The Kick-About #4 ‘Orphée’

Our previous kick-about together was a game on the theme of happy shades, which originated a showcase of reflective, nostalgic and mediative responses. Phil Cooper’s Orpheus-inspired prompt has led some of us at least down some shadowier, more mysterious paths, as we consider alternate worlds and the allure of leaving this one.

Vanessa Clegg

“The sea is often described as a mirror and the mirage (Fata Morgana) on the horizon is literally looking/entering into another space. These are caused by layers of successively warmer air (shown as horizontal lines) working like a series of eyeglass lenses. It is a world that does not exist but is utterly real to the viewer.” Pencil on Fabriano. 56 cm X 56 cm.

Tom Beg

“A Saturday stroll in the blistering summer heat turned into search for other-worlds and distorted realities, which I found in the ripples and reflections of the Ooka River in Yokohama. My final stop on this little solo journey was a lovely park that sits on the edge of Yokohama harbour. I’ve always found the waves and colour of the ocean here completely fascinating. It’s like staring into a thick undulating soup, and it was here where not so long ago the ill-fated Diamond Princess was moored up, quarantined, and its unfortunate passengers cut off from the outside world. It was as if it too had gone through the mirror where things would never quite be the same again.” /

Maxine Chester

“This response evolved from the idea of Opheus entering into an eternal dance of seduction with death. The folds start to talk about ideas around the eternal, where there is no beginning or end just what happens within the unfolding of the middle.  Hence the title ‘…and…'” /

Charly Skilling

“As long as there have been mirrors, humanity has wondered what they are really seeing in them – spirits, shades,(usually not so happy) or alternate universes.  We gaze in the mirror – and we muse.  And being human, we muse about how such mirror worlds might affect us personally.”

Phill Hosking

“I attempted to illustrate the moment where Orpheus entered the underworld to save his wife ‘Eurydice’. Orpheus stands readying himself for what’s to come as the the dark forces of the underworld surround Eurydice in the depths. This sparked all sorts of possible dark scenarios to illustrate, but I went for a poster-like iconic angle to enhance the drama and jeopardy for the hero of the piece.”

Kerfe Roig

“Mirrors and reflections often feature in my work, but I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to approach the mirror as a portal.  I first tried a collage but it seemed too busy.  The folded Rorschach paintings I do are already mirrored, so I decided to try that approach.

As often happens, this was not the painting I had in mind when I began.  Although the paint didn’t layer the way I envisioned, it took on its own life in the process and I followed along.  This is the second painting I’ve done using handprints…perhaps the start of a series?”

someone half
remembered, pieces
of stories
circles drumming, spiraling,
endlessly riddled

held opposite by
here and there
passed midway
to now—remaining whole yet
existing as both

overflowing with
a presence
ancient songs—myths returned as
what will always be /

Marion Raper

“I began by looking at an old children’s book called The Mirrorstone (Michael Palin, Alan Lee and Richard  Seymour).   In this story a boy walks through his bathroom mirror, and what I like about it are the illustrations, which include holograms. With this in mind I used some mirror card for my shapes and made shadows using some black organza material from my stash. The pink card is actually sparkly, but this was very hard to photograph and get the same effect. Lastly I drew around my hands and stuck some chiffon over them for a more ghostly look.”

Graeme Daly

“I knew exactly what I was going to create when I saw the new prompt… Twas the night before my birthday and I was sitting out in the tiny garden in my previous London apartment. I was drinking red wine and smoking a cigarette and frankly feeling rather shit – not sure if it was the birthday blues or if it was an amalgamation of other things, but my neighbours behind my house were having a party; they recently installed some outside lighting that surrounded their roomy garden in a blazing warm hue that lit up the brick of their apartment like a beacon in the night. In my garden there was a full length mirror perched against a rickety garden shed that was full of art supplies and spiders. The light from the neighbour’s garden was reflecting brilliantly against the mirror – it looked otherworldly placed against the black shed and darkness of my garden, as if the light didn’t belong in the darkness. I thought to myself, I wish that was a fucking portal so I could step through it, leave this place and see some happy faces. The neighbours next door continued to dance and sing into the night.” 

