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The Localist
Ask The Artist

Ask the Artist: Julie Derbyshire

With her studio mere minutes down the road, we couldn’t get much more local than photographic artist Julie Derbyshire. Currently showcasing her work as part of Hox Gallery at The Hoxton, Shepherd’s Bush, Julie is usually found round the corner at Kindred Studios, creating beautiful pieces exploring fragility, transience and the human condition.

Describing what she produces as “defined by a tension between beauty and disquiet”, her art often culminates in a final printed image that is the result of various making processes – something she hopes will prompt those viewing to question what lies beyond a photograph.

The work on show with us hails from a series created during a residency in a wild, remote part of Canada, and we caught up with Julie to discuss the themes and creative methods behind her intriguing art.

Tell us a little bit about you and your career…

I have an MA in Photography from the London College of Communication (part of the University of the Arts London), I exhibit regularly and my work is held in private collections in the UK and abroad. I have received a number of awards, including being a finalist in the Arte Laguna Prize, the Travers Smith CSR Art Programme and the Julia Margaret Cameron Award.

What inspired the art now hanging in our Hox Gallery? 

My work that is currently hanging in the Hox Gallery is from a recent series entitled Postcards from Avalon and features images I made at the Pouch Cove Foundation’s artist residency on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. It is the most easterly point on the North American continent and the first place to see the sun rise. I was inspired by the mystical island of Arthurian legend and have used layered imagery to create constructed landscapes printed onto glass. In so doing, the photograph becomes an object; my use of glass alludes to the camera lens which is both transparent and fragile and it offers an ethereal, dreamlike quality, both illusory and unreal.

“I like to tell stories through my work.”

Tell us about your creative process?

I have a research- and process-led practice. I like to tell stories through my work and often incorporate processes of fabrication and manipulation, including of the final photographic prints themselves. My work is influenced by art history and the past and, reflecting on my own lived experience, I seek to introduce opposition and tension between what is seen and what may lie beneath the surface. I am interested in the relationship between 2D and 3D and love objects and the power they have to embody narratives. I like to make things myself and often use various types of paper and also paper porcelain clay. I like the ability these materials have to simultaneously convey both strength and fragility.

Where is your studio, and why did you choose this neighbourhood? 

I have a studio in west London near Goldhawk Road tube station at Kindred Studios. It’s a wonderful community of over 60 artists having diverse practices and coming from diverse backgrounds. It’s a hive of creative activity and incredibly supportive, inspiring and collaborative. I’m based in west London and was fortunate to be introduced to Angelique Schmitt (who owns and runs Kindred) through an artist collective I’m a member of called Pollen Collective, which was founded by fellow artist Kate Lowe. Kindred artists work not just within the studio community, but also in the wider community by mentoring young people, running workshops and showing the benefits that participating in art can bring. I really wanted to be part of that ethos.

What are you working on at the moment?

I always tend to have a number of project ideas on the go at any one time. Currently I’m developing work from a recent residency I was part of in the north east of Greece and also planning to make a start on a new floral portraiture series. I also have an ongoing project entitled Mythical Tales that centers on the erasure of women artists from Western art history.

Do you have any tips for aspiring artists?

My tips for any aspiring artist would be to stay true to your own voice, to be authentic in your work.  Also be prepared to be persistent and resilient, to continue despite the inevitable knockbacks and rejections which are hard to take. Recognise you are in it for the long haul. And keep making art.