‘Bird Eyes View’ / Fundus in Tangible Territory Journal Vol 1. Issue 3


Artist Tereza Stehlikova’s Tangible Territory is ‘a platform that offers a space for various voices to meet and discuss themes relating to the role of the body, the importance of place and embodied experience, in giving meaning to our every day experience of life and art. By extension, it also reflects on some of the transformations initiated by technology, globalisation and now also the pandemic and to it related questions of embodiment versus disembodiment, being simultaneously here and elsewhere, present and absent in our bodies and our surroundings.’ The Tangible Territory Journal is a ‘celebration of power of creative process and as such, is an ongoing project of collective learning and improving, of sharing, collaboration, curiosity and open mindedness.’

Tereza Stehlikova works as ‘an artist, filmmaker and a senior lecturer. She holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art, where she researched the tactile language of moving image. She is currently engaged in a cross-disciplinary research, investigating how moving image can be used to communicate embodied experience. Stehlikova is a senior lecturer in still and moving image theory and practice, at the University of Westminster and also supervises PhD students at the Royal College of Art. She is a founder of Sensory Sites, an international collective based in London, generating collaborative exhibitions, installations and research projects that explore multi-sensory perception and bodily experience. She also co-founded Artesian, a journal for committed creativity, featuring the writings of John Berger, Don DeLillo amongst many others. Stehlikova has presented her research at a number of international conferences and her films and performances have been shown at a variety of film and music festivals around the world. More about her projects here: cinestheticfeasts.com‘.


Responding to Tereza’s call for submissions for the third edition of her Tangible Territory Journal, I shared Fundus, the short film made in response to The Kick-About No.30, and likewise wrote a short accompanying piece about lock-down, The Kick-About and of ‘making directly’ and ‘doing quickly:

“A few weeks back, the prompt for the Kick-About was ‘Fundus Photography’, with fundus pertaining to categories of retinal photography.  Challenged to respond to imagery that was both ‘of the human body’, but also suggestive of more galaxial realms, I set about inflating a latex glove with water and floating it in a goldfish bowl filled with water coloured with some old black ink cartridges I found at the back of a drawer.  As I was assembling these ad-hoc components (only let’s call it ‘playing’, for that is what it was), I had no idea I would soon be making a short experimental film in collaboration with another artist, Deanna Crisbacher.  As I was holding the latex glove under the tap, I had no guarantee (or indeed much hope), that my idea would come to anything at all.  Importantly, I suppose, I didn’t care.  I didn’t know then, as I turned the water black with squirrelled ink, that I was in the early stages of making a strange little film offering up expansive, cosmic impressions born from a combination of domestic objects.   I didn’t know then I might be writing about this project, even going as far as drawing out from it some final conclusion about the transformative and transportive power of creativity, of making directly, of doing quickly, and the value of community.”  

You can read the complete article here and explore a whole host of other fascinating responses on a theme of creativity-under-lock-down in Tereza’s Tangible Territory Journal No. 3.



Short Story: Nasturtiums (2021)


Taking Sheila Legge’s image and Kafka’s Gregor Samsa as equal parts inspiration, I arrived at this short story as my response to The Kick-About No.36. There’s a bit of horticultural knowledge in there too, a thing about nasturtiums thriving in the poorest conditions, and likewise, the situation unfolding in Afghanistan for women and girls. Despite the story’s seemingly outlandish premise – a woman waking one morning to find her own head transformed into a vegetal ‘lump’ – it wove itself together with surprising ease, proving once again, to me at least, how genre is placed perfectly to tell the truth.


You’ll find a PDF version here.


Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 19 – Thingopolis Under Attack!


Good things come to those who wait… and I’m very happy to announce the latest chapter of Chimera Book 1 is here! With only two more instalments to go, Kyp’s adventures in the fantastical realm of lost properties continue apace. Huge thanks, as always, to Dan Snelgrove for finding the time, energy and vocal dexterity to bring another chapter so fulsomely to life – enjoy! It’s been a while, so you maybe in need of a refresher: you can listen again to Chapter 18 here.


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

Kyp and Jamie approached and placed their palms lightly on Circinus’s mane.  

She closed her eyes and began again to talk.

Whirlitzer and I tried to live happily in Thingopolis.  We tried to make a home for ourselves.  We struggled to embrace our new lives here. We missed the children, the embrace of their arms about our necks as we spun them in circles. We grieved for our purpose. One day, Whirlitzer and I galloped far from the safety of the city. Neither of us admitted our intention.  Madame Chartreuse put us to work dragging the Tealeaf’s fodder-wagons.  We were so ashamed.’

As if unable to bear the weight of their fingers, Circinus shook her mane, forcing Kyp and Jamie to withdraw.