@graemedalyart / / /

Phil Gomm

“A few weeks back, I discovered a large stagnant pond in the woods, its water black, viscous and a little sinister. All this talk of magic mirrors and portals to the underworld saw me hurry back to this enshadowed pool, as haunted and obsidian as any scrying mirror…”

Gary Thorne

“This has been some challenge, having chosen the mirror’s reflection as focus throughout, with three quite different self-portraits beneath this final slightly worrying impression of entering a hot (not tropical) world. Too late for dodging the inevitable, I suspect.” Oil on board 20cm x 20cm.

Phil Cooper

“Mystic portals and doorways to other realms have often appeared in my work. I guess that’s why I chose the clip from Cocteau’s Orphée for the prompter’s this week; to me, they represent imagination, dreams, and promise.

I made the images by painting 2D elements on card, setting them up on a table-top with a painted background and then photographing them. It was all pretty low-fi; the lighting is a little torch, a candle and my iPhone, and I used a few basic photo-editing apps to add atmosphere and texture. I enjoy seeing how the painted shapes transform during the photographic process. It sometimes falls flat and occasionally something quite satisfying emerges. I’d like to continue to develop these ideas; add sound perhaps, or use video to introduce movement.” / /

Francesca Maxwell

“I have finally finished Orpheus. This is the second version. I must confess I am using these Kick Abouts as experimental ground, trying techniques and styles very different from my usual. Probably because I am working on a topic and with a story, I don’t usually do that in my paintings, I let images, feelings and random thoughts settle down in images and try to capture them. Only when I design for work I follow stories where there are characters and environments detached from me. For this one I used my usual abstract painting style and superimposed a baroque doorway from Puglia; an olive tree, aside from the Mediterranean feel it also represent longevity and, with the flowers, life renewal and Orpheus looking through his fingers at Eurydice who then has to turn back. I used Acrylics Inks on hot pressed watercolour paper. 30 X 40 cm.”

Marcy Erb

“The first thing I thought of was “mirror neurons” – which are special neurons found (so far) only in primates and birds that activate either when the animal does the behavior or they see another animal doing the same behavior (mirroring them). No one knows why we have them or truly what function they serve, although there is much speculation. It was fun to get out some of the science images I’ve saved over the years for this collage.”

“I did go back and do another interpretation of the theme in collage – inspired by the line ‘and in it, I see an unhappy man.’”

Simon Holland

“Went a bit pencilly on this one, I wanted to capture Orpheus at the moment where he mourns the loss of Eurydice, the light of the surface world Illuminates him as the omnipresent darkness of grief and the underworld threaten to consume him.” / /

With thanks to fellow Kick-About artist, Kerfe Roig, I’m happy to announce the brand-new prompt for our fifth run-around together, Alice Kneel’s 1932 painting, Symbols. See below for the painting, and for our new submission date, and if you’re reading this and want to join our (very) loose collective of intrepid creatives in our continuing mission to make stuff we otherwise might not make, just get in touch at

The Kick-About #3 ‘Dance Of The Happy Shades’

Metropolis – our last kick-about prompt – inspired a wide-range of creative responses from a wide-range of creatives. I experienced a proper thrill of anticipation as the submissions began to arrive via email, blogposts and Twitter. ‘Metropolis’ brought with it some very clear and beloved associations; many of us couldn’t wait to channel our inner Fritz Lang. Prompt No 3 – ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ – was an arguably more elusive start-point inspiring another rich collection of responses in a variety of different media. Enjoy!

