A final set of studies produced in response to The Kick-About No.42 – more Clematis tangutica seed heads entombed in a hemisphere of ice, but producing some pleasingly painterly impressions and lots and lots of swirl.
The seed heads of Clematis tangutica ‘My Angel’ are extraordinary silvered whirligigs. The plant itself is a bit of a thug, quite at odds with its name, scrambling greedily for many metres in our small garden. Right now, from our bathroom window, I can see the seed heads sitting across the fence like a thick fall of snow. I thought they’d make perfectly aquatic-like specimens for the deep freeze treatment, so I picked a few handfuls and popped them in the freezer overnight. The resulting winteryness of some of the resulting photographs, snapped in response to The Kick-About No.42, probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise (given all the ice!), but in some there is the feel of blizzards and powdered snow; in others, there are shoals of silvery sea-creatures.
There is a rambling rose in our garden, which produces untidy confetti-style blooms in a tremendous deep pink with golden centres. It’s still flowering even now, though surely not for much longer. As part of my Kick-About 42 experiments, I wondered what I’d get if I plunged a whole bunch of these scruffy roses into a bowl of water and froze it, and the resulting ice-block made for a delicate, very beautiful subject for my camera. This was the moment when some really interesting transformations began, where the imperfect character of the ice produced some surprisingly immersive vistas, and the roses themselves, pale and encased, were just so old-fashioned and decorative.
An allium seed head saved from the summer gets the cryogenic suspension treatment, as I tried a bunch of different things in pursuit of producing something arresting for The Kick-About No. 42. In the space of a few images, we go from ‘paperweight’ to something a bit more sci-fi and wriggly, which is always a direction of travel I enjoy!
Some deep-frozen foliage today, inspired by the prompt for The Kick-About No. 42: a caramel-coloured leaf-tip from an Osmunda regalis, and the reddish plum tones of the Parthenocissus henryana. In its almost jellied-way, the topmost image just reminds me of a Nautilus belauensis, those octopus-like creatures with their striped shells (and the ice block proved just as slippery, as it rolled about on the table-top…).
Although the weather has turned much colder here in the UK, it’s not yet cold enough here in Whitstable for any shows of ice or snow. With Andy Goldsworthy’s land art piece Ice Spiral as the prompt for this week’s Kick-About No. 42, I knew I’d be out of luck if I was hoping to catch any ready-made installations out in the wilds.
No matter, as off into the garden I went, looking for interesting seed heads and any flashes of remaining colour, before pulling out some handy Tuppaware and a big Pyrex dish, filling them with water, then entombing my finds from the garden in ice, courtesy of the bottom drawer of the freezer.
Once released from their ad-hoc moulds, I then moved quickly to photograph the resulting artefacts, squizzing with pleasure at their magical displays of colour, light and translucency – while all the time mopping up the pools of melt water with an old dishcloth.
There’s an obvious ‘glass paperweight’ quality to these images (which I always loved as a child), a sort of 1970’s crafting vibe too. Some of the more abstracted images I went on to produce from these same blocks of ice take things in a more impressionist, less object-bound direction. I’ll be sharing these over the coming days.
After our short city break for the KA No.41, we’ve taken a brisk, bracing detour out into the wintry countryside, where we encountered Ice Spiral by the celebrated land artist, Andy Goldsworthy. Enjoy this latest collection of artistic responses to Goldsworthy’s fleeting installation of ice, light, place and form.
“When I felt the cold from this week’s prompt, I wanted to recollect the bitter winter in rural Ireland from last year. When I look at these photos, all I can think about is miniature vistas frozen in time: pocketed air bubbles, mimicking silver dollar plants, are trapped among planes of ice like tiny moons; milky swirls of frozen water interjected with brambles, which loop in and out like a serpent on the hunt, and if the camera panned up, something would surely arise from the mist!”
“Right on cue for this more wintry Kick-About prompt we actually had some snow yesterday. I woke up to a blue opalescent sky this morning and a white frosting over the ground, ice crystals twinkling on every twig and leaf. It was lovely.
I like Anthony Goldsworthy’s ephemeral land art interventions, especially the snow and ice work. They are so striking, but they disappear without a trace so quickly, with only the photographs remaining as evidence that anything happened. He transforms what he finds in the landscape, and it’s this transformational thread running his work that’s caught my attention.
