Short Story: The Mistress’s Quilt (2023)


Better late than never, right? So this short story was inspired by the narrative quilts of Harriet Powers, the prompt for The Kick-About No.68. I wasn’t able to complete the story by the original submission deadline and have been working away on it since. Thematically, it takes the idea of patchworks to express composite identities and their complexities and the idea of individuals and their emotional lives comprising contrary shades and textures.


You can view a PDF version here.


The Kick-About #70 ‘Hilma Af Klint’


Our last Kick-About together celebrated that deep-winter symbol of light-in-the-darkness, the Christmas tree. Our next creative foray (our first of 2023) is likewise exploring the desire for illumination, but with artist and mystic Hilma Af Klint as our muse. Enjoy this latest selection of new works made in a short time and also “Happy New Year!”.


Graeme Daly

“I have been yearning to do some traditional art lately, probably due to the fact that, during the Christmas break, my nieces and nephew received some arty presents. Here are some oil pastel drawings similar to some Irish sigils.” 


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Kerfe Roig

“As always I would have liked to do more, and these will be added to the pile for future further exploration. I always felt Hilma af Klint’s art was a searching for spirit.  She got involved in a lot of philosophy about it, but I think that, in the case of spirit, images and music will always get much closer to it than words or ideas.  I focused on circles, but the tension between geometry and essence is present in all her work.  I painted enso circles and then embroidered geometric lines and circles on top to try to capture some of that feeling.”


circled by spirit

doubled
vision—the same
circle in two places–
precision and surprise,
mirrored, random,
centered

oceans
of earth and fire,
floating transparencies,
waves repeating—ebb, flow–
footprints erased
by time


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Charly Skilling

“I was not sure, at first, how to respond to this prompt.  Some Kick-About prompts fire off a flurry of ideas, associations, visualisations… but not this one. Then I remembered a bag of cotton yarns I was given some years ago, but never found a really good use for. Normally my yarns are stored in gauze bags so I can see what’s in them at a glance, but I decanted these cottons into a denser cloth bag, so I could not see the colours.  I then plunged my hand in, drew out the first ball I touched and started crocheting with it. There was no plan, no judgement about colour suitability. I crocheted varying stitches, determined by whim and often realising I had  moved from one stitch to another without any real conscious thought. When I got bored, I changed yarn.  There was one ball of yarn that had come unravelled and got very tangled, and I  struggled to un-tangle it.  Then my son said “Just crochet the knots in”, so I did.  Each day I fastened off whatever I’d been working on and the next day started again with the next ball to emerge from the bag. Only as I approached the Kick-About deadline did I apply amy kind of critical editing, and then only to decide not to include a couple of sections. The whole process was helped by listening to a really good audiobook while I crocheted (a David Baldacci novel) and thereby diverting my conscious mind from too much busy-bodying about the work. So here it is. Make of it what you will!




James Randall

“This one just didn’t want to emerge from my 2022 puckered head! Hilma had her moment of glory in Australia in Sydney during the pandemic, so she’s well promoted if little actually seen. I feel her work morphs out of nature’s motifs, so my jumping-off point was the poinciana trees that line the local streets. The Madagascan natives have bright red and yellow pinwheel-shaped flowers (in full bloom at the moment) and almost fern-like foliage. I designed a graphic representation of its flower to begin with, along with the leaves, and then broke it down into its components and added local skies mirrored into grid-isolated forms, along with ‘dashed’ line graphics to reflect Hilma’s inclusion of line.  Left me feeling very hippy! Hello 2023.”



Gary Thorne

“Brava Hilma Af Klint in her organic, free flowing, richly-coloured magical forms. Regards KA70, I must say the result would make for the most infuriating 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Happy new year KA-ers.”  


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Vanessa Clegg

“Well… happy new year to all Kick-Abouts. As the first challenge of 2023, this was a good one, tapping into the spontaneous aspect of Klint’s work, i.e. automatic writing. I threw my usual tight drawing style to the winds, closed my eyes, imagined figures and animals – and started. What resulted led me to think this could be a weekly exercise that reminds me of art school years in the life drawing room where we’d be asked to draw whilst only looking at the model and not the paper, which is an excellent test of observation. The ‘painting’ is my first go at laying down watercolour or ink and folding the paper over… Again, no control and something to be continued.”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Phil Gomm

