A rather more sinister-seeming thing from ‘Night 8’ back in the late summer of 2015, when, as others slept above me, I summoned apparitions out of the dark… What fun!
A second batch of rooftop shots taken during the UK’s two days of record-breaking heat, when the sun blasted down Albert Street and the heat in every room of our drafty old house was commensurate with that moment when you first step off a plane or train in some distant, foreign country and first experience the furnace of another climate. These images are not as benign as that, however, coming off as more Nigel Kneale than ‘Wish You Were Here.’
An otherwise unseen image from the summer of 2015, which saw me working for ten nights in the dusty salon of the old French house, in the pursuit of producing a sequence of fantastical events – and this one has a distinct Coraline-meets-Dr Seuss-vibe.
What with the recent record-breaking temperatures in the UK, I wanted to somehow capture the sensory experience of the wall-to-wall heat, without simply taking pictures of sunny scenes. These photographs were taken of the street where I live towards the end of two of those hottest days, with the sun pushing down against the tops of the narrow, terraced houses. I wanted to express that saturation of heat and the spread of it, so I put my camera into an organza bag as an ad-hoc filter by which to capture the glare and dial-up the light-bleeds and diffusion. The resulting images will go some way to remembering our unprecedented ‘heatwave’, with some of them feeling a touch ominous…
The idea for this story came quickly, inspired in part by the conflict going on between the domesticity of the subject in Henri Matisse’s 1908 painting, Harmony In Red (our latest Kick-About prompt), and the roar of its redness, like a sudden rush of feeling, something eruptive and less civilised. I was excited too by the strangeness of Matisse’s perspective, a world shunted off-kilter unexpectedly, and likewise by the very idea of Fauvism itself and all its ‘wild beasts’.
You can find a PDF version here.
Our previous Kick-About was inspired by the sometimes sombre, monochromatic, and richly atmospheric drawings of Mervyn Peake. Never happier than when making break-neck changes of direction, this latest gathering of new works made in a short time is inspired by Henri Matisse’s celebrated punch of fauvist colour. Boom!
“I’m looking at the other side of this red room, and for inspiration, I went to my hallway, as it is possibly built in the same era but a different country. There are remnants of servants quarters that have survived its conversion into flats. I’m thinking that there would have been a door on that opposing wall. Who had just left? Where were they going? Mimicking the style of pattern and flatness, I have attempted to continue the story.”
“The first thing you notice about Matisse’s Harmony in Red is that it VERY RED! Saturated with the colour! Indeed, it is difficult to describe this painting without using the word RED over and over again. So I got thinking about synonyms, and how many different ways you could describe something that is RED and how such décor might impact upon the people sat at that table to dine.”
“Really enjoyed where this one started to go. Matisse’s use of colour, shape and composition are legendary, but this study really made me think about how flatness, depth and differing spaces can collide. The flat window landscape of the original Matisse painting is really where it all started, and here’s where I ended up.”
“All I really want to do right now is draw. I latched onto the royal reds of Matisse’s painting and the quirky perspective. The red made me think of opulence. I envisioned a glamorous home with large ceilings, grand staircases rimmed with gold, framed pictures and floral designs throughout the home. At first I was a bit intimated by the brightness and saturation of the red; I didn’t want to burn anyone’s eyeballs with these illustrations, and with the first illustration of the bunch I had the back walls a much darker maroon, but then, with the second illustration, I jumped in with the same Matisse Red, determined to make its high saturation work. After adding in the details, such as the swirly designs, the gold rimmed edges and vaulted high ceilings, I was able to make the vibrant red work and decided to switch the first illustration to match! I am glad I did. I usually don’t do a lot of interior illustrations, but this bunch quickly become some of my favourite paintings thus far.”
“This is not a spot the fruit competition. However, there were tempting delights for this still life comprised of apricot, apple, pear, orange, berries and grapes. Another influence was certainly the abundance of garden and flowers situated between the back door and the garage/studio. Nice to be indoors at a time when the ‘heat’s on’. This started as one still life painting, however, as we know, stuff happens…”
“This Kick-About ties in wonderfully with the hot sunny weather and thoughts of summer parties and picnics. I really enjoyed constructing my collage of ice cream sundaes. It seemed as if the scraps of pink lace were real raspberry ripple, the lilac chiffon was swirls of blueberry and the scraps of brown felt were real pieces of chocolate. However my Red Dessert is a tribute to my cousin Brenda, who sadly passed away with Parkinson’s disease. She was always full of fun, and my last memory of her was when we went out for a meal recently. For her dessert she ordered a huge Knickerbocker Glory and began to tuck in. However, with her jerky arm movements, she proceeded to catapult large spoonfuls of ice cream everywhere and, all the while, with a big smile on her face!“
“I was pretty sure I’d done a collage based on this painting maybe 10 years ago, and figured I’d do a new one and then look for the old one to compare. But while I was looking through my pile of decorating magazines for things to use, I came across an ad that made me want to paint it in the style of Matisse. It was that intense blue wall. So I did. Then I did the collage. My old collage is very literal. The new one takes a lot of liberties. I think the woman in it has some kind of magic in mind. As always, grateful for the push to do something new.”
