Rural Deep, David Chandler, Plymouth University - 2017

Rural Deep will feature presentations by two photographic artists whose recent work is concerned with the evolving relationships between people and rural environments in very distinctive, localised contexts in Europe. Combining and juxtaposing different photographic registers in their work, both artists disrupt conventional documentary models to construct new ways of seeing and imagining rural experience. Their rural scenes shift between dark mystery and sunlit pastoral, between the sublime and the banal. Tradition and modernity are often awkwardly aligned, and quotidian reality is undercut by elements of fictional narrative, ambiguity and the absurd. In their different ways, Anne Golaz and Robert Darch present multi-textural visions of rural life, in which age-old rhythms and rituals have taken on new and often surprising meanings and associations.

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Source Graduate, Cliff Lauson, Hayward Gallery - 2016

Darch's documentary-style images, both archival and contemporary, of the fictional town of Durlescombe harken back to some of the long-standing questions about the veracity of photography. Ranging from portraits to the smallest details of rural life, the series works together to paint a convincing picture of this non-exsistent village. But beyond this conceptual framework, his photographs are also powerful atmospheric constructions. There's a great tension between stillness and motion in many of his images, used succesfully along with bold composition strategies. 

It is always a great pleasure to be involved with graduate work, and as a visual arts curator, I am generally interested in images that work across both conceptual and aesthetic lines. This can be a tricky balance to strike, but it is one that a number of photographers in this year's submissions have accomplished with a high degree of originality and impact. In some works, I could see the influence of historical photographers resonating, but filtered through very contemporary topics and themes. Transition, thresholds, and change seem to be the prevalent topics of the more representational images, while others depict the quieter moments and traces of places that appear all the more charged for their abandon. I had a strong gut reaction to all of the works that I selected - they stirred something inside of me and drew me into the photographer's story, as all good artwork should.

David Chandler, Plymouth University - 2016

Both Sian and Robert have excelled during their time at Plymouth, producing photographic work that is both highly distinctive in its relationship to the South West and completely international in its ambition and standard. Their success is indicative of an exciting momentum in the teaching of photography at the University, which is set to gather pace in the future.

Juxtapoz - 2016

In each of his three photo series, Vale, The Moor, and The White Wale, British photographer Robert Darch shows masterful command of light and a propensity for precise composition. 
Featured in the gallery are images from The Moor, a sequence of sixty-one color and black and white photographs that create a magnificent, uneasy world. Vast, strange and quiet landscapes intersperse with portraits, with only one subject featured at a time. Across the series, there is a consistent specificity of subject. Everything is under a microscope, but nothing lacks for space. What’s more vague, rather, is the constructed presence of the image-maker. Darch uses subtle shifts in camera position and zooming in through consecutive images that create the sense of a curious, omnipresent but invisible eye. 
Elicia Epstein, Juxtapoz, 2016

Lensculture on Vale - 2016

Romantic landscapes set in the southwest of England-home of Arthurian legends-laced with contemporary unease. Fiction, document, feeling and place are all rolled together in this nuanced set of images.