“That I’d never heard of Hilma Af Klint before this prompt has left me soul-searching ever since… How’s it possible this fascinating artist has been otherwise invisible to me? I guess the answer to that is a largely depressing one – something along the lines of only victors getting to write the history books. For my part, I was interested by the automatism aspect of Klint’s creative process, so looked at what my hand and brain likes to visualise while I’m supposed to be thinking about other things; so I looked again at the recent pages of my various diaries and journals, and what I scribble when I’m in all those interminable Zoom meetings. That done, I decided to produce further happenstance by layering up the doodles to produce as much texture as possible, and then went about reinstating the circle, in a nod to the more arcane aspects of Klint’s temple paintings. Further inspired by the cosmology of Klint’s artwork, I just went on layering up my images to produce greater depth and expansiveness, and all the while imagined these images to be as least as big as Klint’s paintings, and likewise hanging in dark gallery spaces lit softly. I kept going back to an image as-and-when until I started to feel something ‘big’ and mysterious was getting started before me. Ultimately, not sure what I’ve produced, but I enjoyed ‘not knowing’ a great deal!”



philgomm.com


Marion Raper

“I find abstract works very interesting, but unfortunately my type of artistic style seems to over complicate things. Having left things until New Years Eve, I decided to make a start by attempting to imitate Hilma’s ‘flower abstract’ and read that she was also a bit of a mystic. I used some of my ink and bleach backgrounds and decided to cut out some contrasting flower shapes from an old catalogue. It was a complete surprise to learn that they we’re called Petunia Grandiflora Mystical Midnight Gold. How spooky! Happy New Year to one and all!”



Now that Christmas 2022 is done and dusted you might be thinking, ‘Phew, no more gift-wrapping!’

Um, about that…



The Kick-About #69 ‘The Christmas Tree’


Our last Kick-About celebrated an art form and creative practice form more readily associated with home and hearth, and while not everyone may identify as being as creative as quilt-maker, Harriet Powers, it’s also true that Christmas is a time when many people assume the role of installation artist and transform their living spaces into something more extraordinary. Consider the Christmas tree, a simple enough idea of evergreen hope and light-in-the-darkness, but complex too in terms of issues of matters of tradition, culture and taste. With the season of goodwill fast approaching, enjoy this latest selection of new works made in a short time, and with the Christmas tree – in all its creative incarnations – as this week’s inspiration.


Tom Beg

“I have more lasting memories of my mum’s attempts at putting together artisanal and minimalistic Christmas trees (a few twigs with some baubles hanging on) than I do of a proud-looking pine or spruce in the corner of the living room. Thinking back those twigs were actually impressively avant-garde and experimental in the all the ways I wish I could be, so here’s my ode to one of mum’s many avant-garde trees.”


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Kerfe Roig

“I wanted to make a cosmic tree–and I made three that were supposed to stand up, but they were very hard to photograph that way. So for most of the photos I took them apart and laid them flat.  I used various grounds you may recognise from past projects. I was also thinking of the EE Cummings poem Little Tree and did my own cosmic version.”


big universe

1
big universe
vast and filled with wonder
endless and infinite
everything all at once

2
how is it we are here?–
looking up, far, into infinity–
we stand inside the glitter of dust
seeking to capture the stars

3
a seed was planted–
a long sleep surrounded by a dark womb–
an unformed dream
awakened into manifestation

4
we hold our children close
and then release them–
what will their spirits carry
when they open to the light?

5
will there ever be an ending?
a time when particles cease to wave?–
we can only hold hands with the spiral
and continue dancing


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Charly Skilling

“When I was growing up, everything about Christmas decorations was either handmade or used year after year after year.  The Christmas tree (all 2 ft 6 of it) spent 50 weeks of the year resting quietly in the soil of our back garden. Then, a week before Christmas, Dad would go out, dg it up, re-plant it in a tall wooden planter kept specially for that purpose. The tree then took pride of place in the bay window in the front room so it could be seen from the street.

Dad and the older boys would wrangle the tree lights into working order, whilst we younger children made yards and yards and yards of paper chains, plus a small mountain of paper lanterns.  The paper chains would be strung around the middle room (the family room, less likely to be viewed by discerning visitors, I realised when I was older!), and the best of the paper lanterns would hang on the tree amongst the home-made angels, card and glitter stars, and the twelve precious glass baubles that only the most responsible and well-behaved of us were allowed to handle. (No, I don’t think I ever made the grade!). Crepe paper streamers curled amongst the branches and a sprinkling of ‘Angel Hair’ and our tree was complete!

I really miss making those paper chains and paper lanterns, while all around the buzz and hustle of Christmas preparations rose to a steady crescendo… to the moment the lights lit up the finished tree and the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ of a wondrous content settled the room into quiet… Shortly followed by a collective groan as the tree lights flickered once more – and went out!”



