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Robert Darch - Guest Lecture

Robert Darch is a photographer who was born in Birmingham. Darch is now based in the South West of England creating commercial photography and environmental portraits. Darch has an MA distinction in photography and an MFA with distinction in photographic arts from Plymouth University. When Robert came into talk about his work he spoke about his time at university studying photography. 

During his second year Robert Spoke about how he had a stroke and it took him a while to recover. Two months later he got glandular fever, this was another set back for his 2nd year. After he took a year out to recover fully and then came back to complete his 3rd year. Even though Robert had these set backs early on in his career, he has accomplished so much at a young age, such as a Magnum graduate award.

Roberts talked to us about some of his main projects as well as his work in environmental portraiture. Roberts talked about what inspired him, books such as the “Famous Five”, “Danny the Champion of the world” and “Water ship down” that influenced his work now. As well as his collection of horror films he had as a teenager. The 2Vail” project was a reflection of summers he did not have due to illness. The idea was to create documentary moments by just going out walking and exploring. Robert said this project involved a lot of night timing and not much planning, about exploring and creating a documentary situation. 

Robert Talked about his on going work of a project on Dartmoor. Which started of as an anithionaly landscape work but moved on to the people within the landscape. Dartmoor he had a close connection to as a child. Can not tell if his photographs from this project are staged or documentary. Robert said that in his work he used available lighting, weather it be natural or indoor lighting. He said that this project was more staged and setup unlike his other project “Vail” It evolved as it developed into a fictional prosses, in which he blended all pictures together to tell a story, like stills of a film.

By introducing people the story became more mythical and fantasy story idea came through. The Moor depicts is a fictionalised dystopian future situated on the bleak moorland landscapes of Dartmoor. Drawing on childhood memories of Dartmoor but suggests something altogether more unknown.  The Moor portrays an eerie world and isolation.The photo below is one  of the images used in The Moor series of work. When shown and talked about by Darch in the lecture, people spoke up about what the picture said to them and asked weather Darch had wanted it to be seen that way or not. One thing that was said was how the bark at the bottom of the image had been clawed away, someone asked if that was one of the reasons the image was used as it represented the animal threat or danger. To which Robert commented that that had not been the intention but it was always interesting to here what other people viewed of the images he created. This photo was taken after Darch had been walking around the moor for over 10 hours and was not intentional that they would come across it. 

Within the area there is a mythology of paganisum being strong there at one point in its history so Darch brought that elemtnt into his work too. The whole project documents the moor but also creates a completely new story that is not real. 

I found the whole project stunning how it grew a developed into what it is now. It just shows that you do not always have to have a clear plan as to what you want but what you start with can develop into something more. 

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