Isla Davie

Art & Philosophy BA (Hons)

Contemplating being a human, involuntary states, memories, reflection and perception, through pencil and paper.


Sleeping. Dreaming. Crying. Swimming. Thinking. Feeling. Being.

My work investigates life as a human. I believe involuntary states allow us to access a purer state of being, closer to ourselves. From watery womb to watery world, I consider being in water to be viscerally imbedded in our humanness. To swim is to be held in that which our bodies are made in and made of. This is perhaps the closest we can get to returning to the womb (the home?). I believe water is a gateway to pure being and the thread that sews all states of being together.

My work primarily takes the form of pencil on paper. I find this to be a language and process of purity and simplicity. I am mindful to only incorporate what I feel is necessary in an artwork to invoke particular thoughts or feelings within myself and the viewer. My practice explores common experiences of involuntary fundamental human states, and my own memories, associations, reflections, and perceptions of being a human. I intend to attain a feeling of absence of temporality that is often present in certain involuntary states. For example, we do not perceive time in the midst of deep sleep. I aim to remain as close as possible to a sense of everything and nothing. This, I believe, is our fundamental state, and what involuntary states of being allow us to gain access to.

Waiting for Sleep

	A landscape white sheet of paper lays flat. Smaller sheets of layered vellum lie above it suspended softly by a sewing pin in each corner. Two pencil drawn eyes lie in the centre of the vellum sheets whereby the pupils of the eyes appear to be shifting from side to side.
Three pencil drawn eyes spaced evenly across landscape white slightly textured paper within a thin rectangular border. The first eye is closed, the second is mostly open with a blue tear leaving the corner of the eye, the third is closed with the blue tear trailing below. A handwritten textual element below the eyes reads, “do you ever wake up in the night and realise you’re crying”.
A white, lightly textured, portrait piece of paper with a thin rectangular pencil drawn border also appearing as the edges of a bed from above. Two line-drawn pillows are scattered at the top of the bed. Five delicately drawn line figures with water-drop-like hands and feet appear to be sleeping in various positions on the bed and overlapping.
A landscape sheet of lightly textured white paper with a pale blue coloured pencil drawing of a rounded shape. The left side of the rounded shape shows a simple line-drawn side profile of a face. Towards the right, the shape opens and disperses into blobs and drops of water.
A portrait sheet of lightly textured white paper contains a coloured pencil drawing of seven slightly animated-looking vibrant blue drops of water falling from above on a pale oatmeal coloured background. The drops morph into nude human bodies, maintaining the shape and colour of the water droplets. Below the droplets and figures is a vibrant, gloopy, moving body of water.

Primordial Soup

Coloured pencil drawing on a landscape sheet of lightly textured white paper. In the centre there is a white bowl containing vibrant blue water in the form of waves with a small drop of water above. There is a spoon to the right of the bowl and a bitten piece of toast to the left.
Coloured pencil drawing on white slightly textured landscape paper. A line drawing of a hand reaches into the centre of the page, palm facing up, with coloured pale pink fingertips. The fingers are curling upwards, and a puddle of pale blue water lies in the palm of the hand.
Pencil drawing on two sheets of layered vellum. The underneath drawing shows a line drawing of a slumped pillow. A line drawn hand with pale pink fingertips is pinching the two top corners of the pillow. The top layer shows the same hands slightly higher, and the pillow now straightened and standing up.

Internalisation and Externalisation of the Self

Pencil drawing on an off-white landscape sheet of paper. Line drawing of a figure from side view, sitting in a chair and drawing at a table. The eyes and hair are semi-realistic in comparison to the line-drawn body, chair and table. There is a circular shape to the right indicating that the figure is drawing the same drawing that is on the paper.

My work is available to buy within the degree show. Alternatively, you can contact me via email or Instagram to enquire about buying artworks or commissions.