Phil Cooper

“I started off by painting some foliage and flower shapes onto tracing paper, cutting them out, placing on a light box and photographing them. I meant the results to be shadowy and rather gothic, but they turned out rather different. Perhaps because it feels like full-on summer here in Berlin this week, and perhaps because I watched Picnic at Hanging Rock the other night, the photos have more the atmosphere of a languorous sunny afternoon in the garden –  not what I set out to do at all.  I was so seduced by the colour palette of Picnic at Hanging Rock, I’ve let the images go in this direction…” / /

Francesca Maxwell

“On reading the title “Dance of the Happy Shades” I immediately thought of shadows, and the shades of tones in the shadows, rather than shades of greys and colours. I thought of the subtle tones in a desaturated situation, like during twilight, one of my favourite times of day. Still, I needed a relatively strong source of light to create the shadows. Also, I was looking at translucent rather than solid objects, to get more nuances in the tones, as well as texture – translucency and texture being also some of the things that most inspire and attract me. I tried and looked at few different things, including rereading “In the Praise of Shadows” by Junichiro Tanizaki, and watching the Zhang Yimou’s film “Shadow” – an amazing film. In the end, it was the moving reflection on the wall of three glass flowers I made few years back standing on my mantelpiece that I wanted to do. I was originally going to paint them with the Chinese ink and brush technique, but I started sketching them out in colour pencil and rather enjoyed the process, and the result was close to my idea. Pencils on hot press watercolour paper. 84×60 cm.

Emily Clarkson

“I’ve got two quite different responses this week. Firstly, one very silly gif. This was inspired by a friend, when I asked her, ‘What do you think of when I say ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’?’ she responded, ‘I just see a dude dancing in shades.’ Her response made me think of an older gent embodying a Dad-joke of sorts…”

“The second idea that came to mind was old Disney style – Fantasia – but instead of brooms and the like, it was floor lamps, with shades. (It’s a tenuous link, I know!). I hadn’t fully worked out how I could animate the idea (plus I left it too late anyway) but that didn’t mean I couldn’t embody it somehow! So here’s a silly storyboard of some dancing floor lamps! I put together a quick animatic – it’s not as motion-filled as I’d like, but I hope it gets my daft idea across a bit better. Haha!” / /

Phil Gomm

Inspiration came from Alice Munro’s Walker Brothers Cowboy, the very first story in Munro’s Dance Of The Happy Shades. In it, a little girl and her brother are too hot and listless in the back of their father’s car. They play I Spy to pass the time:

“We play I Spy, but it is hard to find many colours.  Grey for the barns and sheds and toilets and houses, brown for the yard and fields, black or brown for the dogs.  The rusting cars show rainbow patches, in which I strain to pick out purple or green; likewise I peer at doors for shreds of peeling paint, maroon or yellow.”

I wanted to evoke the languor of a similarly long hot day and the way lethargy encourages you to look for escape-routes in ordinary and over-looked places – like the peeling paint on a garage door, which if you squint, might come to resemble some glinting sea or exotic terrain. With the exception of a few sound effects purloined from the BBC SFX archive, the majority of sounds in the film were recorded in an around the rather careworn seaside town I call home. At risk of sounding bossy, grab some headphones for a suitably immersive experience.

Kerfe Roig

“My Rorschach ancestor mirrors himself and transforms in both vertical and horizontal directions.  It was fun to add a little nonsensical creation to my days.”

He seems friendly
enough, this presence
of the past, shifting
languorously as if
drugged by sun
light shining in his eyes
after a thundering rain

In truth his voice
is seldom called
upon—an apparition
furniturial, fixed
impermanently in
corners and along

His dance contains
undertones—the hours
move around him
as his buddha smile
glimmers knowingly
in the dark /

Liam Scarlino

“I found a photo of the author of Dance Of The Happy Shades, Alice Munro from 1971, a couple of years after the book was published. I thought it would be nice to add some colour to it. While it was possible to find photos from a few years later that I could reference for eye colour, skin tones, hair etc, I still feel there’s a large degree of fiction in this, or any other colourised photo. Where the photo was taken, what time of day, what colour clothing all became something imagined without proper sources. This is an interesting contradiction for me, because by trying to bring something to life, it actually makes it more like a woozy loose memory. I’ve been doing something similar with old family photos recently, and have been able to test the memories of elder relatives in the photos for details. While a modern sheen of colour makes the image feel more appealing, I often wonder if the photos are more meaningful in their original state.”

Vikki Kerslake

“My mind went straight to ballerina dancers and wanted to capture them in a loose style, and was thinking of black and grey shades. So I did some small charcoal sketches of ballerina dancers as an initial response while sitting out in the park… I moved them into Photoshop and did some tweaking and painting to make them fit into a more complete image.”

