Bio

Becky Brewis is an artist from London now based in Dundee. She studied on the Royal Drawing School’s funded postgraduate programme The Drawing Year (2015-16) and in 2018-19 was artist in residence at the Centre for Philosophy and Visual Art at King’s College London. She was selected by Tina Keane for Visions in the Nunnery 2018, a biennial showcase of moving image, and was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, at Dumfries House, Scotland and Hackney's Space Studios.

Artist statement

My drawings, textiles and installations present images as physical objects under pressure – a response to our image-hungry digital culture which sees images repurposed and decontextualised in a present spread across platforms and time zones.

I make work about memory, exploring how the past permeates the present, psychologically and materially. It is informed by discussion from material culture studies. Ruination, fragmentation and the integrity (or otherwise) of object collections are my reference points for examining my relationship with my own personal past within a wider cultural and material context.

My practice is underpinned by drawing and specifically by an interest in paper as a kind of skin; a repository for different sorts of touches such as drawings, erasures, frottages and fingerprints, so that signs of making and handling – memories of physical human presence – are incorporated into finished images.

My textile work develops this composite approach to image-making with reference to the female body. Alongside materials used in feminine traditions of making, such as wool, thread and jute, I am developing a language of pictograms, hairballs, false eyelashes and fake nails; tactile, provisional – sometimes abject – parts which undermine the authority of the representational image.

Recent work has been influenced by research into ancient practices of anatomical votive making and into medieval optical theory, specifically the idea that sight represented a form of touch. During this time of disembodied communication, I’ve been exploring how contemporary looking might be reconnected with a sense of touch, and screen culture defamiliarised.

One Skin (install) 200cm x 100cm, mixed media embroidery expand
One Skin, 200cm x 100cm, mixed media embroidery, 2021
COLLECTION 1: TEXTILES
Shadows, wool embroidery, 35cm x 45cm, 2021 expand
Shadows, wool embroidery, 35cm x 45cm, 2021
Personal items, installation, 2021
Personal items, installation, 2021
Three eyelashes, graphite on paper, 21cm x 26cm expand
Three eyelashes, graphite on paper, 21cm x 26cm
Relics, clay, false nails, liquid gold, hair, acrylic, varnish, 2021 expand
Relics, clay, false nails, liquid gold, hair, acrylic, varnish, 2021
Tooth (detail), mixed media embroidery, 55cm x 40cm, 2021 expand
Tooth (detail), mixed media embroidery, 55cm x 40cm, 2021
Lashes, plaster, each 18cm x 9cm, 2021 expand
Lashes, plaster, each 18cm x 9cm, 2021
Tracked and traced, 220cm x 95cm, mixed media embroidery, 2021
Tracked and traced, 220cm x 95cm, mixed media embroidery, 2021
COLLECTION 2: FRICTION RIDGES

The three works below are conceived as one exhibition across text, drawing, prints and projection, with the aim if producing a sense of meaning unfolding in time and space with touch – or the body – at its centre.

Documentation of video installation: Type touch, 2021
Type touch

Video installation, 3-minute loop

I translated the alphabet into fingerprints, using a font builder, with each finger corresponding to the letters it touch types. With the font installed, fingerprints replace text, recording an image of the points at which fingers touch the keys.

The screen wraps around two sides of the room with a speaker positioned on the opposite wall, so that the viewer is positioned between the sound and the image of the text being typed, in the digital interface or point of contact between fingers and text.

The text being typed is the poem below.

Friction ridges

Digital prints on fabric, based on graphite drawings.

'Friction ridges' represents a spatial shift of the same imagery, the impression is of both a positive fingerprint, and a degraded piece of pattern.  Suspended from the ceiling, the lightweight semi-transparent fabric is affected by any movement in the room so that the pieces are turn and shift in the light.

Friction ridges, installation, 2021
Friction ridges, 2021
Whatever forgotten river

'Whatever forgotten river' is a poem with an accompanying drawing which shows the text of the poem as an accumulation of touch marks on a keyboard. 

Whatever forgotten river, poem
Whatever forgotten river, ink on paper, 21cm x 29cm, 2021 expand
Whatever forgotten river, ink on paper, 21cm x 29cm, 2021
COLLECTION 3: INSTALLATIONS
Documentation of video installation: Birds, 2021
Birds

Video installation
1-minute loop

This piece mixes digital and natural materials to defamiliarise the act of looking at a screen. It is a site-specific installation made for my attic.

Footage of a bird in singing in the wind, the repeated phrases of its song suspended in a continuous loop, is projected through a hanging gauze screen, onto the wall behind so that the image is duplicated. On the one hand we see a bird singing freely in the wind and on the other we see it trapped in a woven bundle of twigs that can be read as either a nest or a cage.

Birds, video installation with twigs and veil, 2021 expand
Birds, video installation with twigs and veil, 2021
Wolves in West Bell Street Car Park Underpass, Dundee 2020

Four A0 digital prints

These prints are the latest iteration of a project begun last November, when I installed a series of large-scale pencil drawings on billboards in an underpass in central Dundee.

The graphite drawings showed a pack of wolves walking through an underpass in the direction of town. Wolves, the subject of continued debate over rewilding in Scotland, are also a figure for what is parallel; an animal shadow of our domesticated selves. When I put them up it was amid printed posters advertising cultural events, mothballed since last March, and there was a sense of the drawn wolves patrolling the city spaces, unhindered, now that the humans had gone indoors.

Of these drawings, four remain six months later. These digital prints record the drawings as the graffitied and worn collaborative images they now represent – material artefacts that have weathered the second lockdown.

Two of the prints were presented at Generator Projects in Dundee in May 2021.

More images and documentation of the project is on my website.

Wolves in West Bell Street Car Park Underpass, Dundee, A0 digital prints, 2021
Wolves in West Bell Street Car Park Underpass, Dundee, A0 digital prints (2) 2021
Wolves in West Bell Street Car Park Underpass, Dundee, installation