Turn to Return: Helen Sear and Robert Darch

25 September – 23 October 2021
Centrespace, Bristol
6 Leonard Ln, Bristol BS1 1EA, United Kingdom

Wed – Sat 11.30-15.30

Opening – 25th September 2021, 11.30am, Centrespace Gallery
BOOK TICKETS EVENT – Helen Sear and Robert Darch in Conversation with Ken Grant, 25 September 2021, 2-3pm

Turn to Return brings together two series of work, ‘Within Sight’ by Helen Sear and ‘The Island’ by Robert Darch, both exhibited here for the first time. Sear’s series was made whilst repeatedly walking the same mountain passage in Majorca and Darch’s work was made in response to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016. On the surface, the series are disparate both visually and in subject matter. However, when presented and interacting within the exhibition space, further similarities become apparent.

Within Sight © Helen Sear

‘Each set of photographs ask us to respond to an imbalance, a rift in what we assume to be true and the way we see reality. They ask us to pause and consider the routes we haven’t taken – to recognise that movement and stasis can coexist.’ – Millie Bethel, curator.

Sear’s ‘Within Sight’ was created during the month of December 2019, whilst she was artist in residence at CCA Andratx. The series consists of black and white images of dense but delicate pines alongside images focused on large boulders manipulated into bold colours. 

Within Sight © Helen Sear

‘‘Within Sight’ explores visual noise and density within a series of photographs taken at different times along the same mountain path on the island of Majorca. The images exist at the interface between inner vision and exterior reality, where the path forward grounds the viewer in the proximity of the present rather than promising a distant view depicted in many traditional landscapes. The similarity of the black and white images evokes the repetitive nature of enchantment, the gemstone colouring of the rocks playing with scale and physicality, bringing the entire body into the act of viewing.’

– Helen Sear

The Island © Robert Darch

Darch’s series, ‘The Island’, is a reaction to Britain’s leave vote in 2016. It was shot over a period of 17 months and comprises both monochrome landscapes and portraits.

‘The island reflects the current political uncertainty about the future of this country and expresses my anxieties, hopes and fears about a decision that will affect generations for years to come. There is an overriding sense of melancholy within the series emphasised by the bleak monochrome imagery and cold winter light, shifting from dark corners, intimate portraits, misty landscapes and isolated figures. There is an unreality to ‘The Island’, a dreamlike quality that reflects the surreality of the current political landscape.’ 

– Robert Darch

The Island © Robert Darch

Helen Sear’s practice focuses on the co-existence of human, animal, and natural environments and is rooted in an interest in Magic Realism, Surrealism and Conceptual Art. She studied Fine Art at Reading University and University College London, Slade School, and her photographic works became widely known in the 1991 British Council exhibition, De-Composition: Constructed Photography in Britain. Sear was the first woman to represent Wales with a solo exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015. She was recently voted one of the key 100 women photographers practicing globally by The Royal Photographic Society : Hundred Heroines. She was visiting professor at the Royal Academy Schools, London between 2014 and 2019.

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 practice is motivated by the experience of place, in which the physical geography and material cultures of places merge with impressions from contemporary culture that equally influence perception. He holds an MFA with distinction in Photographic Arts and a MA with distinction in Photography & the Book from Plymouth University. He also has a BA with honours in Documentary Photography from Newport, Wales.  Darch is an Associate Lecturer in Photography at Plymouth University.