\ objects with pictures


small pieces of paper

small pieces of paper

Characteristically, while thinking about bigger and more complicated things, I’ve been drawing again – and accumulating a series of small pieces of paper, marked with drawings of small pieces of paper…


piece of paper #2


piece of paper #7


piece of paper #8


piece of paper #2, #7 and #8, pigment pen and watercolour on paper, 15cm x 10cm, Mike Brookes 2015 – from the ongoing pieces of paper series.




what if everything we know is wrong?


The last still and silent trace of ‘what if everything we know is wrong? – as we performed it tonight, here in this cleared and appropriated Madrid studio – after we, our sounds, and the gathered crowd, have all left…


Image: Mike Brookes



still thinking about parking lots

still thinking about parking lots

parking lot #1


Fountain Street and Mathewson Street, pen and watercolour on paper, 100cm x 175cm, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the parking lots of Providence series.


parking lot #1


Further details from the parking lots of Providence series can be found in the archive [ here ].



thinking about parking lots

thinking about parking lots

For the first time in quite a while, I find myself drawing as I think. I have never really sketched works, unless I need to describe them to someone else. I think them through, then make them. As usual, these drawings are really just another case of making more than one thing at once – or, at least, shaping more than one form. But they are a sign of how at home I feel in the open warehouse sized studio we have been provided with for our stay here…


parking lot #1


Broadway and Atwells Avenue, pen and watercolour on paper, 100cm x 75cm, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the parking lots of Providence series.


parking lot #1



drawing for a small boy

drawing for a small boy



el coche [requested drawing], pen and watercolour on paper, 15cm x 20cm, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the requested drawings series.



looking for something

looking for something

As a busy and productive year comes to an end, and having finally landed on my own sofa for a while, with a little space and time to think, I have found myself wandering the web, in search of something – traces of some refreshing proposal or idea that I have missed, that might bring me that smile of recognition, and help blown away the dust that seems to have collected on some of my thoughts – like a breath of artistic fresh air.

Tired as I am, I think I still have enough self awareness to understand that I am really looking for a spark in my own thoughts, rather than encouragement  from others. But, even so, for now, the search seems to have cast more shadows than light.

When the accumulating clips of copy and documentation start to provoke cautionary voices from the past, it is probably best just to look away.

These last few days it has been echoes of Sol Lewitt that have been whispering warnings to me as I explore. “Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution, while it is difficult to bungle a good idea” I hear him say, “what the work looks like isn’t too important, it has to look like something if it has physical form, but no matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea” – “the idea becomes a machine that makes the art” – “not theoretical or illustrative of theories” – “new materials are one of the great afflictions of contemporary art, some artists confuse new materials with new ideas” – and finally, “one usually understands the art of the past by applying the conventions of the present, thus misunderstanding the art of the past”.

To which I can only add my own concerns at possibilities in the present being misunderstood – or just missed – through conventions assumed from the past. Having old modernist voices returned to my mind with an “I told you so” edge, is always disheartening – however insightful and pragmatic the particular statements might be.

So I have decided to stop looking, and spend a bit of time drawing and listening to The Fall. Which is helping.

And, as the same echo also reminds me, “if the statements I make are unclear it may mean the thinking is unclear”.


a piece of cake


Image: Mike Brookes, ‘a piece of cake’, oil on canvas, 30.5cm x 35.5cm, 2004 – from the ongoing small dilemmas series.



unnecessary activity in a room

unnecessary activity in a room

Over this past week it has become increasingly clear that the work we are trying to propose here is simply a visible public attempt to construct one place, from collected fragments and details, within another place, where it wouldn’t otherwise be present – and the use of that attempt to allow the possible meeting place that then becomes at least apparent in that act. There are other things that we enjoy doing at the same time, and other things that we would like to be able to do there – but in reality, none of them are helpful.

The more I explore drawing to locate those otherwise absent details, for example, the more minimal the ‘pictorial’ elements of the place I am trying construct demand to be – however engaging the hastily drawn forms and the act of their drawing might be.


flower #2

dictophone #1


So I am focusing on what I can directly construct from a bag full of fragments of captured sound. And limiting the pictures simply to a few objects that are useful for us to have with us, but which aren’t present. In this instance, what I can build directly with placed sound is both more tangible and more complex. And retains enough of the ambivalence and indifference – and reality – of both places.

If that is where this work sits, that is where we will work with it.



an act of representation

an act of representation

Today I am packing for a month long residency in the States – an invitation split between New York and Rhode Island, culminating in an event at Brown University. The invitation, and our intention, is to find form for a new performance project we are calling What if everything we know is wrong?.

Creatively, all I am packing is twenty pocket dictaphones (each containing a separate fragment of ambient sound), a handful of Polaroids (partial reminders of a selection of visual details), and some chalk.

At the heart of What if everything we know is wrong?  there was always going to be a direct act of representation. Overt representation, devoid of metaphor. I find myself increasingly irritated by assumptions of metaphor. There was always going to be an open public space, in which we might try to reveal where we are through our attempts to construct a tangible representation of somewhere else – and hopefully realise a meeting place in the process.

I have decided to build that place using only drawing, fragments of captured sound, and a handful of blurred snapshots for reference…


Polaroid #1

Polaroid #2

Polaroid #4

Polaroid #6


…what that act of construction might propose and enable is yet to be seen.