Getting Lost in Fields is a series of little films prompted into life by the Kick-About #6, which saw me attempting to evoke the rhapsodic sensations of being out and about with my camera in the fields of Kent during the Spring lock-down. I didn’t know there would be a fourth film – or indeed a fifth, but there’s something simple and satisfying about combining these impressionist photographs with Kevin MacLeod’s evocative musical miniatures. I didn’t know there would be a second lock-down either, and this new film results from two very peaceful afternoons spent walking along the Tankerton seashore at the outset of the new restrictions, with just the sound of the waves for company and the dying of the light.
Apologies! A little later than advertised… but certainly worth the wait!
Last time in Chimera Book 1:
Only now did Kyp see the cavern’s walls, floor and ceiling were crawling with large brown beetles. There was a loud popping noise, as one launched its fat, drab body into the air, trailing grey powder from its backside.
His warning came too late; erupting like firecrackers, the beetles took off in unison, the air turning black and unbreathable with the dirt sprayed from their bottoms. Kyp staggered towards what he hoped was the exit from the cave, dustbugs ricocheting off the walls all about him like artillery shells. He managed to crawl his way out of the cave and stand up, a dust-cloud surrounding him.
Chapter 11 – The Boy In The School Uniform
Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1
Chapter 12 – The Phawt-Gnoks Oligarchy
These are the final photographs, taken as the last of the sun slipped away, and the slopes took on a much more wintery aspect. The metallic filigree effects produced by the sunlight catching in the old umbrellas of the Hog’s fennel was otherworldly.
Okay, so when I said in my previous Tankerton Slopes post that it was my ‘final batch of martime tuftiness’ I lied. Or rather, I went out again a few days later to catch the sunset in the same spot, having left the house too late the first time to capture the way the sunlight was strafing the hirsute undulations of the slopes. My second visit didn’t disappoint, with some amazing displays of colour under pellucid November skies.
Another spectral entity photographed in the empty room of an old French house, observed while the owls hooted in the black canopy of trees outside and a curious polecat, snug under the roof tiles, feasted very noisily on bugs.
This week’s Kick-About was an exuberant and playful affair, in which the participating artists parked their usual conceptual ruminations and had some fun – and how could we not, given we had Norman Maclaren’s Boogie-Doodle as our inspiration?
During my time as a tutor on an undergraduate programme in animation, I spent a good part of my time wrestling with – and against – the constraints of the ‘3 act narrative structure’, as students sought to tell epic-sized stories in just under four minutes or so. Often – increasingly often – I yearned for more direct ways of expression and content-creation, pushing students to produce their ideas with greater immediacy, to just ‘get stuff out’ in the first instance, as opposed to wait for the various ‘theories of storytelling’ to offer something up. Boogie-Doodle delights because it ‘just exists’; it’s what play looks like, an expressive and exuberant risk.
Boogie Doodle, Norman Maclaren, 1941
I had a few ideas as to how I might approach the Kick-About #14. I considered created Boogie-Doodle-inspired soft-sculpture using this technique, then siting the sculptural elements on wire to set them wobbling about. Another idea was to produce a series of synesthetic speed paints in response to listening to jazz music, similar to the images produced for the animation, La création du monde, but then I realised I might have made some apposite work already.
I have a small leather notebook with thick creamy pages that is home to my daily ‘to-do’ lists, which is my very low tech way of trying to give some structure to these strange indistinct times of ours. This same book is also where I doodle absently when I’m on Zoom calls. Given the instinctive ‘straight-ahead’ method of animation on display in Norman Maclaren’s Boogie Doodle, I ultimately decided to liberate some of my own doodles from the various corners of my notebook and release them into the Kick-About for a runaround of their own. My personal favourite is the grumpy-looking blue ‘ball bird’; I think it likely this doodle left my pen on some drab Monday morning…
And, by way of an ending, here’s the wonderful Sarah Vaughan doodling too.