“The idea for this story came quickly, inspired in part by the conflict going on between the domesticity of the subject and the roar of all that colour, like a sudden rush of feeling, something eruptive and less civilised. I was excited too by the strangeness of Matisse’s perspective, a world shunted off-kilter so unexpectedly, and likewise by the very idea of Fauvism itself and all its ‘wild beasts’.”
You can find a PDF version here.
Courtesy of Jordan Buckner, our next Kick-About prompt is the life and work of Augustus Osborne Lamplough, an English Orientalist painter and illustrator; known for his sunset scenes of North Africa. Happy travels.
There’s an agreeable whiff of King Kong‘s Skull Island about this photograph taken in a wintery Central Park in December 2014.
You’re supposed to play petanque on a nice flat bit of sand or fine gravel – not on the lumps and bumps of a shingle beach. Nonetheless, we’ve enjoyed many games on Whitstable beach, lobbing those satisfyingly heavy silver balls through the air in the hope of landing them near enough to the jack to win.
With Mervyn Peake’s drawings laying down the gauntlet for The Kick-About 57, I decided to attempt some character drawings of my own, as inspired by the trio of villains in my own work of fantastic fiction, Chimera. I don’t really draw, or identify as someone who does, but this bloody Kick-About business keeps prompting me to make exceptions to this and have a go. In common with my approach to these self-portraits, I kept drawing and re-drawing onto the same bits of paper, using the eraser as much as anything else to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I’d say the final illustrations were not so much ‘drawn’ as materialised out of a succession of mistakes, but anyway here they are: the Berserker, the Tealeaf, and Madame Chartreuse, and for your listening pleasure, a short extract from the Chimera audio book, in which the Oblivion Three first make their proper appearance…
From the percussive, delineated sound-shapes of a Sandy Nelson drum solo, our muse for our previous Kick-About, we are this week riffing on the appreciably softer tones of the drawings by Mervyn Peake, and likewise the richness of his imaginary worlds and all their eccentric inhabitants.
“It’s hard to resist that textural ink approach Peake was famous for. I recognised some of Peake’s work but didn’t have a great knowledge on who he was, or what his work amounted to. It’s wonderful to see that even in his more observational work, that gothic storytelling still feels present.”
“There’s much to explore in response to Peake’s work, and I don’t think I can do it on one hit, so let us see where it takes me. But to begin with, it has taken me back to two mediums I loved in earlier years but have neglected more recently.
Pen and ink. Obviously this is all about the line. But it’s also about embracing a medium that can’t or won’t be fully controlled. I worked pretty small with these and just enjoyed making lots of small doodles. Perhaps some more finished work will come later.”
“And charcoal or soft pastel. This is less about the line and more about the tone, but really it’s a delicate balance of both. And there’s an element of mystery that comes from the smudgy indistinctness. It feeds the imagination. I haven’t found my mojo again with this quite yet, but I have been enjoying the start of the journey.“
“Some quick 2 minute sketches of Irish landscapes inspired by Peake’s illustrations.”
“Mervyn Peake! One of the best. The Gormenghast books resonated with me on so many layers with the vivid imagery and the Chinese undertones. No wonder his writing is so intertwined to his drawings and paintings, and to his poetry. I also use crosshatchings, and often pen and ink, in my drawings and sketches, and also have used it in my drypoint etchings. I have dozens of them, as I am sure all of you have; sketches while traveling; scribbles of shapes, movements and actions; imaginary places out of moods and dreams; quick ideas for designs and paintings etc. etc. I put together few here that, for me catch the often dark mood in Peake’s drawings.”
