IGNITE: Gallery is an initiative of Belconnen Arts Centre, an exhibition program in a variety of sites across Canberra, featuring work by artists identifying as disabled, deaf or Hard of Hearing (HOH). IGNITE programs aim to support and nurture the aspirations of the artists and to assist in broadening their experience, skills and networks. IGNITE gallery positions artists in public places and celebrates their practices as integral to the creative vibrancy of this region.
The current exhibit showcases John Brookes:
“Journeys” is a part of a wider portfolio of works exploring the notion of journeys and travel. Not only referencing physical journeys, but using the notion of modes of transport as a metaphor for our internal journeys of growth, development and personal change – which can be both positive and negative.
The concept of internal development and personal, self-reflective journeys is of particular relevance in these Covid times; where often physical travel and social interaction is limited, leading individuals to call upon their own mental reserves negotiating this new pandemic era – revising goals and priorities and adjusting life’s direction accordingly.
This exhibition using the photographic medium and, as with most of John’s works; uses a minimum of editing software in achieving the defamiliarized look and feel of the subjects, favouring instead using camera settings at the point of capturing the image.
These images form part of a wider project that will continue to explore the notion of journeys and the artist’s own personal journey through art.
About the artist:
John is a previous winner of the British MENSA Photographer of the Year Award, and runner-up in the International MENSA Photography Award.
He worked for many years in the public and charity sectors, using his photographic skills in a professional context, including working with the UK Metropolitan Police Service developing an arts campaign to involve public volunteers from disenfranchised communities in police assistance work, which received wide coverage on the BBC TV Morning Show and BBC Radio 4. John received a Police Commendation for this and developed his interest in using the visual medium as a means of empowerment and expression for those without a voice.
He has lived in Canberra for over ten years and is now an Australian citizen. He has exhibited at numerous venues; including the Belconnen Arts Centre, the Belconnen Community Gallery, Wellways Arts Space (where he branched out into ceramics and poetry) and Gunghalin Homestead.
John Brookes is currently developing a community project matching those with disabilities across Australia with empathetic artists to create meaningful, positive portraits and self-learning. He will be launching the project at this year’s TheMHS Learning Network Conference in Perth. The project is in partnership with painter and sculptor John Hyatt, Professor of Contemporary Art at Liverpool John Moores University’s School of Art and Design, UK.
He is now, following a life changing illness contracted whilst living as an arts volunteer in Fiji, focussing on the Australian community sector arts – especially in the areas of mental health, diversity and disability.
Whilst John is now a registered disabled artist, his works often address mainstream subjects, as he states: "I don't need disability to define me as an artist or a person - it doesn't have to inform my work. That said, where I do address my disability then I believe honesty and positivity are the two main keystones here - the two can go together!"