Susan Derges is one of the leading and most respected photographers working in Britain today. Like contemporaries Christopher Bucklow, Adam Fuss and Garry Fabian Miller, her work looks back to the very origins of photography. Using the raw materials of light and chemically sensitised paper, Derges pushes the boundaries of her medium in constantly innovative and exciting ways that balance a delight in scientific experiment with a philosophical contemplation of our relationship to the natural world.
Among Derges' most celebrated works are her River Taw and Shoreline series' made near to her studio in Dartmoor from 1997-1999. Using the night as her darkroom, and the river or ocean as her transparency, Derges created extraordinary images by submerging positive photographic paper beneath the surface of the water. A milleseconds flash of brilliant light, controlled by the artist, fixed a brief moment in the waters constant ebb and flow onto the paper.
These unique works were highly acclaimed and are now held in important public and private collections worldwide. Derges then resolved to make no more, turning instead to experiments seeking to somehow incorporate the sources of ambient light, the moon and stars - crucial determinants of colour in her earlier photograms - eventually resulting in the Starfield and Moon series in 2002-04. These works retain elements of the earlier making but were made in her darkroom using a tank of flowing water and photographic transparencies of celestial phenomenon which she projected onto the waters surface.
In 2003, Susan Derges was commissioned by the Eden Project in Cornwall to create a major series of glass windows. In the making of this project she was compelled to return to the source of her earlier work and so created a final body of River and Shoreline works. We presented these last original photograms in Derges' third solo exhibition at the gallery, alongside a small group of works from her most recent series.