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.”    


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


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.”



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Graeme Daly

“This film made me think of how minute our little planet is, and wonder about the possibilities of life many light years away. I wonder what those other planets could look like and the beings who inhabit them? I decided to create some nebulas using the textures from a previous exhilarating Kick-About and stamped them onto simple 3D spheres, superimposing them atop those same textures, while painting galactic elements to create milky ways that possibly maybe could be…”


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Marion Raper

“This amazing film by Charles and Ray Eames reminded me about the relatively recent invention of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which is able to see further back in time than any other telescope has been able to.  It was originally designed to study some of the universe’s oldest galaxies and has a mirror that detects molecules such as water, CO2 and ammonia in the atmosphere of distant exoplanets, and the ice and dust that form stars, planets and comets. Scientists say studying these molecules and learning more about the chemical reaction that happens in these places will help us to understand how planetary systems form. This information could also tell us if the conditions for life are unique to our solar system. My collage artwork this time is an attempt to capture a view from JWST of a far off galaxy thousands of light years away.”



Kerfe Roig

“I enjoyed the video, but I really have no coherent explanation for the thought process that led me from there to here. I do know I think in circles, not boxes, when considering time and space. And it was such a bombardment, I felt I needed to be minimal. I used a variegated grey thread to try to create some shimmer. For my pantoum, I took part of an old poem about zero and combined it with words and ideas I wrote down from the narration.”



zero, or: without limits

the direction is lost–
distances traveled
waver and shift–
perspective changes

distances traveled
approach and return–
perspective changes,
light years converge

with approach and return,
darkness increases–
light years converge,
explode

darkness increases,
becomes empty,
explodes
into energy

becomes empty–
a transformation
into energy
at the center of nowhere

a transformation–
invisible, uncoiling
at the center of nowhere
inside time’s pocket

invisible, uncoiling,
wavering–shifting
inside time’s pocket–
the direction is lost


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Tom Beg

“This Kick-About submission ended up with a lot false starts and the remains of ideas scattered amongst the bits and bytes of a computer hard drive. A downfall of my own making perhaps. The deceptive simplicity of the depiction of scale and movement in Powers of Ten combined with the retro graphic design-ness of the imagery has always appealed to me, so in the end I just tried to tap into that and make something that appeared to be at once microscopic, abstract and graphical.”


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Colin Bean

After a bit of research into the works and inventions of the Eames, I put together something from the prompt film (space/movement) and married that to one of the company’s products – in this case, a deck of building cards. This deck consists of 45 cards, in nine sets of five sequential images. Each set starts with an image, then, from the same distance point, zooms in the five times until it ‘disappears’. As for the initial images, they are simply a record of what is in ‘spaces’ in the house, in cupboards or drawers…

For the backs, rather than a single icon, it’s more like the heavens of the original film, at least that’s where the idea came from. The photographs were not edited, so each sequence of five represents a single event. Each image was stuck onto ready-made blank playing cards, then laminated with transparent plastic and each one trimmed. The same for the backs. I don’t own a laminator but did invest in a cunning little hand-trimmer that rounded the corners. As for the cuts in the cards, they are not particularly beautiful and done with the help of two bits of wood marked with a 1cm line, two ‘G’ clamps and a junior hacksaw.

This Kick-About prompt was one which gave me lots of practical problems to solve in order to visualise what I had set out to do, and like so many ideas, this was one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration! For all that it was very satisfying and fun to be able to use them for building structures as originally intended.”



Phil Gomm

“So this one takes a bit of explaining! Short version is I wanted to produce something that got into the visual rhyming between the cosmic and the microscopic you see in Powers Of Ten, and likewise the graphical quality of its art direction. For The Kick-About #46, I subjected everyone to macro-photographs of the human litter dusting various surfaces in my home. I decided to use these same photographs as the starting point for my response, and started by spherizing them digitally (over and over again), so as to produce ‘planets’ from them (or molecules?). In part, I was prompted by another Kick-About, and this time was able to produce these little animated loops by running each of the photographs together to make footage, in which the effect of spherizing the original photographs multiple times has been too soften their respective surfaces into these seemingly ‘hand-drawn’ sequences. To emulate some of the ‘maths’ in the Powers of Ten, I then composited some concentric circles over the top of these animated loops. I don’t really have a final outcome, so what I’ve gathered here are a collection of results. They might be particles or elements of some periodic table, or eggs, or maps, or other sorts of diagrams, but it was a lot of fun engineering them from a largely automatistic approach to ‘seeing what happens’.”




philgomm.com


And so, from the infinite bounds of the cosmos and abstractions of innerspace to the pensive domestic subjects that feature in the paintings of Danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershøi. Have fun and see you on the other side.