Marion Raper

“I was thinking of a very exuberant Flamenco Dancer wearing a fabulous skirt of happy, bright and gaudy layers. I painted on Yupo paper for the woman’s figure and used scraps of silk and net individually twisted and bound for her skirt. I enjoyed the whole task very much and it definitely made me want to do a happy dance!”

Annie Roberts

“Originally, I wanted to respond to a couple of quotes within the book, make some kind of lively piece with dancers and muted colours, but after reading up on Orfeo ed Eurydice, I decided instead to look to the Greek god of the underworld, Hades. Not only did it relate to this Kick-About prompt, but also to another project I’ve been working on. Right now, it’s called “So, this is life?” and involves a goddess in the stars being banished from the heavens and forced to live among humans. I’m basing the characters on constellations and Greek mythologies, so Hades was perfect. I’m still working out kinks on the story but the basic world-building is the “constellation” gods and goddesses watch over whatever humans were born under their star and act as lore keepers for them. When the humans die, they must journey to Hades and the constellations hand over their lore to Hades. This current design of Hades is the first iteration. He’s bound to change as I develop this concept further.” / /

Graeme Daly

“I am absolutely loving these Kick Abouts! It has completely opened my eyes to the possibility of doing quick little ‘micro shorts’ – and this time I decided to give it a whirl for a film of sorts.  For the Metropolis prompt, I was drawing and animating the creative responses using a particular set of Photoshop brushes that are always my go to.  I was in my bathroom and opened up my medicine cabinet, and just as I did, the light from outside was shining into the window and through a crack of the medicine cabinet door. It created this brilliant concentrated brush stroke of dancing illuminating light that mimics one of the brushes I love to use in Photoshop. I took out my phone and filmed myself opening and closing the medicine cabinet door over and over again, as I knew this would not last long because of how pinprick precise the light was in that moment. I realised I could work with the videos to produce something for the kick-about, so I started to play. 

A lot of what is going in the film fell into place through experimenting by mixing all the videos together, playing with blend modes, light, shadow and shapes. The song is Grey Drops by Sergey Cheremisinov. When listening to Cheremisinov’s unique pieces I always imagine something odd and intriguing coming to life, something with a lot of texture. I envisioned things moving in the shadows that shouldn’t move. The best thing about creating like this is something magical happens by itself; as I was swinging the medicine cabinet door, I noticed it looked like the light was giving way to these phantom spectres that were projecting part of themselves away and then consuming it again with every swing of the door. Everything started to intensify as I edited the film together, and then a story started to flourish.”

@graemedalyart / / /

Tom Beg

“Dance of the Happy Shades is a title as evocative as it is elusive. In an attempt to understand the mystery and make the shades dance, here is a little series of blindingly colourful, expressionist and illusionistic photographic manipulations.” /

Gary Thorne

It all turned about-face after the start. The studio’s sense of itself took over. Nuances I set about exploring ended up as grey-scale shades flowing from colour. HB pencil, on Artistico Fabriano 640gsm hot pressed. 77cm x 56cm. 24 hour drawing.”

Charly Skilling

“I was going through some old paperwork when a photo fluttered to the ground, one of me as a child, which prompted a rush of memories. I found other photos, of other times, and I tried to set down in words the feelings and images they evoked.  I recalled sounds, music, voices, and wanted to find a way to combine images, words and sounds to share with others the emotions they aroused in me.  I don’t have the technical knowledge or skills to create what I envisaged – but luckily, I know a man who does!  We talked for a long time about the ways and means, of shape and substance and then he took my words, my images, my memories, and between us produced the following short film.

Jordan Buckner

“Optimism isn’t my comfort zone, but it was lovely to work more abstractly and suggestively than usual. I’ve never read Dance of the Happy Shades, but the title alone suggests to me the movements of grass fields, dappled sunlight and a shifting summer breeze. This is the best I can do to evoke Van Gogh. Unfortunately, the grey British skies did not imbue my blood with a great talent for evoking the beauty of the sun!” / /

Watch Jordan paint live at

Courtesy of Berlin-based artist, Phil Cooper, we have our new prompt – a short sequence from Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950). In common with all previous kick-abouts, you’re invited to respond to the new prompt in anyway that gets your juices flowing, and if you’ve enjoyed this third creative run-around and you want to get involved, then crack on!

