Pearlfisher’s Creative Collaborations is a rolling and diverse programme of initiatives – from hosting workshops to curating shows – which will support and showcase different creatives, in different ways, as they come together to create art in its very many forms.

Kicking off the year, the first initiative is the sponsorship of the MERGE exhibition at the Bermondsey Project Space in South East London – a collaboration between photographer, Nicola Bensley, and artist David Dipré, combining their disciplines as they explore perceptions of surface, space, time and representation of the human form.

We caught up with Nicola and David at the exhibition to ask them 5 key questions about their partnership:

1. How and why did your MERGE collaboration begin?

It began during lockdown in 2020. Initially meeting on Instagram through our shared subject matter; the figure and the portrait.

We discussed the possibility of a collaboration and began experimenting. We used to meet in Battersea Park to exchange thoughts, ideas, possibilities and to see how we could move this forward in reality. Our first experiments revealed a strong visual connection, we soon saw our mediums merge and from this, we quickly began to develop our own visual language where there was a seamless balance between picture and paint.

2. How do you work together? 

Initially, the pieces were created very separately; Nicola shooting subjects on film, in black and white, to produce silver-gelatin prints and David then painting, scratching and drawing into them to create one-off pieces.

However, as our partnership gathered momentum – our working methods quickly developed so that we were crossing disciplines and exploring each other’s mediums to produce a unique body of collaborative work.

3. What’s your favourite piece you’ve created for MERGE together and why?

I think it has to be the title piece of the show. It was named MERGE because it captured so much of what we were aiming to achieve, the joining of the two disciplines and the interplay between materials. We were experimenting with the ambiguities of where one practice began and one ended and, ultimately – and excitingly – we were able to make them inseparable.

4. What has working with each other taught you about yourselves?

We’ve definitely both had our visual senses and scope expanded by each other, so that is of huge benefit to our individual critical thinking. It is undoubtedly feeding back into our creative work and accelerating our momentum and processes as we now approach new projects.

5. What do you think makes a successful collaboration?

This collaboration came as a happy surprise to us both. Witnessing how our individual ways of working intuitively matched up has underlined the joy and benefit to be found at the heart of a truly synergistic partnership. Being able to share thoughts and ideas, with someone you respect and trust, can often move things along more quickly than working alone and actually, as in this case, unleash new creative directions.

The extended MERGE exhibition will run until Saturday 29th January 2022 at Bermondsey Project Space.