When faced with the art of Katie Brookes you find yourself drawn into a landscape in which anything, literally anything, goes. Emaciated human forms gather on boundless landscapes, usually battling it out under the watchful forms of giant bulls, mythical beings and writhing serpents. The closer you look the more you see, with one ink drawing taking up to four weeks to complete no figure is left without a beast to battle or a club to wield.
Brookes admits a fascination with all things dark, citing influences of Flemish/Dutch renaissance paintings and the specific traits of Pieter Bruegel The Elder can be spotted in her work. More specifically his 'Peasant' scenes in which an energetic jamboree is spread upon a vast landscape, one which on closer inspection becomes increasingly obscure as you being to spot the skeletal faces and naked drunks, accounted for by titles of 'Gluttony' and 'The Triumph of Death.'
But for Katie this dark moral intent holds no bounds, her work furthers this juxtaposition where a 'dark and fleshy but more often than not a comical light tone' can be found. In her blasphemous scenes half men half beast battle it out, behead forms writhe and bleed, poke and prod each other, often subtly being observed by the likes of cheeky looking monkeys the odd flying fish or giant snail.
I'llI play with distorted forms and the grotesque, heaven to hell ratios, people never just going about their daily lives but pushed into uncomfortable circumstances.
Members of the landscape interact across their perspective borders as they lay siege to each other in whatever way they can. When her subjects are able to inhabit their own canvases they remain simple but take on a new delicacy and life, testimony to the considerations behind each living thing Brooks depicts in her giant 2D dioramas.
In the past Katie has experimented with taxidermy, aiming to push the typical boundaries of representing animals. A complex process that has its challenges,
I was really into trying to preserve things, I found dead mice and tried to dry them in PVA glue but that was really messy then I bought some resin and tried to preserve a found dead bird but it just cooked the bird
This lead to an internship with Polly Morgan, an acclaimed member of 'The Guild of Taxidermists', who brings sculptural and artful intent to the conventional boundaries of a simple stuffed animal. It is a practice fitting with Brookes mingling of man and animal, death and life, presented in such a way that does not cause disgust, but rather causes intrigue.
Katie has future plans to explore the ageless relationship between dog and man, but of course with some Faustian elements thrown in, to find out more www.katebrookes.com has info on the latest projects and events.
Article by: Sarah Hope