The Enchanting World of Victoria Brook by Jean Clark
The Enchanting World of Victoria Brook, by Jean Clark for Etc Magazine, March 2014
Once upon a time, I walked into an Eastbourne art gallery and was surrounded by the most magical paintings I’d ever seen.
Each one lured me into a world of mystery and enchantment, secret places usually inhabited by children’s imagination as they journey into the unknown world of bedtime stories.
Take the picture entitled The Bedtime Story. A giant polar bear plods through the icy wood with a father and two young children on its back; snowflakes fall around as they listen rapt to his tale. And there The Unseen : a white spectre glides down a blood-red staircase emitting a deathly glow while a frightened soul crouches besides the grandfather clock.
Meanwhile over in The Library, a spindly figure teeters on a precarious ladder and, regardless of the danger, shines his lantern over the books in his search for hidden treasure.
The creative genius behind these extraordinary images is the young illustrator and painter Victoria Brook who, since leaving Reading University with a first-class arts degree in 2008, has earned a reputation among artists and public alike as one of today’s most original and exciting talents.
Her limited-edition Giclee prints are rapidly becoming collectors’ items and her work has invited comparison with the great illstrators Ernest Shepard, Sir john Tenniel, Quentin Blake, Edward Ardizzone and Beatrix Potter.
Victoria is already represented by three prestigious galleries in the south east, who not only admire her work but are enamoured by her delightful and unassuming personality.
Clare Richards, co-owner of the Wey Gallery in Surrey, where she is listed between Dame Elizabeth Blackadder and Sir Peter Blake on their website, attributes Victoria’s success to her “ability to tell stories through her paintings. Uou always see something new and never tire of her exquisite imagination”.
Eastbourne Framing Centre and Gallery owner Lucy Newport agrees:
“Not only is her work truly enchanting and magical but she is a charming and humble artist, who is committed to her dream. Her paintings show how a child’s imagination works and appeals to all ages”.
When we meet at her studio in Eastbourne, Victoria tells me how being part of a creative family influenced her creative passion. Her father loved inventing things and at Easter he would put ” the plastic boaters with tissue paper and tiny chickens in the shade with his full-scale rabbits with electronically-engineered rotating ears!”
Her first memory of excelling at art was winning the first prize in a ‘My Favourite Story’ competition with her interpretation of Peter Pan:
“Tinkerbell was morbidly obese, Wendy only had three sausage fingers and Peter was suffering from sunburn, but I remember the excitement of drawing what I imagined and have never lost that determination.”
After Pashley Down Infant School, Ocklynge Junior School and Cavendish School followed by a foundation year in Art & Design at ECAT, Victoria headed off to university.
Her degree project was a large-scale travelling art installation created with her lifelong friend Caroline Fletcher – a pink double-decker bus filled with bric-a-brac and equipped with a stage, fireplace, a bar and even a tree. With mannequin Betty in the driving seat, it toured the UK.
“It went from the Edinburgh Fringe to the muddy fields of Glastonbury delighting everyone. It was an amazing opportunity to make art accessible for all and provided a brief escape from reality.”
Back in Eastbourne, Victoria was determined to pursue her dream of becoming a professional painter. with her main inspiration coming from her passion for children’s literature.
“Tove Jansson’s Moomin books are among my favourites.” she reveals. “Her ability to capture emotions in one tiny pen and ink illustration is magical and I’m also a huge fan of Oliver Jeffers and Levi Pinfold.”
“Animals also feature a great deal in my work because they inhabit secret environments,” she adds.
“When you walk through a forest, it feels as though you enter another world, their domain. I particularly love painting foxes.
“When it’s snowing, I see them from my window at night paddings patterns over the pavements and glowing in the streetlamps.”
There is an ethereal beauty about Victoria that is reflected in paintings and perfectly captured in You & Me, one of her best-loved images.
“I remember being held by mum at the window as she pointed out everything we could see in the garden. It is my most personal work and evokes a special moment and strong, nostalgic memories.”
At that very moment, Victoria’s mum comes in to say that some prints have arrived, a neighbour would like to commission a painting for her grandchild in New York and oh, by the way, the Ocado delivery has been dropped off.
Victoria sweetly offers to make her mum a cup of coffee while she puts the shopping away and gives Harry, her beloved cat, his favourite fish for lunch.
She scoops him up in her arms and as he nuzzles against her, purring loudly, it is clear that he, too, has fallen under the enchanting spell of Victoria Brook.
More of Victoria’s work can be found on our on-line shop.Read More →