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 aspects came through 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 was a member of the former Art, Culture and Science research cluster and presented the “12 THESES v1” for one of the seminars, which would influence later educational developments (see below).
He instigated and collaborated together with Anthony Heywood and Peter Liversidge on the Wild Flowers Project in Margate in 2009. He has produced the Imagine a Spectacle performance at the Theatre Royal Margate with workshops at the Herbert Read Gallery UCA Canterbury working with fellow artists Tine Bech, Anthony Heywood and Rafau Sieraczek (lead artist) in 2010. 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 Anthony Heywood and Uwe have been collaborating on ideas interrogating the political, social and aesthetic aspects of art intervention, through research into audience engagement and collaborative art and public art interventions in Liverpool, Margate, Dover and Canterbury through ‘tabula-fortis in pace i, ii(a), ii(b), iii, iv, v, vi, vii. Collaborators have been 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 , The Margate School, The Cyprus College of Art. The Tabula was part of the international sculpture conference within the Folkestone 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’s approach to the arts is influenced by Beuys, Brecht and Stockhausen among others. He is supportive of the Social Sculpture Research Centre at Oxford Brookes University and participates regularly in research seminars there. He has collaborated with Shelly Sacks, former Beuys student 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. In 2018 TMS received a Coastal Community Fund grant and in 2019 TMS moved into the foreigner 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.