Vanessa Clegg

“As I missed the Harriet Powers prompt I wanted to do a small overlap with this one, so have done more stitching. This is really a fantasy of my ideal ‘get away’ Christmas… in a forest somewhere North, sitting out in the snow in the soft, muffled silence that pre-empts the opening of the curtains and seeing all that’s familiar negated in white. The sense of being at one with the elements, smelling the conifers and burning wood, the chilled skin and numbing fingers, a deer in the distance… but eventually returning to the warmth of the cabin, a small silver tree, wine and a sleeping cat. Happy Christmas fellow kick abouts – may it be one of peace and warmth.”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Phil Cooper

“When I was a kid I remember there were particular things I used to dread about Christmas; endless meals with extended family, carol singing, being stuck in the house being made to play with cousins I didn’t get on with. But there were marvellous things too; brightly coloured decorations, fairy lights, beautiful cards and wrapping paper, the foil wrappers of sweets and toffees, and a fabulous, six foot  tinsel tree that came out every year. At any other time, such a preposterous, garish and tacky-looking thing wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near the carefully controlled space of the living room, but, for some reason, Christmas meant you could cover everything in technicolour glitter – I loved it!

For my response this week I took a few wooden tree ornaments that sit on the windowsill and photographed them with coloured lighting, editing the photos to try and evoke a bit of that lost childhood Christmas wonder, seen through the eyes of my jaded 57-year-old adult self.”


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Phil Gomm

“One of the places in the house you might expect to encounter the simple delights of a Christmas tree is positioned just so beside a warming fire… unfortunately, my house of late has been in a state of disarray, plastic dust sheets covering the furniture, the stove disconnected, and everywhere looking a touch forlorn and far from festive.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but notice the way all those plastic drapes brought a Narnian frost to this empty space in the middle of the house and was suitably inspired one exceptionally drab afternoon to create a winter wonderland, complete with frosted cones of pine trees (or rather plastic sheets suspended from the ceiling using black sewing thread and some drawing pins).

With the addition of some tiny coloured lights sat atop the trees like stars (and the magical powers of long exposure photography), I was able to produce a few festive scenes, however unpromising the starting point…



“… and making full use of this strange, empty room of ours, I set about recreating another semblance of the Christmas tree for our room-without-one. A few of those same little lights tied to a long drop of black thread later, and I set about manifesting this Fritz Lang-meets-James Whale-style tree, and enjoyed all the old-school sci-fi spook of it. In some of them, there’s even the ghost of some mid-20th century Americana in-the-mix, in large part due to those masking-tape atom-age snowflakes I stuck to the wall on a whim…”



“… and finally, like the little match girl herself, I popped outside into the bitter cold and dark, and snapped a few images of our ‘Christmas tree’ as it might appear to curious kids and dog-walkers, as the green glow of it flashed in the long night.

To all the Kick-Abouters, wishing you a wonderful, restful and creative Christmas. I rather cherish your company and the balm of your imaginations and when my husband spies me on a chair, whirling coloured lights about the room, and says ‘What now?’ I reply, gladly, ‘The Kick-About made me do it!'”


philgomm.com


Marion Raper

“As usual these last few weeks before Christmas become more and more frantic. We seem to spiral into a whirlwind of parties, present buying and food planning. However, there is still the calmness of the Christmas tree.  A symbol of new life and dating back to pagan times to brighten the darkness of the winter. So Merry Christmas to all who contribute to the Kick About.  May your Christmas Tree shine brightly and light the way to a happy and creative New Year.”



Gary Thorne

Last year’s KA ‘The night before Christmas…’ rang loud in the ear so, it seemed appropriate incorporating this into the pendulum bauble. Perhaps a wrecking ball to some? Perhaps chaos which settles through gravity? Perhaps a fragile sphere risking self-destruction? Or more simply an upbeat swing containing seasonal cheer? Happy holidays KA-ers.”


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James Randall

After the quilt KA I was still on a photograph-pattern high so I thought I’d have a go at animating them. When I jumped into the software I found the kaleidoscope setting, which I applied to some of my Brisbane photos. All happened quite quickly and then it came to making a tree out of the patterns – quite quick also. Then in adding a Christmas message and creating a soundtrack it all got a bit quagmire-ish but I kind of finished it and discovered another effect along the way. Hope your Christmases and New Years are full of good cheer. Looking forward to seeing your big beautiful ideas in’23 and thanks for being so inspiring in ’22.



