Bryn and Talfryn Davies are fraternal twins. That means they’re non-identical – although most people they meet think they are identical.
In primary school, they used their likeness to their advantage.
“Earlier on, teachers didn’t know who we were so we could be like, ‘I have a math test, do you want to sit it?’” Bryn recalls.
“And the other would say, ‘Yeah, I have a science test’ and we’d just switch classes.”
They grew up in the arty coastal town of Bundeena, one of the most southern parts of Sydney. A ferry ride from Cronulla, Bundeena is home to prominent artists such as Chinese-Australian painter Jiawei Shen.
Jiawei, and some of the other well-known painters in town, influenced the art Talfryn made in high school. He ended up majoring in Painting in his Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours), while Bryn majored in Printmedia and Drawing for his Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours).
“It runs in the family. We were brought up to be very creative and to use our imagination, so it was assumed we’d go into some creative degree,” says Talfryn.
Bryn says, “When you meet new people and they learn you’re a twin, they ask, ‘Ohh what does he do?’ And I’m like, ‘He does art’.”
“’They’re like, ‘Don’t you do art? That’s kind of like a twin thing’.”
“Just because we’re twins doesn’t mean we’re going to be the same,” Talfryn adds. “But we are similar in many ways.”
“We are,” Bryn agrees.
Bryn and Talfryn have been together “forever” and they describe themselves as “pretty tight”. Nevertheless, they looked forward to going their own way, in going to university.
“When people talked to or about us it was always together not as individuals, and we were always compared to each other,” Bryn says.
“So I thought, in separating, having a state’s distance, what kind of impact would that have? Would I become a completely different person, creative-wise, or even just socially-wise?
“This is a chance for me to see who I am as an individual.”
Bryn applied and was accepted to the ANU School of Art and Design
first. Talfryn heard from ANU before the other places he applied to, so he ended up coming here too.
“It just happened that no matter how hard we tried, we still came back together,” Talfryn says. “Which is kind of poetic, in a way.”
In majoring in different areas, they did end up getting some distance from each other. That also, Bryn says, pushed their art into completely different directions.
For his Honours project, he produced screenprinted variations of children holding guns, overlaid with text and bold colours.
“The work talks about how we incorporate weapons like an item of entertainment and play,” Bryn says.
“It focuses on my interpretations and conflict of opinions, from growing up playing with toy guns and my eventual knowledge in later life of the realities of war and conflict and child soldiers.
“There’s the juxtaposition of the two worlds of innocent play and violence.”
He talks about how the idea of a gun, how it’s meant to kill, is lost or hidden in play. That children see it as okay.
“The work is talking about that camouflage – how that is hiding in plain sight and we don’t see it even though we do in the media.”
Talfryn’s work had its origins in the middle of last year, when he did an abstract course. Before then, he was a much more representational painter and drawer.
“I was very influenced by James Turrell and Stefan Heyne and the effect of light and colour on a canvas,” Talfryn says.
“It started off focusing on the horizon and our perceptions of colour and how colour can make us feel – that idea of being completely engulfed by the atmosphere around us.”
Bryn recognised the inspiration behind some of Talfryn’s works from photos taken during family trips. But a lot of the paintings, Talfryn says, were from him going home over the year or sitting up at Mount Ainslie, doing a quick oil painting on a small piece of paper and later transferring that to a larger canvas.
“I didn’t want to paint anything I hadn’t experienced,” he explains. “I was interested in creating a work that was in and of itself an experience, not a depiction of an experience or of an object.”
“You almost feel like you can dive into it and it invites that illusion of a space or a window into another world.”
Graduating presents a new world for Bryn and Talfryn, who will finally get their wish to experience life separately. Talfryn will be staying in Canberra, where he feels he’s got a foothold in the creative community. He wants to work here and get experience in various areas of art such as film and prop making.
Bryn is heading back to Sydney, where he’ll pursue a long-held desire of becoming an architect.
“It’s funny because I’ll just be at home and you’ll be here still,” Bryn says.
“You can always come visit me,” Talfryn replies with a grin. “If we don’t like it we’ll just, resume...”
“Go back to doing it the old way,” Bryn finishes.