Elspeth Diederix / When Red Disappears

soon /

In recent years the photographic artist Elspeth Diederix has gained wide recognition for her unique perspective on the world of botany. Her blog The Studio Garden shows her expressive relationship with the plant world in all seasons. For her project When Red Disappears she temporarily exchanged the biotopes of garden and field for that of the flora and fauna of the waters of Zeeland.

Diederix has carried out underwater projects in the past, in the clear blue seas of the subtropics. This time she wanted to find out whether the chilly, turbid seas of the Netherlands might yield tableaus as colourful as those of subtropical waters. What she found on the sea bed exceeded her wildest imagination: a world of extraordinarily rich colours, revealed in their full glory only when illuminated by the diver-photographer. She discovered amazing sea-floor growths and deposits, on rocky formations that crawled with life in the form of shells, sponges, anemones and sea squirts. Diederix uncovered and acknowledged this secret underwater world in an intuitive way, and having cast light on it, used thoughtful framing to create extraordinarily beautiful compositions.

The surprise effect intensifies as the photographer dives deeper into this world, beyond the point at which red light is entirely absorbed. In the light of her underwater lamp these organisms reveal their most magical and alluring sides. The title of the exhibition refers to this remarkable phenomenon.

When Red Disappears evokes the underwater world through a variety of media and in different forms of presentation (including photographs, light boxes, film, and special artefacts from the Rijksmuseum). Each gallery shows a specific aspect of this unknown natural domain.

A theme that runs through all the work of Elspeth Diederix (1971, Nairobi) is the way she highlights and portrays ostensibly ordinary, familiar things. She captures the moment when something loses this ordinariness and gains a new meaning; when it breaks free of this familiarity, its particular beauty comes to the fore and, for a moment, it becomes abstract. Her work over the last few years can be divided into three categories: still lives, the botanical work, and underwater photography. Cross-fertilization and interplay between these three genres has meant that they often seamlessly overflow into one another. With a unique combination of composition, colour, and lighting Diederix has succeeded in creating an intense experience of the beauty of nature; one which momentarily lifts us above the humdrum of daily life.


This exhibition is accompanied by a photobook of the same name, designed by Hans Gremmen and published by Fw:Books.

photographers from our collection

Elspeth Diederix