The Kick About #2 ‘Metropolis’

We were all surprised and delighted by the response to the first Kick About, with a whole range of work in a variety of media triggered by Max Ernst’s 1955 painting, Moon In A Bottle. We got sculptures and paintings both analogue and digital, drawings in pastel and in Sharpie Pen, animated loops, and even a verse or two of original poetry. The Kick About #1 also garnered interest from other creatives up for a bit of running around, which means this second edition is a veritable cornucopia of creativity.

This time out, our prompt was a single word: metropolis. When I look across this eclectic range of work, I’m reminded of another collection of cities – Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, a book in which Calvino describes an array of architectural marvels, all of them different, but all of them ultimately revealed to be expressions of the characteristics of only one city – Venice. Here too, a single name for a city inspires multiple impressions.

Kerfe Roig

“Most everything I own is in storage, and I do not have many collage materials in my temporary apartment.  But I do get the NY Times delivered, and I cut them up for what I’m working on as needed I took two of the obituary pages from last Sunday’s paper and collaged it with images and headline haiku collected from the last month’s papers.”

Kerfe Roig, Headline Haiku: Metropolis, collage /

Jordan Buckner

“Over the past few weeks, I’ve been making a painting a day as part of the #MaySketchaDay. It’s been fun, but also tough to consistently make new, interesting things. However, when the theme word Metropolis showed up I took a sigh of relief. Not purely because the Fritz Lang film Metropolis is a huge inspiration to me, but also because it’s the kind of word that I could apply to a lot of my work. Big, bulking cityscapes with dark corners, glimmering towers and hidden stories.

So, in response, I made a couple of neon-British industrial cityscapes. If Blade Runner took place in Manchester maybe? Due to the nature of #MaySketchaDay I have to be pretty quick, so to speed up the process I take my old paintings and collage them together as my starting point. In the way of Gestalt psychology, this noise eventually begins to express pattern and shape, and from there, the painting starts to take hold.” / /

Watch Jordan paint live at

Harry Bell

“It started life as a doodle, became a drawing, then in Photoshop was turned into a fanzine cover for Beam 10 (X).” /

Alan Postings

“A ray gun prop inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis created in Autodesk Maya. I set a challenge of a day’s build/design (plus a few hours of edits) and made it up as I went along!”

website /

Tom Beg

It’s safe to say we are pretty crammed in here in Yokohama, a city of nearly 4 million inhabitants perched on a series of rocky hills overlooking the Tokyo Bay. Space is at a premium and geometric tower blocks, condominiums and apartments dot the landscape to the backdrop of rusting factories and billowing smokestacks. It’s hard not to think or see metropolis whenever I step out my front door. It’s also hard not to think about Fritz Lang’s seminal sci-fi film Metropolis because I love it so much. For this Kick About then, I’ve reimagined my local area as some sort of lost production set for that film. I’m more of an old-fashioned traditionalist when it comes to photography but going with the theme I’ve harnessed the futurist power of my phone and its camera to create my very own and very local metropolis. /

Gary Thorne

“My prompt was Mother-city; the hub providing settlers to beyond, with the sparrow characterising community and Springtime nest building. The unanchored nature reflects a very common feeling. HB pencil, on Artistico Fabriano 640gsm hot pressed. 77cm x 56cm. These drawings demand 24 hours commitment, as nothing is forward planned, usually reaching completion in 3-5 days.”