Phil Cooper, Fossil, 40cm x 40cm, acrylic on paper
‘Hey,’ said Kyp, and he touched Atticus very lightly with his hand. ‘Back home there’s this museum. It’s full of great stuff. It’s got a dressed flea and the horn of a narwhal. It’s got snakes in great big tanks and dinosaur bones and dodos, but there’s nothing like you there. There’s a circus me and Sprat would go to, Fatty Barnstorm’s. He’s got a tiger called Pinstripe and there’s Petula, the human projectile. She gets fired from a cannon. People ooh and ahh, but if they saw you, Atticus, if they saw you, they wouldn’t believe their eyes.’
“As usual, with this chapter, I was spoilt for choice with so many vivid images conjured by the words. In the end, I chose to depict a fossilised dinosaur from the museum Kyp describes. I have very fond memories of going to the local museum with my grandmother when I was a little boy. I was completely entranced by the butterflies and insects in glass cases, a giant stuffed lion called Nelson. and the rather dusty, hushed gloom of the galleries. It was a magical place, a place of extraordinary things, like postcards from strange worlds that one day I might visit…“
Phil Cooper’s fossil painting on his art table in his Berlin studio, October 2020
The previous edition of the Kick-About featured a rather precarious vision of a civilisation held together by threads. I won’t labour this analogy any further, but suffice to say civilsation feels a good deal more secure this week! I feel a bit of a celebration coming on. Anyone fancy a boogie?
“Just a couple of small painting ideas relating to Boogie-Doodle I had various thoughts in my mind as with the American election this week making it tense and electric, the idea of a Boogie of delight became more evident.
So my initial little strip shows the exuberance I felt for the emerging outcome informed at the same time as watching a crow returning to its nest, with what appeared to be a mission of house-clearing, as it proceeded to kick about and turn out the shower of leaves that had landed in his nest. Maybe they were all soggy and he was preparing for the next season? There has been no sign of him since…
The second thought led on from this thinking of the masses of birds that collect on the telephone wires, flying off jumping on one another shuffling for space and almost performing a sort of ritual dance as they collect to migrate. So the second strip shows a Birdy Boogie-Doodle on an Asafo flag as some of the birds will be flying to Africa to entertain them there.”
“This was such a fun, joyous and uplifting cartoon and I have tried to keep the same theme going, by working some ‘crazy patchwork’. (This is a wonderful way to use up all your odd material scraps etc). I tried to find pieces that had similar colours, shapes and patterns on them and then added a bit of hand embroidery and applique as enhancement. Have to say was all very enjoyable!”
“‘Salsa Doodle’ was a lot of fun to do. It’s not polished, but maybe that adds a bit of charm! You just have to wiggle to that music! I can’t help but imagine fruit punch, wildly swinging, tasselled skirts and sequins!“
“Boogie Doodle is fun and frivolous, and so is my response. Ladies and gentelmen of the Kick-About, I present, ‘A Woolly-Doodle’, also known as ‘The Yarny Doodle Dangle’. Enjoy!”
“I have a small leather notebook with thick creamy pages that is home to my daily ‘to-do’ lists, which is my very low tech way of trying to give some structure to these strange indistinct times of ours. This same book is also where I doodle absently when I’m on Zoom calls. Given the instinctive ‘straight-ahead’ method of animation on display in Norman Maclaren’s Boogie Doodle, I decided to liberate some of my own doodles from the various corners of my notebook and release them into the Kick-About for a runaround of their own!”
One of the Zoom doodles in its original habitat!
“I loved the energy and the immediacy of the Norman McLaren film. In response, I knew I wanted to make something quite quickly and without thinking too much to keep some of the spirit of the animation. I’ve spent most of this year in the city in Berlin, but this week I’m by the sea in the U.K. for a few days so it’s been a welcome change to use some found materials from the beach for this prompt. Here are some creatures, ‘beach doodles’, put together from the flotsam and jetsam found along the seashore.”