I was out cycling through the forest on the outskirts of Berlin recently and, with the Goldsworthy images in my mind, I tuned in to the natural processes of transformation that were going on in the woods; everything was changing constantly, some things quickly, like the opening of a flower, and some things very slowly, such as the decaying of a fallen tree, or the erosion of pebble. The trees were all in different stages of their life cycles, from tiny saplings to great fallen giants.
I’ve focused on a tree stump for this Kick-About. The tree itself has gone, but the remaining stump has become home to a host of other life forms – moss, fungi, insects – that step into the gap left by the tree, adding their own voices to the story of the forest. Water crystallising into ice adds another momentary layer of transformation over the surface, changing the top of the tree stump into a tiny winter wonderland of frosted sculptural shapes.”
“I couldn’t rustle up any snow or hard frosts, so I settled for capturing a winter sky in the cupped hands of a friendly neighbourhood tree. Really enjoyed this Kickabout!”
“Although the weather has turned much colder here in the UK, it’s not yet cold enough here in Whitstable to produce or happen upon any Goldsworthy-esque installations out in the wild. No matter, as off into the garden I went, looking for interesting seed heads and any flashes of remaining colour, before pulling out some handy Tuppaware and a big Pyrex dish, filling them with water, then entombing my finds from the garden in ice, courtesy of the bottom drawer of the freezer. Once released from their adhoc moulds, I then moved quickly to photograph the resulting artefacts, squizzing with pleasure at their magical displays of colour, light and translucency… while all the time mopping up the pools of melt water with an old dishcloth.”
“I wanted to jump into the magical spiral of the prompt image as if I was travelling into the eye of a storm. Eventually I got these suitably frosty and rather sinister effects. Not so much Christmas morning whimsical but more like an icy maelstrom.”
“My first idea was to do something with layering ensos, but it looked too stark. Then I monoprinted over them, which I liked better, but it again seemed unfinished. I decided to cut them out and put them on a collage landscape – still not right – so I stitched over them. Not happy with that either. Turn the collage over, and the stark stitching is better: maybe I should have just stitched? At any rate I have some spirally circles and a collage, which I’m sure I can incorporate into something else somewhere down the line. They have a wintery feel anyway.“
“Off Faversham’s Western Link are woodlands and ponds offering willows of sorts. There’s a thrill in avoiding the required week-soak, instead cutting and speed crafting, playing with irregularities, and breaking craft rules to solve structural issues. It’s a great craft for keeping warm. (No eggs were poached in the making).”
“I love the simple yet complex nature of this work from Andy Goldsworthy, the ephemeral quality and the beauty of their creating. It takes me back to making daisy chains, playing with mud and making sand sculptures on the muddy expanse of Weston Super Mare as a child. I’m still playing, and have been intrigued by making these sculptures from the unlimited supply of cardboard boxes in every street and doorway. I started this in 2011 and the possibilities are endless. For me ,the fact that I could create a structure that becomes delicate and organic, and see-through in certain circumstances due to light from behind, has continued to intrigue me. For this Kick About I have just continued work I was already involved in that happened to be exploring the possibilities of spirals and fossils within the escarpment of the Pyrenees in Spain. The fossil had been given to me by a friend. I’m also including the outcome of this exploration with the spiders web that were strewn across my garden every Autumn.”
“I went to the Boondall wetland reserve to undertake this one – just took photos around the mangroves and made some images – small and intended to be quick but not really.”
“Children these days miss out on the magic of seeing icicles hanging from window sills like we used see back in the day. It is even quite unusual to see frozen puddles to slide on in this country. There was, however, a big freeze in December 2009, which after a brief respite at Christmas, resumed in January 2010, with temperatures as low as -17 in some areas. I remember it well, ,as I had to try and get down to open my shop in the High street, which was downhill all the way, and absolutely treacherous, as no roads were being cleared, let alone pavements. I decided to send off for some “snow crampons” that were advertised as ‘simply fitting over shoes or boots to make you more secure’. What they didn’t say was they also slip off your shoes or boots and flap around your ankles! I ended up waddling along like a duck and was lucky not to fall and break anything. However besides this crazy memory of The Big Freeze, I also remember the incredible and spectacular ice sculptures which were everywhere, and I was so amazed I took a few photos.“
As our thoughts inevitably turn to the holidays, a suitably seasonal prompt, courtesy of golden age illustrator, Arthur Rackham; an illustration from the 1931 edition of Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, A Visit From Saint Nicholas, better known by its opening line, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.