The Kick-About #19 Art Forms In Nature – Ernst Haeckel


Following the simple, unadorned charms of our previous still-life inspired Kick-About, in which we were encouraged to turn our creative attentions to objects rather ordinary and domestic, this week’s edition is a good deal more fanciful. With Ernst Haeckel’s Art Forms in Nature as our collective stomping ground, we’ve generated between us a veritable coral reef of different ideas, processes and creativity.


Simon Holland

“Haeckel’s images have that other worldly alienness of the microscopic, to me, they tread a line between the interspatial and the outer spatial. With this image I started “riffing” in Maya with repeated forms, influenced a little by Hebrew descriptions of the Ophanim. With a bit of “evolution” a tiny bit of “Interstellar” and a smidge of “Event Horizon” I ended up here.”


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Charly Skilling

“As regular Kick-Abouters are probably aware, I’ve been playing around with freeform crochet off-and-on throughout these last few months. First I tried faces, then a whole new world, and then the use of crochet to visualise forms from different environments. I had also started to play about with mathematical forms, and I came across the work of Christine and Margaret Wertheim. (Check it out. It is mind-blowing!. I had to have a go. The Kickabout 19 gave me the perfect opportunity to put some of these ideas together. If Ernst Haeckel reveals art forms in nature, what better example than the myriad forms and colours of a coral reef? I just loved this Kick-About. Great fun!”




James Randall

“Ernst had me take a few snaps of garden toot – nigella, poppy and rocket (or is it arugula over there?) seed heads and some other scraps in a vase on a rainy day. Low light and not much in focus but I think moody.



And one little gauche pic – no husband, it is not a pumpkin!”


Tom Beg

“I imagine these images (created by mashing together a bunch of images and outputting them through different software) as explosions, atoms, cells, planets or even galaxies seen in their most embryonic stage, viewed through some impossibly powerful microscope.”


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Vanessa Clegg

“I’ve admired Haeckel’s work for years but had never really researched the man. A surprise was in store… which made me see it in a very different light. He was a eugenicist/scientific racist believing in both the superiority of German culture/ race and monism (represented as a circle with a central dot). This guided my response. I decided to find beauty in the…so called…imperfect, which, to me, has always been a more interesting area to explore: dusty dead insects picked up in my studio, broken / found objects, scratched and stained surfaces, ageing skin… all this evidence of life long lived… so many layers of history.”


Charcoal on Fabriano. 30” X 22” / Crayon on Fabriano. 19” X 19”

vanessaclegg.co.uk


Phil Cooper

I’ve been a fan of Haeckel’s work for many years. In the mid-1990s I used to work in Covent Garden, in London, and there was a wonderful shop selling books of source material for artists and designers. There would usually be a volume of Haeckel’s images in the window, with a cover illustration of strange and otherworldly creatures.

Haeckel’s prints are an absolute marvel. They record every, tiny detail of each subject with such laser-sharp intensity, an intensity that gives the images a uniquely mysterious and odd quality. In fact, many of the images are quite nightmarish to my mind. What may be harmless sea creatures often seem to have spikes, tendrils and/or tentacles. There are creatures here that remind me of The Thing, when it gets the dog in the kennels...

At the moment there is a jam-jar of twigs and berries on my desk, gathered on a winter walk in the woods just south west of Berlin, not far from where Haeckel was born, it turns out. So, I’ve photographed them for the kick about this week and played about with the images a bit to try and draw out some strangeness. Nothing as remotely strange as a page of Haeckel drawings of plankton though!


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Marion Raper

“As per usual I am torn between going down a textile or a painting route with the wonderful art of Ernst Haeckel. Oh, how I wish we had been given such fabulous ideas and examples for study back in the O level days! But hey, it’s never too late and the Kick-About and lockdown is a great opportunity to make another run at the tape, so to speak.

These last few weeks I have spent many hours trudging through soggy woods and finding lots of examples of lichen and leaves. Around my area, Oak and Beech are prevalent, as they don’t rot away easily. Consequently the woodland paths seem to shimmer and shine in the wet and make wonderful shapes and patterns underfoot, which I have tried to capture in acrylics. My other submission is using various stitches, beads and shells depicting an underwater scene I did a while back.”



Jan Blake

This was a curious Kick-About, as the subject matter was immediately attractive to me, mainly because the sense of patterning and natural forms has always attracted my attention. I saw this tower of watch parts in a workshop window in Bristol last week and it reminded me of the images of Ernst Haeckel.

However, in my own work it flows between 2 and 3 dimensions. The desire for me is not so much the patterns as the incongruity and movement in the growing process, and the cellular transparency of delicate organisms.

I started this piece some while ago and I have been trying to come to grips with it over this year. It is made from cardboard boxes cut into strips and reassembled to create a more transparent filigree effect. I do some, then leave it, and then this prompt made me come back to it. Thank you. It needs reviving!

I anticipate it will grow more towards the original drawing as the ‘Limbs’ will become more numerous. I want the piece to curve so that the viewer can stand within to look out on a different world. It’s going to take a while!


janblake.co.uk


Graeme Daly

“I was spoiled for choice with this Kick-About, with rural Ireland having a bountiful abundance of botany with textures, colours and shapes, all the flora and vegetation feeling like an endless pick’n’mix. I always find myself thinking about the intricate patterns and shapes as I snap away; mint green reindeer moss looking like bleached coral under a microscopic macro lens, and the swirling and meandering of ice a jigsaw of frozen motion. Twigs, branches and petals look like spores – after some manipulation. Suffice to say, I loved this kick-about and I loved learning about Ernst Haeckel and his gorgeous Illustrations. I could go on and on with creating designs like this and I have a hankering to do so!”


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Phil Gomm

“It was while producing these images for the Kick-About No.18, that I picked up the wrong sort of marker pen, which reacted to the spritzing of alcohol in some fascinating ways. I noticed how the solid lines of ink blossomed unexpectedly into a squirm of tendrils or fine feathery hairs. I noticed too how some consequence of the varying drying times of the ink and the alcohol produced a creeping tide-mark that moved across the surface of the tile – before suddenly retreating again. It was a bit like observing some organism in a petri dish or under a microscope. Suitably-inspired, I set about capturing these evolving ‘Art forms’ through time-lapse photography. It was difficult not to think about images of virology and bacteria, and my affection for the b-movies of the 1950s surfaced as quickly, producing something moodier and more ominous than I’d originally planned. What’s fascinating is a technique, which previously gave rise to a sort of image suited to tasteful greetings cards, should now produce something so tonally different. However, given what we know about some of Haeckel’s other ideas, perhaps the underlying menace is not so wide of the mark…”


Photographing the interaction of the ink and alcohol taking place on a ceramic tile.



Phill Hosking

“Here’s my little offering for this week’s Kick-About: a plain and simple graphic study of some fascinating fungi I had in my photo archive of interesting stuff to draw one day. Not sure of their name, but this is no impediment to studying their forms and surfaces. The pattern in the backdrop is based on the folded, rippled surface on the stem. I think I’ve made them look monumental, when in reality they’re probably quite tiny. Great inking practice, my current obsession.”


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Kerfe Roig

“What fun this was! I looked in my collage box/reference book collection for nature images that I could combine to create new forms based on Haeckel’s paintings. This is a project that could go on and on…”


be always
impossible be
enchanted
reaching out
in reciprocity to
meet the world halfway


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Gary Thorne

“‘The Story of the Development of a Youth’ consists of Haeckel’s letters home, whilst studying age 18-22 (1852-56). A really good read, brimming with exuberant enthusiasm, energy, and appetite for learning, each letter of enchanting spirit and feeling, humour, impulsiveness, apprehension, mood swing and a deep devotion to Christianity. Haeckel’s left-eye was fixed down the microscope, his right focused on the drawings so, I’ve tried capturing Haeckel’s spirit, framing it within the scope, and beyond it is representation of his melancholy and homesickness.” Oil on prepared paper 50cm x 50cm


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Many thanks to Kick-Abouter, Jan Blake, for our next jumping off point – the following quotation from Cifford W Ashley’s The Ashley Book of Knots (1944):

“To prevent slipping, a knot depends on friction, and to provide friction there must be pressure of some sort. This pressure and the place within the knot where it occurs is called the nip. The security of a knot appears to depend solely on its nip.”

