal heritage and processes of colonisation/decolonisation provide me with a rich base of material to work with.

My ancestors traditional Gamilaraay (Northern Gomeroi) homelands are to the north west of Bundjalung country in and around Garah, Mungindi and Narrabri. Professor Judy Atkinson introduces herself as coming from the 3 I’s – Indigenous, Invader, Immigrant. This also describes my heritage as an Australian. I am of Gamilaraay/Gomeroi, Anglo-Celtic & German heritage. For me as an artist in the ‘Premier State’ of NSW, (the first lands colonised), my primary concerns are with the history & aftermath of colonisation. The effects trans and intergenerationally for myself, my family, the broader community and also our physical environment, of colonisation. First contact and the frontier are of particular interest to me. I have a frontier story in my family…of black and white. Aboriginal woman and freed convict man. I look back and imagine our history fleshed out with anecdotal and historical stories. For me our history is not the distant past. I am the culmination of it and embody it. I grew up in an education system in the late 1960’s and 70’s born out of denialism cloaked in a binary structure in which racism thrived and still does.

My individual identity & identities as a broader issue for all people living here, and particularly those of us connected here prior to and from the time of first contact, are of great interest to me. My work is an homage to my grandfather, great grandmother and their individual life struggles as Aborigines in a climate of virulent racism in Australia. My art practice is healing and my work is often a mapping of my personal psychological and spiritual development.

I am a single parent with two young boys.