Judy Watson

“The current theme is Metropolis, which could mean any metropolis, but I have taken it to be the 1927 German expressionist Sci-fi film by Fritz Lang, because it’s one of my favourite films. I have fond memories of being taken along to it as a teenager by my big brother. My eyes were nearly popping out of my headsome of the most compelling memories of the movie for me were the scenes in the Rich Men’s pleasure gardens. The Pleasure Gardens are extraordinary. They are stupendously opulent, and are filled with tumescent plants and feature a scalloped grotto and various fountains…” / /

Benedict Blythe

“I became rather inspired by some cinematic B-roll footage of Shanghai, and several images of empty, dystopian style environments. This piece soundtracks the emotions and ‘point of view’ of a person as they move with a steady pace through this cityscape. The architecture builds around them and the barren day passes and transforms into a frantic nightlife. The heavy, clean drums give the music a heavy and prominent pulse, defining the slow but steady movement and the jazzesque chords are supposed to mimic the music associated with these places and spaces. The use of contemporary, electronic sounds are to further add to this sense of a mundane, dystopian forest of concrete. I used FL Studio Mobile on my Ipad to write the actual music and mix the parts. The wind and city soundscapes were added afterwards on my laptop and mixed in Garageband.”

Benedict Blythe, Metropolis V3, May 2020

Anass Moudakir

“All I could think of was modernity and buildings, a lot of them. It started as a De Stijl influenced doodle, which then turned into a more constructivist piece and finally a bit more tweaking and ambience. A lot of fun during the process.”

Phil Cooper

“The following images are photos of models I put together for a touring stage production of Hansel and Gretel that I worked on in 2018; you can read more about the production in a blog post I wrote while we were developing the show here.

We devised an approach to the staging that used a lot of children’s toys for the table top models and for the screen projections. The toys added an additional poignant, emotional quality to the music and words and gave the Hansel and Gretel puppet characters something to interact with. For some architectural elements we used toy building blocks. We painted them in monochrome tones to suggest an environment without pulling too much attention away from the music and words.” / /

Kevin Clarkson

Kevin Clarkson, Metropolis, Acrylic on board / /

Lewis Punton

“Metropolis, a prompt that couldn’t help but be met with an onslaught of quarantine consumed media, meaning that those initial visions of bronzed skyscrapers somehow found themselves in a rather uncomfortable blend of Mad Max and the Peaky Blinders! A mingling that resulted in a somewhat smoky poem…” /

Phill Hosking

“I took the notion of the ‘Metropolis’ as an overcrowded and oppressive place and projected it into one possible future, a mildly dystopian and ugly one, where there’s evidence of human ingenuity but very little evidence of humanity.”

Tony Reeves

“We absolutely loved doing this kick about, thank you Phil for inviting us in! First and foremost, we’d like to thank the Pexels video community for the fabulous free footage. In terms of workflow, the Forces are experimenting with an improvised approach to composition. We have a bunch of loops in Ableton live, and a bunch of samples in an iPhone app called CueZy (which is fantastic for live performance). We’re then running another iPhone with synths including a couple of awesome apps called TC-Performer and TC-11, and using piano, rhodes and other samples on Logic. The idea is to use sound more as colour, so we can improvise in response to visuals – hence why we loved the Metropolis project. All compositions are just recorded down to a stereo out, so there’s no going back and re-editing – what you hear is all a single take. We hope you enjoy, and we can’t wait to see what everyone else has come up with!” /

Vikki Kerslake

“It’s pastels on paper with a bit of Photoshop editing. I had German 1930s film sets in mind.”

Matthew Eluwande

“The pandemic has kept us out of our daily life and activities. We were cut off from life itself, but we are coming back to life using beauty – here represented by the sinamay roses. The tiger whiskers attached to the rose depict our strength. We’re taking back our metropolis, using our sense of style as our means of protection.

Piece made from Sinamay fibre, eco friendly and sustainable. / /

Charly Skilling

…and a bonus ‘metropolis of string’ “I started thinking about the networks, the connections that make up a major city – the roads, the cables,  the lighting, the energy. My thanks to the photographer for his skills.”

Liam Scarlino

“I lived in this building for two years, in Taipei. It’s in a back road of the red-light district. The lane is full of gentlemen’s clubs in the basements and bars on street level. The strip is teaming with marauding businessmen and pop-up food vendors in the evenings, dying down at around midnight when everyone packs up or goes downstairs. The building itself has five floors and no lift, with a long staircase heading right to the top in a single column.I lived in an illegal extension on the top floor, a fairly common arrangement in Taiwan. The walls shifted from side to side during earthquakes and in typhoons water dripped through the light fixtures. The apartment was clean though, and despite the grime outside, the area was intense and colourful and full of life. The rent was also very cheap.