Looking forward to seeing where this one takes us – and if you’ve enjoyed this week’s kick-about and fancy a run around with the rest of us, get in touch and get involved.



The Kick-About #18 Still Life With Blue Vase, Fernand Leger (1951)

After the heightened atmosphere of our last kick-about, and the rich food of the festive season now largely behind us, Leger’s simpler fare was a welcome offering. Leger’s still life was brought to the attention of the Kick-Abouters by artist, Gary Thorne; well, Leger can keep his roast beef. I’d rather get my hands on all those delicious-looking prawns and creamy avocados…


Gary Thorne

“With the holiday now firmly in the past, it seems fitting to celebrate the sacrifice which lead to so much decent feasting. Leger’s prompt of colour and the ordinary stirred up this reflective composition, which in part celebrates a Polish Christmas on the 23rd with its attention to seafood. Although a difficult year for many, it ends with emphasis on a simple pleasure most commonly enjoyed as a shared experience – healthy eating! Happy new year to our fab’ host and to all enjoying Kick-About.”  Oil on prepared paper 65cm x 50cm.   


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Tom Beg

“Japan loves food and Japan loves paper, so it makes sense that Japan also loves pictures of food printed on paper. About this time of year a ridiculous amount of two-dimensional sushi gets stuffed into my letterbox. Usually it ends up in the recycling pile along with the rest of the paper, but given the pop-art and food theme of this Kick-About, it struck that these could be made into some kind of surreal, consumer advertisement induced pop nightmare.”


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James Randall

“So Leger, cubism, multiple points of view/time – a series of photos can cover that – and as it was time to pick the final harvest from our little tree, please see the cooking of a peach cake images...”


Peach Cake


Or was this a still life exercise? – covered by ‘what didn’t fit into the dishwasher‘…”


What Didn’t Fit In The Dishwasher


… and then a totally self indulgent something – peaches – because we did have a few summery days until the rains came. Virtual hugs to all the kick-abouters.”


‘Peaches’


Vanessa Clegg

“For someone whose inner colour chart is extremely limited to dark, this was an interesting challenge, and so good for me, which is why I love being part of kick about! Anyway I had a look at Leger’s work and the thing that leapt out was his use of primaries with black and white delineation, so here’s my interpretation using still life (but no roast beef!) and making the link through colour. Good wishes to everyone for better times in 2021.”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Graeme Daly

“This kick-about felt very homely; an abundance of food reminds me of home, so I painted a kitchen illustration of a section of our kitchen, mimicking the colour and skewed perspective of Leger’s piece.”



@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly / gentlegiant.blog


Jan Blake

“I remember, as a child, hauling extra quantities of clementines up the road in my mother’s basket on wheels. We never seemed to have enough for the 14 aunts and uncles that filled our Christmas dinner table. The peels were scattered over the table in profusion. I think the reason for so many was that when my parents were young their only present had been an orange – such a scarce and valued piece that it was the centre of their Christmases. So for them, Christmas needed to be full to the brim with orange. My orange theme then reminded me of Mexico and the orange abundance of marigolds strewn everywhere to celebrate, not only the Day of the Dead, but also the coming of Christmas just round the corner. So the last few dabblings in this idea are more impressionistic with a nod to Howard Hodgkin for these oranges escaping my frames in gay abandon. Happy 2021.”



Phil Gomm

“What I enjoyed about this week’s prompt was the way Leger’s painting encouraged immediacy and directness – a sort of ‘first pass, job done’ flourish that meant lingering too long on any subject wasn’t quite the ticket. I also appreciated a chance to occupy a more domestic space – nothing metaphysical to see here, ladies and gents! Our kitchen is stuffed full of house plants – I look at them many times a day, every day. They are as part of the fixtures and fittings of our kitchen as the cutlery and plates. With this in mind, I wanted to make them the subject of my offering this week, and also to try a new technique first brought to my attention by fellow kick-abouter, Charly Skilling – drawing onto ceramic tiles with Sharpie markers, and then spritzing the drawings with alcohol to encourage them to bleed and soften to pleasingly impressionist effect. To be honest, I worked up these studies super-fast and without any fuss or forethought and just really enjoyed what the process itself was giving back. Given the knock-about informality of the technique, it amused me to dial-up the formality with some tasteful frames, imagining these ill-disciplined little drawings on the walls of some tasteful interior.”


‘Oxalis triangularis’

‘Pilea peperomioides’

‘Gasteria pillansii’


“… always so patient with the various creative undertakings overtaking our small seaside house, my husband was keen to have a go at some ‘sharpies + alcohol’ excitement himself… Presenting ‘Paul’s cactus’…”



Phil Cooper

“My husband was clearing out a kitchen shelf the other day when he came across a carefully wrapped tea service that he’d inherited from his grandmother and which we’d almost forgotten about. We’ve no idea when it was made, probably 1940s, but we really love it, even though we never use it. Jan’s grandmother was a lovely and very stylish lady who always looked amazing, right into her 90s. We got on well and she’d make me laugh when, after I’d said something like ‘Guten Morgen’ , she’d exclaim ‘oh Philip, you speak such beautiful German’. I hardly speak any German, but bless her! What an amazing generation they were, we miss her very much. I thought I’d paint the milk jug from the service as it fits the prompt this week. I hardly ever paint still lifes but I enjoyed doing this one; maybe I’ll try a few more!” 


‘Oma’s Milk Jug’

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Kerfe Roig

My first impression of this still life was gluttony – and I originally planned a collage with lots of food. but when I started pulling images out of my collage box, as is so often the case, the composition decided to go somewhere else. Fish? Butterflies? Snakes? Blame it on the vase goddess.”


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Charly Skilling

“I have never attempted a still life before, so this is all new territory for me.  I used Sharpies, but instead of ceramic tiles, I used a bleedproof marked paper, which is semi translucent.  Alcohol spray to blend and soften, and the  paper was then taped to a window, before photographing.”


Still Life With Blue Casserole


Francesca Maxwell

“Here I have made a collage for the new kick-about, “The End of the Meal”. In memory of the Christmas meals at my grandparent house, usually on Christmas Eve, a rather grand affair ending with coffee, brandy, fruit and walnuts and, for us children, homemade ice cream. They had a beautiful dining room with a huge table, a creaking but beautifully wax-polished, sweet smelling, wooden floor and several still life paintings on three of the walls, rather brownish, in heavily carved frames. Fortunately, on the largest wall, there was a wonderful, antique Japanese silk painted screen in three panels, which we all loved the best, and most likely the beginning of my love affair with eastern art. Since then I have drawn and painted and etched many many kinds of still-life, a term which I prefer to the Italian Natura Morta, and learn to love it. In fact, as part of my training at the studio of my Maestro, I drew, then painted and then etched a still life, the same one, nearly every day for an entire year. Clearly not a roast-beef. Despite that, or maybe because of that, still-life became my comfort zone, a quiet place without the challenges of painting people or perspective or busy compositions. For this one I had fun. I used “left-overs” paintings just placed down, ready to be cleared up at any moment.”


www.FBM.me.uk


Marion Raper

“Just before the latest lockdown I was mooching around our new local second-hand bookshop and I came across a book entitled ‘A Wartime Christmas’. It was a compilation of the memories of various people from all parts of Britain who related how they spent the festive season during WWII and had chapters with headings such as’ Gert and Daisy’s cheap Christmas pud ‘ and ‘They tied a label on my coat ‘or even ‘Beethoven ‘s Fifth with accompanying sirens!’ These are the type of stories I find absolutely intriguing and needless to say I had to buy the book. Although Fernand Leger’s still life with roosbeef was done in 1951, his work still has the austere look of the war years about it, and in fact rationing didn’t finish until 1954. On the front cover of my Wartime Christmas book is a wonderful photo of four cheeky little boys in hand knitted jumpers and paper party hats. They were in fact two sets of orphaned twins, aged 3 and 6, whose father was lost on the torpedoed aircraft carrier, Courageous, and they were destined for Dr Barnardos Home. I thought they would be lovely to sketch and perhaps they would prefer the beef to be minced up and served as spaghetti Bolognese – or perhaps during the war it would have been Cottage Pie?”



