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Susan Derges

Born 1955, London.

Susan Derges took a foundation course at Winchester School of Art from 1972-73, before going to study painting at Chelsea School of Art in London from 1973-76. While there, she was a workshop assistant to the sculptor John Ernest, developing experimental sound vibrations. From 1977-79 she undertook a postgraduate course at the Slade School of Fine Art in painting and computer graphics. She won a DAAD scholarship to Germany and a Boise travelling scholarship to Japan, returning to Japan in 1981-82 on a Rotary Foundation Scholarship and then in 1982-83 to research audio-visual media at Tsukuba University. In 1992 she left London and moved to Dartmoor; she became a lecturer in the Media Department at the University of Plymouth, Exeter in 1994 and Research Fellow from 1998-2006.

Her medium is photography made in the natural landscape but using ‘camera-less’ techniques to capture the hidden forces of nature and create metaphors for the relationship between the observer and the natural world. For example, speaking about the making of one of her photograms in a Dartmoor river she said “Our bodies, our mental processes work in a way that is very similar to what happens in a river. There are streams and flows and blockages, so I was dabbling in reading complexity and chaos and considering myself a participant rather than an author.”

Derges began to exhibit her work in Japan in the 1980s and from 1986, when she returned to London, she has exhibited regularly throughout the UK and increasingly abroad with solo shows in America (1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004 2013, 2016), in France (1998, 2004), in Peru (2002) and in Norway (2005).

Major public collections holding her work include the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Arts Council, the Government Collection, the National Maritime Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Getty Centre Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien , Berlin and the Hara Art Museum, Tokyo.