“I think there’s a perspective to be taken on the kind of new rural photography that he’s very much part of, drawing on long term, autobiographical engagement.
It’s hard not to see all of this work without setting it within a context of new literature about the rural, its histories and our need for it. This is something that’s easily seen in some of the ‘new nature’ writers who have received attention over the last decade for their personal narratives and political perspectives on the places they are connected to…and as we know, politics and the landscape are rarely separate”.
At the age of 22, Darch suffered from a minor stroke, followed by a period of ill-health which would affect him for the majority of his twenties. As a coping mechanism during convalescence, he retreated into a world of fictional narratives, of indoor spaces and eventually a physical move back to his familial home of Devon. Slowly, he began to reset his narratives, his place in the world, and the expectations of his youth. An unseen enemy threatening his own body and psyche was mitigated by escapism and wish-fulfilment.
In the liminal space between fiction, narrative and reality, the intentions and outcomes of Vale have become intractably intertwined. However, we must respect the fictional boundaries of this place as if they were reality, even as this world itself begins to fall apart.
Indeed, we might conclude that in our current situation within 2020, a sense of a loss of time is what might be driving our own search for the promise of truth that nostalgia seems to offer. But even as we are in pursuit of that promise, we may need to discard the veracity apparently offered by photography, recognising and ultimately embracing Vale as the manifestation of a lost time, with all the weight that such a loss implies.