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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.


General Posted on Thu, April 10, 2014 15:58:37

Delighted that my profile is now live on AXIS , and at how my MAstars profile has been included in the MAstars 2013 e-yearbook.

I am currently working on a number of new video pieces that I hope to show over the summer.


General Posted on Thu, January 02, 2014 18:48:17

Delighted that Axis web promoting the Axis MA star review of my Assimilation work by Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts’ curator – Amanda Geitner on twitter

MA Show

General Posted on Wed, August 28, 2013 22:53:54

Here are all the 14 Artists, in alphabetical order, in the MA Fine Art Show with their links to the NUA online catalogue:

Alexandra Blythe

Richard Brooks

Daniel Clegg

Anjula Crocker

Hannah Dennis

Verónica Domingo Alonso

Joan Hornett

Theodora Lecrinier

Dina Leigh

Jayne McConnell

Amy Nettleton

Sam Robbins

Billy Sayer

Rachel Wooller

We have also self published a show catalogue on blurb.

Assimilation (Games) Book

General Posted on Fri, August 23, 2013 00:14:10

Just self-published Assimilation (Games) book to coincide with my MA show at NUA [30 August to 4 September]

Assimilation (Games) by Richard Brooks | Make Your Own Book

Revised Personal Statement

General Posted on Mon, August 19, 2013 23:57:36

Today I have been working on updating my artist statement as part of my preparatory work for the rejuvenation of my website.

This is my new [general] artist statement, it is deliberately brief so that my new home page can be sparsely populated:

Brooks’s work is informed by his personal faith, sense of vulnerability, bereavement, and, his personal experience.

Brooks’s practice centres on addressing social justice issues of the human condition. He avoids making work of any individual person; so that neither, is the individual stigmatised, nor is the work not unduly personalised.

MA Show

General Posted on Fri, August 16, 2013 08:25:58

It was good to successfully complete the show installation, critical evaluation and collating my research files for yesterdays hand in.

Here is the brief summary of my Masters Project:

During my MA project I have continued my practice of using my blog alongside a more

private notebook for my reflective journal. In addition I have continued using Twitter as a micro-blog often as a means of speaking out.

These have assisted me in the development of my practice as I have continued in my

enquiry into art as a prophetic voice.

My research methodology has remained largely practice based as I have established that
thinking through making is a key element in my practice.

I have continued to use a range of resources in my research as I investigated the three
strands of art, theology and social justice. Latterly I have relied more on making electronic copies of key online resources rather than printing them out. This has also been the case with documenting gallery visits.

For the Masters project I have made four complimentary works: –

Assimilation (drinks)

quicktime video in real time at actual size showing the assimilation of powder

in the milk.

Assimilation (games)

50 black and white photographs each with a painted game of noughts and

crosses on it. (nb I am submitting the box set of the 50 images for the MA

show vitrine).

Assimilation (seascape)

10 minute quick time video of the coastal scene with no trace of human


Assimilation (27 million)

9 hour 46 minutes quick time video that documents the counting of

27,000 rice crispies in real time. As time progresses the bowl is almost

completely obscured by rice crispies.

I anticipate continuing in this practice and further developing my art as prophetic voice
prompting questions about injustice and stewardship. I will continue to make both moving and still images; sometimes contemplative and at other times disturbing.

For those who want to read more, here is my Critical Evaluation, available as a pdf download:

I am now really looking forward to the MA show opening at the end of the month

Here is the link to my online catalogue for the show:

Bishop’s Art Prize 2013

General Posted on Tue, June 18, 2013 10:10:15

Last night I was thrilled to be awarded second prize for Assimilation. I thus thought that it would be good to provide an expanded statement about the work [NB the theme for the Bishop’s Art Prize 2013 theme is Darkness and Light]:

Assimilation, comprises is a series of three silent videos made during Holy Week and Easter 2013. These show a malt chocolate milk being assimilated by and assimilating the hot milk so both are changed. Each having a unique pattern of assimilation. This resonates with the uniqueness of every person, yet each being made in the image of God. It also speaks of the particular action of the Holy Spirit in each person.

