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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.

Film: “The maid” (La nana)

Other Research Posted on Tue, February 11, 2014 17:57:31

The maid (Le nana)

I really enjoyed watching this film yesterday; for me it was a brilliantly made, nicely restrained film. It was a great exporation of the human condition, relationships, healing and the tranformative power of true compassion and care.

The careful use of dialogue with well chosen visual points of view with long cuts provided an intimate, contemplative study reminiscient of the work of Dogme 95 and Lars Von Trier [especially “Dogville“(2003)].


Other Research Posted on Tue, February 04, 2014 12:03:57

It is good that BBC world service have recently made such an informative and thought provoking audio documentary on slavery, past and present.

I would highly recommend spending 17m 30s listening to this programme [first broadcast Friday 31 January 2014]

Some useful resources for further information were also signposted, viz:

Anti-Slavery International

BBC Freedom 2014


Other Research Posted on Fri, March 01, 2013 11:58:19

I have found it very helpful to work on my MA masters project proposal in parallel with beginning to draft a proposal for a subsequent research degree.

I am maintaining my focus on art, theology and social justice. I have now formulated this into a preliminary title for my research proposal which also seems helpful as I develop my MA work; the title being: Art as Prophetic Voice.

This prophetic voice encompasses a compulsion to speak out on matters of social injustice such as exploitation, neglect or discrimination; for me I would perceive this compulsion as being God inspired, regardless of whether the particular person would see it as such [although I realise that this could be controversial, depending on the world view of that individual].

I am hoping that this cross fertilisation will continue, especially as I am hoping to build on my MA work in my subsequent research.

I am currently reviewing my MA masters project proposal before final submission next week, after which I intend to provide a downloadable pdf of my final proposal, in a future post.

9 Oct 2012 Thought for the Day

Other Research Posted on Wed, October 17, 2012 12:50:56

It was interesting to find this reflection on the vandalism of one of Rothko’s “seagram murals” – especially after the discussion at NUCA the previous week.

One of the questions that Lucy Winkett poses that I think is particularly telling and relevant to my own practice:

If an artist themselves makes something designed to provoke a reaction, can such a reaction be objected to?

Recent Films

Other Research Posted on Tue, October 16, 2012 20:58:32

Over the past few weeks I have watched several films that I have found stimulating and thought provoking:

10 Sept

The Kid With a Bike (2011)

I found this to be a thoughtful work exploring growing up and the impact a few choices can make on the rest of one own life and on those around us.

8 Oct

Dersu Uzala (1975)

This I found to be a moving examination of the human condition, particularly of finding oneself in an alien environment having to rely on the beneficence of an other who knows and is at home in that culture. It thus also reflects on the nature of true friendship.

10 Oct

The Hide (2008)

Interesting, beautifully shot, two character thriller, with careful & thoughtful use of light and environment that both maintained engagement and visually communicated mood and emotion. It also challenged preconceptions about how quickly we make judgements about a person.

14 Oct

A Separation (2011)

This was a moving study of the conflicting pressures of family commitments as the participants struggle to find the way forward as the parents face the agonising decision whether to emigrate to give their daughter the best opportunity or stay and care for the grandfather who has Alzheimer’s

Dov Lederberg 2012-06-27

Other Research Posted on Wed, June 27, 2012 10:02:16

I have been interested in finding Dov Lederberg‘s work and have enjoyed perusing DL‘s website this morning especially Dialogues & Anti-logues – 2004/10.

I was also particularly struck by DL‘s [2009] statement that:

the Hebrew word for art is A-M-N אמן which shares the root and nexus of meaning with the Hebrew words for Faith and Truth. Hopefully, I am involved with all three.

I share DL‘s aspiration to be involved with Art, Faith and Truth.

Open University Human Trafficking Introduction – 2012-06-26

Other Research Posted on Tue, June 26, 2012 18:33:37

It was good to find the Open University material, on their website and podcast; especially to watch the video supported by a detailed transcript which concluded with the challenge:

Yet, are people who have been trafficked always asking for protection or are they demanding rights? What if the language of protection and the very idea of victimhood are not part of the solution but part of the problem?

This is something that I will have to carefully consider so that my work does not and is not perceived to be, contributing to the problem!

Grayson Perry

Other Research Posted on Wed, June 20, 2012 20:43:54

I have been fascinated to watch the three part channel 4 documentary All In The Best Possible Taste, which has documented GP as he conducted his research for making six large tapestries, The Vanity of Small Differences, about the remaining differences in British classes. I was particularly struck by how much he was influenced by relies paintings of the past and by the work of Hogarth, Particularly The Rakes Progress series of paintings [and etchings] – GP even, inspired by Hogarth, included a dog in each work.

I am hoping to be able to make time to be able to see the tapestries at the Victoria Miro in London next Thursday [28 June].

Wednesday 2012-06-20

Other Research Posted on Wed, June 20, 2012 20:30:57

Over the last few days I have found a number of additional sources of research for refugee/ people smuggling and people trafficking.

