We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting

Amanda Davies Self-portrait

oil on linen

43.5 x 33.5 cm

This recent self-portrait is one in a series of new figurative paintings by Amanda Davies addressing the theme of decay and remedy, where the relationship between body, mind and emotion is heightened.

‘In response to a story where an elderly woman mistakenly applied toothpaste to her face instead of moisturiser, I put toothpaste on my face and washed it off numerous times,’ says Davies. ‘Toothpaste is very astringent. It gets in your eyes and it stings. Taking hundreds of self-timer photos, I felt numb, exhausted and relieved afterwards. This self-portrait is drawn from the end of that process and reveals a shifting emotional state between distress and relief.’

‘I set up situations in my studio that engage the tradition of theatricality in painting – performance being part of the process in developing my work. Here the figure lies horizontally – the position for sleeping, dreaming, healing and dying – yet the painting is exhibited vertically, eliciting a sense of disorientation.

‘At the point of decay, the perceived boundaries of the body dissolve and our sense of self can shrink or expand, allowing us to experience the edge of the self as elastic.’

Born in 1968 in Melbourne, Davies lives in Premaydena, Tasmania. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Tasmania. This is her first time in the Archibald Prize.

Listen to label text

Watch Auslan video