My first conscious memory was the sound of hunting dogs baying on the fringes of Dartmoor,’ says photographer Robert Darch, who recently launched his new book at the Martin Parr Foundation. ‘Although our 1960s semi backed onto fields, the rurality of Devon and the baying hounds must have appeared otherworldly to me as a three-year-old.’
That mystical feeling has stayed with Darch, and it permeates the pages of The Moor, a sci-fi visual narrative that shows the landscape as a dystopia in the near future. Dark, tense and perilous, Dartmoor is turned into a dramatic stage setting, primal and symbolic. As an adult, Darch found himself living in the area, moving closer and closer to the moor, drawn there as if by some uncanny force.
It’s the ambivalence of the bleak and barren landscape that Darch clearly finds so fascinating and that has continued to capture his imagination. ‘The moors can appear serene and beautiful on a summer’s day, but during the winter, covered in snow, fog, battered by high winds and stinging rain you can lose yourself in the landscape,’ he explains.