The Kick-About #66 ‘Vesuvius’

In contrast to the sombre and sepulchral offerings of our previous Kick-About together, this week’s collection of new works made in a short time is a more explosive affair. Inspired by Turner’s painterly apocalypse, enjoy the flash and sizzle of our own creative outpourings. Boom!

Francesca Maxwell

My take of an explosion of some kind, more of an emotional kind, I think, so I wanted to feel surrounded by and immersed in it.  Not the beautiful and dramatic rendition of Turner’s Vesuvious one – close enough to make us feel the power of it but from some safe distance. Nor the fireworks we seem to get these days, more noise than light! I used to love watching the fireworks over the sea for Genova’s Saint Patron’s day as a child. It was a glorious spectacle of lights, colours and patterns, mirrored on the water surface – and far enough not to be too noisy. I suppose now we need to be more environmentally conscious with these things as well. Hope you all had a fun weekend!

Marion Raper

“It came to mind I had previously done a painting entitled “Volcano”, albeit about 55 years ago!  This was when I was at senior school and the reason it has stuck in my mind… is because I never actually finished it! I had painted people trying to escape, and running away in panic from a volcano, but the thing was the bell rang for end of lesson before I had time to put in their faces!  It was therefore quite a surprise for me to see, about a week later, my unfinished masterpiece hanging on the wall outside the headmistress study! It was even more of a shock when the headmistress herself happened to be walking by, as I stood with my mouth open saying to some friends “Blimey! That’s my picture up there!” She gave me a very stoney stare (which others who went to this same school may vividly remember) and said “Did you mean for all the people to be faceless?” I was always taught that honesty is the best policy so I said, in a very feeble voice, “Well actually Miss I didn’t get to finish it” Wrong answer. Next day my painting had disappeared from the wall.”

Charly Skilling

“When looking at images of volcanoes, I am always struck by the contrast between the life and heat and light and movement of the explosions and the lava flow and the  cold, dark, stillness of the ash and landscape left behind.  I have tried to capture some of this contrast with a freeform crochet, approximately 25″ x 38″. I used  a yarn with sequins for the lava itself, the sequins reflected light giving life and movement  Other yarns, with a fine silver fleck running through them, helped bring a suggestion of light and movement to the more distant volcanic cloud and  the night sky.  The landscape surrounding the volcano is made up of greys, charcoal and blacks, with streaks of fire giving the terrain some definition. Finally, an old tree, lit by moonlight on one side and firelight on the other, stands poised at the moment the first flames begin to lick – on the cusp of flaring into destruction.”

Vanessa Clegg

“1983: I close my eyes. Hearing the crunch of hardened lava… a calcified sea leading into the forest… ascending into the thinning air, straining the lungs, weakening the legs, pumping the heart… progress slowing. Six hours later: emerging into mist, temperature dropping, giant pointed succulents scattered over rubble, light failing, crawling to the crater’s lip, peering into the depths… a stomach flip from the power and scale… molten lava hidden by cloud smoke. Three metal huts… most without floors… just below the peak. Eating out of tins, curling like squirrels into a deep damp sleep… the bass notes of the mountain penetrating our dreams.”

Mt Meru, Tanzania, stratovolcano (last eruption 1910) Walk: 2001. Pen and ink on paper

Nyragongo, Congo, live stratovolcano last eruption prior to walk in1977) Walk: 1983. Pen and ink on paper

Jan Blake

“For many years I had this desire to go up a volcano on horse-back. The fact I had never been on a horse before was not going to deter me. My dear friend Penny, who died a few months ago in Mexico, was Don Quixote to my Sancho Panza. Jesus and his little son, Simon appropriately led us up the volcano. There was no-one else for 8 hours. So the prompt this time for me was not the blazing furnace of a volcano erupting, but the life-changing experience of climbing this steaming, breathing volcano. It had grown to eruption in 10 years in 1952, enveloping the pueblo and ending abruptly at the altar of the church. From the top you can see across the whole of Mexico and the fault line runs steeply down to South America. When we arrived back to Guadalajara I made this first painting. It was as if the volcano had entered my entire body, so visceral were the feelings. We hardly spoke for hours. Here is that drawing and a detail of the core. I selected out a photo of the volcano landscape itself, so still, silent  and empty on the downward slope, a complete opposite of the Turner eruption and magnitude of its flaring torment. The earth talks to us very clearly. I hope the politicians are listening.  Maybe they should take them up to the top of a breathing earth next time – rather than a mega-rich paradise!”