Phill Hosking

“This prompt was a joy for me, because one of my main staples as an artist is still life. The main piece here is a painting of a rather neglected Dendrobium orchid and three bottles, painted over the course of one weekend. The other pieces are more simple recent studies. There’s something unbelievably satisfying about rolling up your sleeves, putting together some simple objects and seeing what can do with the paint, in this case, oils. I always learn something from any still life, predominantly about colour, and how our eyes trick us into assuming we know what we’re looking at. You mix for minutes and then you put it on the canvas or board and you’re miles out. Slowly I’ve tuned my eye to sideline these tricks of the eye. On this orchid piece, I’ve started the process of using the objects as a compositional tool on the surface of the board, making sure that I treat the painting as an object in its own right. I’m currently working towards a joint show with @jordanbucker in March this year at The Fishslab Gallery, Whitstable. I’ve made characteristically varied paintings for this show, but still life and observational work is right at the heart of it. Show opens on the 9th of March all going well, we’ll see.”



Phill at work on Dendrobium orchid and three bottles in his studio, Whitstable, January 2021


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Judy Watson

“I’m running late again, for this Kick-about, and I missed the Christmas one. So I have just whizzed down to my supremely messy studio (in need of a good clear out before work commences next week) and painted a few quick Christmas dinner themed sketches inspired by Leger’s perfect little still life. I rarely do a still life. For me, The Things are all about the people that use them, so I became lost in some invented people and what their moods and relationships might be. In my final image, it was interesting to find, despite the small crowd of people in the central part of the drawing, the subject was really the man at extreme left and the slightly harassed mother at the extreme right. It became all about their isolation within the crowd.”


The Lap-Sitter

The Kick

The Feast

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Ernst Haeckel’s bizarre and beautiful Art Forms In Nature is our new jumping off point for our continuing adventures in art, craft, photography, film and creative writing. Have fun … and wishing you all a very happy new year!



The Kick-About #17 ‘Andante quasi lento e contabile’ – Hely-Hutchinson


This week, the woods remain lovely, dark and deep, as dreams of snow and ice continue to characterise this suitably festive Kick-About, with new works inspired by the third slow movement from Hely-Hutchinson’s 1927 A Carol Symphony. The Kick-About has been running for thirty-four weeks and was started, in part, as a response to the first lock-down. Throughout this time, our fortnightly shindigs have been a constant source of anticipation, comfort and satisfaction and I just wanted to say a big thank you to all my fellow kick-abouters for your creativity, conversation and always, the surprises. A big thank you too to all those who comment, who participate, who browse, and who share. Now go have yourselves a very merry Christmas!


Marion Raper

“This painting isn’t what I had intended – but then again what is these days!  In my mind I had envisaged carol singers and a merry Christmas card type scene. Alas it all went rather pear-shaped, so this is one I did earlier. I suppose it has a rather snowy and bleak look about it, but if you just keep walking around the corner and over the hill, there is little village hidden away and yes, I can hear the sound of Christmas carols drifting across the fields.  Merry Yule tide and a peaceful New Year one and all.”



Phil Cooper

The wonderful piece of music for this week’s kick about prompt has been wafting through the flat today, reminding me that Christmas does have some very nice things about it, once I forget about all the things I’m supposed to associate it with these days. I used to love this time of year as a kid, less so as I’ve got older and feel pressured to have somebody else’s version of Christmas and not the one I want. 

I made this collage a few years ago, putting a few of my favourite wintry things together to create a version of Christmas I’d actually like; snow, the winter landscape, a cosy lit window, a jet black sky studded with hard bright stars. If you stepped inside that house there’d be a real tree with very beautiful decorations and real candles. Oh, and Christmas pudding and custard – now I’m living in Germany, I’m missing Christmas pudding soooo much, they don’t do it here!”


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Jan Blake

“I have run out of time for this kick-about so  I am sending you my Christmas card. Wishing you all a  warm, safe and cosy Christmas and may 2021 brings us all a way out of such a strange time.”


janblake.co.uk


Graeme Daly

“The music of this prompt felt very christmassy and warm indeed. To me, nothing feels more christmassy than going for a walk in the countryside of Ireland, where the invigorating air hits you with pure refreshment and the frost glistens the shrubbery and flora. I spent a lot of my time, when I was a young lad, outside, building rickety hideouts and treehouses with my friends and cousins. Going for a walk near my family home always feels like I am dipping into my memory vault, where walking past a bparticular tree will spark a memory of us building and climbing away; walking through the grasses of the fields reminds me of being cut by barbed wire, and being so dumbfounded by having fun, I didn’t realise I was bleeding with barbed wire marks in my palms.

I remember the beehive camouflaged into the ground of one particular field; I can only imagine the sight of us all running and screaming our heads off as we ran for our lives from the angry hive – after we’d awakened it! Memories like that are scattered around the countryside of Ireland. They echo as I stroll past them, and now I am older I can really appreciate them. Although all the hideouts and treehouses are dismantled, and our worn-down trails filled by vegetation again, the clean air and bright stars haven’t changed.

Although isolation has, for now, stopped me from revisiting those actual areas of my past, I remember them as I walk through the bogland surrounding my Mam’s house, where I know I would have been in my element too. I am still drawn to those picturesque areas and the crisp, clean air – and I really appreciate the little bird houses built into the trees to shelter the birds in the bitter winter. I still walk past a particular tree and think – that would have been a good one to climb.”


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Phil Gomm

“When I listen to this particular movement from Hely-Hutchinson’s A Carol Symphony, I almost feel the temperature drop. It’s like that moment from The Sixth Sense, when the kid’s breath is suddenly visible in the presence of ghosts. The plucking of the harp is the musical equivalent of frost moving its way across the landscape – hard, sharp, crystalline and magical in some ancient way.

The house I grew up in had no central heating, only the gas fire in the living room. There was no double-glazing either and it was quite normal to wake up and see your breath in the bedroom. It was also common to find ice on the inside of the windows – frost ferns of extraordinary beauty. In response to this music, I wanted to capture those patterns of ice, but the weather here is stubbornly mild and ordinary. Undeterred, I set about recreating the sorts of photographs I might have taken, but had to rely on some digital transformations, taking an image of an actual frosted fern taken in my garden several winters ago, and pressing it against a window of my own invention. When the first of these images coalesced, I gave a small cry of delight – for yes, here they were again, those delicate veneers of ice, just as I remembered them, and for a moment at least, I was my small pyjamaed self.”




“As an 11th hour coda to my efforts at faking frost, I sent my resulting images over to CGI-whizz, Deanna Crisbacher, and asked her to have a kick-about too…”



“… and this last image is where Dee and I met in the middle to produce one more.”



Kerfe Roig

The musical selection of seasonal carols made me think of the cosmos – not just the return of the light this season celebrates, but the vast circles of time and space to which we belong. But how to show this in a concrete way? I turned to sacred geometry – the Seed of Life and the Egg of Life, images based on seven circles as a framework for the whole of creation, forms that also echo the tones of the musical scale. For my collages I used images from 2 of my reference books–Majestic Universe and Space Odyssey. It was a learning process, fitting all the pieces together like a puzzle, but I eventually approached the images I had in my mind. And for the poem, a seven line form–appropriately named Pleiades. Its six-syllable lines also reflect the 7 + 6 circles of the Egg of Life mandala.”


in the beginning, dark–
isn’t it always?—then
inside the seed, the egg,
illumination—orbs
invoking each other,
imagined, conjoined, kin–
instruments of (re)birth


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Charly Skilling

“Listening to Hely-Hutchinson’s A Carol Symphony, I found myself wondering about the meaning and roots of the word “Noel”; why the Coventry Carol, also featured in this piece, could sound so gentle and loving when it was about the mass slaugher of children; and generally, how tradition and custom allowed us to sing of the Christmas story, without really registering the words at all. So I have tried to restore some of the words most associated with our Christmas carols back into the context of the original event – a re-telling of the nativity, which is all mine, illustrated with some beautiful paintings, which aren’t.

I’d also like to wish each of my fellow Kickabouters a safe and peaceful Christmas, and a much happier New Year! Thank you for making this year so much better than it might have been. Love and virtual hugs to you all.”