‘We slipped our harnesses while the Tealeaf slept. We gave ourselves up to the Oligarchy.  Whirlitzer had prepared a speech to be heard at our trial.  He planned to implore them to take steps against Madame Chartreuse.  He believed with the Oblivion Three vanquished, we might come to value this world as our own, seeing it as a place in which to belong contentedly, a world of which we could be proud.  They sentenced us immediately without petition or plea.  Sir Regulus saved us.  He brought us to Flotsam Pothole, took care of us.  We quickly became inseparable.  We made plans, devised strategies.  We would tell each other stories from our pasts, drawing strength from our memories. We vowed we would make Chimera a safe place.  We could never again return to the Elsewhere World, but we would ensure others could without fear or injury.’

‘We decided to leave Flotsam Pothole,’ continued Sir Regulus, ‘to escape Oddznbodz.  We made it as far as the tunnels, then the shovelisks attacked. It all happened so fast.’  Sir Regulus was talking directly to Circinus now. ‘I tried to get you out. I tried to open its jaws.  It took my arm.’ 

I’m so sorry,’ said Circinus.

I’m the one who should be apologising! I could have tried harder, thought of something, done something. When Whirlitzer saw you were gone, he tried giving himself to the shovelisk too. He said he couldn’t bear to be parted from you but I couldn’t let him.  Flotsam Pothole needed him, someone to inspire them.  Whirlitzer accused me of betraying him – and of killing you.  He swore no one else would ever be lost to the Abattoir.’

A siren sounded.

‘We have to get you out of there,’ Sir Regulus told Circinus, pulling away the sheets of metal covering her. 

‘I can’t leave,’ she said.

Of course you can,’ said Bertram. ‘We’ll all help.’ 

‘Yes,’ agreed Kyp, dragging more of the corrugated sheets to the floor. 

‘You don’t understand.  I can’t leave,’ and now Kyp, and everyone else, saw why.

The hindquarters of the carousel horse were gone.

Chapter 19 – Thingopolis Under Attack!

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1

Coming Soon to Red’s Kingdom: Chapter 20 – The Flamingo & The Dummy



When I Was A Boy, I Collected Pebbles From The Beach @ Nature & Culture – Poetry Film Festival 2021


A bit of good news re. the Kick-About-inspired short film, When I Was A Boy, I Collected Pebbles From The Beach; it has just made the official selection for the Nature & Culture – Poetry Film Festival 2021, which means it will be screened in Copenhagen on the 21st and 28th of November at Kulturhuset Islands Brygge and added to The Poetic Phonotheque archive.



Short Story: Agata Król And The Shadow (2021)


I remember the first time I watched Lottle Reiniger’s Cinderella (1922), thrilling at the moment when we see the ugly sister cut off her own toes in order to make the glass slipper fit her foot – a reminder that fairy stories, as written originally, were hardly short on violence and darkness. Take that Walt Disney, with all your syrup! Inspired by folk-tales, and by those who survive in the shadows, I’ve written my own fairy story for our Reiniger-themed Kick-About No.31, crammed with impossible things presented as commonplace, thought probably not anyone’s idea of a bedtime story.


You can read a PDF version here.


The Kick-About / One Year Later


There are a number of things I miss about my previous role working in higher education – and many things I do not.

One of the things I miss most about those days was my day-to-day proximity to other creatives, to their respective projects, and to their conversations about them. An average day would see dozens of discussions about storytelling, art direction, materials, research, conceptualisation, producton design, visual representation and promotion. Manifesting ‘something from nothing’ was always the business of the day, as we all worked together to get an idea ‘from script to screen’ or from 2D into 3D, from a dream of a thing to the thing itself. I know now how luxurious my old job was. Actually, I knew it then and never once took it for granted. It was life-affirming to be in the company of people who could first see things in their mind, and then develop those images into concrete, substantive outcomes – an act of magic and an act of faith.

Hardly surprising then I might have wanted some of that back, to work again with a diverse community of artists, to give a fair whack of my time and energy to making a space in which more of those conversations could take place. So it was I had the idea for The Kick-About, a blog-based creative challenge, in which creatives of all kinds were given the chance to make some new work in response to a fortnightly prompt – myself included. One year later, and we’ve just published Edition 26 of The Kick-About, a gathering together of participants’ favourite submissions, and one thing is clear: there is power in community, not least because the expectation of an audience for new work is an effective means of seeing off procrastination and preciousness by encouraging decisiveness and utility. There is creative freedom too in ‘short sharp snaps’ of creative activity, that ability to start something up and then close it down in a succinct period of time.

Speaking personally, I’ve found The Kick-About to be a hugely satisfying experience, and after a decade-or-more of very happily giving my best ideas away to other people, it’s been reassuring and exciting to discover there are still more ideas where all those others came from. I’ve loved the problem-solving aspect of the fortnightly prompts – resolving cogent, authentic responses to the various prompts in lots of different ways. You might also call it ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ – and yes, it’s been fun.

Gathered here are all my Kick-About responses, digital artworks, sculptures, photographs, shorts films and short stories, and collaborations with other artists. Agreed, it makes for an eclectic ensemble, but I’m reminded – happily – of being nineteen years old and studying my Art Foundation course, which was all about trying and doing everything and not worrying about what it was all for, or what you were going to do with it, or what you were going to do next.