“I absolutely loved this Kick-About! It put a smile on my face, made my shoulders shake and my head bop! I enjoyed learning about Norman Maclaren and the music that accompanies Boogie Woogie by Albert Ammons, which all inspired the visuals for this animation. Injecting so much colour with this Kick-About has been a joy to work on and I am looking forward to playing about with it some more!”
“Boogie Doodle really reminded me of Matisse’s Jazz collages. I focused on the figures in his series and drew some of my own in a similar style from photos I found online of jazz dancers. Using primary colors with black and white to duplicate the shadow effect in the video, I cut out the figures and dots to complement them. Then I arranged them all on an abstract primary ground. For the poem I wanted to use music and musical sound words. It was much harder than I anticipated, but I like the idea of a poem composed mostly of sounds, and may visit it again. And I also now have a set of dancing shadow figures and dots that can be revisited for different arrangements as well.“
swing stroll slide
eight to the bar
oompah oompah groove
boogie-woogie back beat
jingle jangle jive talkin
double time front line howl growl whine
interlude solidtude riff raff boom
whistle whomp wha wah zoomba zoomba zoom
We have Phil Cooper to thank for our next creative prompt, which he introduces for us here:
“In 1938, with World War 2 looming on the horizon, Country Life published a book called ‘High Street’. It included a text by J. M. Richards and 24 lithographs by Eric Ravilious of typical high street scenes and shop fronts from the time. Just a few years later, Ravilious would be killed in the war, the high street changed forever, and even the lithographic plates for the book destroyed in a bombing raid during the Blitz. Thankfully, many of the original copies of High Street have survived, though, and Ravilious’ illustrations have become some of the most highly regarded lithographs from the period.”
I just wanted to say a very warm welcome to our newest kick-abouter, Jan Blake (who contributed some belated work to the Ersilia edition, which you can see here), and extend the invite for a run-around with the rest of us to anyone else who might be looking on and thinking ‘I’m up for some doodling too.’ You’ll find the next submission deadline in the presentation below.
A final batch of martime tuftiness from my trip out to Tankerton Slopes at the beginning of the week. I was just thinking how some of these would make for particularly cruel jigsaw puzzles…
It’s 4 o’clock, there’s a nip in the air, and with a little bit of luck there’s a slice of cake nearby. Time then to rejoin Kyp Finnegan and Atticus Weft in their continuing adventures in the fantastical realm of Chimera, the realm of lost things.
Last time in Chimera Book 1:
The freshly-hatched metamorph surveyed its surroundings, its feet scratching amongst the sediment. It ruffled its stubby plume of tail feathers and turned in a circle. It put its head between its legs and blinked. It began pecking at the remains of is cocoon, picking up the husks in its beak and arranging them about its body as if making a nest. The shear-shrike sought to nestle within in it, resting its head on its chest. Agitated suddenly, it kicked the remains of its cocoon. It cawed and flapped its wings, sending the dust of long-dead detritums whirling around it. The blades of its beak snapped open and closed. It made another sound, a scream that set Kyp’s teeth on edge.
The shear-shrike launched itself into the air. It struck the cave roof and fell back to the ground. Enraged, it took flight again. This time when it met with the ceiling, it emitted a shrill scream of frustration and began to half-fly, half-throw itself at the cave walls. The scissor-snap of its beak made Kyp queasy with dread. At any moment, he expected to be cut into bloody strips or find Atticus sliced into snake rings. The shear-strike began attacking the walls again, slashing at the mattresses. Kyp thought the creature would never tire of its tantrum.
When finally the beating of wings and tearing sounds subsided, Kyp peered up through the white whirl of wadding and saw the shear-shrike had managed what other metamorphs had not; using the formidable tool of its beak, it had cut a way out through the roof.
Chapter 10 – Caramels & Coconut Cracknell
Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1
Chapter 11 – The Boy In The School Uniform