Ocean Flowers (photographs)

New Acquisitions


This unique artists' book by Susan Derges and John Wedgwood Clarke includes 23 Giclée prints and 23 poems. They created the work for the ‘Sea Garden’ exhibition at RAMM in 2019. Derges discusses her practice in a film produced for the exhibition

series of photographic images that make up this book is a kind of homage to the Victorian botanist and photographer Anna Atkins, who published one of the first photography books – on the subject of algae – as well as to the earlier, pre-Victorian, richly populated state of rock pools.’ —Susan Derges


Love these mix’d souls doth mix again
And makes both one, each this and that
The Ecstasy, John Donne
Humans may yet return the idea of the “thing” to
its older sense of meeting place.
Imagining Ecology without Nature, Timothy Morton
the algae-crowded light
vast shoals of vacancy
sailing strangely into it
rise up whirl up as in homage
a staggering physiognomy
as if the sea’s forests
had put on a mask spirit of the aperture
how can we be like ourselves
the more you look
the more you come apart
as light intended
the ecstasy but no armies or uncertain victory
an undulation of the soul
if I could touch
as you illuminate
you might name this Nova Albion
with a sixpence a brass plaque and your diseases
but i am no oak there are no white cliffs
naked ink pilgrim ink
my soul doth yawn light
migrant oak balloon
i pass over a coast i do not recognise
someone is chasing my shadow
you have been away so long
i have grown strange in this place
folding inwards
let me in you say
to what an old spoon a bowl
my ecstasies of the windowsill
after-snow dusk ghost grail
all that cannot be captured
a green December concentration
now dance blue lover
blue nebula
i’m falling into
i hear your body carried to me on the wind
through the halls of waves
spring has come and you are pale my love
as the white of bulbs
the blue cobweb limpets archaic as winter’s
archival ghost
we move through rain-washed rooms
bodies chilled and intensified
by scratches in the plaster broken rain goods
our algal sisters are in residence
am i rippled by light
or rippling light
above the limpet’s apparent certainty
i give you licence to gaze
to make what you can’t
of this light in your eyes
you have made a portrait that is more me than me
floating to the ceiling
my stipe at the golden section
there i un-peel the sepia history of antique rose
in silks in wallpaper
laminations cracks
a florilegium of silences
tied by a fine green ribbon
my candelabra of voices burns outside your door
what do you propose to do with my likeness
in your great houses drawing rooms
shop windows songs blue hands
i left this impression long ago
and continue elsewhere light comes
goes everywhere an unchaste cellular rush
you want to enter this room
shreds of placenta crying
of course it’s Porphyra umbilicalis
the door handle turning and turning
as a drop of ink finds what it may become
as a dream opens in and out
everywhere along its expansion
without entry point
so i grow in you to the exclusion of you
this is the likeness of my being
in two minds
lily of the valley lily of the sea
i am like the skin of a gaze that almost becomes
torn by interruption
a barer of unnamed attention’s collapse
many happy returns
perhaps you may make a garment of me
such fashions are timeless
you have tossed me from the background
of your life
a lock of hair lock of light
i am all your past in a body taking flight
sun through a snow cloud
you cannot press for your album
the transparency of childhood looking
your fin-dé-siècle narcissism leaks into me
you cannot see past what you have made of me
my rivers are rivers of dust
death leaks from my eyes with such love
i reign over the wind’s centre
a terrible solar god aurora-gorgon
your fascination is your undoing
could you bear me in your heart undone
a séance ectoplasmic
in the clear blue rush a flame
torn off
everything in me unlocked
a great spring ghost tide flying past
i have made room for you yet again come in
the limpets are in full watercolour
no one is watching
you need perform your looking for no one
a mid-afternoon dream in which you are waiting
for someone to speak original light

This object is not on display.

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