Robert Darch is a 37 year old photographer living in Exeter, U.K., where he owns with his girlfriend (also photographer) a studio and gallery space called Dodo Photo. While there isn’t a huge amount of paid commissions, Robert works in an Art Centre, teaching, curating and arts management, as well for the Unveil’d festival, and also set up a collective for young photographers called Macula.
He discovered photography when his grandfather gave him his old SLR camera, and became addicted: “It didn’t take long for me to realise how much I loved taking photographs and it became reasonably obsessional quite quickly. There is a simplicity about photography that is appealing, in many ways I am also a frustrated filmmaker, but this requires a much larger scale production and doesn’t have the intimacy of photography”.
Robert’s region, Devon, is a beautiful part of the country, with a great quality of life, close to the sea, moors, valleys and woodland. He used to holiday in the area as child and he has pretty nostalgic memories from that time. He naturally found inspiration through the landscape, therefore most of his work has been based there and made in response to this place.
His series Vale takes place in this area. It is composed of 55 photographs shot in a valley during a period of ill health between 2013 and 2015, after Robert had a minor stroke. Vale is in part a nostalgic reinterpretation of summer, youth and the freedom he faced in a period of isolation. The poetic narrative of the project is in direct response to the emotions, feelings and thoughts: unease, tension, sadness and loss. The series is a romanticisation of beauty, youth, memory, hope, place and remembered landscapes: “As I lay in the ambulance watching the birds, dark black cut-outs stencilled against the white haze of the sky, a calm came over me as my mind slowly dimmed and lost control. In 2001 aged twenty-two I was diagnosed as having had a minor stroke”.
Watch the complete series on his website.