The Kick-About #61 ‘I Remember’


Our last Kick-About together was a celebration of the idea of tea-making, tea-drinking, and its various rituals. Without this activity, with its powers of comfort and displacement, I wonder sometimes how we would otherwise negotiate some of life’s disappointments, large and small. Disappointment is one of the themes of Molly Drake’s I Remember, and it is Drake’s delicate, if devastating song that has this week inspired us to produce new works in a short time.


Marion Raper

My story begins with our family holiday to Dorset. It was probably early 60s and I think we were staying in Swanage. We were usually quite lucky with the weather, but it was not to be this time. As we had no car then, my parents decided on taking a nice coach trip to Lulworth Cove which was a famous beauty spot not far along the coast. My sister and I wore our summer dresses and warm hand knitted cardigans, as it was getting a bit chilly, but when we arrived at our destination the heavens opened and rain looked likely to be set in for the rest of the day.

‘Quick – let’s run up to that beach shop’ said mum. ‘We’ll buy something waterproof there for you both.’

My heart sank, as I could see at a glance it was a typical seaside shop that sold everything from buckets and spades to thermos flasks, and Mary Quant it was not!

So in we went and the kind lady behind the counter said, ‘I have the very thing – plastic macs!” My heart sank even further. She proceeded to pull out a white one for my sister, which had a small plastic headscarf, and as she was 4 years younger than me, it looked quite cute. However, despite a long search, there didn’t appear to be another in my size. Hooray!

Then just as I thought I had escaped, she found another bigger mac tucked away beneath the rest and, horror of horrors, it was luminous pink! I mean ‘day glow’ and ‘get your sunglasses on’ pink. (I know the sixties fashion was all about these bright colours, but this must have been very much a forerunner!). Even worse it had a matching hat, rather like an upturned flowerpot, that tied under the chin.

‘That’s just the job!’ said mum.

I spent the rest of the day skulking along the shoreline, trying desperately to hide amongst the overturned boats, but there was no way I could disguise myself; if I had stood on some rocks, I could have done a turn as a lighthouse beacon!

So that is my memory of Lulworth Cove, which is a place of peaceful serenity and muted beauty to many, but all I remember is psychedelic misery!



Charly Skilling

“The source of much pain (for the individual) and much humour (for the group) lies in the gap between one’s aspirations (or expectations), and one’s achievements. This is particularly true when we are young and in love. We want to be ‘soul-mates’ with our loved one – to share the same experiences, the same emotions, the same memories. Alas, it is rarely achievable. We recognise Molly Drake’s pain, because we have felt it too. But it also raises a wry smile. For we have learnt, as we grow within a relationship, that no two people experience any shared event in the same way. So we adjust our expectations accordingly.

By the time we have aged within that relationship, we come to recognise that it is an achievement for any shared experience to be remembered by both of us at all, without several minutes of dispute over location time of year, weather, and reason for being there. And why is it that I find I cannot remember the name of a place, I cannot remember how to get there, or why – but I can remember exactly what we ate and the colour of the waitress’s nail polish? What’s all that about?”



Colin Bean

“This one was a bit of a late starter for me. Having given some early thought to it and tinkered with water colour washes as a response to the words, the result didn’t quite live up to my expectations . Initially I was thinking in terms of printed textiles based on the stanzas and 1950’s, but a few scribbles and doodles confirmed that wasn’t ready to work for me. So it rested until almost the deadline and, as a final go at it,  I tried cutting up the original into sections  and rearranging in an effort to express the ‘you and me ‘ idea. That practice put me in mind of putting together a shade card.

In this one, ‘me’ is represented by colours for Molly’s words. ‘You’ are the stencils that stand separate until used on Molly’s colours, and that combination can be read as the ‘we’… though here, as in the poem, the two together do not represent a happy ‘we’ of Molly’s expectations.

