Arguably, all previous Kick-Abouts have been a response to this same prompt, courtesy of Francesca Maxwell, with each resulting showcase of work offering a guide to the ways in which different people take unpredictable journeys into new and unexpected terrains. As is attested to by a number of the works in this edition, ‘getting lost’ is never about losing time, but rather gaining experience.
“When I started thinking about this prompt – about how you plan a trip, about what can go wrong, about getting lost – I was reminded of this bit of family lore which is often trotted out at our family’s events: the day mother went to Shrewsbury and got lost.
It was actually in the mid-90’s (Cadfael was a very popular mystery television series at that time, based on the books of Ellis Peters) but everything about Mum’s story was reminiscent of a certain type of very British humour, which had its heyday in the films of the 1950’s and early ’60s, Ealing comedies like The Ladykillers, the early Carry On and St. Trinian’s films – and of course, the Miss Marple films with Margaret Rutherford. Check out “The 4:50 from Paddington” or “Murder at the Gallop” for a masterclass in British matronhood. Indeed, a precious golden thread of this tradition continues to this day, through the writing of Victoria Wood and Alan Bennett.
I have tried to capture something of the same spirit in “The Ballad of Ethel and Hilda” and reflect it in the images used, anachronistic though they may be. Along with Sir Derek Jacobi and Margaret Rutherford, you may also spot Joyce Grenfell, Sid James and Leslie Phillips, as well as a host of extras.
My thanks, as always to my techie, without whom this would not be half as much fun. I tip my hat, too, to my Mum Hilda, and her friend, Ethel. If there is an afterlife, they will be galloping through it, with gusto!”
Castle Road on Capitol Hill, Canada, (summers 1956 to 1961)
“Place holds strong significance, home on the city’s edge, schooling to begin in ‘58, summers beneath anchored clouds with shadows setting root, becoming cool dark pockets for secrets, and across the empty rolling range beneath bright light, daydreams ran wild being played out by shapechangers in search of possession. The house may still stand, the vastness of surrounding space has been lost, yet the place’s invitation, (in memory), to venture out and beyond is very strong.” Oil, canvas on board, 20x20cm.
“I wanted to capture the feeling (in moody black and white photographs, of course) of what it can be like just to go for walk out on a summer day with no particular aim and take in the sights and sounds of the local neighbourhoods here in Japan. Initially the intention was to create a mini photographic book heavily inspired by Tales of Tono by Daido Moyriyama but in the end it became a short film using still photographs in the style of La Jetée.“
twitter.com/earthlystranger / vimeo.com/tombeg
“I must say thank you to whoever suggested this book as it was right up my street…loved it, especially “ the Blue of Distance” sections. This is a response to the part on maps…terra incognita.
When I was a child this island out in the Bristol Channel totally captured my imagination…and still does. I don’t ever want to go there or research its history as it’s a place of dreams that could be inhabited by giraffes and goldfinches or camels and weasels or simply exist in its own atmosphere of mists appearing and vanishing at will. A negative Uluru floating in cold northern waters.“
Cyanotypes in notebook.
“This evolved from Thoreau …”not till we have lost the world do we begin to find
ourselves” and Virginia Woolf ..”to be silent; to be alone”
Three panels, 12” x 12” graphite and watercolour on gesso.
“Though I have not read the specific Solnit book, I have read at least one essay she has written about labyrinths (“Journey to the Center” from The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness), and that’s the first thing that came to mind. A labyrinth is not a maze–there is only one path in and one path out. Labyrinths have been found in cultures all over the world, and are often used as forms of ritual or pilgrimage–a way to return to the source, to lose yourself in something larger and as a result find yourself again.”
kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com
“In A Field Guide To Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit says, “Never to get lost is not to live”. Such was the epic journey of Cabez de Vaca. He was the 2nd in command in a Spanish expedition led by Panfilio de Narvaez, which was commissioned by Charles V to establish colonial settlements and garrisons in The New World. However, after many disasters including hurricanes, shipwrecks, disease, starvation, attacks by hostiles and enslavement, only 4 of the original 600 men survived – including Cabez de Vaca. They spent the next 8 years wandering the S.W part of America and N.Mexico as traders and faith healers to some of the Indian tribes and were the first known Europeans to see the Mississippi River and cross the Gulf of Mexico and Texas. On his eventual return Cabez wrote a full account of the flora, fauna and Indian tribes he had encountered, and intended to conquer, but learnt so much from, including how to survive.
