I endeavour to make artworks which help us to interrogate ourselves by taking us to different places. These places connect us to one another through common themes, such as a shared sense of wonder and mystery or our awareness of the power of the past to shape our present.
I try to give visual expression to these themes in a variety of ways. Sometimes through small theatres on whose stage stories are told using puppets, sound and lighting. At other times through community installations, for instance a circle of glowing shrines which form the focus of a pilgrimage.
At other times these themes are expressed through collaborations with composers, actors and writers, resulting in a performance.
The Life of Pi is a fascinating and mystical book.
The story poses philosophical and religious questions, leaving the reader to decide, “Which story do you prefer?”.
The book opens in the Indian City of Pondicherry, (now Puducherry) originally a French colonial settlement.
After I read the book I was so entranced, I took a flight to Puducherry.
'LIGHT - a spiritual journey' was an exploration of the world wide appeal of shrines. It was a collaboration between shrine maker Adrian Brooks and composer Tim Cook. LIGHT consisted of a number of events: a series of resin shrines placed at points along a dark gallery which illuminated momentarily as the visitor passed each one, creating the sense of a journey.
At the end of the gallery was a movie from the Hubble spacecraft. A booklet was produced with images and explanatory text along with a CD entitled A Cosmic Collage with music composed by Tim Cook.
A discussion event followed at Dorchester Abbey arranged by Margaret Craig with plasma scientist Dr Emmanuel Joffrin, the Bishop of Dorchester and Ruskin Emeritus Professor Brian Catlin. Other events were arranged with local schools and the visitor numbers were approximately 1500 people.
This tower takes its name from Philip Pullman's fantasy novel and shows scenes from the arctic journey of Lyra Belacqua. Behind the closed doors are some of the daemons Lyra encounters on the way. The tower was produced for the Story Museum, Oxford.
During May 2020 at the height of the Coronavirus Lockdown I secretly posted 25 limericks around the village of Dorchester-on-Thames to be discovered by people exercising or walking their dogs.
Each limerick was composed by a member of the Village and together they represented a community reflecting on the experience of the greatest lockdown in memory.
The limericks were both tragic, angry and funny. They brought a smile to many faces in dark times and were taken up by the Talking Newspapers. They have been archived by the Village and will form a community record.
A Shrine for the Times was made in response to the COVID Lockdown in Dorchester-on-Thames in 2020.
Set against a map of the Village it features the familiar mantras, "We'll meet Again" and "Save the NHS".
There is social distancing at the CO-OP, camaraderie on the allotment and Lockdown Limericks expressing both tragedy and humour. Inside is an Asian NHS worker in PPE and above is a tragic yet comic cherub contemplating the scene.
A Shrine for the Times is now displayed in the Dorchester Museum.
Dorchester-on-Thames has a concentration of ancient monuments: a double ring Henge, a Processional Way, funerary monuments, the Dyke Hills, the Sinoden encampment and the sacred confluence of the Rivers Thame and Thames.
HENGE 19 was a community project responding to these ancient sites. It comprised a glowing circle of rock forms by Adrian Brooks, a performance by poet David Brown, music by composer Tim Cook and a lighted processional way with members of the community.
HENGE19 featured an exhibition by 13 artists led by lead artist Miranda Creswell, reflecting on these ancient sites. There were also workshops and contributions from St Birinus Primary School, the Dorchester Museum and Abbey. The events took place during the Autumn Equinox.
HENGE 19 film below: photographs and video by Chis Baines and Ben Morris
A tribute to Franz Kafka’s Prague and his seminal novel “The Castle”.
The Ship of Fools is a 1.2 metre model of a large and rusting oil freighter, populated by a crew of puppet like figures.
The idea is taken from an ancient allegory by Plato about a dysfunctional crew unable to control the fate of their ship.
It was intended originally to represent the problems of governance, but has since re-emerged many times during periods of crisis. Here it has been given a sinister carnivalesque twist.
Tellicherry, now Thalassery is a town on India's Malabar coast. It was the birthplace of India's first modern circus to travel internationally.
I was introduced to an elderly performer whose act involved dancing with Bengal Tigers.
A Home Unpacked was a collaboration between playwright Shane Anderson and theatre maker Adrian Brooks, resulting in a performance.
The performance was in two parts: a free standing theatre, illustrating the haunting memories of a young boy growing up in an Edwardian London house together with a monologue, written and performed by Shane, in which he unpacks his memories of growing up in a similar house in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles”.
A Home Unpacked was performed in the North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford.
Narnia was a collaboration with Dorchester Abbey education officer Margaret Craig, and model maker Peter Collins. We made a large illuminated wardrobe with six doors opening into small rooms showing scenes from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S.Lewis.
The blue wardrobe was covered with twinkling lights, and was reached at the end of a dark gallery filled with glistening tree trunks and haunted by silhouetted wolves.
The wardrobe doors were accessed by a set of steps for children.
Allotment was a collaboration between author Jan Harvey and theatre maker Adrian Brooks.
The stories were performed by members of the Dramatics Society. Jan wrote seven short stories based on allotmenteers and Adrian made two theatres illustrating her stories.
The stories and images were published in two booklets. A performance evening was held in which actors read and dramatised Jan’s stories, and Adrian’s theatres were on exhibition.
The sales of the books and a theatre were donated to SANDS, a charity for bereaved parents of new born babies, a fitting charity for Jan’s story, Searching for the Sun.
The Church of St Francis of Assisi, a model of which is on top of the shrine, is in the State of Miras Gerais, Brazil.
The Shoebill lives in Oxford’s Museum of Natural History.