Brook Andrew is an artist of Wiradjrui (Australian First Nations) and Celtic ancestry, based in Melbourne, Australia. His interdisciplinary practice spans photography, sculpture, installation, painting and printmaking. Since 1996 he has worked with ethnographic museum collections to reimagine the representation of Indigenous peoples and challenge dominant narratives relating to colonialism and inherited histories.
'I propose to deepen my research of dendroglyphs, a practice of carving trees with intricate patterns to mark significant sites of ceremonies including initiation and burial. It is a tradition of Aboriginal cultures in Australia particularly for Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi nations of New South Wales.
Colonisation has severely damaged Aboriginal cultural practices in southeast Australia and many carved trees were cut down for pastoral expansion and for museum collections. I know of tree sections in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, the Australian Museum, Sydney and the Museum of Ethnography in Geneva. There are also historical photographs that document these trees and associated ceremonies in these museum collections and state libraries in Australia.
Through creating a new series of photomedia works I will connect communities of origin with these collections of ancestral materials through developing new methods of photographic restitution. Many of these photographs made in the 19th and early 20th centuries were part of the trade in ethnographic curios and like the portrait photographs I have investigated in my art practice, perpetuated a colonial gaze. Yet, these photographs and objects are incredibly important to contemporary First Nations people who are reclaiming their histories, cultures and bodies.'
Brook Andrew has exhibited at Tate Britain (2015), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (2014-15), Musée d'ethnographie de Genève (2017-18), Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2018), Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition (2019) and across Australia. In 2015 he was a Photography Residencies Laureate at the musee du quai branly, Paris and in 2017 completed a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship in Washington, D.C.
Brook is a DPhil candidate in the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, Associate Researcher at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Honorary Senior Fellow in Indigenous Studies Unit at the University of Melbourne and Associate Researcher in the Wominkeka Djeembana Indigenous Research Lab at MADA Monash University
The Postgraduate bursary selectors for 2020 were Bindi Vora, contemporary photographic artist, curator and lecturer at The University of Westminster; Anthony Luvera, artist, writer and educator; Michael Pritchard, RPS Director of Education and Public Affairs and Liz Williams, RPS Education Manager.
All photos © Brook Andrew. 1) ‘Resident and Visitor’ (Namila Benson), 2016 from the series The Visitor and the Resident, 10 colour photographic prints. Photography Residencies Laureate, musée du quai Branly, Paris. 2) Brook Andrew, The Space Between, 2018, installation view, 4th edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India, 2019. Cotton, polyester, paint, fan blower and metal, dimensions variable. Photo: Jaime Powell.