“I didn’t get through Gormenghast when I tried to read it as a teenager, but its otherworldly gothic atmosphere and Mervyn Peake’s peculiar illustrations stayed with me. This prompt is a welcome opportunity to return to that strange world. I’ve used collage to build a fragment of Gormenghast Castle, layering battlements, turrets and towers to try and create a place that is at once vaguely familiar and frustratingly impenetrable. As I worked on the photos of the images I started to see them as ideas for the endpapers of a 1960s edition of the books. I was happy with the vintage look and I can see how this technique could be developed further; I find the Kick-About often does this and gives rise to ideas that could run and run.”
“As I love castles, I decided to do an illustration of my version of Gormenghast. I have never read any of Mervyn Peake’s books, but I do remember watching the Gormenghast series on TV a very long time ago, which left an impression on me – mainly because it was so depressing! I have since found out that Peake was one of the first civilians to enter the German concentration camp of Belsen as a war artist. No wonder his art and literature was affected by this from then on. I used some of my marbled paper I have produced, as a background, and my artwork was based on Thirlstone Castle on the Scottish Borders. It was built in 1590, has wonderful gothic towers and is still a family home today.“
“It’s been a long time since I read the Titus Trilogy but forever memorable. I played with the idea of using one of his rich texts but I felt that wasn’t quite ‘it’, so scribbled out an attempt to invent some additional personages. I am no writer but embarked on some descriptions which simply grew into the text/narrative here. It did not take long to write, though I type badly and with dodgy eyesight and there may well be a myriad of typos for which I apologise, but hope they won’t irritate.
The three drawings are of the envisaged household set as a triptych (like some Japanese wood block prints). Fineliners, watercolour pencils, calligraphic ink, and a little gold acrylic was used on standard copy paper. Cheap, it is but not always kind to media. Once I had established the characters I spent a time juggling and balancing the elements. which took a fair amount of scanning/copying/tracing. Working on this prompt I found myself back doing ‘Fashion Design’ at art school and working in the industry.“
“With Mervyn Peake’s drawings laying down the gauntlet, I decided to attempt some character drawings of my own, as inspired by the trio of villains in my own work of fantastic fiction, Chimera. I don’t really draw, or identify as someone who does, but this bloody Kick-About business keeps prompting me to make exceptions to this and have a go. In common with my approach to these self-portraits, I kept drawing and re-drawing onto the same bits of paper, using the eraser as much as anything else to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I’d say the final illustrations were not so much ‘drawn’ as materialised out of a succession of mistakes, but anyway here they are: the Berserker, the Tealeaf, and Madame Chartreuse, and for your listening pleasure, a short extract from the Chimera audio book, in which the Oblivion Three first make their proper appearance…”
“M Peake has opened the door to caricatures, and caricatures of friends spin-off in their own direction: Sue’s tennis racket shaped wind turbine propelling her seaside beach hut antics; and the bearded Wojtek’s keen obsession with pruning in inappropriate footwear. Another enjoyable KA up-cycling project which made time fly…”
“Mervyn Peake’s drawings, especially the ones with writing on the page, reminded me of another series I did at the beginning of my blogging life that I called “In the News”. I would draw a photo from the day’s newspaper and write a haiku-like poem to accompany it. I think it fell by the wayside during one of my many moves, but Peake inspired me to revive it.”
What’s in any name?
The face is warm, kind, thoughtful–
“I saw this woman’s face in the obituaries and was immediately drawn to its warmth. The name Karen has become associated negatively with an entitled white woman, but each individual brings their own aura to the name they have been given. This is a woman I would have liked to know.”
random things collapsing–go
on, but remember
“On the first anniversary of the Surfside apartment collapse in Florida, the Times interviewed relatives, survivors, and first responders. The words of my poem are taken from the interview with these three police officers who were among the first on the scene.”
Guilty of Nothing–
who can say that? are you not
also a human?
“Anna Netrebko is an international star in the opera world. A friend of Putin’s, she has refused to criticize him, although she says she does not support the war. As a result she has been banned from performing in many places. Her defiant words, “I am guilty of nothing!” made me think both about innocence as a concept, and how and if we should separate the lives of artists from the work that they do.”
to be who I am–
to celebrate myself, free
both inside and out
“The Times featured a book put together by Harry James Hanson and Devin Atherus that profiles older drag performers. They saw it as a way to honor “queer elders” who were not included in the popular culture celebration of youthful drag. Phatima Rude was another person whose face attracted me with its warmth and sparkle.”
style in both movement and ink–
each its own story
“Paolo Banchereo was the Number One pick in the NBA draft this year. He is well known not only for his stellar play, but for the story his body tells with its many tattoos.”
And for our next creative challenge, a sumptuous hit of famously saturated colour. Dessert anyone?