The card is done from scratch and the colour swatches are gouache and then laminated. The script is traced from the text using a Word font. The miniature stencils are handcut and pierced oiled card. Yet another very interesting  Kick-About for me and a real challenge to express an ‘abstract’ visually.”



Vanessa Clegg

“Both of these pieces come under the headings of love / regret / romance and memory, all of which are sparked off by this prompt…”


“Goodbye to all that” oil on gesso on board. 60cm X 60cm

“Always” Stitching on old handkerchief and oil paint on waxed paper

vanessaclegg.co.uk


Graeme Daly

“Molly Drake’s words brought a tear to my eye, how such a poet can write something so striking about the melancholic juxtaposition of both light and dark. It brought back memories of people that have come and gone out of my life but also the places where those memories and faces come bubbling up when passing in a car or walking past a particular patch of land, like reveries of times I will never forget.”


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Phil Cooper

“What a wonderful song by Molly Drake, and so beautifully sung. This piece of music is like a faded old photograph, looking back at a bittersweet time, the little vignettes of holidays and days out are achingly nostalgic.

I’ve been on both sides of the dynamic expressed in this song at one time or another and either position is just grim and sad. I did some sketches this week in response to the prompt about a weekend trip with one of my first boyfriends over thirty years ago. We stayed in a guest house and went for a walk to a beautiful waterfall nearby, It should have been a carefree, loved-up, fun few days, full of laughter and lovemaking, but I’d reached the point when I realised I didn’t want to take the relationship much further but my boyfriend did and we separated soon after getting home.

This waterfall makes me think of that lost weekend. I wasn’t really mature enough at the time for a serious relationship; it would be some time before I was emotionally grown-up enough for that . I hope that boyfriend is happy now, wherever he is. He was a lovely guy.”


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Phil Gomm

“You might consider this a sequel of sorts, as back in March 2021, when Ole Worm’s cabinet of curiosities was our collective muse, I photographed and catalogued a selection of my own keepsakes, the emotional importance of which I couldn’t actually remember. Molly Drake’s ‘I Remember’ isn’t so much about the fallibility of memory, but rather the different ways in which we remember the same thing. Drake’s song also captures very truthfully how the significance of something can be quite wasted on someone else – even those closest to us. With this in mind, I turned my attention to some of the objects with which I share my home, but with which I have no emotional association, but which resonate very powerfully with my husband. I see a rather retro-looking glass paperweight, while my husband experiences a Proustian rush returning him at once to the comforts of his grandparents’ home and all the love he found there. There are objects collected here the provenance of which is still unknown to me, and their emotional heft as mysterious, but ‘he remembers firelight’.”


philgomm.com


Gary Thorne

“Back to jugs. Hoping a narrative might be staged within a shared space, in order to portray intimacy and separation and where the suggestion of alternate ‘points of view’ (that which each jug points to) draws a parallel to Molly Drake’s poem. Respecting the natural linen and pencil line seemed the right approach in order to deliver something feeling a little more natural than a paint saturated canvas at 30x30cm.”


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Kerfe Roig

“I wasn’t aware of Nick Drake’s heritage, but Molly’s song immediately made me think of ‘River Man. I took the feeling I got from both songs, and made a prose poem, then some art to accompany it.”



Fragmentations

She did not remember the way, but she remembered the times, the place. She wanted to connect present to past. She did not know how or where to begin, and yet she needed to try to construct that bridge. Words were all she had now.

Two ways, really, even though she always pretended they were the same. Or maybe it was only her longing that failed to understand that they were two, not one.

She had been dreaming of a river. A man, a boat. Trees, weeping, or was that her own voice, crying on the wind? It had been summer once. Flowered. Sweet.

But here was the river again, littered with fallen leaves. What magic word would turn back the seasons, dispel the haze, repair a lifetime that had already disintegrated into dust?

Was she coming or going? In her dreams a voice kept repeating you have to choose. But between what? Who? Did she get to choose who would be waiting on the other side of the river? Or was she to be the one left waiting?

kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


With thanks to regular Kick-Abouter, Tom Beg, we have our latest prompt, the short 1977 film Powers Of Ten, directed by Charles and Ray Eames.



The Kick-About #60 ‘A Chawan Is A Bowl’


I wonder if Augustus Osbourne Lamplough (our previous Kick-About prompt) ever sipped tea as he laboured at his paintings under some far-off afternoon sun? We’ll never know, but tea is clearly a tonic for the Kick-About collective, as these latest examples of new works made in a short time will illustrate.