Simon Holland

Chris Rea once sang “I’m driving home for Christmas” Over the years I have often found myself doing the contrary. Whether it was for work or escapism, I would often find myself in a red and white queue, wending my way up some motorway or other. Rea shares an empathy with his fellow travellers, as they sit in their cars waiting to continue their journey to meet loved ones. I often experienced it in a different way as I was driving on those dark evenings; I was leaving home going somewhere, not back to family or to the out-of-town shopping centres, or to the supermarket to get the turkey dinner and this congestion Rea sentimentalises was a hindrance. I craved the dark mornings, or the late-night finishes. I knew the people on the roads then were the same as me, their purpose not driven by consumerism or sentimentality but by necessity.

Come Christmas day I would often find the ceremony of the event claustrophobic and melancholic. As the darkness settled in, I would make my excuses and leave. The streetlights led me somewhere – and away from something – neither the ‘somewhere’ nor the ‘something’ were tangible or important – the act of travelling was the goal. I would simply travel without a whim or care, but inevitably the ley lines of the world would draw me to the coast, where I would park by the harbour and watch the dark waves for a while before reluctantly returning home. Whichever way I experienced my Christmas lights, there was a freedom on those sodium drenched roads, no top-to-toe tailbacks, no red lights all around.

Now, having had a family, my house has had its share of being festooned. Christmas day isn’t so much of a chore, even with in-laws and pets and the general hullabaloo. I can even survive the most banal Christmas hit (just), but occasionally there is still that yearning to travel and experience those quiet routes again.”


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Vanessa Clegg

“A mini mystery with a touch of fairy tale. We will pretty much all be indoors this year (especially if the rain goes on) so I’ve brought the spooky woods into the house and paused the singing… With luck it’ll resume. Winter Solstice! Light is on its way. Meanwhile, I hope everybody has a cosy creative few days with positive thoughts for 2021.”


‘early morning’

‘that night’

‘?’

vanessaclegg.co.uk


James Randall

“Well there you go – 2020 is almost over. I am a humbug from way back, so this really was a challenge! I guess I sidestepped it by jumping to a new year’s message, hopefully as treacley as the music. Based on some pics of cockatoos in Centennial Park – such wonderful clowns – which were taken a few weeks ago with grevilleas and bush cherry flowers, which are out in the garden now.

To all the kick-abouters Season’s Greetings and best wishes for a bright shiny 2021. It’s been marvellous seeing all your beautiful works.” 



We have the lovely Gary Thorne to thank for our next Kick-About prompt, which will no doubt come as a very welcome distraction from all things titivated, gilded and ‘Christmassy’. Gary presents us with simpler fare this week – left-overs from the great feast, perhaps?



The Kick-About #16 ‘The Woods Are Lovely, Dark And Deep’


After the civilised environs of Eric Ravilious’s well-to-do High Street, our latest Kick-About goes off-road, heading into the deep wintery hush conjured by Robert Frost’s 1922 poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Night.


Charly Skilling

“I love Robert Frost’s poem so I was excited when I saw it was the prompt for this Kickabout, but found I really struggled to produce anything I could present with satisfaction.  I tried first words, then textiles but could not produce anything worthwhile. When a piece of work creates such a strong impression on the mind, as this poem does,  it is difficult to do anything other than pay homage to the original. I ended up playing with the movement and the palette of Frost’s snowy woods, and hoping that it is true that ‘Less is More’.”   Sharpies and alcohol on ceramic.



James Randall

“I immediately responded to Frost’s poem as if it were an ode to the forest under the falling snow. I eventually took it to be about someone travelling home reluctantly and with some air of mystery. That in mind I found some photos taken on a country road as we drove back to Sydney, but rather than submit another photo, got out the gauche and made a quick (relatively) pic. The photo was a far worthier visual, but where’s the challenge in that?”



Phil Gomm

“I remember the snowy winters in the woods in the village in which I grew up. I was always struck by the impression of the thick gnarled bases of the tree trunks, very black against the white snow. To me, they always looked like the snow-buried feet of some huge pachyderm or similar, with the thickening around the base of the trunk like the moment when the foot of the creature just starts taking the full weight of what is being carried above it. Deep in the wintery woods, I’d imagine myself walking daringly amongst an entire herd of the colossal creatures – weaving between their legs.

Back in February 2018, the UK was struck by ‘the beast from the east’ – a blast of exceptionally cold weather that brought with it an ice-storm. I went out to the beach to find everything glazed with ice, with even the stones on the beach in that sort of shell of ice you find around individual prawns in the supermarket freezer cabinets. Whitstable beach is shored up with wooden groynes that extend into the sea to keep the beach from washing away. I was reminded of ‘walking with dinosaurs’ in the deep dark woods of my childhood, less because of the proper cold (which is the way I remember – rightly or wrongly – all the winters of my youth) and more because of the way the exposed wooded groynes against the white of the beach and frozen slate-coloured mud looked like the enormous skeletons of sea serpents or fallen dragons.”



Phil Cooper

I painted this image a few years ago when I was still living in Whitstable. A heavy snowfall is unusual in this part of the UK where the climate is generally quite mild without any of the extremes or temperature or precipitation you might get further north and west. But once or twice a year, there would be a dump of snow and the town would be transformed. It was the hush I remember most, the sound dampening qualities of the snow quite otherworldly.

There is a lane that runs out of the town from behind the station, up onto the wooded hills between Whitstable and Canterbury and I walked up there once after a proper snow shower. The lane was utterly quiet and still, and the colour palette of the trees and hedgerows very beautiful. I wandered about taking lots of photographs, feeling bewitched by the atmosphere. The lines of poetry for this prompt reminded me of the magic of a particular place I felt on that cold January afternoon.


instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com


Kevin Clarkson

“I was so taken by the last kickabout with Ravilious as an artist and communicator of his age that when the new challenge landed in my inbox I couldn’t resist continuing to explore his techniques, so I have borrowed his colour palette and visual vocabulary for the latest effort.”


kevinclarkson.co.uk /artfinder.com/kevin-clarkson / kevinclarksonart.blogspot.com


Graeme Daly

“My family owns a few chunks of land in rural Ireland, one of which is the forestry, pictured here on a typical misty, wintry morning in the back arse of nowhere. The forestry is populated with pine trees and used to house some of our horses – Dawn, Jessy, and the majestic Esmerelda, along with the cows. The animals are no longer. Unfortunately we sold them off for whatever reason. The stables remain with sprinklings of hay scattered around its edges and when the weather calls for it – downy flake. I remember the forestry and the surrounding areas with utmost joy, as it houses a lot of fond memories of my rambunctious, pubescent teenage years.

Me and my cousin and a family friend used to creep around our houses in the dead of night, tiptoeing about the place to steal whatever booze and cigarettes we could find, until ultimately my parents noticed the dwindling of the expensive, ancient wine in our wine cellar; and subsequently bought a padlock (that I got a hold of and got a key copied). Sometimes I would steal a cigar or two from our slumbering parents, and when the weather was bitter and frosting over the pavements – as most harsh, Irish winters are, we used to meet up and collate our stash together. We were once lucky enough that a friend who would join us sometimes managed to score some poitín – an Irish illegal moonshine so strong it can apparently make you blind… It certainly didn’t have that of a dramatic affect on us but fuck, it burned our chests as it went down and our vision was definitely impaired after drinking enough of the liquid lava.

We drank and smoked into the early hours of the morning, sliding and jumping on the frosty, black plastic wrapped bales of hay. The odd time we played music that we recorded off the tv onto our Nokia phones. We sat in the cold we no longer felt and looked to the stars and chatted about improbable nonsense, with the night in Ireland being as black as the void. The stars would glisten and litter the sky in a spectacle, dancing even in our inebriated states. Esmerelda, Dawn and Jessy, and, of course, the cows, would gather around us watching with perplexing bemusement. Little tufts of smoke would puff from the surrounding houses’ chimneys in the distance as they started to burn out. I’m not sure why we mainly did this in the flesh-tingling cold of winter, or why I remember it the most. I think we just wanted something to do, something that made it feel like summer again.”


