Hi Penny. Welcome to FAC. Can you tell us about your practice/career so far?

I’m an emerging multidisciplinary artist from Melbourne who makes work about pop science and space history. I graduated with a  Bachelor of Fine Arts from the VCA in 2018. I’m really into cosmology so my practice revolves around space science and exploration and how these manifest into everyday culture on Earth. I love working with paint and sculptural mediums such as cardboard and clay. I sometimes make low-fi videos that tell stories about astronauts. I like working with a DIY approach because it’s the antithesis of spacecraft engineering but it’s also cheap and accessible, and anyone could do it. My work is humorous and tongue-in-cheek but also endearing and sincere. I have had work exhibited here at FAC and at Daine Singer, George Paton Gallery, Trocadero Art Space, Montsalvat and Craft Victoria in Melbourne.

You showcased works in the exhibition Other Suns at FAC earlier in the year. How was that?

Showing at FAC in Other Suns was such a pleasure. It was my first inclusion in a big group show after art school, and it was such a positive and professional experience. It was so validating and encouraging to be in a show with other artists who make work about space. I made lots of friends and connections with fellow sci-fi geeks. Curators Erin Coates and Jack Sargeant invited me to design a space mission patch that was printed as stickers for the publication, which was a delight. It was a full-circle moment too as I lived in Freo from 2014–2016 and studied short painting courses here at FAC. It was lovely to be back and showing here.

Penny Walker-Keefe, Space Portrait, 2017, inkjet print, aluminium frame 52 x 39cm and Lunar Mission, 2017, video with sound 2:53 mins. Photography by Rebecca Mansell.

Penny Walker-Keefe, Space Portrait, 2017, inkjet print, aluminium frame
52 x 39cm and Lunar Mission, 2017, video with sound 2:53 mins. Photography by Rebecca Mansell.

What have you been working on during your residency here?

During my time here I’ve been mainly focusing on researching the crash of NASA’s Skylab space station that disintegrated over WA 40 years ago. It’s such an interesting story of space history meeting Western Australian culture, and has become a tourist attraction in Esperance and across the Nullarbor. I’m developing ideas to produce work that embodies the stories surrounding the crash. Because my space artworks take a lot of research and planning, I’ve also spent time just drawing and painting, exploring colour and geometry inspired by the Fremantle vibe and also because it’s been too hot to think on some days!

Penny Walker-Keefe's studio at FAC.

Penny Walker-Keefe’s studio at FAC.

How long is your residency?

I’m here until New Year’s Eve. My residency is for the month of December, it’s been a really nice way to wrap up the year and the decade. I’ll also be here for Christmas which is nice. I bought the tiniest ham from Little Sister deli in Freo.

After your residency wraps up, what exhibitions/residencies have you got in the pipeline?

I’ve got a show in collaboration with my partner and sound tech Lewis O’Brien at C3 Gallery in Melbourne soon. We’re creating audio-visual work about particle collisions at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN involving bread. I have plans to show the work I’m producing about Skylab in Melbourne, and hopefully bring it back to WA and show it at an ARI (Artist Run Initiative) in Perth next year. I’m also working on a series of slick paintings visualising the orange and white striped NASA parachutes and a series of clay car badges of all the astronomically themed car models.

 You can find out more about Penny and her work here