Kerfe Roig

“I constructed my chawan of tea-dyed paper—the outside of watercolor paper, the inside a coffee filter.  The tea leaves took to each in a different way. I found a paper plate bowl online, and copied the pattern, then sewed my vessel together in my own (imperfect) way.  It resembles birchbark baskets made by Native Americans more than Japanese ceramics, and certainly would hold no liquid.  But the spirit invoked is the same.”


Rituals evolve–
each step repeated, echoed,
but never mirrored
exactly, never complete.
We construct vessels
to replace our ungrown wings–
imperfect, always–
impossible, fragile, filled
with hope—windblown, weathered, found.


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Tom Beg

“I wasn’t really aiming for any kind of authenticity with these. In fact, I believe the shapes are more appropriate for drinking alcohol rather than tea. Instead, I just had a bit of fun playing around with form and colour to generate these drinking vessel-like things, that may or may not be reminiscent of Japanese tea cups.”


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Vanessa Clegg

“This week I decided to experiment and play around so using PVA, opened-out tea bags and cling film. I moulded a couple of containers (bowls) with loose tea trapped between the layers. After that, I used torches to light through and some of the close-ups became a bit celestial! The last image of the hand was attempting to show tea turning to gold, as Empire cashed in on the underpaid toil of hundreds of tea plantation pickers.”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Marion Raper

When I researched the art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, I found it quite amazing how much is involved.  There are not just the tea bowls, but so many special whisks, pots and ladles, as well as special rooms for preparation and waiting rooms (is that while waiting for tea to brew correctly or maybe some beautiful lady to come and pour it out?). Anyway, it all involves such precision. I have tried to show this in my watercolour and fine line painting, which is a style I really enjoy doing.



Phil Gomm

“I had to laugh a little bit when I saw Phil Cooper’s choice of prompt for this week’s Kick-About; of late, I’ve spent a lot of my time painting and decorating, as our house has been looking very ‘lived-in’ and was in need of some care and attention. Less poetically, this has entailed the mixing-up of lots of filler, to apply liberally to the various cracks and craters in our old walls. In truth, I actually love working with filler: I love how perfectly white it is, and how the powder transforms into something as pleasingly spreadable as cake-mixture. I wondered if I could use the filler to produce a few simple bowls, not suited for tea-drinking obviously, and set about slathering it over a balloon-or-two. In lieu of any decorative glazes, I picked a few flowers from the garden and crushed some coloured chalks and squidged these elements against the surface of the balloon beneath big dollops of filler. I then used a knife to spread the filler over and around the balloon to create the rough shape of a bowl. Filler is designed to dry really fast, so you’ve got a bit of time to muck about with it – but not much. The three bowls I’ve included here are the first three I made; there was a fourth, but I broke it. I enjoyed making them a lot and could have go on to make many, many more – but there was this other small matter of finishing the actual decorating…”



philgomm.com


Graeme Daly

“I was instantly drawn to the textures of these gorgeous Chawans, I can only imagine the craftsmanship that goes into creating those intricate glazes. I am a bit of a hunter-gatherer of textures and enjoy capturing the small things that make something whole, so I decided to cherry pick from the mountain of textures I have stored in a number of hard drives and superimpose them in a way that might look like some of those textures that make up Chawans. Some textures in there include; dirt, mold, water, rust, snow, moss, plants, and a hefty amount of ice. It is always a pleasure creating in this way as there is always an air of mystery as I never know how they will turn out.”


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Gary Thorne

“This still life, started in Gloucestershire around 2012 reached completion in Kent for KA60 hence, a view of Isle of Sheppey from Harty Ferry south side. My research tells me the wide-mouthed chawan is ideal for summer, as it cools tea quicker. The cast-iron Tetsubin (featured) is actually the kettle and not a tea pot so, whats missing is the brewing Dobin (ceramic pot) or the Tetsukyusu (iron pot with enamel interior) so, basically I’ve failed to portray the ritual properly! Back to the drawing board…”      


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Colin Bean

“The prompt of an ancient tea cup seemed to beg for a still life painting. I haven’t painted with oils for a long time and then not very much and have kept nothing, though two paintings do adorn friends’ walls. I felt the Kick-About environment a perfect way to have another go at painting with oils. As for the subject, I have  a bunch of  vintage and antique tea cups, but nothing as old and venerable as the pictured prompt. However, I am total sucker for this green and white tableware from Austria. The ‘Gmundner Keramik’ factory is still producing, and traces its roots to 1492… The pictured pieces themselves are 50’s and later decorated in their ‘grün geflammt’ classic patterns.

