Comfort Zone – art about drones, bombing and the war on terror – socially engaged art showcased at Brighton’s MA Fine Art show 7-14 July 2018

Raqqa after the liberation 3 - moped

Raqqa after the liberation 3

25 June 2018. At first glance, the paintings look like attractive impressions of desert lands. Closer examination reveals grim skeletons of ruined cities, and wounded faces showing fear, defeat and anger – a premonition that bombing is not the end of the story. A comfortable sofa with fashion, art and travel magazines offers an escape for those of us who need a break from the realities of our time.

Comfort Zone MAFA 2018 - 1

Comfort Zone MAFA 2018

The scene is an art installation called Comfort Zone by Brighton artist Russell Honeyman, and is on show at Brighton University’s MA Fine Art annual summer show, at the University’s central Brighton site on Grand Parade, from 7-14 July 2018.

This year, Brighton University’s annual MA Fine Art Exhibition includes socially engaged art ranging from the war on terror, migrants, care of the elderly, the legacy of feminism, sadness and depression, the plight of textile workers to the postmodern condition.

Survivor lr - 1

Painting by Russell Honeyman – What remains, 31 x 34cm, oil on board.

“Now, fine art can take almost any form, from traditional painting and sculpture, to performance and digital art. Art in this show ranges from impressions of landscape, to personal identity, to public, conceptual and political art,” said Russell Honeyman, who is showing paintings of bombed-out cities in Syria and Iraq. “My installation – Comfort Zone – asks us to think about our involvement in remote wars.”

Russell Honeyman will be available to talk about his work at the private view 6 July, 6-9pm, also on Saturday 7th 2-4pm. See below for details.

“Artists, like writers, are in the unusual position of being free to comment on any aspect of society, and can help us reflect on social issues using empathy rather than cold logic,” said Honeyman. He said art is a kind of non-verbal philosophy. “Art speaks with materials and empathy, not with words, so artists can work with fundamental feelings, rather than words. Words too easily drag us into overwhelmingly complex rationalisations that sometimes make us turn our backs on things that are being done in our name, by our governments”.

Brighton University’s MA Fine Art degree show offers the opportunity to view and buy new works by a diverse group of emerging artists from the UK and abroad. Over 30 artists’ work is displayed in three large gallery spaces in the University’s Grand Parade Site. The event will also include a talk from Joe Hill, the newly appointed Director of Towner Art Gallery.  Entry to the private view is free, and MA students whose works are on display will be at the event to speak about their work, and to answer any questions you may have. The show will open on 6 July 2018, with a reception at the Grand Parade Gallery site of the University in central Brighton (details below).

Comfort Zone

  • An installation at  University of Brighton 7-14 July 2018, by Russell Honeyman
    Comfort Zone is an installation: a place where boundaries between our mundane reality and worlds beyond, is thin. The worlds beyond are many. They include worlds of spirit and the unconscious, and alternative realities, such as the Arabic lands which are being subject to Armageddon by bombing.
    Westerners appear to live a life of comfortable consumerism, building a machine of enlightened civilisation.
    We seem to have little awareness that we (our democratic governments) are supporting dissent, destabilising, bombing, and destroying civil infrastructure in other countries. Where we are aware, we justify these actions by saying they bring democracy and human rights to these countries, or respond to threats of terror attacks. We don’t seem to question whether the use of violence is proportional to the benefits we seek. This is an aspect of our failure to see the effects of capitalism and ‘progress’ in distant lands.
    This failure to see a connection between the actions and decisions of Westerners, and the effects on millions of others, is a ‘disconnect’ from reality.
    In the Comfort Zone people can traverse this disconnect, as they realise that they are in the ‘Kill Box” of an imaginary drone strike.
    There are three components to the installation:
    1. A comfortable, neutral lounge area;
    2. Surrounded by images of Armageddon, as represented by painting and text-objects.
    3. A cleansing area with a bowl for washing hands, filled with red liquid.
  • Comfort Zone is arranged in two areas: Inside and Outside. Both areas are contained within an imaginary box 3m cubed, marked on the floor by a grey tape box 3mx3m, with calibration marks. Two sides are bounded by white walls forming a corner.
  • Inside: Facing out, on the diagonal, a comfy sofa with cushions; a Persian-style carpet; a low table with seven objects (9 dried giant poppy heads in a glass vase; a virtual reality headset; approximately 5 documents from the daily civic life of the artist: tax credit return (done); voter registration (done); NHS letter, housing documents).
  • Outside: Two walls show a group of six paintings (Killbox; Scarlet Coloured Beast; Raqqa after the liberation 1, 2, 3; What Remains); one text-object; plinth and glass bowl containing water.

Brighton University’s MA Fine Art annual summer show will be held at the University’s central Brighton site on Grand Parade, from 7-14 July 2018. Opening times are 10am-4pm Mon-Sat, 1pm-4pm Sunday, with a private view on 6 July from 6-9pm (RSVP for numbers).

Meet Russell Honeyman at the MAFA 2018 show on either 6 July (6-9pm) or 7 July (2-4pm) – for details follow this link

Brighton MA Fine Art Show 2018, 7-14 July 2018. Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12-4pm.
Brighton University Gallery, 58-67, Grand Parade, Brighton BN2 0JY: Phone: 01273 600900 Website:

Info about Russell Honeyman and Comfort Zone installation:



Installation photos

Paintings and text objects hung on outer zone wall:

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