WORKS INCLUDED IN THE FOLLOWING REVIEWS AND PUBLICATIONS
1998 Caribbean Art Thames and Hudson World of Art series, Thames and Hudson, London
1996 Feature article in BWIA inflight magazine, by Dr. Petrine Archer-Straw published, June 1996
1996 Work included in UWI publication, titled Modern Jamaican Art, published, November 1996, with lead essays by Dr. David Boxer and Mrs. Veerle Poupeye-Rammelaere
1990 Jamaican Art an overview with a focus on fifty artists, by Petrine Archer-Straw and Kim Robinson, Kingston Publishers
Sky Writings Air Jamaicas inflight magazine. Special edition on outstanding Jamaican women, interviewed by: Winnie Risden-Hunter
1986 National Gallery lecture series titled Masterpieces from the National Collection Lecture given by Petrine Archer-Straw on the work titled Pomegranates
1984 Arts Jamaica Volume 2 No. 4, page 12
1982 Arts Jamaica Volume 2 no. 4, page 5, The Women as Artists a historical perspective by Jean Smith
1982 (April) Arts Jamaica Volume 1 No. 1, page 4, The Landscape as Medium, by Sonia Mills
1972 (March) Jamaica Journal Volume 6 No. 1, page 44, Abstract Art in Jamaica by Rosalie Smith-McCrae
BY LEISHA CHEN-YOUNG
"Everything has a surface quality," Hope Brooks tells S O over the phone, her voice a little raspy. Known for her pieces that speak to a realism born through texture, and themes that contemplate the natural world, Brooks is retiring although, thankfully, not from art. Her exhibition, A Tribute to Hope Brooks, opened the previous night at the CAG[e] Gallery, but tying Brooks down for a chat then proved impossible. What with demands from students, family and friends, she barely had time to pause for air.
Twenty-four hours later, however, the dust has settled. Brooks is much more relaxed and her mind is clearer. She speaks of her journey through art, her progression as an artist, and where she hopes she will go once she officially retires after 40 years as a teacher at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.
With a continued quiet yet influential presence in the Jamaican art world, Brooks has maintained an intimate and personal connection with the natural world. "I like themes that have eternal life to them," she says, adding that its only been the last 10 years or so since she ventured into the world of politics and autobiographical pieces. "I find these not so satisfying to work with," she says, "although they are important to human existence, and talk about the freedoms of people, they are still transient themes."
Evidently, Brooks confronts issues that are elemental to the human consciousness. "I am drawn to the natural world, the world of spirits and emotions. I don't want to divorce myself from the way that I feel."
Back in the CAG[e] Gallery, it is the following of these emotions that has led to Brooks being so inluential in the art world. Paying tribute to her, a section of the exhibition embodies the direct influence she has had on some artists, while others speak to a shared artistic pursuit. Petrine Archer-Straw, Margaret Chen, Nicholas Morris, Petrona Morrison and Ebony Patterson each in their own specific ways whether by style or subject have been influenced by Brooks the teacher and Brooks the artist.
"It's important for a teacher to be a practising artist, because it's only then that you can really understand what the students are going through, and really help them," Brooks notes. But it is ironically her role as a teacher that has also led to a development of her art. She shares perhaps a 'selfish' benefit of being a teacher: "It forces me to articulate why a piece of art works and why it doesn't."
Confronting her students with the question, 'Why does this work?' she says that many could not answer. "Each artist needs to be their own best critic. It may just be the most important part of an artist's development."
Characterised by a strong sense of texture and colour, Brooks' pieces are broadly meditations on the Jamaican landscape. Titles like The Garden, The Sea, Clouds and Mountains and Four Pomegranates dominate the show with rich earth tones, and deep texture, drawing the viewer in to decipher the image.
"People call my work abstract, but I'm simply talking about what I feel", Brooks says, clearly in disagreement. "How can that be abstract?"
She does agree, however, that while her work is not "representationally realistic", she uses texture to replace the image in her work. Using different mediums like Plaster of Paris, gouache, and moulding paste, Brooks recreates organic surfaces that speak less to the direct subject, but more to the essence, to a sensation. As website and a marketing plan with her Mac computer. "There is no use in creating all this work, if people don't know about it," she says.
And she's right. Who knows, this may be another layer of Brooks herself: Brooks the businesswoman.
The show runs at the CAGE[e] Edna Manley College Art Gallery until April 22 Patrick Stanigar, the architect for the original building that now houses the college, said as he opened the exhibition: "She is a painter, but hers are built on, and also applied to, the canvas." Her work is multifaceted and multidimensional.
With a physical journey that took her from Scotland to Baltimore, Brooks explains that her connection with the landscape was drawn from her desire to connect with her surroundings. However, her fascination with surfaces stems from much further back. It was in fact, while she was at school ,that she became fascinated by a book on prehistoric paintings.
"I call it the 'patina of time'," she says, of how the passage of time has built up on these artistic renditions, contributing to the depth of existence and its inherent texture. "I love that surface," she says, "and I wanted to recreate and recapture that essence."
It was for this reason that Brooks was drawn to specialising in mural painting while at art school in Scotland, and one of the artist's motivations for creating in general. Drawn to everyday surfaces and fascinated by the texture of ordinary objects, she continues on a journey that speaks to nature. "For me, the journey is about seeking out and talking about the organic world of the sea, moon, mountains, shells and tree trunks."
Brooks, then, is much like her work: organic, tender, and calming. Speaking with her exposes a sensibility of peace and contentment, and it is understandable how this quiet force in the art world is so revered both personally and artistically. It is work that is deep, multi-dimensional and created by the unique and complex relationship between texture and colour. And she assures us that, while it may be
goodbye to Edna Manley, she certainly will not be retiring from the art world. In fact she is working on her