And as we contemplate the opaque horizons of a brand new year, why not let the mystic visions of abstract art pioneer, Hilma Af Klint, light the way towards inner contentment and existential equilbrium! Until then, wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas. Be seeing you again in 2023.



The Kick-About #68 ‘Harriet Powers’


In common with the quilts of Harriet Powers, our previous Kick-About was inspired by works of art comprising fragments and scraps, brought together to impressive and thought-provoking effect. While Powers’ quilts are smaller, simpler things, they are no less arresting, more so for their scarcity and testament to the act of making as an act of living.


Gary Thorne

“Plans to hook a rug, in response to Harriet Powers breathtaking quilts, soon shifted to questioning what ideas might be important enough to labour over an unfamiliar technique. Using the week’s radio as source material, with some pretty depressing news throughout, a naive form of expression developed from making quick responses, producing what could be considered ‘stage one’ of a process promoting that which affects our daily lives. Perhaps stage two might be continue making daily responses, and exploring different artistic techniques for each image. Thanks for a thought provoking KA.” 


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Graeme Daly

“I originally planned to rely solely on the images of the patchwork of childhood blankets and pillowcases, but sadly they are long gone. However, much like a patchwork, I decided to chop up various elements into a sort of hodgepodge – some from other sewn blankets found at my home in Ireland. and then adding little drawn elements over the top.”


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James Randall

“I have recently taken photos around the Brisbane river where some bridges are being built. I’d like to paint a picture based on them so when this challenge came about I began creating a computer illustration. I was going to fill the illustration shapes with fabric textures like I did in a previous challenge. Then I got the challenge spirit and decided to design a quilt using some other Brisbane environs photos mirrored and repeated to create patterns in place of real fabric textures. I love looking into the patterns close up to see buildings or lizards or mangroves… The image is titled “dogman” – the person directing a crane’s movement from outside of the crane cabin. The colour palette changed dramatically over the design before I settled on colours sampled from the original construction photos. Fun challenge, thank you Charly.”



Kerfe Roig

“I know these quilts, but I never examined them closely before. So little history about their making or their maker is available, but they speak loudly for themselves. I was immediately drawn to the symbols – “sun moon hand eye circle snake” – that would fit easily into a circular form.  (The birds need their own story, which I had no time for this week.)  I thought of Penny Rugs, made of felt circles, and put together a grouping of my own appliqued felt circles in the earthy colors of the quilts.  I don’t have a large enough piece of fabric in any color at the moment to sew them on, but photographed them on three possibilities: white and black paper, and the wooden floor to represent the camel color.  Each has its own feeling and I’m not sure yet what I would choose. With six words to work with, I meant to do a sestina, but only completed the first stanza.  As so often occurs with my projects, to be continued…”


sun moon hand eye circle snake


we grow wings, awaiting the return of the sun
as branches and leaves dance patterns over the moon–
invisible roots weave themselves through our hands
and become imprinted inside our eyes–
alert to the gaps in the circle,
we lie still, glittering like coiled snakes


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Marion Raper

“The wonderful thing about patchwork is the memories that it evokes.  I have many pieces of patchwork I have made over the years and the different scraps of material I have used reminds me of so many old friends and places, and, of course, family. For example – a faded purple cotton square on a cushion always reminds me of a kind administrator friend who allowed me to go to a patchwork course during my usual working day and make up the time later.  Then some recycled red check gingham takes me straight back to see my children happily playing in the summer, and a paisley pattern from a skirt gives me memories of a lovely holiday abroad. The list is endless but one of my favourites is the Japanese Boro cushion I made during lockdown. I can understand how Harriet Powers was transported from her situation and found solace in creating applique stories from her heritage with which we can still empathise today.”



Phil Gomm

“What with one thing or another, I struggled to get this finished – and likewise the Kick-About No.68 more generally – and this short story isn’t finished, if not from want of trying. I knew right away I wanted to write a new story when I saw the narrative quilts of Harriet Powers. I also worried about writing a short story on themes of slavery, so gave time to research and no small amount of hand-wringing about voice and characterisation. Add into the mix some disrupted work patterns, some mild sleep deprivation, and a house at sixes and sevens, and the conditions for getting this story over the line were a bit suboptimal (and there must be something in the ether, as a number of the usual KA-ers have felt similarly stymied or out of time!). Anyway, I wanted to share something at least, so here are the first few pages of something currently entitled Abigail’s Quilt; there are more pages than this, none of them good, as it turns out you can’t make a story ‘be finished’ when it’s ‘not finished’, but when it is complete, I’ll put it out there. Thematically, I was drawn to the idea of patchworks as being a way to talk about individuals cut from one background and stitched onto new ones and how the identity of someone is an ensemble of beliefs, a composite. Oh yeah, and there’s some lurking dread and strangeness too!”