I decided to try something I had always wanted to do and experiment by doing a portrait of Cabeza using my old leftover makeup ie: various eyeshadows, eyeliners, bronzers and face powders.
So what did I discover? Well, yes, makeup is a good substitute drawing material – but Cabeza de Vaca – what a legend!”
“I don’t like the idea of being lost, and especially of being lost at night, so my contribution this week is a little sanctuary, just four walls and a roof, somewhere to keep the lost feeling at bay until the dawn, when the daylight banishes the monsters, real or imagined…”
Phil Cooper’s table-top model house
instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com
“Looking at my work over the years, I found all my paintings could be titled “a field guide of getting lost”, whichever style I chose. It all seems to be about finding a path in the chaos. Not that chaos is not one of the most beautiful and creative things there is. Whichever path I take will take me into unknown territory, never again able to retrace my steps and never returning the same as before. And every path will propel me towards new unknown territories and new adventures the more significant when in the spirit of being “lost”.
These four paintings I chose started as concepts for a short animation I had in mind based on a recurrent dream I had as a child and on Dante’s opening sentence of the Divine Comedy “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai in una selva oscura…” They are inks on watercolour paper, cold pressed, 240x680cm.”
“This was a bit of a no-brainer for me, given my many (!) excursions into the meadows and arable crops of my local countryside during the course of the lock-down and beyond. I haven’t quite managed a ‘Field Guide To Getting Lost’, but rather a guide to getting lost in fields in three parts.”
“I read a preview of A Field Guide To Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit, and I think it couldn’t have come at a better time. Things are really unpredictable at the moment. At times feel like I am levitating in limbo, a bit stuck, a bit stagnant. I am a bit lost.
If you allow it, being lost is to be beckoned by brambles and tripped up; those brambles can cut you deep with its spikes; maybe those spikes are actually fangs embedded in the coil of a boa constrictor – or maybe the bramble is something you could simply skip over and bursting with mouth-watering berries?
I used to love getting lost. I think a lot of it has to do with my childhood, when I was always outside finding and climbing the highest trees, mapping them in my mind as a brilliant structure that would suit a tree house; and finding the highest hills of rural Ireland overlooking the derelict cottages falling to pieces of a life long gone.
I recently moved house; my senses spill into overdrive. I notice familiar sounds that feel completely fresh. I notice the cornice that has a gargoyle on it. I get lost so I can find my bearings. I go on excursions and explorations and scope out the quiet, dainty coffee and book shops, or the solemn parks budding with trees and wildflowers, or the grey cemetery I can have a jog around while listening to bird song.
I still get lost because to really get lost is to eventually find yourself.”
@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly
“I was reading ‘The Blue Distance’ chapter in ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’, by Rebecca Solnit. I put it down and picked up a book on Eva Hesse, an artist I am researching. She had discovered this quotation in a Simone de Beauvoir diary of (1926). As soon as I read the quotation something opened up and I could hear the three voices in conversation.”
Darning needle on blue distance, front to back, drawing, oil on paper, 42 x 29cm
‘Lost in the making’, fabric sculpture, 110 x 60 x 26cm
instagram.com/maxineschester / maxine-chester.squarespace.com
“These are my art responses to this round’s prompt – which was the book by Rebecca Solnit titled “A Field Guide to Getting Lost.” I haven’t read the book and wasn’t going to attempt it – so I worked with the title. My initial thoughts really hovered over the “Lost” part. I recently read a Reddit post about the Vietnam draft lotteries and how there appeared to be heavy bias in the initial lottery towards birthdays at the end of the calendar year. No one knows why – presumably the number draws were random – but there are explanations proposed of simple human error. Birthdays at the end of the year were added to the hopper last and then the whole thing was not properly mixed. These men, born at the end of the year in the years 1946-1950, “lost” that lottery.
My father was drafted in a different round, but the outcome was the same. The top picture is a reverse transfer monoprint I made from a photo of him and my mother shortly after he returned from bootcamp – he’s leaning on his beloved car from high school. The lower print was made from the first photo I could find of him after his first deployment to Vietnam. His face is different. He is different. Which is so strange to me, because I was born after he got out of the service and I’ve never known him any other way but after Vietnam. But making these transfer prints, it had never been more clear to me. It was shocking – and full of loss.”
