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Richard Brooks - Reflective Journal

About the Artist RWB Journal

My work is informed by my personal faith, sense of vulnerability, bereavement, and, my personal experience.

My practice centres on addressing social justice issues of the human condition. I avoid making work of any individual person; so that neither, is the individual stigmatised, nor is the work unduly personalised.

Since January 2012 I have used this blog as part of my reflective journal.
Included in this journal is some of my documentation of my research; the underlined text provides links to web pages etc that have formed part of my research.
The Research Visits category includes some responses to gallery visits.

Ipswich Art School “Revisitations”

Research Visit Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 18:52:20


This was an interesting show, with a good range of work from the Saatchi collection. My highlights were:

The “Boneshaker” by Brian Griffiths (2003) was an impressive wooden sculpture to start the exhibition, made of wood from old furniture and so large that it had had to be assembled in the Gallery; but it also fruitfully bore further prolonged enquiry. It was an intriguing, and somehow uplifting piece that despite its imposing size was not overwhelming.

Aleksandra Mir’s “Newsroom” (1986-2000, 2007) was a series of large drawings drawn from a meticulous gathering of copies of Newspaper frontages over many years. Initially, because of their style and content, I mistook the drawing to be prints; this confusion was good and it seemed to add to the depth of the work. It was good that some of the drawings were on the wall of the initial gallery and they seemed to have a positive dialogue with Griffith’s “Boneshaker” with furthers drawings being in a smaller gallery adjacent to this room. The small gallery’s walls being filled with these works made for an interesting installation piece inits self. I hope that I will be able to realise and present my work in a such a way that not only do the individual pieces work, but they also compliment one another to form a complimentary coherent installation.

The other works that engaged me were:

Steve Bishop’s “Christian Dior – J’adore (Mountain Goat)” (2008) [Taxidermied goat, concrete, chalk];

Guerra de la Paz’s “Nine” (2007)[Mixed media sculptural installation] this was an intriguing sceptre that is remade in each location with all the found secondhand clothing – it seems good that it is unique in each location that it is exhibited;

Tessa Farmer’s “Swarm” (2004) [Mixed media] – here the case had to be displayed in the museum, rather than the art gallery due to it’s size and the access to the gallery, however serendipitously this seemed to work even better among the natural history specimens;

Bedwyr Williams’s “Walk a mile in my shoes” (2006) [Installation with size 13 shoes, written notes, poster, shelving and foot-rests], this was surpassingly moving and almost spiritual.

Project Proposal Workshop

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 18:19:22

It was good to be able to share, in some depth, in pairs, our initial ideas for our projects and to be able to also have discussion with Tom. The feedback and discussion was very useful and productive. It was also good to engage with the larger group and to briefly share our ideas and feedback.

It was good to be able to contribute to on another from our own experience.

Through this process, I came to understand that my project proposal was more like what my aims are for the remainder of the MA rather than just for this unit. I thus now need to spend some time in careful reflection, to take a more strategic view; so that I can set myself milestones for each unit in order to fulfil my overall aim. I need to limit the scope and be more focussed, but to remain flexible to the work evolving and leading in unexpected directions.

I am still currently undertaking this reflection, and wonder whether the focus of my work for this unit should be to research the art, theology, and social ethical concerns rather than on trying to force the studio work beyond its current rather experimental or embryonic stage.

Project Proposal

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 17:27:33

For the sake of completeness, I thought that it would be good to share my initial notes for the project proposal, these notes were made in preparation for the SNU Project Proposal workshop that was held on 2012-05-31.


Brief Description

– Art & Social Ethics & informed by faith/ theology

-> Prophetic Voice , speaking out [like Dickens and Hogarth].

– Art & Theology in Dialogue

-> How the [Liberation] Theology of justice and freedom impacts on art practice & in particular on my own art practice -> Driving me to make work addressing social concerns.

– I aim to make a meditative work that will prompt/ encourage the viewer to ask questions about social injustice.

Current Practitioners

Peter Kennard/ KennardPhillips

Jeremy Deller

Noel Douglas

Dana Popa

Josh MacPhee

Gilbert & George

Douglas Fishbone

Grayson Perry

Mark Wallinger

John Keane

Ola Kolehmainen [for the meditative nature of his work]

[Please also see earlier post Current Artists on 25 May 2012, which provides links for many of these artists]

Form of Proposed Work

I am unsure of the form at present, so I intend to explore the use of:

– Photographs

– Video / Audio Video

– Printmaking -> Posters

– Installation

– Text

Research Methods To Inform Practice

Making experimental work using a range of forms/ techniques [as listed above]

Other research to include:

– Gallery visits

– Library Resources

– Online Resources

– Critical review of my own previous and ongoing work

To research both art practice and social ethical issues [such as people trafficking]

How these Methods Communicate My Ideas

By making a meditative, rather than a shocking work, it is hoped that the viewer will engage more deeply with the work and the social ethical issues it questions.

