Our previous Kick-About was an explosive affair, as Turner’s Mount Vesuvius in Eruption re-surfaced the land, sea and sky with glowing skeins of lava and fired our imaginations. No less spectacular are the sculptural installations of artist El Anatsui, whose enormous, glinting mosaics drape gallery walls like bejewelled magma. Enjoy this latest showcase of new works made in a short time inspired by Anatsui’s works.
“On seeing El Anatsui’s incredible sculptures I felt exceptionally inspired to make. There’s something about his process of turning discarded relics of human mass consumption into objects of such beauty that resonated with me. Over recent years I’ve collected bucket loads of plastic from various beaches in Kent, never really knowing what to do with them, suddenly when I laid a bucket full out on the work bench, I started pulling them together and adding some order, which is what I got from Anatsui’s work, order brought to valueless trash. As the wired-together plastic was only about a foot across, I cut out and painted a wooden frame, as if the silhouette was intentional.”
“I had some other intentions as to what could happen making use of this collection of old photos inspired by El Anatsui yet, by the end of mucking-about, this assemblage gave the impression of Rome’s Pantheon inner dome and gazing upward through the central opening to the sky. I wasn’t even thinking about it yet, I did just return last week from Rome. Might be nice to glue the whole lot to the spare bedroom ceiling.”
“I very much admire the work of El Anatsui and his amazing way of using recycled items such as bottle tops and turning them into fabulous artworks and metallic cloth sculptures. I was trying to think of a way that I could emulate such wizardry and came up with the idea of weaving some of my stash of old ties. I used some black crinkly wool for the weft threads, which I stretched over an old picture mount to make a loom. Next, I cut the most colourful ties into long strips and threaded them in and out as the weft threads. I must say I was rather surprised at how a few vividly coloured gents’ ties (from the last few decades) could transpire to resemble a wonderful African fabric, but weirdly they do!“
“I’ve reverted to a grid, echoing El Anatsui’s use of recycled materials. I wanted to sew the squares together, so I needed something fairly thin. I painted newspaper in 3 ways with watercolor–one primarily red, one blue, and one with neon spatters. I then cut them into 2 x 4 inch pieces and folded them into squares. I used embroidery floss to sew them together – the back with the threads also makes an interesting piece of art I think. There are many other different variations I could do with this, both using different papers and different ways of sewing the squares together. I’ll certainly keep it in mind for one of my monthly grids in the future.”
“I came across El Anatsui’s work many years ago at the October gallery in London. I loved their enormity and grandeur from such a humble material and maybe subconsciously some years later I found myself drawn to using cardboard, a material that I could recycle and obtain easily. Curiously, when I went to Mexico to make a sculptural piece for a contemporary dance company, I found that finding and selling-on cardboard for a poor Mexican was a way of making a living! So looking at these wonderful looping hangings I am attracted by the metallic and repeating rhythms interrupted by a fold. There is something Mediaeval about them as well like illuminated manuscripts. With these thoughts in mind I turned to a piece that I had started last year but was uncertain of its development. I have added a second row as it were that twists in an opposite direction like cable knitted jumpers. Ultimately these rows will grow but they are time consuming to complete right now. However I have been wanting to add colour to these structures for a while so here is my trial . Taking the idea of illuminated manuscripts and vaulting on Cathedral ceilings, I have painted them differently on the two sides. The result in some ways is more like an old fairground and the colour only appears as it twists round.”
“Whenever I pop over to visit my parents, I’m heartened by the small bowl of toffee eclairs on the table in the hall. On my way back out the door, I always pocket a couple to sustain me on my journey home. The toffees come wrapped in these blue and gold twists of metallicised cellophane, many of which have found their way into the washing machine. Once washed, these wrappers take on a very pleasing patina, exfoliated of much of their original gaudiness and turned instead into these rather more translucent, opalescent swatches. I wondered if I could assemble a few of the wrappers together to produce a very small scale homage to Anatsui’s extraordinary tapestries-come-sculptures. While not convinced I managed that exactly, I found myself instead thinking about geological strata and seams of gold, about crystalline caves and fantastical canyons. I’ve also been thinking… I really needed to eat more of those toffee eclairs!”
“This was perfect timing for me as I did a 2 day course in collograph (no experience..total beginner) over the last fortnight and the result seems to fit the prompt. What I was aiming for was a block of specimen samples, the little glass slides that fit into a microscope. Insects and organic-like textures were my subject matter, with a lot of experimenting and, of course, mistakes but for me that’s what makes it an interesting process as the semi-lack of control can lead to surprising and unlooked for effects… More exploration in the future!”
“I had many ideas inspired by the wonderful work of El Anatsui. I love the texture and the concept. It must be amazing to see them in person, unfortunately I never have. I watched a documentary about his work and how labour intensive it is and I also love how much creativity he allows his helpers and the curators exhibiting his work. I am a scavenger myself, and over the many years working in theatre and stop motion animation, I collected all sort of rejected bits and pieces. I particularly love metal and I am fascinated by metal mesh, it looks like shimmering fabric. So I put together a mix of found and bought steel, copper and brass mesh photographed and assemble as a mosaic. I don’t have enough to do a large drape like El Anatsui.”
“What you are looking at here is the tinfoil leftover from a steak pie, coloured with multicolored markers, photographed, warped and collaged together in photoshop to mimic El Anatsui’s illuminating repurposed sculptures. For scale and grandiosity, I then popped them into an artplacer app.”
“Of course the message is our environment’s degradation. I have been trying to put together a few key words that encapsulate my concerns but it’s complicated. Let me start by admitting my own guilt: plastic and petrol are still a part of my life. I should have added apathy to my list. Nobody seems to discuss over-population or education focusing on engineering and sciences that enable petrochemical industries (at the expense of arts and humanities, which question our actions…) let alone company (not government only) reparations for years of ignorant profiteering at the expense of the world community – so my few words became several ‘dot’ points. One of the materials that El Anatsui uses is flattened bottle caps – I started my piece by drawing one on computer, then repeated it in on overlapped pattern that reminded me of Islamic art, so I fiddled with the graphic of my list to pursue Islamic text and that set my piece’s style. I think of this work as an environmental incantation.
“El Anatsui takes the discarded detritus of modern life – bottle caps, wiring, scraps of aluminium – and transforms them into something that moves and breathes and drapes like the sheerest fabric. I don’t have access to much of that type of material, but one thing I have in abundance is yarn swatches. I am always making small swatches to try out a new yarn, a new stitch, a colour combination or just to get the tension right for a new project. Sometimes these swatches get incorporated into a piece of work, but mostly they just sit in a bag in one of my work boxes. I also have some knitting needles that I haven’t used in years, dozens of excess crochet hooks and hundreds of blocking pins. So, a couple of hours of folding, twirling, sticking and pinning later, a pile of nothing very much has become something colourful and cheerful, which might, conceivably, have occurred naturally in a garden.”
… and courtesy of Charly Skilling, we have our next prompt: the narrative quilts of American folk artist, Harriet Powers. Have fun!