Please join us for a talk by Susan Derges on Wednesday 1 May 2019 at 6.30pm, as part of our project ‘Observe. Experiment. Archive’ which explores the connections between photography and science.
Much of the work of Susan Derges revolves around the creation of visual metaphors exploring the relationship between the observer and the observed; the self and nature or the imagined and the ‘real’. Susan Derges is a pioneering force in camera-less photography. Characteristically, her practice has involved camera-less, lens-based, digital and reinvented photographic processes, and encompasses subject matter informed by landscape and abstraction as well as the physical and biological sciences. Derges endeavours to capture invisible scientific and natural processes, as in her current work: the continuous movement of water, the evolution of frogspawn or the cycles of the moon. She has created her work at night, working with the light of the moon and a hand-held torch to expose images directly onto light sensitive paper. Her practice reflects the work of the earliest pioneers of photography but is also very contemporary in its awareness of environmental issues and the complexity of its conceptual meanings.
Her recent photogravures revisit a particularly fertile period in which Derges shifted the studio-based, observational and experimental nature of her practice into the more expansive darkroom of the landscape itself. Despite the fragile beauty of the works, they relied on intensely physical forms of engagement, based fundamentally on the painstaking immersion of photographic paper in rivers and on the shoreline at night. The locations of the work were places she knew intimately – the River Taw as it runs through Skaigh Wood, and the bridge at Blackaton Brook that she has walked over almost every day since moving to Dartmoor in 1992. Undertaken over the past two years, the new printmaking project has been a re-affirmation of these key works with the prints adding new depth of tone and colour to the images.
Susan Derges (born 1955, London) completed her postgraduate studies at the Slade School of Fine Art before living in Japan, where she continued her research at Tsukuba University. Her work has been exhibited in numerous international exhibitions including Shadows on the Wall: Cameraless Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2014) and Shadow Catchers, Victoria & Albert Museum (2010). Collections holding her work include Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; Getty Center, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Victoria & Albert Museum.