@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly / gentlegiant.blog


Jan Blake

“I know this poem well.  It’s also one of my favourites from my childhood. Perhaps as I was in Kent we had more experience of snow than here in Bristol.  As a child I loved to look up and eat the snow letting it melt in my mouth.  We lived near woods so catching the snow amongst the trees felt very familiar from those distant childhood days. So this memory was sparked by the poem and I’ve tried to capture those thoughts and feelings of looking up into the trees.”


janblake.co.uk


Vanessa Clegg

“I’ve always loved this poem so thank you for giving us the prompt. Anyway, I decided to focus on the last line and tap into the state of insomnia… a subject close to my heart, as this happens with unwelcome frequency when it feels like I’m the only person awake… tossing about in tangled sheets… listening to the owls in the conifers, and wondering if the world service is a good option.

I try to calm my mind but it races away into the murk of the past… speeding back into the now silent present and on into an uncertain future, then repeats the cycle on and on. This is indeed a journey through the darkest of nights. Only dawn brings the sleep of exhaustion.

Having said that, it can also be incredibly productive creatively, working through ideas bubbling up from the subconscious and emerging via a semi-comatose state – so not all bad!” Graphite on watercolour paper. Approx 50cm X 40cm


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Marion Raper

“After I had read up about all the possible meanings of this beautiful poem by Robert Frost, I must confess I struggled to make any sense of it, apart from what I myself really felt. This after all is I suppose what poetry is all about.  The woods for me represent something which is hidden away from you and which you would love to explore but may be rather nervous about doing so. The deep dark snowy woods that I have imagined are the fascinating world of art, and have a touch of rosey evening glow, which depicts the fact that it seems to have taken me a lifetime to discover them. They have always intrigued me but I have never quite dared to explore or delve into them.  The figure in the foreground is me dancing and skipping along but never actually entering the wood – and yes, hopefully, I do have miles to go!”




Kerfe Roig

I had already spent a long time fooling around with the art. The diorama I planned didn’t work out as I expected, but I liked the background paintings I did more than I thought I would. Done on very wet rice paper, with black ink and silver and pearl metallic watercolor, they had much more of the feeling of Frost’s words than I expected. The diorama on the other hand, failed to match my vision, and I took 50 photos to come up with just a few that I liked. Still I learned from the experience, including how natural light is much more blue than that from my drawing table lamp which has a yellow cast. And I got a surprise in the monoprint that emerged from under one of the wet rice paper paintings which also seemed to capture well the feeling of my poem.



Mid the woods,
snowdusk shadows are
spare–lovely
but cold, dark,
clinging like shaded brume and
wandering silent and deep.

Drawn here but
not belonging, I
do not have
promises
of morning or an end to
this vigil I keep

of if and
beyond—all those miles
now lost to
me.  I go
in circles of before–I
beg the night for sleep.


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Francesca Maxwell

 “This poem has been with me for the last seven years or so and it is my spur to live life at its fullest, embrace the unknown and the adventure.” 


www.FBM.me.uk


Marcy Erb

“This poem was my first poetry love: I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know this poem and didn’t find it magical. I distinctly remember being in my grandmother’s house when I was 8 years old, in my mother’s childhood bedroom, reading it in an old school book anthology I found on a shelf. If my childhood in Southern California was filled with parched chaparral, cars, and Santa Ana winds, Frost described a world that seemed to me in a snow globe or fantasy book – harness bells, snowy woods, deep silence, and solemn promises. I’ve always held this poem close – and I’ve found that has made it difficult for me to make art about it. But I still wanted to participate in the Kick About, so I decided to revisit a trip I took 6 years ago to the Robert Frost Family Homestead in Derry, New Hampshire. All photographs by me on my old iPhone then equipped with a now ancient photo filter app.

 When I read the words of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, I see the woods around the Derry farm, the road curving past on its way from town. I think everyone reads their own life promises into that last stanza – but standing in the meadow behind the Frost farm, it made sense to me that at least some of Frost’s promises were made right here, on an old farm in the New Hampshire countryside.”


marcyerb.com


Phill Hosking

“Just approached this as a challenge to capture the mood of the piece, that delightful, silent, yet slightly scary feeling of being a long way from home with the elements against you. Painted in Photoshop over the course of a few evenings.”


instagram.com/eclecto2d linkedin.com/in/phill-hosking


Judy Watson

“I’m pretty pushed for time at the moment, so I have been missing Kick-About challenges lately. And I’m late for this one. But I couldn’t resist doing a pretty literal interpretation of this one very hastily this morning!”



“…I added some trolls playing chess on the lake. And who knows? Maybe Robert Frost was imagining the same thing…”



www.judywatson.net /Instagram.com/judywatsonart / facebook.com/judywatsonart


It’s a risk, I suppose, offering up the third movement of Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s 1927 A Carol Symphony, for our next creative prompt. It might be an artist’s straight-jacket, bringing with it only a clutch of the most obvious festive thingummies, or it might yet lead to more complex things and spaces. Tis the season after all, and even after all the Frost we’ve had this week, a little bit more ice, sparkling midnights, and the promise of old remembered magic won’t, I think, go a-miss.



The Kick-About #14 ‘Boogie Doodle’


The previous edition of the Kick-About featured a rather precarious vision of a civilisation held together by threads. I won’t labour this analogy any further, but suffice to say civilsation feels a good deal more secure this week! I feel a bit of a celebration coming on. Anyone fancy a boogie?


Jan Blake

“Just a couple of small painting ideas relating to Boogie-Doodle I had various thoughts in my mind as with the American election this week making it tense and electric, the idea of a Boogie of delight became more evident.

So my initial little strip shows the exuberance I felt for the emerging outcome informed at the same time as watching a crow returning to its nest, with what appeared to be a mission of house-clearing, as it proceeded to kick about and turn out the shower of leaves that had landed in his nest. Maybe they were all soggy and he was preparing for the next season? There has been no sign of him since…

The second thought led on from this thinking of the masses of birds that collect on the telephone wires, flying off jumping on one another shuffling for space and almost performing a sort of ritual dance as they collect to migrate. So the second strip shows a Birdy Boogie-Doodle on an Asafo flag as some of the birds will be flying to Africa to entertain them there.”


janblake.co.uk


Marion Raper

“This was such a fun, joyous and uplifting cartoon and I have tried to keep the same theme going, by working some ‘crazy patchwork’. (This is a wonderful way to use up all your odd material scraps etc). I tried to find pieces that had similar colours, shapes and patterns on them and then added a bit of hand embroidery and applique as enhancement. Have to say was all very enjoyable!”



Emily Clarkson

‘Salsa Doodle’ was a lot of fun to do. It’s not polished, but maybe that adds a bit of charm! You just have to wiggle to that music! I can’t help but imagine fruit punch, wildly swinging, tasselled skirts and sequins!


instagram.com/eclarkson2012 / twitter.com/eclarkson2012 / linkedin.com/in/emily-clarkson


Charly Skilling

“Boogie Doodle is fun and frivolous, and so is my response. Ladies and gentelmen of the Kick-About, I present, ‘A Woolly-Doodle’, also known as ‘The Yarny Doodle Dangle’. Enjoy!”



Phil Gomm

“I have a small leather notebook with thick creamy pages that is home to my daily ‘to-do’ lists, which is my very low tech way of trying to give some structure to these strange indistinct times of ours. This same book is also where I doodle absently when I’m on Zoom calls. Given the instinctive ‘straight-ahead’ method of animation on display in Norman Maclaren’s Boogie Doodle, I decided to liberate some of my own doodles from the various corners of my notebook and release them into the Kick-About for a runaround of their own!”



One of the Zoom doodles in its original habitat!



Phil Cooper

“I loved the energy and the immediacy of the Norman McLaren film. In response, I knew I wanted to make something quite quickly and without thinking too much to keep some of the spirit of the animation. I’ve spent most of this year in the city in Berlin, but this week I’m by the sea in the U.K. for a few days so it’s been a welcome change to use some found materials from the beach for this prompt. Here are some creatures, ‘beach doodles’, put together from the flotsam and jetsam found along the seashore.”



instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com


Graeme Daly

“I absolutely loved this Kick-About! It put a smile on my face, made my shoulders shake and my head bop! I enjoyed learning about Norman Maclaren and the music that accompanies Boogie Woogie by Albert Ammons, which all inspired the visuals for this animation. Injecting so much colour with this Kick-About has been a joy to work on and I am looking forward to playing about with it some more!”


