Denis Doran is an artist and filmmaker whose current practice has emerged out of a background of documentary/ reportage photography during the 1980s-90s.
Denis works digitally, initially collecting and assembling ephemera: detritus, scraps of images, typographic fragments and text, which function as aids to memory. He experiments with narrative and autobiography/life story, recognising the effects of association through chance arrangement, which in turn becomes material for recollection or reflection.
Artist and filmmaker Denis Doran's current practice has emerged out of a background of documentary/ reportage photography during the 1980s-90s. He works digitally, initially collecting and assembling ephemera: detritus, scraps of images, typographic fragments and text, which function as aids to memory.
Denis Doran's practice engages with story telling informed by a Life story/Oral History approach. His work takes a number of forms; fine art print, photography, artist’s books, and currently documentary filmmaking. His return to an older documentary practice draws on my background as a reportage/ documentary photographer, when he worked for a number of publications including Der Spiegel, and the Economist.
The need to situate his practise in a wider context (outside of the Academy) has become increasingly important to him, and he has facilitated workshops in North East England in collaboration with the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts and Photoworks, with the Globe Gallery in Newcastle, as well as working with people with learning difficulties in Glasgow, in collaboration with Street Level Gallery. Doran has also collaborated with Creative Partnerships and Photoworks, as an Artist in Residence in a school in Dover. He recently completed a one-year residency in Northampton with Catch 22, working with young people at risk on the edges of the Criminal Justice System. They produced a series of short films drawing on, and enabling them to articulate, their own life experiences. Through the process of filming these young people constantly explored the boundaries, where they lie and what they mean, and in this engagement redefined for themselves their own sense of place and belonging.
It is precisely in these shifting zones of experience, negotiated in the course of a life, from which is fashioned a sense of self and belonging. It is in this broader context of working with life narratives, that my interests lie: the idea of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ as boundaries filtered through memory and experience, in relation to landscape, locality and history. This, in turn, draws on the richness of the ordinary and everyday.p>Denis Doran's current concerns are with narrative, and autobiography/life story. Doran works digitally, initially collecting and assembling ephemera: detritus, scraps of images, typographic fragments and text, which function as aids to memory. The starting point need not be autobiographical, rather it is the association through chance arrangement, which becomes the material for recollection or reflection that makes the work autobiographical for him. Central to this process is text and its relationship to the visual, and which has been most fully articulated in Salvaged, a bookwork Doran undertook with Photoworks (2004). Structured around walks on Brighton, and Whitley Bay beach, where Doran grew up, a rhythm was defined of constantly ‘going over old ground’ of ‘retracing your steps’ echoing the activity of memory. Out of that production emerged a way of working with ‘raw’ material. This process of collecting, of archiving has become increasingly important to Doran's work. Of equal importance is the fact that the discarded, washed up, material begins to function as a critique of contemporary culture; as mute testimony to the impact consumption has on the environment.
‘Common Ground’ continues to explore connections both geographic and autobiographical in the peopled and productive landscape, in the specific urban environment of the allotment. Connections which are rooted in an image of North Eastern working class culture (in his own background), but which extend beyond such confines to encompass shared experience across cultural and geographic boundaries (this work was extended to include images made in Japan, and funded by the Diawa Foundation).
Denis Doran's short films form part of a larger Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) & Royal Society of the Arts (RSA) funded Research Fellowship
Denis Doran travelled with Dr. Teresa Cairns across the USA tracing the fragments of a half-remembered story of his father's travels
Denis Doran's 'Salvaged,' funded by the Arts Council of Great Britain explores notions of autobiography and narrative.
In Common ground, Denis Doran's aim is to explore connections both geographic and autobiographical in the peopled and productive landscape
Doran, George (2012) Some kind of life [Digital and visual media]
Doran, George (2011) Home ground/telling tales [Digital and visual media]
Doran, George (2005) Common Ground Street Level Gallery, Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.
Doran, George (2004) Salvaged Photoworks. ISBN 1903796113