The work is also concerned with exploring social injustice, in particular people trafficking and homelessness. It is informed by my personal faith, sense of vulnerability, bereavement and experience of being a volunteer both at a winter night shelter for the homeless and a soup kitchen. It speaks of how we all make a unique difference and the potential to exercise good stewardship, guided by the Holy Spirit, to make a positive difference, to bring positive change, to radiate hope and light to challenge the darkness of injustice.


General Posted on Thu, January 10, 2013 00:54:40

It has been good to consider my progress and practice at the end of this unit as I have gathered and collated all my work and research.

I realise that for the MA project it would be good if I could undertake such a review on a regular basis and not merely after 7 to 8 months work prior to the hand in and final show.

I am especially pleased with the video “Assimilation 2” in which I have managed to begin to address and explore art, theology and social justice. I think this will be further developed as I make preparations for the degree show installation where a evolved rendition of this video is envisioned to be shown alongside one are more photographic diptychs. These diptych[s] are currently expected to also be evolutions from the current diptychs.

One element of this installation that I want to particularly resolve is that of the size of the images of the different elements. This will not only influence how the work is received by the viewer but it will also have a significant impact on the number of diptych that would be possible to show.

I also realise that I need to continue to develop the research, in all three streams alongside my work in further developing and establishing my studio practice. Indeed, I believe that it has been a great opportunity for me to be able to be a weekly volunteer for the Ipswich Winter Night Shelter [this will continue to March]; this has already informed and further motivated my work.

I am looking forward to further working on picture making and exploring the tripartite juxtapositions between the video and the diptych[s].

Reflective Journal

General Posted on Mon, October 15, 2012 11:13:40

I am now going to use this blog and a hand written notebook as two parts of my reflective journal as sometimes it seems more apposite to use that specific format.

This conclusion, and reflections on my work and practice can be found in the critical evaluation that I produced in August, a copy of which I have attached below:

The Pecha Kucha that I had previously worked on earlier in the summer also helped to inform and develop my critical evaluation; this Pecha Kucha is attached below:

I am also continuing to maintain my twitter feed, including highlighting matters of social interest and concern. I realise that this has become an important part of my practice.


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.

LowTide 2012?

General Posted on Wed, May 02, 2012 10:38:58

I am somewhat disappointed that the River Ocean Research website has still not been updated and still refers to the 2011 LowTide festival as a forthcoming event on 14 May 2011. This has taken place each May, since 1995, on the Saturday with the lowest tide; it seems a great shame if this has now ceased and seems to underline the importance of asking probing social and environmental questions in general and in art in particular.


General Posted on Thu, April 26, 2012 11:26:14

It was good to recently watch a number of episodes of Simon Schama’s BBC series A History of Britain. It was particularly striking to see parts of the Bayeux Tapestry – especially the segment which depicts a mother and child fleeing from their home which is being burnt by rampaging soldiers. This is particularly significant as it is perhaps the earliest depictions of the innocent victims of war which was later expanded by the like of Goya.

Who’s Angry Now? [Radio 4 2012-04-12]

General Posted on Thu, April 12, 2012 15:11:54

It was interesting and stimulating to listen and re-listen to this documentary about politically aware contemporary musical artists who express their social activism in their work.

A good programme synopsis is available on the BBC website.

I was especially struck by how a number of the contributors, such as “Itch” did not draw any line or distinction between their autism and their work; this seems to resonate with my own personal ethos and praxis.

Jeremy Deller – A Middle Class Hero – A Culture show special BBC2 2011/12 ep23

General Posted on Thu, April 05, 2012 16:16:43

It was good to be able to view this documentary a couple of times over the last week. I was struck by how collaborative and modest he is. It was also enlightening to discover how he was one of the artists who tried to push beyond the YBA by not be restricted to traditional forms [such as painting and sculpture] but to make more ephemeral, more collaborative work. It is an interesting paradox that he was inspired by Andy Warhol and his factory as it made him aware of the range of art that was/is possible.

It was also quite liberating to hear JD discuss his broad definition of what constitutes art and his view that he makes simple art about simple ideas that is readily understood – he ascribed this to not having been influenced to be too obtuse as he had not gone to art college. But this also seems to resonate with how Gilbert & George view their work as accessible. I too do not want my work to be too obtuse – rather I intend it to be accessible and understandable to a broad range of viewers.