To get to this stage of the painting was done in two short sessions: a scratchy sketch and then, the next day, the painting done in one go… sort of ‘alla prima’. The canvas was scraped and cleaned from a previous disaster, (Kick-About / Matisse) and together with the paints, came from a bargain shop. I did use a drying medium and invested in a large tube of mixing white. It was a bit wet on wet, with too short a time between the two layers for the paint to cure properly. But yet again so much learnt and so much still to learn, another great time with this one and much enjoyed. Paul Cezanne said, ‘With an apple I will astonish Paris’. In my painting there are two apples, but I doubt they will astonish anyone…”



Charly Skilling

“While exploring the art and intricacies of the tea ceremonies of Japan and  China, it struck me that  the British have also developed many forms of tea ritual over the centuries since we were first introduced to this fragrant tonic. Many of these rituals faded almost to extinction in the latter part of the 20th century, with the ubiquitous upsurge in coffee-drinking. But tea has made something of a comeback, evolving, fragmenting and adapting to meet the needs of the 21st century Brit.  Of course, different generations and different environments require different rituals.  My beloved and I went into a café once, when we were on holiday, and the following conversation took place :-

Waiter: What can I get you, sir?
Beloved: Coffee for me, please.
Waiter: Expresso, latte, cappuccino?
Beloved: Just ordinary coffee, please
Waiter: Milk or cream?
Beloved: Just ordinary coffee with milk.
Waiter: That would be a Flat American, sir.
Beloved: Fine.
Waiter: Anything else, sir?
Beloved: A tea for my wife, please.
Waiter: English Breakfast?
Beloved: No thanks, We ate at the hotel.
(At which point, the waiter gave up the struggle).

I digress.  So back to British tea rituals and the proliferation of varieties and styles in serving tea. One area of ritual that never entirely died away, especially amongst  a certain sub-sect of English middle-class women (myself included) are those rituals surrounding “Hosting a Committee Meeting in One’s Own Home”.  I am sure the following will seem quite bizarre to some of you, but I hope it chimes, however faintly, with some of you.”



And for our next Kick-About together, a melancholy wisp of a thing from Molly Drake…


We tramped the open moorland in the rainy April weather
And came upon the little inn that we had found together
The landlord gave us toast and tea and stopped to share a joke
And I remember firelight
I remember firelight
I remember firelight
And you remember smoke

We ran about the meadow grass with all the harebells bending
And shaking in the summer wind a summer never-ending
We wandered to the little stream among the river flats
And I remember willow trees
I remember willow trees
I remember willow trees
And you remember gnats

We strolled the Spanish marketplace at 90 in the shade
With all the fruit and vegetables so temptingly arrayed
And we can share a memory as every lover must
And I remember oranges
I remember oranges
I remember oranges
And you remember dust

The autumn leaves are tumbling down and winter’s almost here
But through the spring and summertime we laughed away the year
And now we can be grateful for the gift of memory
For I remember having fun
Two happy hearts that beat as one
When I had thought that we were “we”
But we were “you and me”.



Short Story: The Dining Room (2022)


The idea for this story came quickly, inspired in part by the conflict going on between the domesticity of the subject in Henri Matisse’s 1908 painting, Harmony In Red (our latest Kick-About prompt), and the roar of its redness, like a sudden rush of feeling, something eruptive and less civilised. I was excited too by the strangeness of Matisse’s perspective, a world shunted off-kilter unexpectedly, and likewise by the very idea of Fauvism itself and all its ‘wild beasts’.


You can find a PDF version here.


