Collectionair: Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this series and why these particular objects?
Darren Harvey-Regan: The Erratics draws heavily on Wilhelm Worringer’s 1906 essay Abstraction and Empathy.
Writing before the advent of modern art, Worringer sought to formulate a “psychology of style”, an exploration of the motivation guiding the form art takes. Offered as a spectrum of intent, empathy describes our need to connect to the visible world – identifying with it and representing it – while abstraction, the opposite end of the spectrum, is proposed as a means of coping with the overwhelming phenomena of the world, extracting things from their place in space and time and distilling them to line, form and colour.
Installation, Chalkfall in White, Carved Chalk, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.
I read this essay at a point where I’d led myself so far towards ideas around abstraction in art that I’d become inescapably restricted by the idea of subject within photography, spending months shooting empty forms and shapes in my studio. The essay gave me an opportunity to conceive of my own creative intent as encompassing the whole of the spectrum it spoke about – I’d backed myself into one end, yet I could feel this longing towards the other.
During this time I’d been invited to work on an architectural project that utilized flint and chalk and in discovering these desert chalk forms during my research I was immediately captivated, essentially the trigger I needed to completely break the deadlock of my own process and just get out of the studio, camera in hand. Two weeks later I was in Egypt.
“I feel like the very simple answer to ‘why these objects’ is that right then, for that essential decision, it didn’t matter what the objects were, only that something drew me out of where I was, disrupted my creative process.”
The Erratics evolved from there, becoming how I worked with, as well against, the images I made in the desert, the intentions that had led me there and the ideas in the essay that underpinned the process and the forms all along.