With a career spanning three decades, Davis was one of Australia’s pre-eminent artists, a sculptor who regularly exhibited in Australia and overseas, particularly Japan and the United States. Davis represented Australia at the 38th Biennale of Venice and the Indian Triennale in 1978, and the Osaka Triennale in 1992. His ongoing concern for landscape resulted in numerous site-specific installation works in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Britain, the United States, Japan and New Zealand. Significant commissions include an installation in the Australian Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Davis’s work is represented in all Australian national and state galleries, most regional galleries, and in private and public collections in Australia and abroad. He was the recipient of various grants, overseas residencies and prestigious awards, including the Comalco Award in 1970 and the Blake Prize for Religious Art in 1993.
Davis drew inspiration from the Australian bush, particularly the Mallee country, the Hattah Lakes area and the Murray River, the artist often returning to these areas to create ephemeral works in situ. Recurring motifs in his work include rivers and fish, often referred to by the artist as nomads/travellers. Davis deeply respected Aboriginal art and culture, successfully establishing various collaborative projects and exchanges with local aboriginal people. Influenced by the Arte Povera movement and eschewing then fashionable metal sculpture, Davis worked with delicate materials, painstakingly modelling eucalyptus twigs, string, paper, calico and bitumous paint. His work and his many years of lecturing have been highly influential to the current generation of installation artists and sculptors.
Also evident in Davis’s work is his ongoing interest in Japanese forms and traditions, his first visit to Japan in the early 1980s resulted in an ongoing dialogue and relationship with that country and many of its significant artists. His contemplative solo practice was situated within the wider parameters of his exchanges and dialogues with cultures and locations, creating work rich in associations and vocabularies.
The Estate of John Davis comprises a number of works spanning the career of the artist, as well as an extensive archive of written and visual documentation. The Estate provides comprehensive material for researchers, curators and students interested in the artist and Australian art from the 1970s to the late 1990s.

Murray-Cree, Laura
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