The Kick-About #57 ‘Mervyn Peake’

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.

Jordan Buckner

“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.”

Judy Watson

“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. / /

Graeme Daly

“Some quick 2 minute sketches of Irish landscapes inspired by Peake’s illustrations.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Francesca Maxwell

“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.”

Phil Cooper

“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.” / /

Marion Raper

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.

Colin Bean

“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.

Phil Gomm

“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…”

Gary Thorne

“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…”

Kerfe Roig

“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.”

Karen 1
What’s in any name?
The face is warm, kind, thoughtful–
yes, overflowing

“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.”

First Responders
nightmares afterward–
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.”

body expression–
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?

7 thoughts on “The Kick-About #57 ‘Mervyn Peake’

  1. Superb drawings full of refined expression! Amazing, that which can be expressed by line and shade. Stories to tell this time round, conveying quite personal viewpoints, impressions, observations, alongside delivering strong feelings through a wide range of conjured moods. A splendid gallery show.

    Liked by 1 person

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