Robert Darch is a photographer, educator & curator based in the South West of England. His practice is motivated by the experience of place, in which the physical geography and material cultures of places merge with impressions from contemporary culture that equally influence perception. From these varied sources, both real and imagined, he constructs narratives that help contextualise a personal response to place.
Durlescombe is a (ongoing) series of photographs made in Devon in the South West of England. The work documents the people, places, landscapes and local industries of a fading rural culture and in doing so explores Robert’s attachment to a region where generations of his family had lived and worked for almost one thousand years.
Durlescombe is a typical village, unspecific and representative, one that provides a narrative distance from the persuasive mode of documentary realism and a space in which questions about familiarity, attachment and belonging might be asked. The images of Durlescombe – a layered assemblage of Robert’s photographs, family history pictures and found illustrations – are in this way both actual records and speculative fictions, which track his own pursuits to feel and find points of connection. The photographs are Robert’s attempt to map a learnt culture onto direct experience. The work also admits the potential of other, unconscious forces driving the ‘subjectivisation’ of places.
Alongside his photographic practice Robert initiated and continues to run Macula, (www.maculacollective.co.uk) a collective for young photographers. He also curates work in his studio and exhibition space Dodo (www.dodophoto.co.uk) with his partner Jessica Lennan (www.jessicalennan.com) and in various locations with the Unveil’d festival (www.unveild.co.uk).