Relating to the idea of a metropolis is the position of the building on Taipei’s tessellating grid system. Blocky buildings in different sizes and states of repair populate the back lanes, bumped right up to the edge of the road. Air conditioning units protrude out of grey broken tiles between steel and glass.

It’s by no stretch a beautiful city, but at night-time the neon lights switch on, and all the surfaces glow in greens and blues and pinks. Taxis slowly wind their way through the crowds with warm headlights casting long shadows into the distance. Everything mingles together and this vivid amphetamine version of Boris Bilinsky’s famous poster becomes far more appealing.

Returning home late at night, my building loomed overhead, bathed in neon and surprisingly still, with a few lightbulbs reflecting off protective bars, as the wiring gently hummed.”

Liam Scarlino, Linsen North Road, created in Cinema 4D

Graeme Daly

“I wanted to capture the energy and constant movement that encompasses a metropolis, like a long exposure shot caught in an instant with lots of energy in the line-work and brightness in the blinding city lights,  I had a go of animating it too, as I want to incorporate such elements into my new animated short so it felt good to get some practice.  I also couldn’t help but pay homage to Metropolis by Fritz Lang – it’s one of my favourites!  Those harrowing tunnels with the workers heads hung low as they approach the underbelly of the city always stuck with me.”

@graemedalyart / / /

Emily Clarkson

“My submission was entirely inspired by the aesthetics of the Fritz Lang movie poster, and the opening titles to ‘Batman – The Animated Series’. I love the drama in the storyboards by Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm. The bold, dramatic environments in the show and the movie poster really stand out, although they are quite different. Strong graphics and shapes appeal to me hugely and that’s something the Art Deco period had in spades!” / /

Phil Gomm

“I really enjoyed this challenge.  It was like being back on my Art Foundation course!”

Phil Gomm, Tower, Pencil drawing > photography > Photoshop

Eleanor Spence-Welch

“This is really an amalgamation of my favourite parts of the 1927 film. Perhaps it’s a little too literal an interpretation of the prompt, but it’s been fun to reminisce over my memories of watching Metropolis for the first time. Perhaps I need to watch it again soon…” / /

Simon Holland

 “A bit of Metropolis meets a bit of Egyptian meets some other stuff.” / /

Who’s up for another game? Courtesy of Kick-About team mate, Gary Thorne, we have a brand new prompt for a brand new creative challenge – see below for our latest theme and new submission deadline. Have fun – and anyone visiting who’d like to have a run around with us, then do please get in touch. The more the merrier.

The Kick About #1 Moon In A Bottle

Moon in a Bottle 1955 Max Ernst 1891-1976

A warm welcome to Red Kingdom’s inaugural Kick About – a showcase of new work generated by a group of artists and creative sorts in response to a specific prompt.

Our collective jumping-off point was Max Ernst’s 1955 painting, Moon in a Bottle, and participants were encouraged to respond to Ernst’s image however they saw fit.

Featuring work in a wide range of media, The Kick About surely proves that exciting things happen when we play.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith, digital painting / /

Emily Clarkson

“I’ll be honest… I couldn’t connect with the painting itself so, I ended up going down a more literal word association route. There was just something whimsical about the idea of the moon in a little bottle, like it was something homemade and stowed on a higher power’s kitchen shelf or something.  Plus I learned a new AE trick in the process!”

Emily Clarkson, Sun In A Jar, created in After Effects
Emily Clarkson, Cosmos In A Cup, created in After Effects / /

Charly Skilling

Charly Skilling, Ceramic tile, Sharpie pens & alcohol
Charly Skilling, Moon in a Bottle

Graeme Daly

“I really enjoyed this. It may have just inspired an idea for a future film!”

@graemedalyart / / /

Jordan Buckner

“It started off a bit more moody blue cliffs and glowing sun. And I wanted it to be a bit more textural and collage, but it slowly edged towards something a bit more sci-fi.” 