Front row Radio 4 [2012-03-22]

General Posted on Thu, April 05, 2012 16:03:34

I was encouraged and challenged by the insight of a musical artist, she stated that:

The purpose of an artist is to unearth questions and concerns that require attention.

This strongly resonates with my own ethos and art practice – I want to make work with a purpose, work that will make a difference; to prompt the viewer to ask questions and to give attention to matters that that they would not have otherwise so deeply considered or engage with.

Research [2012-03-19&20]

General Posted on Wed, March 21, 2012 14:43:59

Earlier this week I viewed couple of TV documentaries that I have found quite disturbing.

First, Empire: Making a Fortune [BBC 1 Mon 9pm 19-03-2012], which included an examination of the slave trade, I encountered testimony of the exploitation and mistreatment of slave that was most disturbing. For instance the inhumane punishments included being stripped, coved in molasses and tied down for 24 hours so the victim was covered in flies by day and mosquitoes by night; another included being whipped and dedicated on! In addition one slave owner commuted over 3000 rapes on women slaves and the custom was to allow his guests to do likewise. This shocking behaviour and attitude was justified by them by rationalising that the slave were not really people, they were merely the owners property and the felt they could do with however they wished. On the back of slave labour though many plantation owners became extremely wealthy, some were from relatively humble backgrounds such as an English farmer but were now part of the new rich. The fact that there are now more people than ever, including at the height of the transatlantic slave trade, who are victims of slavery and people trafficking is disgusting. This has increased my desire to use my art as a prophetic voice – to speak out again social injustice and exploitation. It has reminded me of the resonance between the detritus from human activity found on the beach [jetsam, flotsam and litter, often it is unclear which one it is and it’s source of origin unknown] and the arrival of migrants, refugees and victims of trafficking at the nearby ports.

Secondly, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings [C4 Tue 9pm 20-03-2012] which not only followed a couple of weddings but also a baptism and first communion, as well as contrasting the community of an Irish Gypsy town with Dale farm. I was pleasantly surprised by the programmes treatment, I had expected more sensationalism and a less sympathetic approach. The effect on the young children from the eviction was clear, as was the dignity with which the families walked of the site when eviction was inevitable. The sense of community, including settled and traveling gypsy families was remarkable, as was there sense of heritage. The contrast between the non gypsy neighbours was also striking, some were extremely hostile and racist: “They don’t belong, they’re not from round here, they’re Irish.” Yet in another town the neighbours had a high regard for the gypsy family and all turned out to watch the family set off in all their finery for the wedding. This was an interesting glimpse into the gypsy life, a migrant people with a strong heritage and close knit community. It feels as though this may also inform my current work as I keep being reminded of resonances between my current practice and migrant peoples etc.

Landguard Point 2012-03-14

General Posted on Wed, March 14, 2012 18:46:10

Today it was interesting to discover that the stretch of beach I am repeatedly returning to is within a couple of miles of the SSSI designated area at Landguard point. For me this further underlined the potential impact of the detritus from human activity on the natural world and habitats. It has thus provided me with additional motivation for this ongoing work.


General Posted on Tue, March 13, 2012 18:53:09

Over the weekend it was interesting to see a programme about all the plastic flotsam and jetsam in the pacific ocean and how the polymers are being broken down to form a “plastic soup”. It was distressing to see the extent and how impractical it is to readily clean up what is already there and yet this is still being added to. It was awful to see the strand line of plastics on the pacific island – especially to learn that it would be washed out to sea again at the next high tide.

However, this did underline for me the importance of my current work, not only personally but also as a way of making a difference, both practically and as a prophetic voice – speaking out!

Steve McQueen

General Posted on Tue, February 07, 2012 13:30:31

Reflecting further on the lecture by Steve Baker and the work of Steve McQueen I am somewhat surprised by the McQueen quotes that Steve Baker used:

Art as Object

Art Can’t change anything

Steve McQueen’s Queen and Country seems to be far more than merely the object of the pro type stamps; and his campaign to try and make them into real stamps seems to suggest that art can change things – it can help people remember/realise the cost of war through commemorating the sacrifice of many ordinary service personnel.

