- Words Colette Fountain
After making his solo debut at the NOW Gallery, Darryl Daley talks to us about his artistic pursuits, identity, and the influence of his grandmother on his collection.
Born in South London to Afro Caribbean heritage, Darryl’s work seeks to capture the experience of being a second-generation immigrant, using a range of mediums to create an ‘intricate and tender diasporic narrative’. His debut at NOW Gallery in Greenwich uses moving image, photography and sound to form his exhibit “WHAT YOU SEE HERE / WHAT YOU HEAR HERE”, on display from the 23rd of March until the 11th of June.
Darryl was awarded the 2023 Young Artist commission from the gallery, following in the footsteps of creatives like Joy Yamusangie and Manjit Thapp as he exhibits four filmic works centred on the theme of memory, object and imagination. He is particularly interested in the concept of home, ideas around identity as memory and the space of existence between past and present. We spoke to Darryl about the experience of forming such a deeply personal exhibit, his creative process, and how his heritage became so intertwined with his artistic work.
First and foremost, congratulations on being awarded the Young Artist Commission for 2023, joining some incredible names including Yinka Ilori, Nicholas Daley and Joy Yamusangie in the NOW Gallery, how does it feel to be recognised for your work in this way?
It’s been a humbling and a special moment for me, as the path thus far has been somewhat unorthodox. I didn’t go to art or film school and have banked on my own self-realisation, determination and collaborations with others in order to create the works and believing that the work would open up doors otherwise closed. The validation for me comes from within first, followed by my respected and trusted peers, and then a wider audience. This is somewhat of a manifestation.
Being recognised by the NOW gallery for my work with my name alongside so many other talented artists is a great feeling which inspires and excites me for the infinite possibilities of the present moment and future.
We’d love you to explain how “WHAT YOU SEE HERE / WHAT YOU HEAR HERE” came about, and what it means to you.
I’d say it came about firstly from the opportunity in 2020/21 to screen my first video art piece “Blk Soap” as part of a curated programme at the NOW gallery with the art collaboration “i as in we”. Since then I’ve continued to create works with the gallery, including the pivotal “UNU (you&you)” in 2021 which the works from the current exhibition link back to and have grown from.
This exhibition is an intimate retelling of your family’s history and an ode to your mother and grandmother. What have your family and loved ones’ reactions been to this cultural love letter?
My work and this exhibit are an investigation into the space in which memory, imagination and the present moment meet within the themes of identity, culture and home. It’s a reflection of my grandmother’s stories bestowed onto me and how, through my own creativity and 2nd generation gaze, I’ve interpreted that cultural data into art pieces. My family have been present throughout my artistic journey and seeing the final outcome in a gallery setting has been a proud moment full of love and joy.
Alongside your four films, you’ve created an immersive experience of sound, photography, and moving image. What prompted you to want to make this exhibition?
I’m just doing what I’ve always known I was here to do.
“WHAT YOU SEE HERE / WHAT YOU HEAR HERE” explores the concept of home, and the physical transition between two places. How do you define ‘home’, and what other things reflect a sense of home to you
I feel like my work doesn’t provide answers but asks questions to provoke thoughts and feelings within one’s self about their own definitions of what home means and feels like. This is an ongoing thought which is constantly evolving. For me currently, home is an idea which starts within one’s self, not a physical location, but more of an idea based on the spiritual and tactile objects that ground us.
You haven’t been to Jamaica in over a decade, how did it feel to be able to reconnect with your heritage through your art?
I’ve always been connected to my heritage without having to physically be in Jamaica and I think ultimately that’s what lays at the heart of the exhibition. The piece “UNU (you and you)” opens with the words: “for us second generation our grandmothers homes were Xaymaca, their words Africa”.
Directing attention towards you as an artist – having grown up in South London, how do you think that London’s urban landscape has influenced or impacted your creativity?
I feel like my grandmother’s home has influenced my creativity. The London landscape visually and sonically is continuously impacted by a generation of Afro Caribbean immigrants, their children, their children’s children and so on so for me it’s a full circle moment.
You’re clearly a creative individual. We’d love to know how that creativity presents in your everyday life, outside of your work?
I’m just doing my ting.