Tuesday 12 January 2010

John Darwell

All images © John Darwell from the series Discarded Dog Shit Bags

"Over the past two years I have observed with increasing fascination the growing number of discarded dog shit bags I encounter whilst out walking in both open countryside, urban parklands and even suburban streets," says John Darwell by way of introduction to his project. He goes on to explain:

"This has led to a great deal of speculative thought on my part as to why this situation has developed. I can fully understand dog owners simply ignoring their dogs output (unpleasant as it is for anyone who encounters it with all its negative health associations) as it will in a relatively short time biodegrade and essentially disappear. I can also appreciate dog owners who scoop and bag dog mess and place it in a bin for disposal. What I fail to understand is the increasing number of dog owners who bag their dog’s mess and then discard in bushes or hang on fences/tree branches or leave in the middle of pathways and playing fields. Is this purely about not wishing to be fined and thereby picking the right moment to surreptitiously dispose of the offending article? Whatever the reasoning the ddsb has very quickly become a feature of our environment."

He adds: "The images presented here become typologies that reflect on the nature of function and style and confront the viewer with the (often unseen) contents of the bags leading to a mixture of amusement, bemusement, curiosity and revulsion."

John Darwell is an independent photographer working on long-term projects that reflect his interest in social and industrial change, concern for the environment and issues around the depiction of mental health.

To date he has had seven books of his work published, of which the most recent are Dark Days (Dewi Lewis Publishing 2007) documenting the impact of foot and mouth disease around his home in north Cumbria, and a twenty five year retrospective ‘Committed to Memory’ (Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery 2007). Previous books include Legacy (Dewi Lewis 2001) an exploration of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and Jimmy Jock, Albert & the Six Sided Clock on the Port of Liverpool (Cornerhouse 1993).

His work has been exhibited, and published, widely both nationally and internationally, including numerous exhibitions in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, the USA, (Houston, New York and San Francisco) Mexico, South America and the Canary Islands, and is featured in a number of important collections including the National Museum of Media/Sun Life Collection, Bradford; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

John gained his PhD in 2008 for his research A Black Dog Came Calling and currently lectures in photography on both BA and MA courses at the University of Cumbria in Carlisle.

Further examples of John’s work and additional background information can be found at: http://cumbria.ning.com/ and www.johndarwell.com.