You can read a PDF version here.

philgomm.com


And so, in keeping with all the sentiment of the season, enjoy these nostalgic prompts of living rooms and their accompanying Christmas trees. Ho ho ho.



The Kick-About #66 ‘Vesuvius’


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


Francesca Maxwell

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


www.FBM.me.uk


Marion Raper

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



Charly Skilling

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



Vanessa Clegg

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


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

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

vanessaclegg.co.uk


Jan Blake

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



James Randall

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



Phil Cooper

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


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Phil Gomm

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


philgomm.com


Graeme Daly

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


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Kerfe Roig

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



in search of Venus

1
what season is this?
dark, enigmatic, grown wild–
spilling from our eyes

2
the madness of fire–
consummation and release,
sweeping life away

3
inside opens out
disintegrates unbound–
what was not, now is

4
random lines break down–
the page explodes, caught trembling–
from nothing, vast light

5
the locus that gyres–
gravities of orbiting
become somewhere else


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Gary Thorne

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


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



The Kick-About #65 ‘Cimetière du Père Lachaise’


From the noise and extravagance of our soundsuit-inspired Kick-About No.64, we’re striking a more melancholy mood this week, as we meander our way past the silent crypts, effigies and monuments of the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. With All Hallows Eve but a few short days away, what better time to ruminate on the gossamer veil between the living and the dead…


Tom Beg

Wherever you go in Japan you are never too far away from an encounter with the various spirits, ghosts, symbols, and gods that are guardians of the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines you can find in nearly every neighbourhood. Luckily for me they are all quite wonderfully visual and emotive, often sporting an unintentionally sinister and stony (pun intended!) smile, weathered by years of exposure to the natural elements. Layering on some murky fog and lighting effects made for some suitably eerie imagery!


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Phil Cooper

“I’ve never been to the Père Lachaise cemetery but I feel like I know it well from countless gothic horror films and TV shows I’ve watched over the years; it looks like it should have Vincent Price’s evil laughter piped through the mournful paths and mouldering mausoleums. So, my contribution this week is a death-themed image – well it is Halloween this week! I have a big box of old children’s building blocks in the basement I used for a project a few years ago. For my Kick-About contribution this week, I made a bridge construction crossing an imagined River Styx – from the light over to the dark of the Underworld… (cue Mr. Price again).”


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Graeme Daly

“Lately, I have been absorbing a lot of German expressionism in my own work, the monochromatic shapely designs of the set dressings are unparalleled and always leave me wanting more. With that in mind, I wanted to do some black and white angular paintings inspired by German expressionism.”


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Charly Skilling

“When I was in my early teens, a group of us from the church youth club used to go once a week to visit old folk living alone in local sheltered housing.  We would go in pairs and  would be assigned people to visit.  My friend Jan and I  used to visit Mrs Munday, the sweetest, apple-cheeked, white-haired little old lady you could ever wish for. She was in her late eighties, and of course, the inevitable happened.  One day, we had a message from the warden to say that Mrs Munday had died, was due to be buried the following Friday, and would Jan and I like to attend the funeral?  Though neither of us had been to a funeral before, we thought we should go   

We turned up at the local cemetery at the appointed hour, dressed in our soberest clothing.  It was early January, bitterly cold, and tipping down with rain.  The warden was there to meet us and led the way through the main part of the cemetery, up the hill where the graves were less closely packed and much less decorated, to a  distant corner up on the brow of the hill.  As we walked the warden explained that Mrs Munday had had no family and no savings.  It would therefore be a pauper’s funeral, paid for by the council, the burial rites to be carried out by an officer of the Salvation Army.  The burial itself would be carried out by the single undertaker and the cemetery groundsman.  She had asked Jan and I to attend as she knew of no one else Mrs Munday had any social contact with.

I tell you now, it felt Dickensian.  It was wet, it was cold, the wind blew the rain in our faces. The Salvation Army guy did his best, but I couldn’t blame him for rattling through the service at some speed. The undertaker and the groundsman lowered the coffin into the grave, then stretched a tarpaulin over the gaping hole, and with a nod to the other attendees and a hurried  goodbye, everyone scurried away to  get dry, warm and on with their lives.

Since that day I have attended many more funerals, of people I have known and loved a great deal better than I did Mrs Munday, but none of them has left me feeling quite as desolate as that first funeral did. I have often thought about that day and wondered why it matters so much that people should be mourned.  After all, the dead person is not going to lose any sleep over attendance figures. Does it matter if no one remembers us?  I think most people would say “Yes!”