Jordan Buckner, digital painting
Jordan Buckner, digital painting work-up / / /

Philip Cooper

Philip Cooper, ‘Supermoon’


Time was when you only had to worry about sleeping with a pistol and a silver bullet by your bed once a month. It was a chore, but, well, once a month, most people could handle and attacks were rare in the city anyway. That was two years ago. Everything has changed – everything!

I remember seeing the first batches of the Supermoon stuff on the shelves in the corner shop; ‘Like the Moon in a Bottle’ the advertising said. People laughed, and we bought some, drinking it for dares int the local woods. Everyone was telling us kids it was so dangerous, that it should be banned and we shouldn’t touch it, so what else were we going to do? Government ministers and various ‘experts’ dismissed the stuff as a hoax, said it was just soda water, marketed by charlatan looking to fleece the gullible. Just a few weeks later, though, and stories began to emerge on the news; odd, gruesome killings, usually in remote parts of the country.

Still no need to worry, they told us, it’s a one off, a ‘lone wolf’. Then, very quickly, the truth emerged. Supermoon WAS like the moon in a bottle, it really DID make werewolves transform into their wolf self with just a mouthful, at any time, even in broad daylight and a week away from a full moon.

Then the authorities started to take it seriously; hunting for the makers, the labs, the factories, the supply lines. But it was too late. There was so much of it out there by that time. The werewolves had got hold of litres of it and the havoc and devastation they were causing was like something from a movie. Things fell apart in a matter of days. The cost of silver went up to 7000% times that of gold, wars broke out to take control of the silver mines, communities turned on each other. Rumours and conspiracy theories spread like wildfire, weird cults sprang up; crazy people wanting to get bitten, join the emerging new power, get out of their mundane little lives and have an adventure – and they got bitten all right.

We’re the lucky ones, we keep being told. Mum and dad took us all to one of the compounds and made it in just in time.

But we don’t sleep much. We thought were were safe here behind the 3m thick concrete bunker walls and the gun towers but things aren’t going well. It seems the werewolves are getting smarter and working together. We heard that the compound down south near Southhampton has fallen, that they got in somehow. How can this be happening? 

No, we don’t sleep much, and we all have a pistol by our bed with a silver bullet. It’s the new normal.

Anon. 13th June, 2024 / /

Phil Gomm

Phil Gomm, nylon tights, thread, PVA, acrylic
Phil Gomm, nylon tights, thread, PVA, acrylic

Glen Coleman

Glen: His name is Wane.

Phil: As in a ‘waning moon’, perhaps?

Glen: Yep, haha.

Glen Coleman, ‘Wane’ made in Solidworks

Phill Hosking

I was always going to go this route as an opener. Really enjoyed it. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the collective have come up with.”

Phill Hosking, digital painting /

Simon Holland

“I did a thing, charcoal, pastel and other sh*t!” / /

So, who’s up for another kick-about in the park with jumpers for goal-posts? We have a brand new prompt, courtesy of Emily ‘Sun-In-A-Jar’ Clarkson, and a new submission date. See below – and if you’re looking at this thinking you’d like to get involved too, get in touch and we’ll sort it.

The Kick About is kicking off.

In my previous incarnation as a course leader, it was not unusual for our creative community of students, staff and alumni to come together in the service of some great big extra-curricular project. We’d all have our own work to do and existing deadlines to meet, but somehow the prospect of doing something together – and doing something non-mandatory – just put a welcome spring in our step. Many of the projects of which I’m most proud professionally originated from just these kinds of playful collective origins. There is nothing more exciting than bringing a bunch of creative individuals together and just seeing what happens. In my experience ‘what happens’ is always something unexpected and valuable, oak trees from acorns and all that.

With this in mind, and with Covid-19 producing strange new peaks and troughs in our respective working lives, I wanted to start something here at Red’s Kingdom by inviting a bunch of talented artists* from different disciplines to come together for a kick about in the park. Last night, the invite below was sent out and the challenge excepted!

Watch this space!

*It’s early days, but maybe the Kick About will gather a-pace? If anyone else fancies a run-around, get in touch.