Ingrid K Brooker is a multidisciplinary artist from Preston, Melbourne. Ingrid’s practice ranges from animation and multimedia design, to traditional fine arts such as printmaking, sculpture, collage and painting.

Recently she’s been concentrating on creating sculptural works in wood, metal, wires and salvaged materials. Themes of identity, nature and connection underpin her constantly evolving practice.

Tell us a bit about what a day may look like for you as an artist. Where are you based and what are some of the things that you do in your daily routine? Tell us about your morning rituals, your cup of tea/coffee, plants, etc!

Mornings? What are they? I’m an extreme night owl. I also have Multiple Sclerosis which means I need to sleep about ten hours a night. The combination means I usually roll out of bed only just shy of noon. I’ve never been a morning person. But MS and the pandemic have shifted my waking times to the extreme. I have my coffee and breakfast while I look out at the garden and read the paper. By about 1pm I’m ready to get working.

My daily routine depends a lot on how my body is functioning. Having MS means that every day I wake up with a grab bag of different symptoms that can affect my energy, balance, coordination, cognition, dexterity and mood. I’m lucky that I’m a multidisciplinary artist as it allows me to adapt the type of work to whatever I can manage on any given day. On physically good days I like to work in my studio. At my best, I can do heavy work like sculpture using wood and concrete, or work that requires precision, like stop-motion animation or etching. On days when I have poor balance or shaky hands, I make sure to avoid using power tools, hammers or chisels! On days when my brain is clear and cognition is good, I attend to things that require concentration, like digital multimedia work, updating my website, cataloguing work, entering competitions and responding to interview questions like this.

On bad days, if I’m able, I like to curl up with my iPad to do digital drawings or animation so that I still feel like I’ve done something creative with my day. Every now and then I have a relapse where I’m totally out of action for around 3-6 weeks. During these times, even when I’m not well enough to sit up, I still try to connect with my creative practice. My iPad has been a godsend at these times, and I’ve managed sometimes to make small wire sculptures with the little energy I have. Staying creative helps me remain in the world and connected to my sense of identity and expression.

How did you start your creative practice and why? Are you self-taught, an art student, a full- time artist, etc? 

I’ve always had a passion for creating. I’m a mixture of self-taught and academically trained. I studied art and music in VCE, however my school had no facilities for teaching any animation, digital media or filmmaking. It was the olden days. So, at age 16 I started taking myself off to night classes at the CAE and holiday courses to learn these crafts. I’ve been tinkering away at them ever since.

My tertiary education is a bit of a rambling patchwork with time out for travel, work, grief and other endeavours. The main beats are completing a Diploma of Multimedia at Swinburne TAFE and a Bachelor of Animation and Interactive Media at RMIT. I also spent some time in a Bachelor of Fine Arts at RMIT doing a split major in New Media and Sculpture but somehow sort of slipped out of that before I made it to the finish line. My career is currently an even balance between a professional fine art practice and professional multimedia business, as well as personal and professional animation projects.

Have you got a studio/creative workplace? Tell us a bit about where you create and some of the significant things that support and inspire your practice.

My studio is a single-car garage at the back of my house which I’ve modified a little to suit my needs. I’m lucky to have this space and it serves me well. However, it’s my life’s dream to have a bigger studio space with natural light and a view out to nature. I love having my own space to be as creative and messy and noisy as I like. When you have a space like this – a dedicated hideaway where you can have your equipment and materials set up and where you can separate yourself from other people – it’s much easier to dedicate yourself to your work and produce more art. The main set-up and function of my studio changes depending on what projects I’m working on. Sometimes it’s set up for stop-motion animation, with lights, tripods and cameras, and miniature models, characters and sets. When I’m making bird sculptures, the bench and floors are covered with tin and wire. At other times it’s set up for printmaking or painting. Part of my dream of a bigger studio is to have dedicated spaces that can remain set up for each activity, making it easier to switch between them.

What are some of the ideas that you explore in your work and the mediums that you have chosen to work with?

There are two major themes that seem to continually run through my work: nature and self. I love nature and have a particular interest in birds. I’m an amateur bird spotter and photographer in my spare time. I’m very passionate about the environment and how to protect it. While my bird sculptures are not particularly conceptual, I do try to use this aspect of my art to raise awareness about endangered species, habitat protection and other environmental issues. The other main theme, which I’ve summarised as ‘self’, is an ongoing exploration of concepts related to identity, sense of place, sense of home, containment and the boundaries between our inner and external worlds. I love working with salvaged and repurposed materials. Concrete, tin, red gum, wire and found objects are perennial mediums for me throughout my sculpture and animation.

In an increasingly digitized world, how important is your online presence? And what are some of the things that you consider when marketing your work?

The digital world is incredibly important. Having an online presence allows me to reach audiences all around the world and be part of communities brought together by common interests rather than common geography. Many of the big opportunities and best feedback I’ve had during my career are through people seeing my work online. It’s an invaluable space to be able to showcase your work and connect and communicate with people with whom your work resonates.

Let us know about any current/future projects – Have you got anything planned in the near future?

Who knows what’s on the horizon at the moment? Because of my already compromised health, I’m being extremely cautious about COVID-19, and can’t see that I’ll be back in the world in a normal capacity for a while yet. I’ve used lockdown to finally get around to creating an online shop, so I’m putting works up there as I create them. Having more time at home has given me more time to spend in the studio … so I’ll have a couple of exhibition’s worth of work ready before too long. Watch this space.


Read the original article on the Brunswick St Gallery website here.