For almost ten years Brooks has been returning to his childhood home in Derbyshire to photograph the land and research the story of his family’s printing press, a business which he knew very little about due to the death of his father when he was a teenager.
The Brooks Press of Wirksworth, an imprint founded in 1898 published a wide range of material from travel guides and poetry to books on self-improvement. It finally closed its doors in the early 1970s, having passed from father to son for three generations, winding up just before Brooks was born.
Around his 30th birthday Brooks was randomly gifted two books ‘The Reality of Self ‘ and ‘Ideas and Ideals’ both published by the imprint under the supervision of his great grandfather, F.W. Brooks. At a time when Brooks was looking for context, he saw these books as a key to a different reality, a home like the one he had left long before but free of painful memories. This then began a journey to understand his past and to attempt to rewrite his history using those books as a vehicle, 40 years after all trace of the press had gone.
By employing a mixture of exquisitely composed, atmospheric, large format colour portraits and landscapes combined with archival fragments and pages of letterpress, Chris Brooks examines concepts around ‘home’ and the complicated nature of
belonging. By doing so, he draws our attention to the constantly changing meaning of what it is to be ‘in’ and ‘of’ a place. The Brooks Press of Wirksworth is thus a timely meditation on changing notions of nationhood, identity and the power of place.
Gallery open Friday & Saturdays 11-4pm or by appointment