Kevin Devonport

Kevin Devonport: Precarious Freedom

Kevin Devonport (he/him) is an artist based at Assembly House Studios in Leeds. He is a self-taught painter, learning whilst serving a prison sentence for drug offences. Art has had a major impact on Kevin’s life and in particular his rehabilitation, by allowing him to be grounded in an accepting social world, unlike previous experiences in which he was ostracised due to the criminal label that others attached. Despite not having formal artistic qualifications, he holds a First Class Honours BSc in Sociology that influences his work considerably.

Devonport is interested in still life painting of everyday contemporary artefacts. He likes to convey the meanings that people attach to materiality by creating a narrative from mundane objects. For his bursary project, he has developed a still life composition.

This PANIC! bursary painting depicts a number of artefacts that are related to the Covid-19 pandemic through his own interpretation, including the Major Arcana of the Tarot. The Tower card of the Tarot deck is used to display a cataclysmic event that is often life changing through the breaking down of old structures. However, it also offers a renewed opportunity to rebuild.

Kevin Devonport, Precarious Freedom, 2021. Oil on canvas. PANIC! Bursary, courtesy of The Tetley

Photo: Jules Lister

Listen to a description of the artwork here:


Read a description of the artwork here.

"One of the interests that I had was people's attachment to materiality, the different meanings we put to objects and how they can basically get a life of their own. And it's been so I can tell a story with just material objects. And the paint and brushes that come in [the painting], it just seemed so many people have, just, ways of dealing with lockdown – which I know for myself – I am more equipped dealing with seclusion and isolation... one of the things was creativity, maybe reading, or that's the type of escapism from this." — Kevin Devonport
Kevin Devonport

PANIC! Interview with Kevin Devonport July 2021, Assembly House Download transcript
...If 20 years time comes by, and me as an artist, I'd never contributed anything to this, you know, big moment… it just wouldn't seem right. So I thought I'd just do one painting and one painting only, about the pandemic.” — Kevin Devonport

Discover the other PANIC! bursary artists

This work is presented as part of the PANIC! (Promoting an Artists’ Network in the Crisis) series of bursaries.

Earlier this year, PANIC! awarded four artists in Leeds City Region £5,000 and £1,000 bursaries to support the making of a new contemporary visual artwork or project. The bursaries offered space to create a voice and help us think through the new psychological, social and cultural conditions we face today.

For the £1,000 bursaries:

Kevin Devonport and Hannah Lawless

For the £5,000 bursaries:

alabamathirteen and Thahmina Begum

See their work here