So whenever I find myself in a graveyard – not an everyday occurrence, but a frequent side event of visiting churches,  historic sites etc. – I always spare a thought for the mounds with no headstones, no monumental masonry.  And sometimes, as I walk around the older pathways, where the grass grows a little longer, I come across a piece of broken masonry, a fallen headstone, a shard of sculpture – and I stop to look. Because I might not know which grave they belong to, or the name of the person buried there,  but someone, sometime, cared enough to want them remembered. And so I think of all the Mrs. Mundays, throughout the ages, who seemed to have no one to remember them, but lived a life amongst us and left as quietly as they came.”


“A few weeks ago, my Beloved and I spent an afternoon mucking about making a plaster cast of our clasped hands. To be honest, it wasn’t a roaring success – somebody had difficulty with the instruction to “Just Keep STILL”), but it didn’t feel right to just bin the finished object.  So it sat on a shelf for a while.  And then this Kick-About came along, so I dusted it off, painted it with rather fusty yoghurt and rubbed dirt all over it… “



Gary Thorne

“I have not forgotten the impression Père Lachaise cemetery made upon me in the early 80s, it being an extraordinary place. Late 90’s, straddling a motorbike and touring Normandy, our adventure included regional cemeteries, which are fascinating too. Upon return, this drawing at 58cm x 78cm was produced, which since has been face to the wall. Thanks to the KA prompt, I’m revisiting this puzzling representation.” 


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Claire-Beth Gibson

“I suddenly remembered my idea this morning – and the fact I had not actually made it – so I rustled this up whilst still in my dressing gown. Cemeteries gross me out and my experiences have been grotesque and disorientating. I’ve lost two loved ones to the cold empty box of the same French grave. The absurdity of putting bodies into boxes into little stone houses. A conveyor belt of bodies. Trapped in boxes. In stone houses. The voice says: Dans une boîte / Perimé / Tous ensemble / Détaché : In a box / Expired / All together / Detached.”


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Vanessa Clegg

“I was reading an article about the proliferation of certain butterflies this year, particularly in graveyards. They think this is due to the policy of leaving areas wild and untended, allowing a more sympathetic environment for wildlife… With this in mind, I decided to create a ghostly mutant using a butterfly and the tiny skull of a vole (I think?) taken from an owl pellet. That clear wobbly call of the tawny owl being echoed and answered through the woods is both spine chilling and comforting, depending where you are, i.e. in bed! I like the idea of strange, unnatural creatures haunting the tombs… an uncharted world that ends at the gates.” Cyanotype. Butterfly and skull.


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Phil Gomm

“Our kitchen has an angled glass roof running the length of our side-return. Internally, it’s constructed so there is a narrow ledge at the top of the wall, on which the glass panels rest, producing a series of impossible-to-clean compartments. These same compartments are where too many be-winged things go to die during the summer months, as they first fly into the kitchen and then up towards the glass roof in a fateful bid for freedom. We rescue as many as we can, but not every butterfly and bumble bee is as lucky. So it is we have something of an insect necropolis this short distance above our breakfast table, and while it’s true I pressed their exquisite remains into the chalky embrace of some filler for the occasion of this Kick-About, no living bee or butterfly was harmed in the process.”


philgomm.com


James Randall

Please indulge my mind bouncing from Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris – home to Jim Morrison –  to Riders on the Storm, to a long country road trip, to a series of photos I took while driving past a huge truck – long vehicle as it was labeled. I combined them with a few cemetery, landscape, texture and other photos I had taken and featured the colour red. I ended up placing the 15 truck photos over 5 images and encased each image in a frame composed of chopped up gothic letter forms. I’ll let you come up with a narrative for the images, but I don’t want a ride from that truck driver (do you remember the old movie Duel?).



Kerfe Roig

“There were so many interesting graves and memorials. I spent a long time looking at them and reading about the people buried there.  But I kept coming back to the Holocaust Children’s Memorial designed by sculptor, Casto Solano.  Children who were not lucky enough to have graves with gravestones. I did two watercolors and embroidered similar figures to Solano’s metal outlines over them.  Before I was finished embroidering, I took one of them and taped it to the window, photographing it with the light shining through the needle holes.  None of the photos of the entire painting showed the pinpricks of light very well, but two of the close ups got the effect I was looking for.”



star children

stardust embodied–
matter merely a vessel
for luminous spirit–
did you find what was lost?

the spiraling center
returned to elemental form–
in life but not of it–
stardust embodied

opening into dreamtime,
orbiting the moon,
spinning to the fartheset away–
matter merely a vessel

empty spaces crossing
infinite galaxies–
wings sailing oceans
of luminous spirit

a welcoming heart, a gentle touch,
warm arms to enclose you
in peaceful sleep–
did you find what was lost?