James Randall

“Way back in 2008 we walked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand – eight hours, 19kms – along the way reaching the top of the still active red crater. A fabulous walk full of fascinating natural wonders- a yellow lake, emerald lakes, areas of snow, waterfalls, steam rising from rocks and amazing colours. When we got home I spotted a photo I had taken of a ridge line which was part of the track and there was a row of tiny people one after the other on it. Who knows how many people walk the track every day, but it would be enormous. I wouldn’t want not to have undertaken this marvel trek, but the impact on nature must be devastating. So my image is of the pleading volcano – I suppose a comment on over population. Also time for a gouache painting I thought. And I was inspired by several of the last Art challenge submissions that took a simpler approach – not that I achieved simplicity here, but I really liked what they achieved!”

Phil Cooper

“Turner’s painting of Vesuvius is so sublime, so epic. I can’t compete with that, so I’ve gone to the other end of the scale – a bit of a damp squib compared to Turner’s fiery mountain. I photographed a fire demon who has lost his mojo. He should be running around causing mischief, but he’s over it and doesn’t quite know what to do with himself; what does a demon do if he’s not wreaking havoc? His demon friends think he’s a loser and ordinary folk run away screaming. He doesn’t fit in anywhere these days. He did go off and get a prospectus from the community college last week, so that’s a start…” / /

Phil Gomm

“A few points of reference going on here: of course, those ash-encased bodies of Pompeii’s unlucky inhabitants, entombed where they embraced by the volcano’s pyroclastic flow, but also memories of watching the news in the aftermath of 9/11, people walking through the city streets, bewildered, made ghostly by their lamina of ash. I sourced some of those little people architects deploy to bring their scale models to life, coated them with a few blasts of hairspray, then rolled them in wood ash from the stove. I was particularly taken by the humdrum poses of the figures and, in some strange way, find the resulting photographs comforting. It’s as if those poor Pompeiians got up off the floor one day and resumed their lives, chatting, flirting, popping down the shops…”

Graeme Daly

“I was awestruck by the colours of Turner’s painting, especially the light and darkness, and contemplated how the land after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius would have been nothing but dark ash and charred to a crisp, the poisoned, suffocating smoke billowing into the air, the wispy remains of trees, and how the lava cemented the landscape. I decided to comb through the surplus of landscape photography I have of rural Ireland, and gave a whirl to producing apocalyptic, darker hues. Here are some mixed media images created by digitally painting over my photography of those images of rural Ireland.” / / @graemedalyart / / / /

Kerfe Roig

Vesuvius has always seemed cosmic to me, so I consulted my stash of cosmic reference photos in order to construct some collage.  The third one didn’t work as I originally created it, so I cut it into two—much better.  And when, after doing the collages, I did a little research and discovered that Venus is the patroness of Pompeii, I thought:  perfect!  I’ve also put together five volcanic haiku to make a cadralor.  According to Wikipedia, “The root of the word Pompeii would appear to be the Oscan word for the number five, pompe”.  Venus is also associated with the pentagram, another five.

in search of Venus

what season is this?
dark, enigmatic, grown wild–
spilling from our eyes

the madness of fire–
consummation and release,
sweeping life away

inside opens out
disintegrates unbound–
what was not, now is

random lines break down–
the page explodes, caught trembling–
from nothing, vast light

the locus that gyres–
gravities of orbiting
become somewhere else /

Gary Thorne

KA coincided with a nice surprise of an abundance of flowers arriving to the house. Try-outs to capture the explosive nature of this group proved difficult, until the rain chucked it down beneath a heavily overcast sky. I simply rotated the vase 90 degrees, trying to capture subtle differences. I find it is with zoomed-in examination that things appear really sensual. Zoom-away to freely discover your own hidden treasures. ”

And for our 67th run-about together, feast your eyes on the extraordinary sculpture-come-wall-hangings of the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, who uses recycled materials to produce huge, sumptuous installations: “Anatsui refers to himself as both a painter and a sculptor. He essentially ‘paints’ and builds up colour and pattern with the bottle-caps – with his works have been compared to traditional Ghanaian kente cloth, Western mosaics, tapestries and paintings by Gustav Klimt…”

The Kick-About #58 ‘Harmony In Red’

Our previous Kick-About was inspired by the sometimes sombre, monochromatic, and richly atmospheric drawings of Mervyn Peake. Never happier than when making break-neck changes of direction, this latest gathering of new works made in a short time is inspired by Henri Matisse’s celebrated punch of fauvist colour. Boom!

Jan Blake

“I’m looking at the other side of this red room, and for inspiration, I went to my hallway, as it is possibly built in the same era but a different country. There are remnants of servants quarters that have survived its conversion into flats. I’m thinking that there would have been a door on that opposing wall. Who had just left? Where were they going? Mimicking the style of pattern and flatness, I have attempted to continue the story.”

