From nocturnal woods to wildlife specimens, Liza Dracup is inspired by the landscape and natural history of Britain. Field Work
presents a decade of her work, exploring photographic representations of our environment and cementing Dracup’s standing as a pioneer of innovative approaches to landscape photography. This is the first major survey of Dracup’s work, premiering at Impressions, to mark the gallery’s ten-year anniversary in Bradford.
Dracup works with museum collections as well as directly with the natural world. She has a passion for selection and observation, and her work is imbued with the Victorian spirit of enquiry. Inspired by historic processes whilst embracing modern digital techniques, she uses photography as an experimental tool to see beyond the human eye. The resulting images range from vibrant ‘hidden’ landscapes to meticulously detailed studies of plants and animals.
Sharpe’s Wood, which was first shown in 2007 as Impressions’ inaugural exhibition in Bradford, presents a series of nocturnal woodland landscapes. Dracup spent the hours between dusk and dawn in almost total darkness, drawing on light from the constant waxing and waning of the moon, fleeting car headlights and the glow of street lamps to create mesmerising, painterly images.
For Chasing the Gloaming (2011), commissioned by the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, Dracup responded to Victorian painter Atkinson Grimshaw’s famous moonlit landscapes, as well as his lesser known still-life paintings. Seeking the unfamiliar within the familiar, her photographic studies illuminate landscapes from inner-city Leeds and rural edges of Bradford, to the coast of Yorkshire.
Lister’s Mill: A Topographical View (2011) was made as part of Dracup’s work with photography collective Bradford Grid, a group of photographers that seek to map and document the city. Her images feature the recurring motif of the iconic, now defunct, chimney of Lister’s Mill – once the world’s largest silk factory – seen from various viewpoints in the post-industrial city landscape.
Re: Collections (2013) takes the Natural Science Collections of Bradford Museums & Galleries as its starting point. The photographs present a series of birds and mammals as still-lives, made timeless by both taxidermist and photographer. Like much of Dracup’s work, the photographs reside in both an artistic and scientific context. These hauntingly beautiful, yet eerie images raise questions about our emotional relationship to British wildlife and its conservation. In her most recent series,
Landmarks (2016), Dracup creates a visual dialogue between past and present, delving into historic landscape photographs in the Harrogate Fine Art Collection. Her images are inspired by botanic specimens, the landscape of northern England, and stereoscopic imagery, a nineteenth century ‘3D’ technique.
Dracup says, “I am delighted to be presenting a decade of my work at Impressions, 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”.