So yes, I do feel younger for running around with my fellow kick-abouters, and if not quite nineteen, then not far off. I just want to say a very real and heartfelt thank you to everyone in the Kick-About community, whether you’ve played once, or always. Your company and creativity is, and has been, restorative, and I’m very much looking forward to doing it all again with Kick-About No.27. Onwards!









Throwback Friday #51 Patience Kite / Excerpt (2019)


Back in September 2019, I finally finished Patience Kite – a novel I’d been fiddling about with for ten years or more. Owing much to Under Milkwood, in terms of its big cast of characters, and with nods to The Wicker Man and other examples of literary ‘folk horror’, I was very happy to complete it. I’d lived with these characters for an extended time and worked hard – off-and-on – to make the reading experience work engagingly. Sometimes, on good days, I’m certain I achieved just that, more or less. Other times, I think there is probably a very good reason why, having sent Patience Kite out to a number of literary agents and publishers upon completion, I’ve heard precisely nothing at all! I have a goodly number of rejection slips etc in my collection from my other finished works of ‘undiscovered literary greatness’, so I am largely inured to the rasp of disappointment.

That said, I sometimes think about all these lives I brought into being, these loyal phantoms of mine, and I wonder if I have a responsibility to them to go on trying. Today, I’m sufficing instead with putting the shortest of excerpts out on here, as this Friday’s archival entry. The character of Annie Crowther looks after the model village in Pengarth, the fictional setting of Patience Kite, a pretty fishing village somewhere in the wilds of North Cornwall. This short section comes very early in the novel and uses the device of the model village, and Annie’s omnipresence, to introduce readers to a few more of the book’s characters – and of course, there’s a hint of foreboding too…



Glorious (2021)


I properly disappeared into this, our 24th Kick-About prompt, another complete world building around it and absorbing me completely. I kept discovering all these pockets of rage and sadness as I wrote this short story, not least because I’ve been reading a lot about so-called “conversion therapies” and ‘cures for homosexuality’, and not least because a fair ratio of Glorious is based on the life and times of an individual I know well, a man who guards his freedoms fiercely, with no f**ks given. The setting of the story is also a real place, with its big bridge and creeping gentrification, though liberties have been taken everywhere. I wanted to get into the different ways behaviours can be tamed, so while I’m civil-partnered myself, I know a number of older gay men – and one in particular – who would, if pushed (and not very hard) express a certain wariness for the onwards march towards ‘normalcy’, preferring instead the distinctiveness of transgression and what is ‘uncivilised’ and ‘anti-social’ about some aspects of its subculture.


You’ll find an online PDF version here.


Chimera Book 1 / Chapter 17 – The Dismantlers


And we’re back! It’s time to rejoin Kyp Finnegan, Jamie Bean and Sir Regulus Ferric in the fantastical and perilous realm of Chimera, the world of lost things. It’s been a wee while I know, so listen again to Chapter 16 to remind yourself of all the most recent daring do! Many thanks as always to Dan Snelgrove, for finding the time to continue this adventure with me and all the other denizens of Chimera.


Last time in Chimera Book 1:

Sir Regulus confronted the first shovelisk, drawing his sword. The creature’s eyes blazed, snorts of exhaust gusting from its nostrils.  It lunged, butting Sir Regulus in the chest with its head, knocking him flat.  With a triumphant roar, the shovelisk dragged itself towards Jamie and Kyp, its rubbery foot splintering wood and smashing china.  With an awful crushing sound, it flattened the body of Czar Samovar and then rolled over Sir Regulus.  The shovelisk was above the two boys now, who coughed inside a cloud of its breath. It sniffed them, opened its jaws – and then froze.  The shovelisk spasmed, before toppling sideways with a loud crash.  His sword dripping sticky black fluid, Sir Regulus stood up and rested his foot on the dead shovelisk’s neck

‘The old ‘sword in the belly’ manoeuvre!  I got Firemingus, the self same way!’

His jubilation was short-lived. The second shovelisk reared up behind Sir Regulus, snatched him off his feet, tossed him in the air and caught him in his mouth.  Its sights now fixed on Kyp and Jamie, the shovelisk snorted hungrily and scooped them up too. 

Chapter 17 – The Dismantlers

Listen to all previous chapters at anchor.fm/chimerabook1


Coming Soon to Red’s Kingdom: Chapter 18 – The Other Carousel Horse


Throwback Friday #44 Short Story: Answering Machine (1998 rev. 2021)


Another short story from the floppy disc archive, prompted by some real world moment of strangeness with an answering machine I can now only just vaguely recall. I realise this effort is something of a period piece, what with its twentieth century trappings – a landline, how quaint! In common with cameras and photographs, I’ve always found answering machines and voice mails to have an unheimlich quality to them, the way they arrest time and suspend moments, installing ghosts in the machine, and there is something of that at work in this sleight vignette.


You’ll find a large print PDF version here.