My practice has largely been orientated in the public realm for over 25 years. The content for the projects comes primarily from the public realm (current affairs), the nature of the collaborations is governed by the project’s subject matter and context, the outcomes are defined by both factors.
My practice explores the diverse nature of human presence and expression within social civic and historical registers embracing subjects such as war, remembrance, nationality, and environment. Themes have been, silence in society, conflict and collective memory, nationality and identity. Recent works have investigated our cultural, social and political relationship to environment through a synthesis of voice, music, words and image
Current and forthcoming projects examine these areas of research by seeking to:
1. Enrol cultural and historical context to build collaboration and partnerships that bring ideas into the public realm connecting to wide audiences, the public, colleagues and students.
2. Explore the legacy of conflict, memory, histories, voice and mediation.
3. Contribute to the public realm (physical and metaphorical) as a place of national memory.
4. Research the ways in which we learn to tell our shared history as a collective narrative; meditating on, language, journeys,
displacement and belonging.
These projects have come about through collaborations with many different communities, such as people from deaf and silent communities, military planners, refugee, and veteran groups. It has and continues be to a privilege to work with these groups. These multi-layered projects are developed through collaboration with individuals, groups, and organisations, capturing and platforming “voice” and encapsulate a multiplicity of expression. They borrow from sources such as oral history, historical archive, news statistics, points of law, national anthems, myths and cultural rumours. The projects encourage people to engage with art in the most unlikely of places: canals, shopping malls, parks, and railway stations. These projects embrace important civic issues (and their difficulties) but also provide a space to encourage people and communities to exchange ideas.
The projects result in outcomes that choreograph human expression within ‘the spectacle’ through a multi-disciplinary practice that encompasses film, performance, drawing, installation and interventions through urban and rural landscapes.
My work strives to create impact as it brings high quality arts to non-art audiences through interdisciplinary collaborations, utilising skills from diverse, inter-generational groups. This impact can be measured in the broadcast media and publications that have reflected and captured these collaborations and artworks.
Beth Derbyshire 2022
Surrender was a light installation that served as both as a memorial to local soldiers and a display that hints at the how the human was used on an industrial scale in the World Wars. The Ark was a floating sculpture and cinema that travelled from Blackburn to Brierfield, down the Leeds – Liverpool canal, throughout May and June 2013. The Ark hosted five new films that celebrated the diversity and heritage of the Pennine Lanca-shire landscape through a multi layered artwork that presented stories about local people and their surroundings. In 2012 I delivered The Rootless Forest, an ephemeral work in Birmingham and for New Gallery Walsall which reached 1.9 million people. The Rootless Forest was a mobile artwork, a moving landscape and soundscape, a mini-forest made of real trees and soil planted on a boat that travelled along the Birmingham Canals.
In 2011, I completed a seven- screen installation entitled, Seven Seas, featuring seven bodies of water from the UK to the Pacific. Seven Seas opened as part of Project Ocean at Selfridges in 2011. In 2009 I made Anthem, a trilogy of choral/musical films sung live that explore ideas on nation through landscape and song. Anthem launched as a hanging installation at the Eden Project with a live performance by Stile Antico, an ensemble of young British singers based in Birmingham.
In 2007 I presented Together, a three-dimensional laser light projection as part of the Gulf Art Fair in Dubai and opened two installations for the Montréal Biennale, held a solo show with Tatar Gallery in Toronto, and completed Objects with Secrets, a kinetic light sculpture commissioned by Hermes and Selfridges to celebrate the opening of the Wonder Room. My past projects include the city-wide performance and exhibition Message presented by the National Maritime Museum and London Underground’s Platform for Art which was drawn together in a book published by Thames and Hudson. Message was a project about war and remembrance that brought together multiple organisations for a live semaphore performance along the Thames and broadcast on the BBC as part of the Remembrance Day Ceremony.
My work has drawn press coverage from amongst others: The Independent, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times, The Evening Standard, Art Monthly, W Magazine, British Vogue, The Art Newspaper and has been broadcast live (including) on the BBC, ITN and Sky. I have appeared on the BBC Review Show hosted by Martha Carney to discuss the social aspects of culture and climate change and produced a film for and served as a panellist on a key session on creativity in television at the Edinburgh Television Festival.