After Calder #2 / Cellophane (2021)

With one of Alexander Calder’s wonderful sculptures-comes-mobiles as the prompt for the latest Kick-About, I initially set about producing these digital compositions in Photoshop. I then happened on a much more lo-fi opportunity, resulting from my husband’s impressive consumption of Quality Street chocolates over the Christmas period; Quality Street come wrapped in these lovely squares of coloured cellophane, which my husband turned into an ad-hoc garland hanging down from the mirror – in glorification of his gluttony!

Suspending the streamer of sweet wrappers from the ceiling, I set out about photographing it from below – lying on my back on the floor and framing the shots to avoid the presence of the cobwebs and the smoke detector! I enjoyed very much the water-colouresque results in all their floatiness, and I’m tempted to draw some conclusion here about the routes towards inspiration being found more-often-than-not in the realm of analogue activities.

The Kick-About #41 ‘La Ville’

From the ephemera of the last KA’s flowers of fire, to the more concrete energies of Fernand Leger’s La Ville, it’s another showcase of new works made in a short time by an eclectic group of creatives. We have ‘all sorts’ of different work in the mix – and quite literally this time too! Happy browsing.

Tom Beg

“I wanted to create an abstract image that conjured up the feeling of climbing some obscenely huge tower and looking down on the endlessly sprawling megalopolis below.” / /

Vanessa Clegg

“I don’t know why, but Léger’s work reminds me of liquorice allsorts, with a touch of fuzzy felts (remember them?) thrown in… So I spent an enjoyable afternoon playing with sweets, attempting to recreate something vaguely Léger-like, at the same time gobbling the residue – eating the art! Can’t recommend it highly enough!”

Kerfe Roig

“A collage with words.”

The City (after Leger)

In the beginning you can divide the questions
into a multitude of forms.
For your second act define your journey.
Offer your voice to the silence of light.
Remember to open the secret red door.
Do you know why?
It’s too early to be the end.
Simple, really. /

Marion Raper

“My daughter had the good fortune to go to the premiere of the film, House of Gucci, in London recently. Whilst watching the stars parade down the red carpet, she took a fabulous photo on her mobile. It captured Lady Gaga walking through a forest of mobiles held aloft, and with the city lights all around.  I thought this was such a great shot and would be just right for this Kick-About. I did a watercolour sketch first and then transcribed it into cubist terms.  How times have changed since the times of Leger!”

Charly Skilling

“I do not share Léger’s delight in modern cities, In fact, the aspect of British cities I most enjoy is the eclectic mixture of architecture from throughout the centuries. Here you are very likely to find long-established shops housed in medieval buildings, sagging gently against a some tall, stern, corsetted Victorian hotel, which is itself being eyeballed by a 1960’s concrete office block. Leger wrote to a friend, ‘I am still constantly astonished by the vertical urge of these people drunk with architecture. From my room on the thirtieth floor, the night is the most astonishing spectacle in the world. Nothing can be compared to it… This city is infernal. A mixture of elegance and toughness.’

I am trying to capture, in crochet, that spirit of a night time cityscape. It is a work in progress, but I started with sketches, then collage, and then began recreating some of those images in what will eventually be, (I think), a five-panelled piece of work. As you can see, there is a way to go!”

James Randall

Léger may have lived in an exciting time when cities were evolving rapidly with new industries and styles emerging – and I do love a new architectural design device today but, after the last year and a half, cities have lost a lot of gloss for me. In my KA submission I used building facade photos to recreate the Covid 19 virus model from the CDC and popped a little fiery hell below it. Looks fairly cheery to me!

Phil Gomm

“I took this photograph in Katowice, Poland, on the first of my two trips there in 2017 and 2019 respectively. My reason for visiting the city was on account of my collaboration with the orchestra there. This particular image was taken on my first visit, on a bright winter’s afternoon, as I explored the city in the gap between rehearsal and performance. Léger’s painting reminded me of this image, something about the absence of any horizon and all those vertical stripes, the prompt sending me back to my archives for a rummage.

The association made, I set myself the task of using this one photograph as the only element in a digital collage, re-sizing it, layering it, rotating it, slicing it up, and then building it back together again. Different layering combinations soon pushed out different colours, and ultimately, different cities, or rather the same city at different times of the day. In common with so many of these Kick-About challenges, I find restricting my available resources to be an effective way of getting into making different types of work.”

Phil Cooper

“Léger’s love of the city is evident in his painting, La Ville. It hums with the energy and activity of the ever-changing urban landscape. Everything in the painting looks on the move, new structures are rising up before our eyes, while others are being knocked down to make way for yet more construction.

