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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.

Draft Artist statement

NUA - weekly MA sessions Posted on Wed, April 10, 2013 16:52:23

Richard Brooks

The tripartite concerns of art, theology and social justice are examined in such a way as to promote an ongoing three way conversation rather than a two way argument.

To realise this intention the exhibited work comprises three elements. Each element is in itself multi layered and is not simply a representation of a single interest. The work is contemplative, to be lingered over and to be reflected on.

The first element is 77 games of noughts and crosses painted in vermilion acrylic on small black and white photographs of places of sanctuary. These photographs range from the picturesque rural landscape, to places of shelter for rough sleepers, to seascapes. This subverts the children’s game and makes for a disturbing encounter where the viewer is invited to reflect on the spectacle.

The second element is a series of silent single viewpoint videos of spaces of reflection. These include seascapes, log fires and malt chocolate milk being assimilated by and assimilating the hot milk so both are changed [each time a unique pattern of assimilation is observed]. These videos are shown on a small high resolution screen that invites the viewer to engage with the work on a more intimate level.

The third element is envisioned to be a collection of 27 million rice crispies. Each individual rice crispie is different which resonates with the uniqueness of each individual person. 27 million reflects the number of people currently trapped in modern day slavery. The repetitive nature of counting the contents of several packets resonates in some small way with the drudgery and exploitation faced by such victims. The viewers will be invited to take away a single rice crispie, resonating with sharing, culpability and empathy.

The three elements are drawn together under the umbrella of a single title Assimilation.


Art Practice -Work In Progress Posted on Wed, April 10, 2013 14:53:23

The last session before Easter, a group tutorial was really useful; it was both encouraging and challenging. It has stimulated much thought and reflection over the past few weeks.

I was encouraged by how my experimental work was received but challenged as to how best to present it in the final exhibition. It was also good to contemplate whether still to have the diptych[s] or to have another third element alongside the video and the vermilion painted photographs. I have also been considering the best strategy for displaying the video work[s]; it was good to have a discussion about the choice of large projected versus small higher resolution. I am still currently of the mind that a small high resolution screen, such as on a 7inch tablet would be the best, it would invite the viewer to draw in closer to the work and would contrast and complement the large number of 15cm by 10cm painted photographs. It would provide an interesting starting point with which to engage the viewer, as they are disturbed by a mass of painted photographs that subvert the a children’s game whilst apparently damaging images of places of sanctuary and refuge and then find a small screen on which are meditative video which provide a more peaceful object of contemplation.

I am thinking of making a symbolic number of such painted photographs that would provide another layer of meaning; perhaps a suitable number would be 77 as this is the number of times the Bible teaches that we should forgive the same person for wronging us in a similar way [7 itself being a symbolic number which signifies wholeness, completeness and perfection so 77 [or as in some translations 70 x 7 (i.e. 490)] really means always, or every time].

I think that it would be good if I did have a third element so that I maintained a tripartite dialogue between the works which keeps the conversation going round in a circular way rather than as an argument between just two constituent elements.

However, I have still got a broad range of ideas for this third element, it could be a diptych as originally envisioned, a video [possibly projected], or an object [or collection of objects].

The main ideas I have had for such a collection of objects are:

(a) a found disposable cup and discarded cardboard that have been used and discarded by a rough sleeper;

(b) a collection of many small items referencing the tragedy of people trafficking and forced labour.

For this latter idea I have considered rice, coffee granules, sand; but, my current preference is for rice crispies.

On closer inspection each rice crispie is different, rice is associated with the East where many trafficking victims originate from and there is the opportunity to present them in a number of ways – they are more stable than raw rice having been cooked and thus less risk of significant deterioration during the course of the exhibition. My aim is to have 27 million rice crispies, one for each person currently trapped in modern day slavery. I plan to count the number contained in a few packets and to take an average to work out how many packets I would require. This could then be either displayed in a [number of] large transparent containers &/or forming a [number of mounds]. However I realise that I might have to scale back this ambition due to space and financial constraints.