The Kick-About #77 ‘The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne’

We spent our last Kick-About together riffing on a surrealistic painting by Lucian Freud – a depiction of a strange artificial-seeming room filled with improbable objects and an air of unfinished business. Courtesy of an extract from part two of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, we’re this week occupants of another theatrical interior, as ripe with arresting imagery.

Vanessa Clegg

“This was a perfect prompt for me as I’ve long been a fan of Eliot’s work, so pulled out my battered and very old copy of his poetry to refresh my mind as well as do a little online research. The effect of WW1 struck me as the dominant first layer followed by references to sexuality, love and its unpredictable consequences; so with the help of an extremely scratched record, my dansette record player, iPad and a lot of soil and cardboard I cobbled together what I hoped would be (as near as possible) some kind of atmosphere of war and its encroachment on everyday life, as well as the post-war period of the 20s/30s when The Waste Land was published… it was a great way to spend Easter!”

Marion Raper

“This seemed to be a very tough prompt, and the only sense I could make of it was that there was a lot of dissatisfaction after World War 1 – as well there would be.  Many women were, on the one hand, looking forward to their men coming home, whilst on the other hand dreading the thought of what it would mean – inevitably having more babies and more mouths to feed. The men would also have changed dramatically after fighting in a war and would have been shell-shocked and traumatised. It must have been a very challenging and depressing time for everyone. I have been doing a few charcoal drawings recently and one of the things I do for inspiration is to take photos on the TV, with my mobile, of documentaries which have old black and white pictures in them. These faces from the past seemed to fit in with the characters from the poem. So here they are.”

Kerfe Roig

“Apropos of nothing, really, I composed this collage. It does feature chess pieces and contains some of the things mentioned in the poem, but it is certainly far from a literal translation. I have to thank Restoration Hardware for the chess pieces and some of the background images taken straight out of their overpriced and pretentious catalogs. The atmosphere Eliot has created seems similarly overdone.  The poem is a Silver Shovel – the last words of each line repeat one of the lines of A Game of Chess, minus the ‘or’.”


Her voice attempted to soothe, unguent–
but it grated against his ears like powdered
sand.  Her eyes pooled like liquid
poured chaotically from a troubled
mind.  The aggregate left him confused.

“unguent, powdered, or liquid—troubled, confused”
from A Game of Chess, T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land” /

Graeme Daly

“I thought about doing an illustration of a grand hall worthy of a queen, pooling with rim light, but I really wanted to do something physical and with my hands, mainly to crack into the little art studio I have revamped so that I don’t turn my bedroom into a catastrophe of shite while doing Kick-Abouts late into the night like this, so some still life photography it is then! Something about the grandiosity of the poem, the spectacle of the conceitedness, signified a sense of danger and something uglier underneath. With these photos, I wanted to tell a story – they may look aesthetic and familiar, but things are not as they seem – much like those in power, littered with gold and jewels, but who are usually the most corrupt imposters of all, and wear their porcelain masks to hide behind a facade. I took and borrowed elements of my own and my roommates, including my jewellery, my favourite wine glass I accidentally smashed and plucked out of the garbage, silk pillowcases, lots of fruit, and trimmings of plants I nicked on my neighbourhood runs.” / @graemedalyart / / / /

Phil Gomm

“My imagination attached itself to these lines in Eliot’s poem: ‘In vials of ivory and coloured glass / Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes / Unguent, powdered, or liquid’. I got this immediate mental impression of colour, specularity and transparency, so I gathered together the many various old glass bottles we’ve collected over the years, reached for some food colouring and assembled a still life or two. The resulting images were produced by purposefully defocusing the photograph and over-exposing the bottles. I was pushing for something as painterly as possible and while some of these photographs are a bit ‘IKEA’ I suppose, I enjoyed all the in-camera transformations of simple things using light, colour and time.”

James Randall

A note to say how wonderful all your diverse responses were to Freud two weeks ago! And how nice this time to respond to words – picking up on tone or a word here and there or the poem as a whole (whole excerpt.) I took off on a walk around town taking some pics and used one of a riveted plate on our Story Bridge. I used it to build an internal space as the poem seemed claustrophobic. I deep etched a cloud to use as seven candle flames. I have been using shaved charcoal photos to add texture to compositions and decided to add a figure made up of many layers of these photos in black with white highlights. I had the figure over the wall of rivet plates but it felt too hard – I added a photo of linen fabric. This didn’t open up the background enough so I ‘floated’ the plates back – initially further away at the bottom but then rotated to the top. The candle flames needed to be moved from a straight line to encircle the figure head and I took the opportunity to make them all different – animals, bits of bark, water reflections… Then I wanted to add a table with greenery in front below the figure. I used blue green and yellow in an Illustrator file which I took into photoshop to blur and added (eventually) a brown photo of water. This table wasn’t sitting well at the page bottom so I turned it around and added a reflected second on the other side of the figure. I now needed a new table so went back to Illustrator to create a much thinner form. This started to work but the horizon line was missing so I added a concertina of clouds. I didn’t have dolphins to add so I threw in a couple of whales from long ago. The image kept getting wider so I added some ‘circular line work in the empty corners. My last element was to add charcoal on the table.

Gary Thorne

“The devil, although never mentioned nor blamed and in fact non-existent, nevertheless comes to mind, with its glorious horns and red-face, an easy access symbol to portray evil within man. Philomela’s horrid rape and mutilation by Tereus stirred on making this bedroom ceiling lampshade, with its 360-degree watchful eyes heeding a warning to those that over-night in the guest room!”

Phil Cooper

“I’ve never read The Waste Land, in fact, I have to confess my knowledge of T. S. Ellot’s poetry pretty much stops with Old Possum’s book of Practical Cats. So I took these lines in the prompt at face value and just explored the idea of chairs, and thrones and power. I made a drawing of an image I’d taken of my friend Hans on a walk last spring and combined it with an edited version of the original photo. We were walking across a field and we came across a red plastic chair plonked in the middle of the empty space. It had an odd presence and was just asking to be sat on. Hans was wearing a patchwork hoodie with a long tail on the hood that looked a little like a jester or a typical ‘fool’ archetype. He’s surveying his realm in the picture, but there’s not much there, almost nothing really…” / /

Charly Skilling

“It may be all the depressing news at present, but I was struck by the contrast between T. S. Eliot’s verse and modern day experience.  But however depressing everyday life can be, there is always a spark of joy, somewhere.”

Rather brilliantly, The Kick-About No.78 is our third anniversary edition – and in keeping with tradition, our next exhibition will be a ‘Best Of’, in which our community of Kick-Abouters – regular and less-so – are challenged to pick their own favourite submission from their previous year’s projects to be showcased together in celebration. I’m looking forward to it already – and, incase you’re wondering, as of the 78th edition, the Kick-About will have been ‘kicking-about’ for a grand total of 156.536 weeks (or thereabouts).

10 thoughts on “The Kick-About #77 ‘The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne’

  1. Pingback: Wasted – K.

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