RIchard Denyer - A Sense of Place

Richard Denyer (1950-2015)

Ijlst Summer House, Friesland

Ijlst Summer House, Friesland

Main Street Ijlst, Friesland

Main Street Ijlst, Friesland

Neither land Nor Water
In 1989 Richard published ‘Still Waters’, a book of black and white photographs and a personal exploration, revealing his curiosity about the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads and love of a region that had become ‘home’. It was also the beginning of an enduring fascination in making photographs about the relationship of land, water and the people who lived there.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s Richard worked on photographic commissions for the newly formed Broads authority – a starting point for documenting the Norfolk waterways – and other watery places - for the next thirty years and leading to an exhibition called ‘Neither Land Nor Water’ in 2012 followed by ‘Affinity and Kindred ‘in 2015

Richard spent many years teaching at Norwich University of The Arts, including photographic practice, history and theory and eventually establishing an Ma in photographic practice. It is no surprise then, that his own work is steeped in references to other photographers, both historic and contemporary. Photographers such as P.H. Emerson, Fay Godwin, Paul Davies were all pertinent to ‘Still waters’ – all working in black and white in an analogue age.

The six photographs in this exhibition – ‘A Sense of Place’ all come from the body of work leading to ‘Neither land Nor Water’, work made in Norfolk and Friesland and chosen because of the juxtaposition of watery edges with land and sky; a heady contrast of abandon and richness or scant, bare and bleak. And here we are in full digital colour!

Professor Amanda Hopkinson wrote an introduction for ‘Neither Land Nor Water’;

‘…the purpose is clearly not to compare and contrast our two cultures, however delicately Denyer pursues differentiation. Rather the intention is to follow the watery landmass on both sides of the North Sea, as it merges downriver, or through Friesland canals and across the Broads to the sea, opening up a vast oceanic horizon that embraces two-thirds of the globe. The focus on a closely-observed foreground gives way to a third dimension and a new relationship. It is that between the open skies, whose clouds are forever in motion, and their perpetually-shifting reflection in the waters below.’ (Amanda Hopkinson 2012)

Richard held many photographers, past and present, in high esteem, Walker Evans to Gus Wiley. In these words by Richard he shows how particular artists influenced his work: ‘I take the stylistic rigour of the architect’s blueprint as did Bernd and Hilla Becher, i.e.no converging verticals, but then mess around with that rigour by using, for example, slow shutter speeds in order to change the viewer’s experience of the water’.
This is Richard constantly aware of how his work will be read, delighting in contrasts and provocation.

Caroline Denyer 2021.

Buy Richard Denyer's book Affinity and Kindred from the GroundWork Gallery here

Read Richard's obituary in The Guardian here

New Cut, Haddiscoe Island, Norfolk

New Cut, Haddiscoe Island, Norfolk

Reeds, River Yare

Reeds, River Yare

Crome's Broad, How Hill Estate, Norfolk

Crome's Broad, How Hill Estate, Norfolk

Denyer 06

Afslitdijk jetty, Zuiderzee

Repps with Bastwick, River Thurne, Norfolk

Repps with Bastwick, River Thurne, Norfolk


 

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