Penny McCarthy works primarily with drawing and text. After studying in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University, Penny began her career as a Henry Moore Fellow in Drawing. Her work is presented internationally in a variety of contexts: in museums and galleries, at conferences, and as live projects and publications. She has received grants from the Henry Moore Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England and Arts and Humanities Research Council. Her recent projects have been shown in Ulysse(s): L’autre mer, at the FRAC, Rennes, France, Nothing is Forever, South London Gallery, and Material Truths at Site Gallery, Sheffield in 2017 and On The Image at Venice International University, San Servolo, Venice (2017). Macchia, a digital index of works is accessible online. Her picture essay Time will darken paper was commissioned for Esopus (New York) issue 21. An essay Mirror, is included as a chapter in Memories of the Future (eds. Deborah Jaffe and Stephen Wilson, 2017) 

Penny’s practice involves re-writing, re-drawing, re-constructing to make images. Her academic research is intrinsically concerned with the ways we engage with knowledge and the structures of its acquisition. Recent projects have developed from a fascination with online archives and by the ways that such bureaucratic infrastructures make connections between the individual and the culture giving coherence to our picture of the world. This interest has prompted a series of works that re-materialise and re-situate digital documents from archives that refer to half-forgotten events and seem to index a lost or unreliable past. 

Penny’s work has often explored the investigative potential of drawing to consider the imaginative space of fiction in a series of pencil-drawn copies of pages from writers such as W.G. Sebald, Jorge Luis Borges, Fernando Pessoa, Vladimir Nabokov and others. This merging of fiction, visual genres and methods creates an intersection between cultural context and knowledge production. 

Currently she making a series of fragile, often incomplete, works that use drawing to engage with art works from different periods of history. Using sources from digital and material archives, this project opens a dialogue between works of art across time and acts as a means to examine notions of obsolescence, permanence and legacy. Penny lives and works in Sheffield (UK) where she is a Reader in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University.

All work by Penny McCarthy


© Penny McCarthy

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