“I would say I haven’t gone through the formal route to get to this place in time, it’s been something of manifestation,” says interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker Darryl Daley, Now Gallery’s 2023 Young Artist Commission. The result of its initiative devised to celebrate the best of rising talent within the visual arts, the cutting-edge Greenwich Peninsula showspace has been transformed into a chasm of memory, intergenerational impressions and ruminations, with a quartet of contemporary cinematic works, all by Daley, that will be on display for the next two and half months.
Known for his soul-stirring and poignant storytelling, the installation is entitled, What You See Here / What You Hear Here, and the works – rooted within and appearing alongside the seminal piece UNU (you&you) (2021) – are an audiovisual device, transporting viewers from Jamaica to the UK and suspending the boundary-breaking works between past and present. In conjunction with UNU, Daley’s dreamlike video exploring the stretches of immigration and Jamaican history post-independence through the wrinkled eyes of an old lady, each screenplay threads together intricate and tender diasporic narratives, delving into themes of Blackness and the concept of “home”.
As an artist born in South London of Afro Caribbean heritage, his works are created through a second-generation gaze, firstly, as a reflection of his inner “thoughts, imagination and surroundings”. UNU, for example, opens with the writing “for us second generation our grandmother’s homes were Jamaica, their words Africa”. What follows is a world ode to Daley’s maternal grandmother. “[She] left her home of Jamaica in the 1960’s and brought that essence of home with her to then install that idea of home with her children and grandchildren.” The idea is finding a home within oneself. “The work sits on the intersection where memory, imagination and present moment cross paths housed within the themes of identity and cultural heritage,” he says. Identity becomes memory, archive and imagination collide.
Youlogy / No Ghost (2023) is a nine minute single channel digital video “juxtaposing the idea of arrival and departure and the sensibilities between life and death”. Recapturing the arrival of Daley’s grandmother to the UK, it enters a “ transcendental environment which reflects a sensational dream-like state”, and seeks to reflect the imaginations of the minds and spirits of many of the Caribbean community who journeyed to England around the same time. It encompasses a new, potential, future that the artists’ grandmother might have been fantasising about.
Next, M is for Maudlyn (a mother’s mother’s mother) (2023) is a poetic, three minute, three channel digital video rendered in black and white. “Inspired by a single photographic image of [Daley’s] great-grandmother which was stuck to the fridge of the family home for over three decades,” the artist looks back across the Atlantic. “The work re-imagines the figure within the image and the space in which she occupies through an array of intense sounds that move through a collection of iconographies and ritual that is central to and of Jamaican culture”, and engages with references to domestic life, ties to land, religion and spirituality.
The final film, Nanny’s Kitchen & A Collection of True Stories (2018 – 2023) is a “collection of sound recordings collated of the artist’s late grandmother across five years which all take place within her kitchen as the centre point of the Black family,” configured across a 36 minute black and white, three channel analogue video.
Photography by Charles Emerson.
Flanked by large-scale projections of the four films, the exhibition is engineered to anthropomorphize Daley’s vision through the perception of imagination; to push those little lingering thoughts out of his brain and into an innovative reality.
Daley describes the moment he discovered he had been selected to show at Now Gallery as “humbling”, saying, “to be recognised as an artist and for my work to be received and championed is a special moment.” He adds, “It’s also a real reflection of the self-determination and also testament to the team of collaborators and support I’ve been surrounded with along my journey.”
Daley often collaborates with writers, artists and cross disciplinary collectives on contemporary video, sound and art installations, but the shift of his interests into moving image has only been brewing for a few years. Daley studied photography as a teenager and eventually moved on to graphic design; film wasn’t in the cards until the catastrophe that was the year 2020 hit. “During lock down I had a moment of clarity and intentionally combined my graphic design language, photographic eye and sensibility of sound to create new artworks with film being the canvas in which to create,” he says. Moving forward, the artist hopes the commission will open even more doors and invite in new perspectives for his works to be interpreted by.
If Daley’s Now Galley commision is anything to go by, the man is entering into an exciting new phase of his career; one that is charged by the Black diaspora and its indelible experiences.
Photography courtesy of Now Gallery. ‘What You See Here / What You Hear Here’, is on display now until June 11, 2023. Nab a ticket here.