I live in Berlin, a city with a unique history and a place that’s had more than it’s fair share of destruction and renewal. The life of the city here has ebbed and flowed like the tide, dying down and growing up again dramatically over the last hundred years or so. I’ve been out sketching recently, taking a little folding stool out into the neighbourhood where I live, drawing and painting quickly (because it’s so chilly here at the moment!), responding to the strong shapes of the architecture and the frequently shifting landscape of the streets.

This sketch for the Kick-About is of a ruined old building that was part of a factory complex. Not that old, but derelict and dead, waiting to be cleared away for something else. It was a great subject to paint, probably more interesting than the bland blocks of flats that will undoubtedly take its place soon. Léger celebrated the shiny energy of the new, but I’ve been drawn to the melancholy of the city that is disappearing.” / /

Graeme Daly

“With Léger’s La Ville being inspired by the city’s urbanisation I decided to mimic the feeling of constant change. Gritty photos taken on the streets of my current stomping ground in London are meshed together in a smorgasbord of shapes, colours and texture, to highlight the building up and tearing down of the fast paced concrete jungle.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Thanks to regular Kick-Abouter, Phil Cooper, we have a new prompt, Andy Goldsworthy’s Ice Spiral, which is surely a secret wish for the magic of winter and other transformations. Have fun, and see you back here in December.

After Flowers Of Fire #5 (2021)

A few last squibs from my photographic mission to ‘blow things up’ in response to the firework theme of The Kick-About No.40, only the only ‘blowing up’ taking place in the production of these images was me blowing down a short length of hosepipe into some very soapy water. All the breaking apart and bokeh derives from focusing through the resulting bubbles, producing these immersive, layered constellations.

After Flowers Of Fire #2 (2021)

A second assortment of ‘bubble-originated’ photographs forming part of my attempts to emulate scintillas of firework-inspired sparks for the purposes of exploring The Kick-About No.40. It does look as if I’ve been photographing handfuls of sequins or similar, or puffing smoke and glitter into the air. More prosaically, I was sitting beside a big bowl of soap suds with a length of hosepipe in my mouth, blowing mounds of bubbles into existence, before capturing all the points of lights, froth and facets in the view finder. Another run-of-the-mill day at Red’s Kingdom!

After Flowers Of Fire #1 (2021)

The Kick-About No.40 inevitably got me thinking about ways I might make fireworks my photographic subject without burning down the house in the process! I settled upon an equivalent phenomena that shared both the ‘rainbows’ and ephemerality of fireworks, filling a large white bowl with water and lots of washing-up liquid, and setting about blowing large heaps of bubbles. I was able to focus on, and through, all the multiple planes of the bubbles, which I soon learned produced these nicely ‘explosive’ qualities. I was reminded of the moments just after a rocket explodes, so not the big sky-born chrysanthemums, but the petering out of the last few sparks against the smudges of smoke. I took a whole bunch of photographs, always trying to find the next most expressive composition, and all the time racing against the inevitable popping of my soapy installation. There’s a few more to see over the coming days.

The Kick-About #40 ‘Flowers Of Fire’

After the gothic shadows of our last Kick-About together, how about a bit of flash, dazzle and colour? Inspired by the delightful illustrations from various collections of Japanese firework catalogues, the Kick-Abouters are lighting things up with a vibrant display of new works made in a short time. Whizz bang ooh ahh indeed!

Marion Raper

My first idea for this wonderful topic was to do some machine stitching on paper, as I thought I could get some exciting and interesting firework patterns with this. However, my sewing machine had other ideas and although I have used this method before, my needles kept breaking and I had to opt for plan B – hand stitching. First I used acrylic inks as background and then added various threads, sequins and oddments from my stash. As I sat sewing it came to me that life is like a firework! It starts off at great speed, happy, colourful and joyous, then there’s a bit of brilliance and sparkle and it finally shoots off into the heavens with a giant BOOM!!

Graeme Daly

Graeme:  I do have this massive piece of glass that was taken off a neighbour’s shower… it stands perfectly by itself, so I’m going to haul it into my room and give it a whirl for more experiments.

Phil: Don’t die.

Graeme: I’ll try!  I see why you love this practice so much. It’s so much fucking fun! I got lost in it. 

@graemedalyart / / / /

James Randall

“For some reason when I initially read the prompt list a lot of flowers types were in it (in my old persons head!) – so I worked with building photos and added flowers and water pics (from the archives) and Japanese type in a square format, but I had killed off any vitality. I ditched the type and changed the format to 1:3, and eventually lost the building layer. Also accidentally rotated the pic to portrait. I think it improved the piece.”