Monday 2012-02-06

General Posted on Mon, February 06, 2012 16:09:44

Today it has been challenging to view the final programme in the Channel 4 series The Genius of British ArtThe Art of War – presented by Jon Snow.

I was especially interested in three of the artists:

Stanley Spencer – his allegory of remembrance following WW1 and his later WW2 work about the northern shipyards; he was a pacifist and his work was informed by his Christian faith. As he made art with a purpose, informed by his faith, he represents a mode of practice that both resonates with me personally and which I would like to emulate.

Jeremy Deller – especially in the light of last weeks session and the Gillick text, it was interesting to see his It is what it is (2008) [a destroyed car from the Iraq war] and how J.D. used this as a platform for discussion for those effected by war; such engagement taking place both inside and outside the traditional gallery space. Seeking not to glorify war, but to bring the reality of war home to America. I was though somewhat ambivalent as to his attitude that he enjoyed the fact that it could be interpreted as anti war by the left and pro war by the right; this seemed to me to be confusing and to potentially dilute the central theme of bringing the horror of war home, irrespective of political views towards the war.

Steve McQueen – I was deeply moved by the images of his Queen and Country installation and rather saddened by the lack of support into making the stamps into real postage stamps that would be widely disseminated and would be a powerful tribute to all the normal service personnel who lost their lives during the Afghan war. This seemed to me to be a really iconic work that sought to bring the art to the widest possible audience in an extremely personal way. I find myself inspired and a siring to do likewise with my own work. I found it especially poignant to then find he had worked in collaboration with the braved families and that it was the bereaved families who had chosen the images for the “stamps”. It seems such a shame that the stamps have still not been fully realised as a Royal Mail issue.


General Posted on Wed, February 01, 2012 18:57:11

To day it has been good to watch 4 videos from Channel 4’s The Genius of British Art.

I re-watched Hogarth and was again struck by the integrity of his social or moral subject.

The Landscape and Flesh programs challenged my preconceptions and made me realise that there is much more depth to landscape imagery than I had really acknowledged.

While the Modern Art program included a number of good interviews, including: Tracy Emin; Gilbert & George; Damien Hirst; John Lydon [Sex Pistols]; and Grayson Perry. All of which have given food for thought – they were all seeking to speak out on concerns that really mattered to them personally.

It is important too for me to try to maintain such integrity in my work and practice. It still somewhat troubles me that my works that seem to be the most sellable are those that tackle the issue of people trafficking; this seems rather contradictory and incongruous.

This Week

General Posted on Sat, January 28, 2012 06:49:54

It was a relief to have passed and to receive such positive feedback for my first MA [Research into Practice] unit on Thursday [2012-01-26].

[NB I have published the video Art Experiment 1 (that was submitted for RiPu) on youtube]

It has been frustrating to not yet be able to find the ocean and ecology research body with related low tide study that Carl referred to – I will need to follow this up with him when I next see him.

Yesterday [2012-01-27] afternoon I returned to the same stretch of Felixstowe beach to again gather detritus from human activity; again my partner accompanied me and documented some of the gathering photographically. As I gathered I reflected further on the feedback – about the gathering being performance – I contemplated whether this could be perhaps made more obvious by my choice of inapt clothing – such as a smart suit or my Ice Hockey Kit! This was partly prompted by the research I had done in the morning into the work of Doug Fishbone – and how in his recent film, Elmina, he as a western white man represents a black African farmer whilst the rest of the cast are all African and the incongruity is ignored.

My previous weekly session was last Sunday [2012-01-22]; on both of these 2 recent occasions it has been interesting to find more thread/twine etc entwined in seaweed on what appears to be the high tide strand line, yet the sea has been much calmer than in December – but there has been a more definite strand line and an increase in that detritus that is intertwined with the seaweed – not less as might have been intuitively expected.

Today I am looking forward to spending the day in London where I hope to visit the Tate Modern, the Dickens exhibition at the Museum of London and perhaps either the Foundling Hospital or the Whitechapel Gallery.