talks to Susanna Galbraith

I took these photographs during the first lockdown, just outside of Exeter, Devon, where I live. I used my daily exercise to cycle up to the tree on a hill, just to the south of the city.

I hadn’t planned to start a project during lockdown. Instead I wanted to use the time to catch up with editing finished work and to take a break. I was just drawn to the tree, so started taking pictures of it. It became a new positive routine, cycling up to the tree each day.

I took the pictures with a digital SLR on a 1:1 in camera crop always from the same vantage point. I realised if I kept cycling up to the tree I would see the start of its new growth and the fresh leaves coming in the spring. It felt reassuring amongst so much uncertainty and anxiety.

I think the series works well as a collection of images. Taken individually I don’t think the images have the same impact or visual clarity. The project is meant to be viewed as a whole in a grid.

The project is finished now. I considered photographing the tree losing its leaves, but for me it was very much about that first period of lockdown. I have also since taken on a large landscape commission so couldn’t consistently photograph the tree in the early morning.

The work will take the form of an exhibition - which is unusual for me as I predominately make work in the context of a book. This series is also a bit removed from my usual method of working; although I do return regularly to particular landscapes, I never photograph them in such a topographic manner.

Nothing I have been reading or looking at has informed this work consciously, it’s just the usual myriad of influences that have filtered in over the years.

Robert Darch is a British artist-photographer based in the South West of England. He has published and exhibited widely and his photographs reside in public and private collections. His MA submission to Graduate Photography Online 2016 was selected by Cliff Lauson (Curator, Hayward Gallery).

Robert Darch in Graduate Photography Online 2016 ▸

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