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Exeter City Council’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery acquires innovative photographic work by Devon-based artist, Susan Derges

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) has announced the acquisition of a major photographic work by critically-acclaimed Devon-based artist, Susan Derges.

Dartmoor-based, Derges is best known for her camera-less techniques which create unique, one-off, photographic prints. Eden 6 was created in the River Taw near Exeter on a moonless but starlit night by submerging photographic positive paper just beneath the water’s surface and exposing it to a brief flash of light.

Eden 6 is the first piece by Derges to be added to RAMM’s collection. The work was purchased with assistance from the Friends of RAMM, a private donor and a V&A purchase grant. Two other works in the series, Eden 4 and Eden 5, are held in the collection of the V&A Museum, London.

Susan Derges said, ‘The Eden series is one of my least figurative with its viewpoint from above focusing on the water, and its more abstract surface patterning. It gives the impression of looking from a great height and therefore suggesting a world-view as well as a specifically local one. Like much of my work it refers to ecological concerns.’

Lara Goodband, contemporary art curator at RAMM said, ‘Susan’s move to live and work on Dartmoor in the early 1990s led her to create work of the local rivers. The innovative processes developed during the production of the different River Taw series influenced all her subsequent work. Eden is the last of the large-scale River Taw works made using her camera-less technique so it is even more special that RAMM should acquire the last available work, Eden 6.

This is the first major work for the museum’s new contemporary photography collection. It marks a step-change for collecting at RAMM and is a result of the six-month Art Fund-supported Assistant Curator of Photography position in 2019 which informed new policy guidance by placing an emphasis on locally-based and critically-acclaimed photographers. It’s entirely appropriate that such a ground-breaking work, created near to Exeter, by an internationally-renowned artist should signal this new intention.’

Derges has a longstanding relationship with RAMM. Her work has been exhibited in a number of exhibitions at the museum since 1993; most recently Tide Series was central to RAMM’s Sea Garden exhibition last year.

Visitors can currently view Eden 6 in in Gallery 21 at RAMM. It will be central to a new exhibition of RAMM’s fine art collection Funded with Thanks opening next February. It will also be included in a RAMM-curated contemporary art exhibition to include Dartmoor-based photographers in 2023.

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