@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly / gentlegiant.blog


Kerfe Roig

Boogie Doodle really reminded me of Matisse’s Jazz collages.  I focused on the figures in his series and drew some of my own in a similar style from photos I found online of jazz dancers.  Using primary colors with black and white to duplicate the shadow effect in the video, I cut out the figures and dots to complement them.  Then I arranged them all on an abstract primary ground. For the poem I wanted to use music and musical sound words. It was much harder than I anticipated, but I like the idea of a poem composed mostly of sounds, and may visit it again.  And I also now have a set of dancing shadow figures and dots that can be revisited for different arrangements as well.



swing stroll slide

be
bop shout
rhythm blues
eight to the bar
oompah oompah groove
boogie-woogie back beat
jingle jangle jive talkin
double time front line howl growl whine
interlude solidtude riff raff boom
whistle whomp wha wah zoomba zoomba zoom


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


We have Phil Cooper to thank for our next creative prompt, which he introduces for us here:

“In 1938, with World War 2 looming on the horizon, Country Life published a book called ‘High Street’. It included a text by J. M. Richards and 24 lithographs by Eric Ravilious of typical high street scenes and shop fronts from the time. Just a few years later, Ravilious would be killed in the war, the high street changed forever, and even the lithographic plates for the book destroyed in a bombing raid during the Blitz. Thankfully, many of the original copies of High Street have survived, though, and Ravilious’ illustrations have become some of the most highly regarded lithographs from the period.”

I just wanted to say a very warm welcome to our newest kick-abouter, Jan Blake (who contributed some belated work to the Ersilia edition, which you can see here), and extend the invite for a run-around with the rest of us to anyone else who might be looking on and thinking ‘I’m up for some doodling too.’ You’ll find the next submission deadline in the presentation below.



The Kick-About #13 ‘Ersilia’


Last time it was fairies and other flights of fancy. I think many of us enjoyed the opportunity for a spot of magical-thinking. This new edition of the Kick-About begins with the no less improbable city of Ersilia, one of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities – a conurbation of string!


Phil Hosking

“Here is my offering for this week’s prompt. Sure I’ve gone way off point on this one but was serious fun to get stuck into! When I first read the prompt, I straight away thought of those giant spiders’ webs that entomb entire trees, plus slum like city streets in Asia with endless electrical cables overhead, somehow feeding the city despite their chaotic appearance. Painted in Photoshop over the course of a weekend.”


instagram.com/eclecto2d linkedin.com/in/phill-hosking


Marion Raper

“I found this latest kick-about very interesting and thought provoking and feel it would be a great book to read in lock down. Unfortunately I am not so speedy a reader and have done my own interpretation and this is what popped into my head: a small town dwarfed by huge poles and wires and cables, much like telegraph pylons can do across a landscape. So this would be before the inhabitants have become too fed up and decided to move on. It seems people can put up with so much and then it’s like the last straw somehow. Anyway, I began by a fine liner doodle, added a watercolour background and attached some threads and thin ribbons. The little houses were an afterthought and I tried to make them 3D with some folds. I enjoyed the process a lot and for once it all went to plan!”



James Randall

“Here is a quick and dirty of my concept for “What if the strings became the reflections on buildings – ephemeral layerings that would gently blow away…”



Vanessa Clegg

“I’m beginning to think I might have strayed too far from the prompt, as I changed from a more literal interpretation involving Venice (as all the cities are about this) and its buildings, to the point at which the people leave therefore entering the world of refugees – the “links” being their possessions which, over time and their journey, are discarded until, on arrival at whatever destination, they are left with nothing but memories….these are the ‘strings’ that bind them. Here, each layer is placed on the next, gradually erasing all evidence of what went before.


Graphite on paper

Graphite on fine Japanese paper on above image

Graphite on fine Japanese paper on above image

Photo on acetate under tracing paper on above image


Tracing paper over above image

vanessaclegg.co.uk


Kerfe Roig

“The Kick-About prompt immediately made me want to take actual thread and do something three-dimensional to represent the abandoned city of Ersilia. Cardboard boxes were my starting point. Weaving my embroidery floss with a needle between the supports I cut and folded up, it became obvious how the city inhabitants became tangled in a state of impasse, forcing them to move on. I decided to do a landscape background–the text spoke of viewing the deserted city from the mountains–and I spent a lot of time laying out possible landscapes on my floor from the collage references I had. I then dismantled and retaped a box to make a sort of diorama and glued the landscape pieces down.Then I had fun rearranging the threaded bones of the city and photographing it from different viewpoints against the background.I read “Invisible Cities” in 2016 and posted a review on Goodreads. At the end I wrote: “Certainly it inspires visions that could be transferred to paper…and perhaps some of them will come to form for me at a future time.” And so they have.”


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Charly Skilling

“I was fascinated by this idea of relationships made visible, connections physical, and wondered if I could do the same for one family. I took a family group consisting of 2 parents and 5 siblings. 4 of the siblings married (2 of them twice) and between them produced nine grandchildren. 7 grandchildren married, and between the nine produced 14 great grandchildren. I created the basic blood relationships with crochet chains made up from the colours of both parents, not as a physical representation of DNA, but because the parent-child relationship is often the single biggest influence on an individual, though many other relationships will impact as life moves on. I then began to weave single filaments between grandparents, and grandchildren, between siblings, between cousins, between aunt and nieces, uncle and nephews.

This “construct” is by no means complete, and I have not attempted at this stage to integrate the webs of connections brought by those who married into the family. But the little I have done has revealed much to me about the complexity of the web that we are born into, and that we build around us. It has highlighted how some relationships are simple and straightforward, others tangled and convoluted; some are loose and relaxed, others taut, and under strain. Some connections disappear from view only to turn up later,as if they have always been there, others fray or break, or just atrophy. But all of them have some influence on the people we are and the lives we lead.

This #Kickabout 13 has probably made me think harder than any so far – and the Ersilians included trade and authority relationships as well! No wonder they upped sticks and started again somewhere else!”




Judy Watson

“I thought of opting out for this fortnight, but then I remembered the unfinished practice run on paper. I chopped it into strips and collected my family into eight piles. Two teens, myself, Scott, and all four grandparents. Although one of them isn’t with us any more, he is already deeply woven into the fabric of our family. Then I took up a discarded piece of work from an earlier kick-about and began weaving the strands of the family together. So this is my family. Though separated by space, and even time, we are woven inextricably. Our colours harmonise and clash depending on the day and on which other threads are adjacent, but we strengthen each other over all. And a tug on one thread will summon help from several other threads.”





“Chopping sections off into small interludes was a fun follow up. Here are some mini family interactions.”


www.judywatson.net /Instagram.com/judywatsonart / facebook.com/judywatsonart


Francesca Maxwell

“What a great kick-about this Ersilia is! I am busy with lectures and classes but couldn’t get it out of my mind. Calvino’s narrative is always so evocative of images, and more. He is one of my heroes who has accompanied me since I started reading, and indeed sparked my love for books and stories. Unfortunately I had not much time to realise all the images that came to mind, so this is just a quick sketch – a beginning for some future work.”


www.FBM.me.uk


Phil Gomm

“Our garden is full of threads at the moment; the elaborate, death-defying webs of the orb spiders. They made me think of the inhabitants of Ersilia, and their structures. I wanted to weave my own webs out in the garden, so I did , much to the consternation of all the house sparrows watching me beadily from the safe harbour of the hedge. My original idea was to embrace colour, but the skies above me were grey and my mood somehow more sombre than that. I imagined instead coming upon the abandoned buildings of Ersilia, an explorer taking pictures of a vanished civilisation using his unwieldy camera on some unwieldy tripod. I imagined the sound of the wind in all the wires; and how haunting a sound like that might be. I recalled my childhood fear of pylons marching across the countryside, and ultimately settled on these rather melancholy images.”



Graeme Daly

“I’ve always wanted to make a film around the uncanny. The uncanny was brought to the surface again with a previous kick about, which saw me reflect on the creepiness of my dad’s basement. The ropes and strings of Calvino’s Ersilia really stuck out to me as a place that suffocates, those ropes like fungus and disease, growing and grasping to bring back again what belongs to the earth.”