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


When I was a child, the first few days of November always associated with Vesuvius – not the actual eruption that laid waste to Pompeii, but the rather rubbishy conical firework that often laid waste to my giddy expectations of giant sparks and shooting colour… and so, for your consideration and inspiration over these coming days, Turner’s 1817 painting, Mount Vesuvius in Eruption. Boom!



The Kick-About #63 ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi’


Our last Kick-About together was inspired by continual movement and the accompanying changes of scale and perspective. This week’s showcase of new works made in a short time is, by contrast, a mediation on silence and stillness, as we explore together the hushed, pensive environs that feature in the paintings of Vilhelm Hammershøi.


Graeme Daly

“Hammershøi’s paintings feel so breathy and poetic, like you are peeking into the lives of the mysterious figures. I can’t help but think of a Victorian doll house with all its little furniture placed exactly as the collector envisions. I was initially inspired by the gorgeous light throughout Hammershøi’s paintings and awoke at the crack of dawn to capture the sun as it pooled in through the shutters and windows where the light licked the walls, doors and wooden furniture. I decided at the last minute to perch myself in areas that could resemble the people in Hammershøi’s paintings and dressed myself in a darker colour palette to match. I edited out all the ugly stuff that could resemble a modern rented house in London, including cracks and fire exit signs. Our house is very old and shows a lot of wear and tear so removing those elements was exciting to get a glimpse of probably how it once was” 


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James Randall

Hammershøi’s images can be empty and silent, but to me they overflow with emotion. Recently I lost someone very dear and, during their final days, I took a few short pieces of iPhone video of stuff around me while time passed by. In response to the prompt I added some animation and sound. The final image was taken at a nearby river – there were no cockatoos around me but the sound of flocks of them carried from far down the river to me, speaking of the greatness of nature and the precious planet we seem to be incapable of leaving to its perfect and self sustaining self.



Kerfe Roig

As so often happens, this started out as something else, but I think in the end it works well for this prompt. I wanted to do a house.  I started with a box, collaging the inside to be a dreamlike claustrophobic maze of doors and windows.  This came out very much like I imagined it.  The exterior I’m still not sure about.  Is it four alternate universes, four nightmares?  I think I need to add some text to clarify (or perhaps, confuse).  So, a work in progress.


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Marion Raper

“I love the serene  and subdued art of Vilhelm Hammershøi.  Unfortunately, this is way out of my comfort zone and I have some difficulty with the quieter colour shades and tones. However, I decided to attempt an outside view with dappled sunlight scattered across a wooden panelled house of the sort you might find in Scandinavia.  With recent sad and solemn events I found creating this watercolour had a strange calming effect  – I only wish I could have done it justice.” 



Phil Cooper

“The silvery North-European light I’m so familiar with is captured beautifully in Vilhelm Hammershøi’s paintings. I’ve been living in Berlin for the the past three years, not very far from where he created many of his delicate, luminous canvases. I love his explorations in capturing muted light, and the pared-down domesticity of his quiet interiors. They are a little too quiet for me; my home looks nothing like this; we’ve painted our walls in dark, rich colours, every surface covered in a combination of knick-knacks, plants and the mundane detritus of modern-day living. Hammershøi often used his wife as a model in his pictures, but the reflective reserve of the woman appearing in his orderly rooms is a million miles from my husband lounging around in his underpants, eating crisps and leaving crumbs all over the sofa. So my contribution this week is a sort of anti-Hammershøi. I took some photos of my husband, Jan, one morning during a heatwave this summer. We’d closed the curtains in the living room to try and keep out the heat and the space turned into a sort of exotic underwater cave, made even more mysterious by the clouds of vape-smoke Jan was breathing into the thin shafts of molten light seeping in through chinks in the curtains. I loved our living room during that period, but now, with autumn approaching, the light is turning thinner and more brittle, rather more like a Hammershoi painting – although the clutter and the under-dressed husband are still very present.”


