November Eco-Artist: Rachel Brooks Art
Rachel Brooks Art - Shark Guardian Interview Questions
Q1. Hi, Rachel – We’re thrilled to have you as our Eco Artist of the Month for November! Tell us a bit about yourself for those who are not familiar with your work.
I am so honoured to be your Eco Artist this month! I’m Rachel, I’m an internationally selling British wildlife artist living between the West Highlands of Scotland and the Hebrides where I spend my summers at sea. I have always felt a deep connection to the natural world and studied Zoology at university which only amplified my passion and gave me a greater understanding of my subjects. Though I found my course fascinating it was in the field I always wanted to be and after graduating I left the UK to travel as a scuba instructor. I have been working full time in the dive industry for the past seven years, and currently work as operations manager at Basking Shark Scotland. My experiences and years of working beneath the surface have inspired much of what I do, and I hope to be able to introduce others to this environment. Art had been a big part of my life growing up but had been put on a big pause until I returned to the UK in 2019. I was finally feeling that creative spark and started ‘Rachel Brooks Art’ so I could start sharing my work with others. My mission as an artist is to convey my passion for the natural world and conserving biodiversity, by celebrating its beauty and intricacies and all the weird and wonderful creatures I have met along the way! I hope it can inspire the same amazement and joy that I felt in seeing these animals first hand, and introduce these wonders to others.
Q2. You mention on your website that you were volunteering at a whale and dolphin conservation project – Was this what sparked your love of the ocean or was it earlier than that?
This was a definite turning point in my life, though my love of the ocean came way earlier. Growing up in the pennines the sea was only really somewhere we would go on holiday, but I was always felt drawn to it. I would spend as much time as possible in the water and when I was 15 we travelled to the red sea and I was able to do my first dive course, at that time I could never have imagined how big a role diving would play in my life. When I was 17 we had a talk at our college from a member of the Atlantic Whale Foundation, I went home that night and told my parents I was going to the Canary Islands - they rightly told me I couldn’t afford it! Not one to be easily defeated, my friend and I fundraised our whole trip and that summer I spent a month at sea monitoring cetacean populations in the Canaries. Being on boats daily and living amongst a team of young volunteers, I felt not only inspired but a sense of belonging - everyone was joined by a common purpose and passion and it felt so far away from the little town I grew up in. I knew then that this was what I wanted to be doing, I felt so alive at sea and before traveling here I had never really considered that this was a field I could work in. When I returned home I went back to college and begged my tutor to let me change all of my A-levels mid way through from Art so I could apply to study Zoology at University. I was initially told no, but a very supportive biology teacher conceded and I gained a place at The University of Leeds. I went back the next summer to spend another season in the canaries, the time I spent there was the first steps in the ocean becoming my life focus, i’ll always be so thankful I took that leap and made that trip happen.
Q3. You were an artist before you studied zoology, then you went traveling & became a dive instructor and now you have returned to art… That’s an amazing journey that we