Phil Gomm

“This prompt got me thinking about ways I might make fireworks my photographic subject without burning down the house in the process! I settled upon an equivalent phenomena that shared both the ‘rainbows’ and ephemerality of fireworks, filling a large white bowl with water and lots of washing-up liquid, and setting about blowing large heaps of bubbles. I was able to focus on, and through, all the multiple planes of the bubbles, which I soon learned produced these nicely ‘explosive’ qualities. I was reminded of the moments just after a rocket explodes, so not the big sky-born chrysanthemums, but the petering out of the last few sparks against the smudges of smoke. I took a whole bunch of photographs, always trying to find the next most expressive composition, and all the time racing against the inevitable popping of my soapy installation. Even as I was happy with the resulting images, I felt pulled towards getting into the explosiveness a little more, evoking the sights and sounds of a firework display, and so putting some of these images to work. The short film ‘Whizz Bang Ooh Aah’ was the result of trying to do just that.”

Kerfe Roig

When I looked through the fireworks catalogues at all the different images, it made me think that the artists were trying to project their dreams into the sky.  Visions of wishes and magical things.  As usual, the collage turned out very differently than I imagined it, but I think it captures the spirit of what I intended to do.


you dreamed without beginning–
breath, stars, flowers
of light

you were happy to hold
hands with what was
not there

you closed your eyes and sang
from the inside, way down,
like flying,

listening to your heart beating,
rearranging the pattern
into constellations

you released what you had not
seen—you gave it away
without thinking

you dreamed with your arms open
and became entirely unafraid–
spilled over /

Phil Cooper

I really loved the Japanese firework illustrations for this prompt, they’re so controlled and carefully arranged; the opposite to what I think of as a firework going off, but they work beautifully. I’ve played with some photos I took a few weeks ago at the Britzer Garten in Berlin, where there was a fabulous display of Dahlias glowing in the autumn sunshine. The flowers were so firework-like, the colours so bright and hot, I really fell for them. We don’t have bonfire night here in Germany, so the Dahlias will have to do for me this year! / /

Tom Beg

“I was immediately struck by the simplicity of the illustrations, and how a few simply arranged shapes and colours could represent the forms of fireworks so well. I wanted to create something complex from something very simple and immediate, so I whipped up some very basic animation loops and then duplicated and rotated until some suitably cool looking abstract effects were generated. From a vertical orientation they remind me of fireworks shooting up into the sky and scattering in the atmosphere.” / /

Charly Skilling

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to contribute to this Kick-About because of time constraints, but I found I kept remembering the firework nights of my childhood (which, as you may already know, was a very long time ago!). In the end, the only way to get these memories out of my head was to put them down in words. Hopefully, it may trigger a memory for those of you old enough to remember, and for all the others, think of it as an example of the 1950’s English family at play. Weird or what!?”

You’ll find a PDF version here.

The last time painter, Fernand Léger, featured as a prompt for the Kick-About, we were treated to a mouth-watering display of food, fruit, and flowers. For our next creative departure, our destination is Leger’s 1919 painting, La Ville. Enjoy your city-break!

The Kick-About #39 ‘The Children Of The Night’

Our last Kick-About together was kicked-off by the cut-outs of Henri Matisse, and specifically his White Alga on Orange and Red from 1947. Inspired by one of Matisse’s less well-known cut-outs, regular Kick-Abouter, Kerfe Roig, treated us to something with touch of Halloween about it – a trio of rather dashing devil masks, and a foretaste of this week’s showcase. With dialogue uttered by Dracula himself as our starting point, it’s little wonder things have taken a spookier turn…

James Randall

“One of those Kick-Abouts that seemed to have a life of its own. The colours were fun to try to control.” 

Vanessa Clegg

“Based on childhood nightmares this is a painting I did a while ago but by re-photographing the unmounted slide, it could become a still from a seriously spooky film…make up your own narrative!”

“All I can say is that it’s a classic thriller/horror trick of dark shadows, tangled forest, mounting soundtrack, being lost, sense of being watched… Whaaaaaa!”

Graeme Daly

“Some painted over photographs from a forgotten forest in Ireland. Inspired by the stagnant stillness of nature in the night, where no street lights are seen, and only the little tufts of smoke from chimney spouts signify life. The thick fog and heavy mist hiding and shielding much of what you should see, like a visceral view of brain fog. But still, our imaginations would always be lit, ablaze.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Tom Beg

“Without knowing where the quote for this week’s came from my mind instantly jumped to Victorian-era gothic fiction and ghostly visions and apparitions. With perhaps the help of some otherworldly spirits guiding me, I got a nice little phantasmagoric effect going in the same kind of magic lantern ad hoc way the horror theaters of old used to employ.” / /

Phil Gomm

The prompt comes from Bram Stoker’s Dracula – the count is talking about the baying of the wolves beneath the moon, but I was never truly scared by vampires and the like. This was due in part to my fascination with the nuts and bolts of horror – its trappings, its effects and its preoccupations. The early horror actor Lon Chaney, was known as the man with a 1000 faces, on account of the ways he transformed his face for his performances in films such as Phantom of the Opera (1925) and London After Midnight (1927). Inspired by Chaney’s lo-fi monsters and the lurid short stories of the Pan Book Of Horror, I set about producing a series of self-portraits.