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Gary Thorne

“Stage designers jumped on the bandwagon promoting V.H.’s interiors, with some going quite big and beyond the need of the play. My inspiration credits film director Thomas Stuber, in particular his film IN THE AISLES, a most moving moody work. Making use of ‘crop’ and ‘effects’ I’ve tried complimenting the scene (25 minutes in from the start) where actor Franz Rogowski is very much alone, sat very still at his simple bed-sit desk, deep in thought. It’s a moment of great insight to a complex character. Rogowski has only to slightly shift his body knowing its plenty-enough to tell an in-depth narrative. “


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Phil Gomm

“Recently, I’ve been spending a bit of time in an old seaside department store, home to The Margate School, an art school and studio space for artists and makers. I’ve had some official duties to enact there, but found some time to roam about the building with my camera. In common with Hammershøi’s paintings there is a rich and wonderful stillness about some of the less-inhabited rooms and spaces in this big, old building, which boasts some big, old wonderful windows too.”


philgomm.com


Charly Skilling

“All I can say is these paintings made me think of moving house.” 



Vanessa Clegg

“What I’ve always admired about Hammershøi is his control both in the colour palette and subject matter. That cool northern light casting sharp cut out shapes on a wooden floor… a soft curtain lifting in  a cool breeze… sometimes just the empty room, sometimes the back of his wife… all echoing Vermeer in its quiet focus on the domestic…the silence is palpable.”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


And from the soundlessness and muted colour palette of Vilhelm Hammershøi, let’s hear it for artist Nick Cave and his flamboyant soundsuits – our next Kick-About prompt.



The Kick-About #62 ‘Powers Of Ten’


From the internal and endlessly expansive spaces of our memories, as inspired by our previous Kick-About together, we’re this week exploring the mind-boggling extremities of different scales, courtesy of Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 short film, Powers Of Ten. Enjoy this latest showcase of ‘new works made in a short time’, the big and the small and everything in-between.


James Randall

“As a youngster I recall the concept of infinity as an exciting concept that had huge at one end and tiny at the other. Then it got a bit messy and I threw in the concept of mother nature as a religion to cover the extremities. I approached this KA as a mechanical exercise where a square is 1×1 of a certain colour, 10×10 are lines across and down in the next colour wheel colour (and I varied the thickness of the lines and added some variation within the colour stop and the opacity to make it a bit more interesting), added another hatching of lines for 100×100 and another for1000x1000. I didn’t go further as this visual started to grey off. I then repeated the exercise with sets of adjacent squares and lines with an increase in colour wheel increments as I went along. Finally I went back to each layer and slightly messed up each layer either by moving or resizing them. Not unpleasant but meaningless.”



Vanessa Clegg

“Initially this flummoxed me despite loving the film… how do I react visually? Then, eureka,I realised the drawing I’ve been ,on and off, working on since lockdown would ‘sort of’ slot into the micro/macro thing. The idea behind it was based on my calendar where I diagonally cross off each day (otherwise I’d be walking in circles) alternating direction as I go. The gessoed board was divided into a tight grid so the lines filled each square gradually building a pattern which subconsciously reflected the curtains of my childhood home (weird. Anyway leaving areas clear or less worked and stepping back it becomes the. sky..no planes..no birds…silence…as I remember the atmosphere of 2020. Micro/macro.”


Pencil on gessoed board stained with blue oil paint. 4’ X 3’ (right hand section still being given final layer)

vanessaclegg.co.uk


Gary Thorne

“The camera distance to the mirror surface is .0003 of a kilometre, the distance from mirror surface to the actual object is 150.56 million kilometres, hence it being a blurry object, and the time of day is 14:16 with a current temperature of 25 degrees celsius.”    


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Charly Skilling

“Whilst thinking around the film ‘Power of Ten, I came across some images of the cellular structure of a sunflower’s stem and of sunflower pollen under the microscope. These images reminded me of  some  odd yarns  in my collection and all of a sudden I found myself building the various layers of a sunflower from  the centre out.   Like Topsy, it just grew and  grew, and by the time I had reached the countryside surrounding the sunflower fields, I had to call a halt. It was the opposite of disappearing down a rabbit-hole – I was in danger of disappearing into outer space! Great fun, though, as always!”



Phil Cooper

“I really enjoyed watching the film by Charles and Ray Eames, it took me straight back to my ‘70s childhood and adolescence, pre-internet, when occasionally I’d stumble across films like this on the TV and it would blow my mind.

Powers of Ten got me thinking about scale – albeit in a much more modest way than in the film – and I used some sketches I’d made of a clump of sea kale I’d photographed on Dungeness to make an image about a wood in late summer. I layered a couple of sketches and the plants started to look more like trees, laden with fruit. As the sea kale was growing right next to a nuclear power station, a radiation leak could turn them mutant, just like in the films, and they would grow into giants, so that the pea-sized seeds on the original plant become as big as apples.”