Plan & Difficulties

Plan – make schedule for a range of experimental work & other research.

Main Difficulty – at present I can not yet pre-visualise how the work will be realised

-> so it is not clear how to best focus my practice.

-> Perhaps I should initially concentrate on research, including experimental making and to then critically reflect to discern where that should lead.

NUCA Gallery “You Are Here” – Lance Wyman

Research Visit Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 16:57:57

It was good to be able to spend some time engaging with this iconic work, the show had a strong emphasis on LW‘s work for the Mexico 1968 Olympics and has been generally well received – including being featured by the BBC.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this design show; I was impressed by the curation, installation and presentation. In particular the fact that a number of the logos were installed directly on to the wall, rather than a [framed] print being hung on the wall seemed to make the show far more engaging. The show seemed to me to have a good natural flow and the collection of work and their display worked together extremely well to virtually make an installation piece in it’s own right.

Feedback Tutorial and subsequent reflections

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 16:30:49

It has been useful to reflect on the clear suggestions that CR made as to how I could improve and develop my formation and practice as an artist.

These suggestions included:

– I need to continue to both visit galleries and to deeply reflect on the shows and their presentation;

– I need to try and consider further about how I might realise and present my work in a gallery space;

– To further increase my knowledge base so that I can be more fully grounded;

– To continue to explore printmaking, this may lead to printmaking having a greater role within my personal practice [a series of posters could be one way to realise the work];

– To continue to consider text, text works could also provide a mode for realisation.

During my ongoing reflection and consideration of this feedback I have spent some time contemplating making a poster. This would be in vertical [portrait format], still using newsprint and would have both image and text elements. My thinking is to also include space where detail can be added by hand: these details would be date of visit and finds. Although I am still considering whether it is best to allow space for the finds to be listed or to print a table where the types of finds would be printed and the quantity, if any of such items on that occasion would be recorded. In either case the posters would form an evidence log; which nicely resonates with how the finds from each occasion have been separately bagged and labelled.

On further review I decided that it was better to have space for a list of items rather than a chart, as too much space would be given over in the table to item that were not found on that particular occasion.

I have thus now decided to produce a digital mock up to help aid my ongoing discernment of the best way to progress the work. I hope to make and upload this mock-up in the coming week.


General Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 15:53:02

It was good to have another chat, and subsequent email correspondence with, Deacon Kerry, the author of the people trafficking article, that used some of my images. To be asked whether I might return to the subject resonated strongly with the sense I was already having of being drag back again to that area of concern.

It was encouraging to hear how Kerry had used my “Damaged” images and how they had been received.

Research – “Icons of the Incarnation” by Sophie Hacker

General Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 15:20:55

Last month it was good to discover a book that will help in my ongoing reflections on the dialogue, within my own practice, between art and faith/ theology.

It is especially useful to have SH‘s extended introduction with includes something of here working practice. I look forward to deeply engaging with this book and expect that it will help to inform the ongoing development of my work and practice.

It has also been good to find Sophie Hacker as a current artist whose faith informs their work; and especially to learn of ACE (Art and Christian Enquiry) [an educational charity that promotes dialogue between faith and the visual arts] and SH’s involvement as a trustee of that organisation.

Chatsworth Visit

Research Visit Posted on Mon, June 04, 2012 13:54:35

It has been good to spend some time reflecting on a range of art work that I encountered during my visit (last month) to Chatsworth; both inside the property (particularly in The New Gallery exhibition space) and in the extensive grounds. I was moved by Sean Scully’s Wall of Light Red Day Leaving (2005):

This was enhanced by its position at the end of the corridor causing the work to be framed by the architecture, which really complimented the piece well.

In the grounds, particularly near the cannel, there was an impressive retrospective of Sir Anthony Caro. However, this was somewhat spoilt by the proliferation of signage stating “Please do not touch or climb on the work”;

this signage was so close to each of the pieces that it somewhat detracted from the vista and the context of the placing of the works in such impressive locations.

Furthermore, the other works in the grounds, including Nash and Long did not have such signage to spoil their sympathetic location; some could argue that this even implied that touching and climbing of those other works was acceptable!

It was great to encounter and discover almost hidden works and how they related to their environment. I was particularly moved by the Richard long piece:

I particularly enjoyed how this work, by Richard Long, had been installed IN the lawn rather than merely on the lawn.

And the David Nash piece which just seemed to work so well in that specific location, especially the dialogue that was created between the art work and the dead tree:

I was though somewhat surprised at the lack of signage for the works that were installed outside; especially when compared to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park which seems to succeed in providing symapthetic signage to credit the artist, title and year of work but without detracting from the overall installation in the outdoor environment.