This has included:

– three iPhone apps, with a fourth due for imminent release;

– several iTunes U podcasts, including material from the Open University, University College London, and Stanford;

– UN reports from both UNHCR and UNODC as well as United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons and the United Nations Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking

I have bookmarked and made pdf copies of these found resources and downloaded the relevant podcasts and apps for further study in due course. I have also used my twitter micro blog to bookmark many of these resources and to raise awareness about them.

Further Useful Websites 2012-06-18

Other Research Posted on Mon, June 18, 2012 12:05:19

Over the last few days I have been pleased to be able to locate a number of additional resources. These include:

Ric Stott, an artist, Methodist Minister and Art Psychotherapist; some of his art work deals with challenging social ethical issues.

Refugee Week, this runs from 18 to 24 June this year, and I am hoping to be able to attend a number of the events as part of my research. To this end I have booked my place on the Ipswich Sanctuary Sunday event and I am going to go to the Ipswich Launch event that is taking place today.

Further Research into People Trafficking

Other Research Posted on Tue, June 12, 2012 16:56:48

I have continued my research into people trafficking and have found a number of useful resources.

These have included press reports in The Guardian and The Telegraph; these intern pointed me to the salvation army which has produced a six month review on supporting victims of people trafficking and provided accounts of three diverse personal stories from former victims. Quite rightly they put the well-being of the former victims as paramount; so do not provide access for interviews. This I think is good, these people should not have to relive their traumatic experiences through being exposed to press and academic scrutiny. Although it would be good to obtain a digest of short accounts that had already been gathered by frontline workers such as the Salvation Army.

It is noteworthy that, as The Guardian article highlights, over 40% of all trafficking victims are male and that, of all victims, 45% were trafficked into prostitution and 43% into forced labour and 8% into domestic servitude.

This is really useful data that will help to inform my future work, that I hope will question some of the common pre-conceptions about people trafficking.

The HTF [Human Trafficking Foundation] is also both a good resource in itself and also provides a very valuable list, including links, of further resources.

Current Theological Articles

Other Research Posted on Mon, June 11, 2012 17:18:51

I have just found a useful resource for current and recent theological articles that will help in my ongoing research that will inform my work and practice. These articles deal with a number of current social issues from a range of Christian theological perspectives.

This “Rethinking Mission” website has a very extensive list of articles that can be readily accessed online; this list spans 18 pages and includes many current eminent theologians.

The first one I am going to study is Choosing Life or Second Life? Discipleship and Agency in a Mediated Culture By the Revd Gary P Hall

GH “looks at how the media can blur a person’s perspective of reality, and asks whether this will turn the Christian life into a capitalist pursuit of happiness”.

He considers that: “for many people living in media-saturated, overdeveloped societies, any distinction between actual reality and a mediated pseudo-reality is blurred. Another facet of life in a media-saturated context is that of being regularly confronted with impressions of destitution, violence and ecological degradation whilst at the same time being further distanced from the realities represented through communications media and their „virtualizing‟ tendency. This rapid change in our relation to reality has, I suggest, profound theological and missiological consequences.” [extract from his abstract]

Anti-Slavery International

Other Research Posted on Tue, June 05, 2012 16:58:37

During my current research I have also found the Anti-Slavery International website to be a useful resource, particularly:

The Slavery On The High Street Report that has just been published [1 June 2012]

and the Slavery on the High street summary [Jun 2012]

and it is shocking to see how many of our high street shops and supermarkets are culpable as can be readily seen in this table and footnotes.

Anti-Slavery International also provide a valuable online resource library of numerous reports including a number specifically relating to trafficking.

They have also produced a map showing the products of slavery which I found to be rather disturbing.

Modern Slavery in The UK

Other Research Posted on Tue, June 05, 2012 12:42:25

Last week, I was challenged to come across this paper in my study: the Findings Summary of the 2007 Joseph Rowntree Foundation [JRF] report: Contemporary slavery in the UK: Overview and key issues.

This motivated me to investigate further and I discovered the full report on line, together with a summary; in addition I found a number of subsequent reports into modern slavery that JRF have produced.

I am still in the process of studying these resources; and I thought it would be good to gather the links to these JRF reports etc together:

Contemporary slavery in the UK: Overview and key issues [2007]

[summary – 4 page – pdf] [Full report – 79 page – pdf]

Experiences Of Forced Labour In The UK Food Industry [May 2012]

[summary – 4 page – pdf] [Full report – 91 page – pdf] [Full report – 68 page – ebook]

Forced Labour In The UK: The Business Angle [April 2012]

[Full report – 36 page – pdf]

Regulation And Enforcement To Tackle Forced Labour In The Uk: A Systematic Response? [February 2012]

[Full report – 65 page – pdf]

Forced Labour: Contemporary Slavery In The UK [webpage 2012]

Chinese Migrants: Their Experiences In Their Own Words [Dec 2011]

[Full report – 52 page – pdf]

Experiences Of Forced Labour Among Chinese Migrant Workers [Nov 2011]

[summary – 5 page – pdf] [Full report – 68 page – pdf] [Full report – 65 page – ebook]

Forced Labour And UK Immigration Policy: Status Matters? [Oct 2011]

[Full report – 45 page – pdf]

Between Decent Work And Forced Labour: Examining The Continuum Of Exploitation [Nov 2010]

[Full report – 38 page – pdf]