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Uwe Derksen was born and grew up in Emmerich (Germany), a small border town of the lower Rhine region, not far from where Joseph Beuys grew up and had his first studio. His first encounter with the arts was in the early 60s, through the local artist Hein Driessen, sitting alongside him and watching him paint and draw local motifs. The more provocative and inspirational curiosity came through the encounter with sculptor Waldemar Kuhn’s ‘Das Schrottkreuz’ mounted in a local modernist protestant church. Kuhn had a studio in Emmerich in the 60s and 70s.
Uwe went on to study social science, including philosophy, sociology and politics in Duisburg (Germany) and Canterbury. He worked for the University for the Creative Arts from 2002 to 2016 where he held the position of Assistant Director Research + Enterprise. He worked on a number of collaborative projects, including with his friend Oscar-winning filmmaker Arnold Schwartzman OBE RDI, the textile artist Lesley Millar MBE on a European lace project: Transparent Boundaries – Dialogue with the Elder.
Since 2008 sculptor late Anthony Heywood and Uwe have been collaborating on ideas interrogating the political, social and aesthetic aspects of art intervention. The research through art practice and performance issues around audience engagement undertaking collaborative public art interventions in Liverpool, Margate, Dover and Canterbury through ‘tabula-fortis in pace i, ii(a), ii(b), iii, iv, v, vi, vii. Support included the Art and Humanities Research Council in the UK, Cultural Olympiad 2012 Organising Committee, Liverpool University, Dover Arts Development, British Broadcasting Corporation, Stour Valley Arts, University for the Creative Art, École Supérieur d’Art et Design du Havre et Rouen, École Européenne Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne and others. They set up a Research Cluster in 2012 called ‘The Sculpture Question’ with support from The Margate School, The Cyprus College of Art. The Tabula was part of the international sculpture question conference in Folkestone’s Triennial 2014. Tabula – Fortis in Pace was inspired by Brancusi’s Table of Silence. The first one was part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and placed in Dover with DAD as host and organiser. The latest one was part of the European Capital of Culture Pafos 2017.
Uwe is a Fellow of the RSA. In 2015 Uwe founded The Margate School (TMS), an independent post-graduate liberal art school based in Margate, it's motto Art, Society, Nature (www.themargateschool.com). In 2018 TMS received a Coastal Community Fund grant and in 2019 TMS moved into the former Woolworths building in the High Street. In 2019 TMS also commenced the first European Masters programme in Fine Art, a collaboration with École Supérieur d’Art et Design du Havre et Rouen, where Uwe also regularly holds seminars. It now supports a creative community of over 70 students, academics, practitioners and creative residents.
From 2013 – 2017 Uwe undertook a continuous performative piece Duchamp meets Beuys, a daily beach clean performance documented of a period of 365 days. In 2017 UKD created the Love Happens art installation as part of Le Havre’s (France) 500 years celebration. During lock-down throughout 2019, UKD developed the Stop the War series of installations and performances at The Margate School: Bed-in, Moving Labour (with movement artist Neele Ruckdeschel), We are the Mercury, The Fossor and the Liberator with Taiye Ojo.