@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly / gentlegiant.blog


Emily Clarkson

“Just a concept painting this week, but I really loved the prompt all the same. I may revisit this city sometime to explore further!

What with Ersilia being based in the plains, all I could see were golden fields bathed in golden light as the sun went down. I imagine Ersilia’s people would opt for simple structures if they knew they’d be upping sticks at some point to start again. I wonder what else they leave behind in the ruins?”


instagram.com/eclarkson2012 / twitter.com/eclarkson2012 / linkedin.com/in/emily-clarkson


Jan Blake

“I was intrigued by the subject and Francesca Maxwell said it reminded her of some of my work. I did not have much time to create new work as it was the weekend before the deadline. Here are the images that I felt contained some of the feeling of these deserted cities….from deserted nests and webs and the cardboard constructions I have made called ‘Fragment’. The last painting is more recent and seems to me like the unravelling of a structure seen through a web of threads.”



janblake.co.uk


As the weather worsens and the daylight diminishes, I felt we needed to kick our heels up and have a bit of a boogie – so as inspiration for our next run-about together, I’m offering up Norman Maclaren’s 1941 animation, Boogie-Doodle! Have fun!




The Kick-About #12 ‘The Cottingley Fairies’


It’s tempting to draw the obvious conclusion from the recent choice of prompts offered up by the kick-about artists of late. Last time it was the exoplanet Trappist 1e, with its promise of new beginnings ‘off-world’, and an escape from this one, which seems smaller by the day and rather dimmed. This week it’s fairies – or more accurately, the need to go on believing in them, a yearning for something as-yet-unspoiled and magical. In these different ways, we seem preoccupied with escapism and realms more expansive than those afforded by our current circumstances.


Julien Van Wallendael

“I saw something about the Cottingley Fairies being the theme of the month on your blog, so I put this together last night as a response… I was mainly driven by the need to figure out something that could be done in one sitting! The Cottingley Fairies case exposes all at once our yearning for wonder and penchant for deceptiveness – newly aided by the medium of photography. It seemed therefore appropriate to paint a scene both whimsical and that references modern optical tricks. Having seen Akira at the cinemas last week, I still had its long exposure shots of motorcycles in mind – so I thought for once I could make use of those weird skinny palette knife type brushes and replicate the look of a light streak by letting my pen run across randomly. Phil’s recent impressionistic meadow pictures and older flashlights projects may also have been in my thoughts!”


jvwlld.wixsite.com/portfolio / instagram.com/fruit.fool / linkedin.com/in/julien-van-wallendael


Phil Cooper

I remember those Cottingley fairy photos being discussed seriously on news and current affairs programmes in the ’70s. Presenters would say things like ‘the photos have been examined by experts from the so-and-so lab and they cannot find any evidence that the photos have been tampered with’. I think we all wanted to believe that they were real, even though they were pretty obviously painted cut-outs (what on earth they were doing in the so-and-so lab I can’t imagine).

This week’s prompt came to mind when I had a few days out in the country last week. Having been stuck in the city for most of this year, due, mainly, to Covid, I felt quite giddy when I got out into some wild green spaces. As well as that feeling of escape, the light was sparkling and dreamy and the woods and meadows alive with fungi and rich autumn colours. It certainly looked like a place where fairies could dance and frolic. So, for the kick-about this week I’ve photo-collaged some images from my visit and cranked up the trippy fairy weirdness factor. Maybe those Cottingley girls had taken a few mushrooms before they came up with their jolly wheeze.”


instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com


Marion Raper

“I found it very difficult to get away from the obvious with this prompt, even though I was the person who originated it!   I had a few ideas about painting something such as a puppy dog and setting it in a proper basket to make it look as if it was real.  However this didn’t seem to look very convincing when I tried it. At this point I ran into Artists block and looked on the internet for some tips. I realised that there was something in my mind that wanted my pictures to be like those of Arthur Rackman and although this wouldnt be very original I just had to go with it. So saying, I put on some relaxing music and just played around until this is what I came up with.  I used an old painting of mine done on Yupo paper which I chopped into leaves and then added watercolour and collage. I was aiming for an ethereal effect and hope it didn’t end up too ‘twee’.”



James Randall

“I tried adding a fairy storyline over these images but I just didn’t like what they did to the pics. Rather than scrapping the backgrounds I thought they could work labelled ‘looking for fairies’.”



Judy Watson

“Hats off to Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths for scoring a hit without the use of PhotoShop. Who needs PhotoShop when you have cardboard cut-outs and a camera? Looking at these photos, I’m reminded again of how seemingly unconvincing the installations were. It was the Powerful Energy of the children’s imaginations that brought them to life. How I love that Powerful Energy! And as an adult, I regularly delve into books I read as a child in an attempt to recapture the Power. I am forever hammering on the back of the wardrobe, so to speak.

I’ve made a couple of new ‘fairies’ for 2020, the stranger-than-fiction year. Possibly due to the poisoning of my mind by doom-scrolling through US election news, my 2020 fairies are a pair of Dickensian style villains, sloping back into the forest after getting up to goodness knows what… (Perhaps he is carrying a sack?) The female figure, superficially posing as a pretty thing, with gossamer wings and a lacy apron, has overly long stick insect arms and carries a thorny crook/trident. The male of the species is wearing a lacy collar that droops down in a hairy way from his neck. But the rest of his torso is naked and a bit bloated.


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Graeme Daly

“One of the things I appreciate about growing up in rural Ireland are all the stories about curious oddities I was told when I was a young lad. We all heard the stories of the wailing banshee, the sluagh and the fairies. A stone’s throw from my father’s house in Knockatee Dunmore is Fairy Hill. Fairy hill is a steep hill covered in grass and wildflowers. The very top of the hill is speckled with fairy trees, with a swing fashioned from worn rope and driftwood. Fairy Hill was a place of refuge; it looked-over the emerald green of Ireland. You could hear the calming laps of the river Sinking nearby. You could see Dunmore castle slightly peeping out from the tree tops to the east.

The story of Fairy Hill goes that builders tried to build Dunmore castle on Fairy Hill, but the vivacious fairies would awake from their slumber in the dead of night and knock the stones down to the ground, and did so every night to save their homes. The builders decided to build the castle down the road on a less magnificent hill, which is now where Dunmore Castle sits. Ireland is bursting with stories like this. Planning permissions for entire concrete motorways have been scrapped because a pesky fairy tree is in its route and needs to be cherished. Maybe that’s why people view the Irish as a bit mad!? Or maybe we refuse to grow up? I’ll take the latter.

I decided to write a poem and draw a piece of charcoal art that reflects how this story has lasted through the ages, something old and worn but still intact, which invigorates nostalgia.”


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Phil Gomm

“With the exception of some digitally post-produced blurring at the periphery of these photographs, and a hint of sepia, you’re looking at ‘what happened’ late one night in the dark in rural France.

Equipped with my old 35mm camera, some 1600 black and white film, and a cheap battery-operated camping light, I produced a series of long-exposure photographs with myself as the subject. At risk of demystifying the resulting images still further, you have to imagine me running from one position to the next in the dark, switching on the camping light between my bare feet, and posing – or moving through different poses – for short intervals of seconds. I had to wait until my return to England to process the images, and when I saw the resulting images, I was delighted and spooked in equal measure. What the camera had seen that night out in the dark was not what had been put in front of it. I promise, hand-on-heart, I wasn’t wearing a black Cleopatra-style wig (in truth I wasn’t wearing very much of anything at all!), and I can’t explain everything caught on camera. I’ve taken lots and lots of photographs in ominous settings in the hope of capturing something otherworldly on film; these snaps, taken with old technology, taken hurriedly (and with so inelegant and earthly a subject!), are proof cameras are haunted and magic is real.”



Kerfe Roig

“Looking at the photo from the vantage point of digital manipulation in 2020, it’s easy to laugh at the fact that anyone could have actually believed that they were “real”. And yet…”



it’s easy
to say no—but what
does that word
really mean,
exactly?—“not now”?—“never”?–
“I don’t understand”?—

“I don’t want
to deal with it”?—what
lies between
the letters,
the sounds hard and long?  if you
take away the n

what is left?–
only a surprise,
a sense of
wonder—worlds
filled with possibility–
the magic of ”o!”