The Kick-About #58 ‘Harmony In Red’


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


Jan Blake

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


janblake.co.uk


Charly Skilling

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



Jordan Buckner

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



www.jordanbuckner.co.uk


Graeme Daly

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


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


Gary Thorne

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


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Marion Raper

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



Kerfe Roig

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


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Phil Gomm

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


You can find a PDF version here.

philgomm.com


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



The Oblivion Three (2022)


With Mervyn Peake’s drawings laying down the gauntlet for The Kick-About 57, I decided to attempt some character drawings of my own, as inspired by the trio of villains in my own work of fantastic fiction, Chimera. I don’t really draw, or identify as someone who does, but this bloody Kick-About business keeps prompting me to make exceptions to this and have a go. In common with my approach to these self-portraits, I kept drawing and re-drawing onto the same bits of paper, using the eraser as much as anything else to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I’d say the final illustrations were not so much ‘drawn’ as materialised out of a succession of mistakes, but anyway here they are: the Berserker, the Tealeaf, and Madame Chartreuse, and for your listening pleasure, a short extract from the Chimera audio book, in which the Oblivion Three first make their proper appearance…






The Kick-About #57 ‘Mervyn Peake’


From the percussive, delineated sound-shapes of a Sandy Nelson drum solo, our muse for our previous Kick-About, we are this week riffing on the appreciably softer tones of the drawings by Mervyn Peake, and likewise the richness of his imaginary worlds and all their eccentric inhabitants.


Jordan Buckner

“It’s hard to resist that textural ink approach Peake was famous for. I recognised some of Peake’s work but didn’t have a great knowledge on who he was, or what his work amounted to. It’s wonderful to see that even in his more observational work, that gothic storytelling still feels present.”


www.jordanbuckner.co.uk


Judy Watson

“There’s much to explore in response to Peake’s work, and I don’t think I can do it on one hit, so let us see where it takes me. But to begin with, it has taken me back to two mediums I loved in earlier years but have neglected more recently.

Pen and ink. Obviously this is all about the line. But it’s also about embracing a medium that can’t or won’t be fully controlled. I worked pretty small with these and just enjoyed making lots of small doodles. Perhaps some more finished work will come later.”



And charcoal or soft pastel. This is less about the line and more about the tone, but really it’s a delicate balance of both. And there’s an element of mystery that comes from the smudgy indistinctness. It feeds the imagination. I haven’t found my mojo again with this quite yet, but I have been enjoying the start of the journey.


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


Graeme Daly

“Some quick 2 minute sketches of Irish landscapes inspired by Peake’s illustrations.”


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


Francesca Maxwell

“Mervyn Peake! One of the best. The Gormenghast books resonated with me on so many layers with the vivid imagery and the Chinese undertones. No wonder his writing is so intertwined to his drawings and paintings, and to his poetry.  I also use crosshatchings, and often pen and ink, in my drawings and sketches, and also have used it in my drypoint etchings.  I have dozens of them, as I am sure all of you have; sketches while traveling; scribbles of shapes, movements and actions; imaginary places out of moods and dreams; quick ideas for designs and paintings etc. etc. I put together few here that, for me catch the often dark mood in Peake’s drawings.” 


www.FBM.me.uk


Phil Cooper

“I didn’t get through Gormenghast when I tried to read it as a teenager, but its otherworldly gothic atmosphere and Mervyn Peake’s peculiar illustrations stayed with me. This prompt is a welcome opportunity to return to that strange world.  I’ve used collage to build a fragment of Gormenghast Castle, layering battlements, turrets and towers to try and create a place that is at once vaguely familiar and frustratingly impenetrable. As I worked on the photos of the images I started to see them as ideas for the endpapers of a 1960s edition of the books. I was happy with the vintage look and I can see how this technique could be developed further; I find the Kick-About often does this and gives rise to ideas that could run and run.”


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


Marion Raper

As I love castles, I decided to do an illustration of my version of Gormenghast. I have never read any of Mervyn Peake’s books, but I do remember watching the Gormenghast series on TV a very long time ago, which left an impression on me – mainly because it was so depressing!  I have since found out that Peake was one of the first civilians to enter the German concentration camp of Belsen as a war artist.  No wonder his art and literature was affected by this from then on. I used some of my marbled paper I have produced, as a background, and my artwork was based on Thirlstone Castle on the Scottish Borders. It was built in 1590, has wonderful gothic towers and is still a family home today.



Colin Bean

“It’s been a long time since I read the Titus Trilogy but forever memorable. I played with the idea of using one of his rich texts but I felt that wasn’t quite ‘it’, so scribbled out an attempt to invent some additional personages. I am no writer but embarked on some descriptions which simply grew into the text/narrative here. It did not take long to write, though I type badly and with dodgy eyesight and there may well be a myriad of typos for which I apologise, but hope they won’t irritate.