“… but then Kerfe Roig posted her response to the prompt and it was about labyrinths and journeys and paths. I found it very helpful and comforting. So I made one more transfer print for her poem.”
In what I suspect is in part a response to the languor of lock-down, Charly Skilling is offering up Walter Richard Sickert’s painting Ennui as our collective jumping-off point for the seventh Kick-About. You’ll find the painting plus the new submission date below. Have fun, folks, and see you on the other side!
16 thoughts on “The Kick-About #6 ‘A Field Guide To Getting Lost’”
I’m brimming with excitement!
Tom Beg’s liminal spaces is a terribly interesting dual process, since it assumes a certain lostness of the viewer, but also, I find, an even more maddening lostness of the space, as if it is simultaneously abandoned and deceived. I rather like that. It’s a sense of unease that, like any liminality, is hard to contain in a single conceptual space.
I love love love Vanessa’s cyanotypes, and I wasn’t even privy to the technique itself. Even the word is gorgeous. I’m tempted to use it in a poem. And the panels, gosh, the focus on emptiness, its place in the composition, how it is, one feels, such a punctuating thing, almost the object in-itself.
Kerfe produces beautiful visual segments, as always, and one never leaves disappointed. Phil’s little crepuscular hamlet looks incredible, especially in its first version with the blushed pink hue; it appears like a malediction, a mystical ritual, obscured and obfuscating.
Francesca’s shadowed forest is another brilliant surprise, though it does not accite in me quite the same feeling as Dante’s first verses. Dante is plagued by doubt, by obscurity; his forest is dense and lightless, and Francesca’s is washed in light, almost exurgent. One loses oneself gladly in it, though I’d never want to find myself in the position of lostness that Dante summons in his text. Her paintings are over-spilling with beauty, I find. Possibly my favoured of the bunch.
And you know how much I absolutely adore your photography, Phil. I always get lost in it irregardless of prompt.
This kick-about was awesome!
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I’m moved and delighted by you kind words João-Maria. Thank you.
Yes it’s true Dante’s is much darker than mine, full of sorrows and regrets, and everything else being a masterpiece.
What an amazing response to the title. I love all the posts each one so personal and touching and all speaking to me, all of them opening new possibilities and so inspiring. And thank you Phil for bringing as all together in this great blog.
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Lots of generous and considered feedback here – thank you! I’m happy we got you brimming today. Job done!
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Reblogged this on method two madness and commented:
The latest Kick-About offering featuring my labyrinths and lots of other wonderful creations as usual.
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Terrific! I think this is my favourite kick about so far, such a wealth of wonderful work here. Once again, I marvel at how the contributions all take such different paths in response to the prompt, but how each and every one is so accomplished in what they achieve.
I’m particularly drawn to Charlie Skilling’s ‘The Ballad of Ethel and Hilda’; that title is a winner for a start, and what’s not to love about two old ladies who go gooey over Cadfael? For me, there’s a strong hint of that uniquely British camp sensibility and humour about this tale; the wry observations, the clutter and jumble of everyday life and the delight in real places and faces. I’ve always loved this way of telling stories, where adventure or drama is often framed with ordinary things – Bravo Charly!
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Thank you, Phil. I’m so glad you liked it. When rhymes and rhythms and images and ideas come together so completely that they seem to snap to grid, something magical happens. It causes me a solar flare of joy, when I can facilitate it and if I can communicate some of that to other people, I’m happy.
This #Kickabout has thrown up a wider disparity of responses than any other, I think. Kerfe’s Labyrinths, Phil G’s dream-like Fields and Gary’s haunting depiction of a childhood in the open spaces of Canada, along with trips to Japan and Southern America via islands, and forests and beaches – all this is remarkable. And to know the light is on in your little sanctuary to guide us home safe – who could ask for anything more?
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There are so many great lines in there Charly, I love ‘And a mix of loose change (for the loo)’. The images add extra flavour too 🙂
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Another wonderful group! (K)
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This “collection” was fantastic. The soundscape of Tom Beg was wonderful – my kind of music – I was quite lost in every way!
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These are all excellent, Phil
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