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Charly Skilling

“The Cottingley Fairies are mostly remembered because so many people believed them to be proof of another world, co-existent with our own, whilst another group believed they provided proof of other people’s gullibility. Nowadays,  we tend to assume a more sophisticated (or perhaps more cynical) attitude to life – the cry of  “Special FX” or even “Fake News” is heard constantly. If fairies do die if someone says they don’t believe in them, they must be at the very top of David Attenborough’s list, if not already passed the way of dodos, Siamese flat barbelled catfish and the golden toad.  And yet fairies still continue to populate our stoy-telling, our art, and our culture.”


Sharpie pens and alcohol on ceramic tile



Sharpie pens and alcohol on ceramic tile


Robbie Cheadle

I have always loved fairies and other mythical creatures, growing up on diet of Enid Blyton’s books such as The Enchanted Wood series, The Wishing Chair series and the Mr Pink Whistle books. When my younger sister and I were children, we used to dress up as fairies using tinsel for crowns and white nightgowns for dresses.


robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com


Vanessa Clegg

“This was such an interesting prompt and threw up so many possibilities (fake news being amongst them) but in the end and after many versions, I decided these two were getting there. I had great ambitions but didn’t quite get there with this one….v.v. basic technology in this household! The two main spurs were : The film “Wings of Desire” by Wim Wenders and the first “Pookie” book by Ivy Wallace (my favourite childhood read)… further down the line drones came into the mix. I might keep working on it from collage to drawing as it’s a theme with so many angles but, for the moment, this is it!”



vanessaclegg.co.uk


Phill Hosking

“Sorry for the super late submission this week… I approached this as if the fairy character had become toughened by years of actually surviving at the bottom of a real garden – yes, still magical and enchanting but a bit ragged and with honed survival instincts. I focused on her dynamism and intensity taking out out an innocent insect.”


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Our next prompt comes courtesy of resident gentle giant, Graeme Daly, an excerpt from Italo Calvino’s celebrated novel, Invisible Cities describing Ersilia, the city of strings. If you’re already a regular kick-abouter and think you know someone who’d like to join in for a run-around, then do encourage them to make contact. Likewise, if you’re just happening by and fancy getting involved, then do please get in touch.




The Kick-About #10 ‘Romantic Museum’


I don’t mind admitting I’ve spent a few moments dabbing my eye as I put this latest showcase of new work together in response to Joseph Cornell’s Romantic Museum! There’s a lot of love in the mix this week, with reflections on beloved relationships, time passing, and the making and keeping of memories. If the last Kick-About was a short ride in a fast machine, the Kick-About#10 is about the long ride we’re taking together.


James Randall

“My Romantic Museum; I guess my romance experience is a little ‘narrow’, having been married to the love of my life for thirty years, and perhaps it’s more of a timeline. Nice to get a theme that provokes thought/reflection.”



Kerfe Roig

“Cornell! Another treat. I wanted to do something on newspaper, but I couldn’t collage (my first choice) as my glue was packed. My needles and floss were not, however, and this also seemed appropriate to Cornell’s work. And what woman do I know better than myself? As we grow older, so the passing of time looms larger. I was of course attracted first to the hand, and was pleased to find a newspaper page with a photo of hands. I drew my own, and also my face, and stitched and wrote my reflections based on the drawings. It’s not quite finished, but maybe that’s the correct response too.”





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Marion Raper

“As the 1946 exhibition by Joseph Cornell was dedicated to women I decided to do an ‘homage ‘ to my dear mum, Joan Walton, who passed away many years ago. She was very proud of the fact that she was a true Cockney and had been born within the sound of Bow Bells, so I have made a cutwork of the bell tower. I discovered the weathervane on top is a wonderful golden dragon, which is apparently the symbol for London. Joan was evacuated during the war at about age 14,and wrote all over her letters ” I wanna come home!” – until her parents had to bring her back. She told me they would all stick their heads under the table while the bombs dropped! Some years after the war, my dad came on the scene and they loved to go cycling and ballroom dancing. Then later in the 1960s, mum was a typical housewife who made fabulous cakes, plus enjoying knitting and dressmaking. This has been a very nostalgic prompt for me and it has brought home the fact that small objects have a big impact in our memory, which can effect our well-being for good and also for bad.”





Marcy Erb

“I confess I’ve always wanted to make shadow boxes (AKA assemblages) and so when the Kick-About #10 theme was announced as one of Joseph Cornell’s assemblages, I decided to seize the day and fulfill the dream. I took a cue from the fact that “Romantic Museum” is housed in a case used for storing scientific specimens. I had an old wooden wine box I’d picked up curbside on trash day a while back: I painted it and used it to house the reconstructed bones of seabirds. NOTE: These bones were all found objects – washed-up on the beach near my home, already skeletonized. They are not from the same bird, and most likely are from local seagulls. On the back of the box, I transfer printed as much of the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge as I could fit (click HERE to read the entire poem). The imagery of sea birds in this poem is so powerful it has seeped into everyday language as the phrase “an albatross around my neck.” Many seabird species are highly endangered – for instance almost half of all albatross species are threatened by the degradation of fishing stocks and habitat loss. This is in addition to the effects of climate change that intensify storms and disrupts sea bird breeding on remote islands. They are caught in an environmental net of human making. I hoped to convey some of this in my “Albatross Box.”




marcyerb.com


Charly Skilling

“Cornell’s work is often created using a box divided into a grid of small compartments. Each individual compartment holds some item that for him that has significance, and the whole piece conveys something greater than the sum of its parts. This crocheted blanket does the same for me. Back in 2007, we sold our business and home, and spent a year travelling round the UK. I made the blanket as we travelled, but wrote the poem later, in about 2013. This blanket is my romantic museum.”




Judy Watson

Every person‘s experience of a work of art is different. Nevertheless I can’t help wondering how many people may see ‘mass isolation’ as I do in this piece – viewing it now, during a pandemic. I see a hand stitching quietly, small, intimate objects, windows and walls and another window over the entire thing. And finally a cloud of black sand infiltrating everything.  My response led me to paint a series of hearts partly hidden behind or framed by window shapes. I was thinking of them as hearts as I was painting, though they didn‘t look like hearts in the anatomical sense, nor as pictograms. They represented all those people; their feelings, quietly beating away, hidden behind windows and walls. A lot of them were in shades of red, but they changed to blue and other colours.  



I started thinking of all the ways hearts are described. All those corny yet evocative terms… Then I thought of all the combinations I could have, starting with Blue Tending to Black. How about Pure – Frozen, or Stolen – Smouldering, Stony and Promised… but I realised what was really giving me pleasure was the layering and texture. In particular, I was using a fan brush to very lightly drag layers of watercolour and gouache across the painting. The delicacy of the fragmented lines entranced me. Also the way the colour changed as the paint dried, as gouache will do. It made the painting feel so alive. Each pass with the brush partly obscured the previous layer, but did not completely cover it. It felt like a metaphor for life – which is really what artists are grappling with every day, and probably partly explains their angst! Every decision is a little goodbye to the past that cannot ever again be recovered exactly as it was. And a hello to a new possibility, that just may be more beautiful yet. Always with the heart in the window in mind, I found myself weaving.”


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Phil Gomm

“I was drawn immediately to the black ‘rift’ in Cornell’s piece. I wanted to know what it was, or what it meant, and how the ‘unknowability’ of the ultimate meaning of something is a powerful and unsettling thing. I thought about those Rorschach tests, where you’re invited to look at ink-blots and project your own associations upon them, re-configuring them as meaningful as they relate to your own lived experience. I was reminded too of the famous Nietzsche quote that goes ‘Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you’.


You can link out to a PDF version here.


Graeme Daly

“Cornell’s pieces are like memory vaults of amassed ephemera, with his ‘Romantic Museum’ seeming as though the images exploding out of the building or museum in the background are of significant importance to Cornell, with memories and narratives attached. I decided to create something signifying memories with a ‘Cabinet of my own Curiosities’. Places, people and things that mean the world to me are collated here; everything has stories attached, little tidbits into my past, meshed together with nostalgic sepia tones tones and the same royal purple seen in Romantic Museum to signify warm nostalgia.”