The three drawings are of the envisaged household set as a triptych (like some Japanese wood block prints). Fineliners, watercolour pencils, calligraphic ink, and a little gold acrylic was used on standard copy paper. Cheap, it is but not always kind to media. Once I had established the characters I spent a time juggling and balancing the elements. which took a fair amount of scanning/copying/tracing. Working on this prompt I found myself back doing ‘Fashion Design’ at art school and working in the industry.



Phil Gomm

“With Mervyn Peake’s drawings laying down the gauntlet, I decided to attempt some character drawings of my own, as inspired by the trio of villains in my own work of fantastic fiction, Chimera. I don’t really draw, or identify as someone who does, but this bloody Kick-About business keeps prompting me to make exceptions to this and have a go. In common with my approach to these self-portraits, I kept drawing and re-drawing onto the same bits of paper, using the eraser as much as anything else to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I’d say the final illustrations were not so much ‘drawn’ as materialised out of a succession of mistakes, but anyway here they are: the Berserker, the Tealeaf, and Madame Chartreuse, and for your listening pleasure, a short extract from the Chimera audio book, in which the Oblivion Three first make their proper appearance…”


philgomm.com


Gary Thorne

“M Peake has opened the door to caricatures, and caricatures of friends spin-off in their own direction: Sue’s tennis racket shaped wind turbine propelling her seaside beach hut antics; and the bearded Wojtek’s keen obsession with pruning in inappropriate footwear. Another enjoyable KA up-cycling project which made time fly…”     



linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Kerfe Roig

“Mervyn Peake’s drawings, especially the ones with writing on the page, reminded me of another series I did at the beginning of my blogging life that I called “In the News”. I would draw a photo from the day’s newspaper and write a haiku-like poem to accompany it. I think it fell by the wayside during one of my many moves, but Peake inspired me to revive it.”


Karen 1
What’s in any name?
The face is warm, kind, thoughtful–
yes, overflowing

“I saw this woman’s face in the obituaries and was immediately drawn to its warmth. The name Karen has become associated negatively with an entitled white woman, but each individual brings their own aura to the name they have been given. This is a woman I would have liked to know.”


First Responders
nightmares afterward–
random things collapsing–go
on, but remember

“On the first anniversary of the Surfside apartment collapse in Florida, the Times interviewed relatives, survivors, and first responders. The words of my poem are taken from the interview with these three police officers who were among the first on the scene.”


Anna
Guilty of Nothing–
who can say that? are you not
also a human?

“Anna Netrebko is an international star in the opera world. A friend of Putin’s, she has refused to criticize him, although she says she does not support the war. As a result she has been banned from performing in many places. Her defiant words, “I am guilty of nothing!” made me think both about innocence as a concept, and how and if we should separate the lives of artists from the work that they do.”


Phatima
to be who I am–
to celebrate myself, free
both inside and out

“The Times featured a book put together by Harry James Hanson and Devin Atherus that profiles older drag performers. They saw it as a way to honor “queer elders” who were not included in the popular culture celebration of youthful drag. Phatima Rude was another person whose face attracted me with its warmth and sparkle.”


Paolo
body expression–
style in both movement and ink–
each its own story

“Paolo Banchereo was the Number One pick in the NBA draft this year. He is well known not only for his stellar play, but for the story his body tells with its many tattoos.”

kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


And for our next creative challenge, a sumptuous hit of famously saturated colour. Dessert anyone?



The Kick-About #55 ‘Basquiat’


Our last Kick-About together was characterised by a whirl of ingenuity, with our community of artists reaching for ad-hoc materials and digging out old tools by which to produce their ‘new works in a short time’. With Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings as this edition’s start-point, the range of work is no less inventive, and in common with Basquiat’s Untitled (1981), offers up an intriguing x-ray of the creative mind.


Graeme Daly

“Some expressionistic ramblings for this Basquiat prompt, feeling very much cathartic and automatic. I am sure there’s some hidden meanings in there somewhere!”


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


Francesca Maxwell

“I always find Basquiat fascinating, mostly because I cannot paint like him, so it is a sort of magic to me.  To try and paint something inspired by him was a challenge, and, at the same time, it gave me a sense of freedom I haven’t felt in my creative endeavours for a while. 