Charly Skilling

“The first thing you notice about Matisse’s Harmony in Red is that it VERY RED!  Saturated with the colour!  Indeed, it is difficult to describe this painting without using the word RED over and over again.  So I got thinking about synonyms, and how many different ways you could describe something that is RED and how such décor might impact upon the people sat at that table to dine.”

Jordan Buckner

“Really enjoyed where this one started to go. Matisse’s use of colour, shape and composition are legendary, but this study really made me think about how flatness, depth and differing spaces can collide. The flat window landscape of the original Matisse painting is really where it all started, and here’s where I ended up.”

Graeme Daly

“All I really want to do right now is draw. I latched onto the royal reds of Matisse’s painting and the quirky perspective. The red made me think of opulence. I envisioned a glamorous home with large ceilings, grand staircases rimmed with gold, framed pictures and floral designs throughout the home.  At first I was a bit intimated by the brightness and saturation of the red; I didn’t want to burn anyone’s eyeballs with these illustrations, and with the first illustration of the bunch I had the back walls a much darker maroon, but then, with the second illustration, I jumped in with the same Matisse Red, determined to make its high saturation work. After adding in the details, such as the swirly designs, the gold rimmed edges and vaulted high ceilings, I was able to make the vibrant red work and decided to switch the first illustration to match! I am glad I did. I usually don’t do a lot of interior illustrations, but this bunch quickly become some of my favourite paintings thus far.” 

@graemedalyart / / / /

Gary Thorne

“This is not a spot the fruit competition. However, there were tempting delights for this still life comprised of apricot, apple, pear, orange, berries and grapes. Another influence was certainly the abundance of garden and flowers situated between the back door and the garage/studio. Nice to be indoors at a time when the ‘heat’s on’. This started as one still life painting, however, as we know, stuff happens…”

Marion Raper

“This Kick-About ties in wonderfully with the hot sunny weather and thoughts of summer parties and picnics. I really enjoyed constructing my collage of ice cream sundaes.  It seemed as if the scraps of pink lace were real raspberry ripple, the lilac chiffon was swirls of blueberry and the scraps of brown felt were real pieces of chocolate. However my Red Dessert is a tribute to my cousin Brenda, who sadly passed away with Parkinson’s disease.  She was always full of fun, and my last memory of her was when we went out for a meal recently. For her dessert she ordered a huge Knickerbocker Glory and began to tuck in. However, with her jerky arm movements, she proceeded to catapult large spoonfuls of ice cream everywhere and, all the while, with a big smile on her face!

Kerfe Roig

“I was pretty sure I’d done a collage based on this painting maybe 10 years ago, and figured I’d do a new one and then look for the old one to compare.  But while I was looking through my pile of decorating magazines for things to use, I came across an ad that made me want to paint it in the style of Matisse. It was that intense blue wall. So I did.  Then I did the collage. My old collage is very literal.  The new one takes a lot of liberties. I think the woman in it has some kind of magic in mind. As always, grateful for the push to do something new.” /

Phil Gomm

“The idea for this story came quickly, inspired in part by the conflict going on between the domesticity of the subject and the roar of all that colour, like a sudden rush of feeling, something eruptive and less civilised. I was excited too by the strangeness of Matisse’s perspective, a world shunted off-kilter so unexpectedly, and likewise by the very idea of Fauvism itself and all its ‘wild beasts’.”

You can find a PDF version here.

Courtesy of Jordan Buckner, our next Kick-About prompt is the life and work of Augustus Osborne Lamplough, an English Orientalist painter and illustrator; known for his sunset scenes of North Africa. Happy travels.

For Drummers Only #2 (2022)

With Sandy Nelson’s 1962 12 minute drum solo as a starting point for our latest Kick-About, I wanted to respond to the divine bash and crash of it with moving images. I had a technique in mind and sense of what I wanted, but couldn’t achieve it, and not for want of trying. That said, I did identify a way to produce imagery that pressed my mid-20th Century buttons and communicated something of the vibration of Nelson’s drum kit.

For Drummers Only #1 (2022)

My immediate response to The Kick-About No.56 was ‘make a film’, so I set about trying to find a means to visualise Sandy Nelson’s percussive effects. I built some simple 2D shapes in the video-editing software and tried to ‘vibrate’ them. I had the image of a cymbal being struck, a disc-shape producing more complex effects due to the persistence of vision. I struggled a bit, because I couldn’t get what my imagination was showing me. That said, during the experiments that led me to give up on the idea of moving image, I began to develop work for which I could muster more enthusiasm – and if not visualisations of sound exactly, than artwork that wouldn’t look too out of place on the front cover of a jazz album. More to come.