Garry Fabian Miller
Garry Fabian Miller (b. Bristol, 1957) is best known for his boldly coloured abstract work made in the darkroom without a camera. His practice is characterised by long exposures of between one and fifteen hours, a distinct contrast to the photographic norm of the split-second shutter release. Fabian Miller has mastered the quantities of light needed to achieve nuanced and precise colours. Channelling light through coloured glass and liquid using cut paper forms, Fabian Miller creates luminous alternative realities that flow between pure abstraction and imagined landscapes. Light, time and colour thus become both medium and subject in his work. These themes are deeply rooted in Fabian Miller’s sense of place as a rural artist and his connection to nature. Walking the surrounding landscape of his Dartmoor studio, absorbing his surroundings before entering the darkroom to begin image-making. The artist becomes the camera, using a language of colour and form developed over 40 years.
Garry Fabian Miller’s first major body of work, Sections of England: The Sea Horizon (1976), made when he was just 19 years old, saw early success in exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery in London (1977) and Arnolfini in Bristol (1979) and was later acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Sea Horizons comprised of forty photographs taken from a fixed point on the roof of his then home overlooking the Severn Estuary. Lens, film, and exposure remained constant so that only the only variables between the forty images were the time of day and the weather. This series, alongside an earlier intensive study of the remote island community of the Shetlands, heightened Fabian Miller’s interest in rural communities. His choice of an artist’s life outside of metropolitan culture is often likened to the philosophy of the “country potter” drawing inspiration from slowing down and embracing a hands-on approach to the creative process.
Since 1976 Garry Fabian Miller has worked exclusively with light-sensitive Cibachrome paper. In 1984 he put down the camera, working in the darkroom with the light from the enlarger. The production of Cibachrome paper declined sharply in 2005 and fully ceased in 2011, thus prompting Fabian Miller’s Year One (2005) and Year Two (2007) series. In response, he has begun a series of collaborative projects that reimagine his camera-less works. Between 2014 and 2018 he collaborated with Dovecot Tapestry Studios, Edinburgh on a collection of rugs and on the tapestry Voyage into the deepest darkest blue. In 2018 the Victoria and Albert Museum premiered Fabian Miller’s first film, Last evenings, a collaboration with composer and musician Oliver Coates and on-going collaboration with poet Alice Oswald.
Garry Fabian Miller is currently working in an intense period of knowing that his final Cibachrome print could be made any day as pushes the limits of the last of his materials.
The Victoria & Albert Museum has the largest public collection of the artist’s work having collected pieces for over 25 years, with the Year One cabinet on permanent display within the Museum’s Print Room. His work is held in many public institutions including Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art; The Fogg Art Museum, Boston; the Government Art Collection, UK; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield; Houston Museum of Fine Art; Kasama Nichido Museum of Art, Tokyo; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museet for Fotokunst, Odense; Museum of Contemporary Art, Bangkok; Museum Ritter Waldenbunch, Germany; Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach; Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney; and the Sir Elton John Collection, among others.
Since the winter of 1989 Garry Fabian Miller has lived with his family on Dartmoor in the South West of England.