The way in which the resulting images were produced involved conscious use of my webcam, as opposed to my digital camera, courting the particular effects of low-light levels and low-resolution. I was going for something nostalgic, what it was like as a small boy catching glimpses of disturbing things on small, poorly-tuned black and white televisions. I wrote the captions to further enrich these imaginary moments, ranging across a host of hoary old tropes and cliches familiar to me from those wondrous Pan Books of Horror and countless old movies. That said, for all my obvious enjoyment in producing these portraits, one or two even left me glancing uneasily over my shoulder…”

You’ll find a larger PDF here.

Phil Cooper

What a juicy, exciting prompt this week! Children of the Night is such an evocative theme. For my contribution, I’m submitting work I made a few years ago, but it’s something that has never seen the light of day, and I thought this Kick-About prompt was a good occasion to give it an airing.

I’ve written here before about some design work I did for a touring stage production of Hansel and Gretel back in 2018. Working with director Clive Hicks-Jenkins, the overall concept for the staging involved using children’s toys and building blocks to conjure environments and scenery for the action performed by two puppets.

Before we arrived at the final approach, I played around with some other ideas, most of which were discarded once we had nailed the shape of our vision. The idea I’m submitting here focused on the witch’s cottage, traditionally made of sweets to entice the starving children into the witch’s clutches. Simon Armitage had written a wonderful text for the piece that provided a rich, dark re-imagining of the traditional tale, with a contemporary edge to bring the story up to date. One of my earlier ideas for the cottage involved incorporating sweets into the architecture, but to depict the confectionery as rotting and putrefying. The witch in Simon’s tale is a rather desperate creature, half-blind and cack-handed, and she hadn’t kept on top of the window-dressing designed to entrap lost children.

I made a model of two stone gate posts, the entrance to the cottage garden, topped with a couple of rather mouldy-looking liquorice allsorts. The images here include the original sketch from my sketchbook, the models, and some test shots on a table top environment of the witch’s garden. It was all good fun, even if the idea never took off. I did make loads of fake gingerbread cookies, which we used in a filmed animation sequence, so the concept found its way into the production in the end.” / /

Marion Raper

“I find ruined churches and in fact any type of ancient architecture fascinating and love imagining how people lived there and who they were. The fact that when night came and the only light was from candles and fire must have been so scary.  No wonder everyone believed in spirits, ghosts and demons.  Added to that would be the earie sound of wolves howling.  Such clever animals and necessary for the ecosystem. I hear they may even be reintroduced . Hopefully not Dracula as well!”

Kerfe Roig

“I was thinking about this prompt when I found some monoprints in neon colors that I had never finished, being uncertain where to go with them.  I wondered what would happen if I covered them in drips and spatters of spirits and night… And then I wrote something to accompany them.

Children of the Night

There’s a dark path in the forest that reaches not only to the horizon but far up into the stars in the sky.  The contours float, infused inside and out by an endless melody that sings chaos into shimmering pattern.

Where does the story end?  Perhaps it leads to dreams that have been hidden away, to possibilities invisible in the light of day. To once upon a time that becomes here and now.

If you listen – still, silent, boundaried by the night – it’s possible to catch a glimpse of these distant voices. But only a child can find the entrance to this liminal landscape of matter, spirit, and sound.

wonder shines
silvered, transcendent –
opening /

Chris Rutter & Evelyn Bennett

Here is the latest effort. A cut-up poem from the text; ‘Listen To The Music’.” /

And for our next creative prompt…

“The spinning saxon, flying pigeons, polka batteries, jumping jacks and firecrackers, squibs and salutes, Aztec Fountains, Bengal Lights, and Egyptian Circlets, bangers or bungers, cakes, crossettes, candles, and a Japanese design known as kamuro (boys haircut), which looks like a bobbed wig teased out across the stratosphere. . . the language of fireworks has a richness that hints at the explosive payload it references. And yet, anyone who has ever held their camera up to the blazing sky knows that a brilliant firework show can rarely be captured to any satisfying degree. Perhaps this is what makes a nineteenth-century series of catalogue advertisements for Japanese fireworks so mesmerizing: denied the expectations of photorealism, these images are free to evoke a unique sense of visual wonder.”

More here and here and here.