Transformative Topographies

Liza Dracup utilises the Yorkshire landscape as the locus of her practice. Her inaugural exhibition, Sharpe’s Wood (2007), offers a series of nocturnal portraits of woodlands, shot only with natural light to create ethereal images that cross boundaries between reality and hyperreal beauty. Now, she returns to the site of her first series, Impressions Gallery, Bradford, with Field Work, to mark the tenth anniversary of both her and the location’s launch.

Based in the north of England, her research and collections-based investigations have underpinned her PhD at the University of Sunderland: Photographic strategies for visualising the landscape and natural history of Northern England: the ordinary and the extraordinary (2017). Questioning how documenting “local” environments contributes to wider conversations about landscapes, the pieces look towards a new sense of transformative aestheticism, wherein the personal asserts history upon the composition, and creates a reflective lens when experiencing the work.

Dracup captures settings in natural light and enhances them with digital methods to bring out concealed facets, finding new points of emphasis within the vibrant colours of her botanical subjects. Damp greenery is rendered uncanny and intimate, taxidermised animals made alien and surreal. The compositions have been internationally recognised through nominations for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2012) and the Prix Pictet (2009).

Dracup’s return to Impressions is a benchmark in her career, presenting audiences with a rare opportunity to witness an evolution in artistic practice, cross referencing new methods of working, and charting an arc in imagination from inception to today. As the artist notes: “I am delighted to be presenting a decade of my work at Impressions, the nationally renowned gallery, marking ten years since Sharpe’s Wood was first shown. My photographic journey since then has led me to many places and collections, always seeking the extraordinary properties of the ordinary in the northern landscape and its natural history. I hope that Field Work will reveal hidden aspects to the environment, and the ways in which photography enables us to see the world differently.”

Field Work: Ten Years of Photography by Liza Dracup can be seen at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, until 23 September.

1. Untitled from the series Sharpe’s Wood. (2007). © Liza Dracup, courtesy Impressions Gallery.