Tasmanian artist Amanda Davies completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania, and works as an artist and occupational therapist. Davies’ striking painting Anodyne, 2006 was acquired by the Devonport City Council in 2010, and is a contemporary highlight of the DCC Permanent Collection.
Davies, through her paintings, explores elements of the human experience which cannot easily be communicated verbally. The expression of emotions relating to the transitional stages of life, sickness and death are a primary concern. While medical institutions and illness are familiar to us all, the experience of the mind and body during sickness is less so, and more difficult to comprehend and express. Davies’ work explores the psychology of our relationship to sickness and medical care, adopting the body as the primary site of this discussion.
For Davies, ‘the body stands as a vehicle for the process of ‘transformation’ – blurring the boundary between concealing and revealing, internal and external’. However the absence of the body in works such as Anodyne is an equally potent symbol. Anodyne, its title taken from the painkilling medicine, shows the scene of a hospital emergency department operating theatre. Notably, the hospital bed is empty, instead hosting what Davies refers to as ‘an invisible presence’. This presence offers an ambiguous narrative; a staged-scene to be completed by the viewer’s own thoughts or projections. The empty bed may have been vacated by someone recently deceased, someone recently recovered, or be awaiting its next patient. In this way Anodyne highlights both the universal and transitional aspects of sickness, in an environment where this reflective pause is often not possible.
Anodyne, like many of Davies’ works, has a strong performative quality, heightened by the stylisation of the objects portrayed, and the use of plastic as a material. The striking use of colour evident in this work is also a key component of Davies’ practice. She has explored in depth the ability of colours to express emotions, and at times employs bright, saturated colours such those in Anodyne as a device to ‘draw the viewer out of their own world and into the painting’.
-Erin Wilson, Curator of Collections