Exhibition Review: Conscious Dreaming – Vicky Lindo and Bill Brookes

As the title of their new collection suggests, the work of Vicky Lindo and Bill Brookes seems to exist in a liminal space. There is an other-worldly, somnambulist quality to it. Human figures float or drown in water or are entwined in seaweed-like ropes of hair beneath which crocodiles lurk. Soporific-inducing mushrooms sprout up in river beds while huge, bulbous, curling amaryllis seed heads menace like triffids. And wild horses dance; made lurid white in the moonlight.

Nascent for some time, Conscious Dreaming as a concept began pre-COVID-19, in 2020, when Lindo and Brookes were invited by Aberystwyth University’s School of Art to make a new body of work using the institution’s collection of prints and ceramics as their starting point. Drawn to the work of the somewhat obscure printmaker Christine Penn and the early pioneer studio potter Frances Emma Richards, Lindo and Brookes referenced the former’s darkly-surreal iconography and the latter’s serenity of form through their ceramics.

The juxtaposition of Penn’s and Richards’ work against that of Lindo and Brookes’ makes for a rather maladroit ménage à trois. Penn’s woodcuts, though very fine, are brooding, almost German Expressionist in style; Richards’ pots are small, understated in tone, color, and shape. Lindo and Brookes’ work is, for want of a better phrase, graphically joyful. Though fully cognizant of the sharp pricks of grief, as their Dead Dad Book collection of 2019 testifies (this was a homage to Lindo’s own father, whose body was found in a County Wexford woodland after he had disappeared from the family home), Conscious Dreaming, though containing echoes of that earlier work, is light-filled and optimistic.