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While the work An Exhibition for Modern Living examines the nature of how and why individuals collect, Oak Effect (2012) addresses how museums and galleries acquire artworks. For this piece, Darbyshire displays original wooden objects in a room made from contemporary pieces of flat-pack furniture. The artist has re-worked this installation with curators and conservators at the gallery to present a diverse range of hand-made artefacts fashioned from natural wood from the city’s collections, challenging us to think about the provenance and display of our collections in a very different way.
More recently, Darbyshire has begun to explore industrial prototyping and 3D digital printing to create sculptures using pristine white polystyrene for his Bureau series (2014). The artist has subsequently built on this research and techniques developed to recreate classical and contemporary sculptural forms from layers of hand-cut, multi-coloured polycarbonate as part of a series entitled CAPTCHA. A sculpture from Darbyshire’s CAPTCHA series is currently a highlight of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Two sculptures have been created specifically for the exhibition as part of this series, which will be positioned in Manchester Art Gallery’s impressive Doric entrance hall.Doryphoros and Dyson will take the place of traditional bronze and marble figurative sculpture on either side of the grand stone staircase, set against the backdrop of casts from the Parthenon frieze given by George IV to decorate Manchester’s very own temple to culture.