Brown and Bone


Beige Bands Diptych, 2014, oil and enamel on canvas, 137 x 244 cm

Beige Bands, 2014, oil and enamel on canvas, 151 x 151 cm

Horizontal Lines, 2013, oil and enamel on paper mache on canvas, 91 x 63 cm

Horizontals on Brown, 2013, oil and enamel on paper mache on canvas, 56 x 37 cm

Dotted Wings, 2013, oil and enamel on paper mache on canvas, 41 x 53 cm

Black Base, 2014, oil, enamel and pencil on canvas, 145 x 107 cm

Three Sides Yellow, 2014, oil, enamel, pigment, PVA, paper mache on canvas, 45 x 44 cm

Still on the line

'In Terri Brooks’ immaculately clean and fume-free studio is a collection of music to paint by. Glen Campbell sits next to Springsteen, next to Iggy, next to King. She says she likes songs about everyday people, tunes which celebrate nobodies and their dreams, non-über, non-heroic but dignified nonetheless. There is a definite parallel here with her own paintings and drawings which emerge from repetitive, labour-intensive actions, built-up residues and the extremities of her own reach, coupled with sub-radar inspirations she finds within her local environment, a suburb she has known intimately since childhood.

It is also important to note that Terri Brooks has a Doctorate in Philosophy, one of the most harmonious to art practice within the Humanities. For a philosopher, the enquiry is as critical as the answer, if not more so. Little is seen to have concrete substance and all is open to forensic examination. Over the fifteen years that she has been exhibiting with Flinders Lane Gallery, Brooks has applied such challenges to her own art, gradually reducing both her palette and the variety of her technique, pursuing the elemental base of it all. An associated fascination is with the dualism of the world – night/day; life/death; hot/cold – as she searches for her own balance. She eschews narrative and concentrates on the craft, in the sense of ‘domestic’, even feminine, crafts such as weaving, papier mache and pattern making.

A perfect realisation of all these aims are the suite of Drawings (capital ‘D’) in the exhibition Brown and Bone. In the Drawings, Brooks set herself a series of calculated actions like a production line employee and it is the repetition of these over days and weeks that result in the final pieces. For a piece like Black Base she first paints the canvas, then incises horizontal lines with a pencil from top to bottom whilst the paint is still wet. The next day, she returns and again incises from top to bottom, only now the paint has started to dry meaning clumps and clags start to accumulate like furrows at the edge of a recently graded road. The next day she returns, and the next and so on until the paint can be scarred no more. What is left is a geological field of stucco, a condensed mini strata recording every step of the artist’s passage in the same manner as a foundry worker or brickie. Honest and with every mark evident. However a transformation also occurs for the viewer as these are now artworks as well, elevated from something that merely is (such as the brickie’s wall) to something that is somehow bigger than what it may actually seem. These dynamics of art have been discussed and argued by philosopher-critics over centuries and now Brooks chooses to play her own part as well.

The title Brown and Bone also refers to the reduced palette of her paintings. A key example is Beige Bands Diptych where each vertical brushstroke is executed in one sweep clearly articulating the physical presence of the artist and the length of her arm. Amidst the wavering bands are two diagonals which immediately create a visible tension; and two sprayed black lines create the illusion of foreground. Simple means, simple tactics, dynamic results. This approach carries into the companion piece Beige Bands and to the smaller painting Beige Bands Black Stripes where sprayed dots contrast with the stripes like the accidental sgraffito found on a road after workmen have moved on. In this case, one set of workers have left their mark only to have another come along, recognise their potential and utilise them in the painterly realm to create philosophical meditations on the nature of art/work itself.' Andrew Gaynor, 2014.

Brown and Bone
August 26 - September 13
Flinders Lane Gallery Melbourne

View all works on line here


 Installation shot of 'Brown and Bone', Flinders Lane Gallery
 Installation shot of 'Brown and Bone', Flinders Lane Gallery

 Installation shot of 'Brown and Bone', Flinders Lane Gallery
 Installation shot of 'Brown and Bone', Flinders Lane Gallery