In the last few months I had a painting in my head which I couldn’t express. I had heart surgery to remove a tumour and wanted to paint the experience somehow, and Basquiat’s rich and symbolic, and, at the same time, innocent style seemed to be a good way. So this is painting over an old painting, multi layered and using different techniques.” “To My Heart’s Content” Inks, acrylic and crayons on paper. 76×56 cm.


www.FBM.me.uk


Kerfe Roig

“Skulls are ubiquitous in the work of Basquiat. He’s also famous for using whatever material he had at hand–newspaper, cardboard, a refrigerator, a door.  I’ve been meaning to revive my Headline Haiku series, that I did when Nina and I started the blog, using the news in the newspaper to collage or stitch or draw on and words from the accompanying articles for haiku-like poems.  In the past I’ve cut out actual headlines, or fed text into an online poetry generator, but in this case I did blackout poems from the news stories.

I used two pages from the war in Ukraine, one about the million deaths in the US from Covid, and one listing the gun-supporting Republicans with quotes from them about guns, along with how much money they get from the NRA, as backdrops for some skulls painted somewhat in the style of Basquiat. I believe were he still alive he would find all of those issues to be fodder for his work. At any rate, I’m hoping for some cheerier news soon.  At least you have the Queen to distract you for a few days…





kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Gary Thorne

Lucian Freud’s dynamic portrait of ER II immediately sprang to mind. Freud and Basquiat’s portraits share a bold three-dimensionality carved out in 2-D. With ER II proving hard to ignore, all cupboards were raided for this project. 1952 features on the front propellor whilst 2022 adorns its rear, throwing ER I into the mix and, ‘spiking ER II’ a-top a candlestick base added up to a crazy-fun KA!”


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


James Randall

“When I was ignorantly young I found a portal into the Andy Warhol world through his Interview magazine and discovered this street artist – so exciting! This Kick-About I implored Gary Thorne to allow me to use his selfie (and ultimately his last KA effort as well) to memorialise his and my husband’s 1978 excursion to the Venice Biennale (as Gary has just returned from this year’s event.) There were so many birds in the previous KA that I mistook Gary’s swimmer for a bird-like manifestation, so this round he became a yellow breasted Gary with masked plumage, and my husband became a crested red legged Gerry! ‘New is bad’ is a recent thought bubble about the environment, but I thought a bit of graffiti text and bright colour might edge me towards a KA pass (sorry Jean-Michel). It was also a bit of a play with composition, dividing the picture plane left right 50:50 then the left half 50:50 then the bottom left quarter 50:50. Bit of a miss mash image but fun to do.”



Phil Gomm

“I took the opportunity of this latest prompt to do something I don’t usually do or identify with particularly, which was to style myself as a ‘painter’, and undertake some expressionist self-portraits. The last time I did a self-portrait, it was in black biro pen and completed about twenty-five years ago, so I knew I was going to have to work-up to producing something. With this in mind, I set myself the restriction of working on one piece of yellow A2 paper, and working fast (20 minute stints) and using wax crayons, chalks and acrylic paint squeezed straight from the tube – and painting on top, and over, all previous various efforts. This way I hoped I could accumulate enough energy and courage to arrive at something I might otherwise have struggled to envision or produce, and move myself away from worrying too much about accuracy in favour of semblances. Now I have to laugh though, with the faces looking back at me ranging from Rasputin, the mad monk, to Max von Sydow as Flash Gordon’s Ming the Merciless! They all look rather sad, or haughty, or haunted. A bit taken back, people sometimes say to me, ‘How can you write those nasty little short stories of yours? You seem like such a nice bloke.’ Haha. I think ‘the bloke’ in some of these portraits is better placed to answer that question.”


philgomm.com


Phil Cooper

“Jean-Michel Basquiat is an artist I’ve often heard mentioned but knew very little about,  so after I saw the new Kick-About prompt I went and watched a few documentary films online to find out more. I admire how quickly and freely he worked. I read he used to work on several images at a time, with the TV on, music blaring, and reference books open everywhere. I think my head would explode if I tried something similar, but I can see how such an approach could stop you thinking too much, you’d just get into a flow of responses which could be creatively liberating.  I made some paper collages with this aspect of Basquiat’s process in mind, and forced myself to work quickly, trying not to judge what I was doing; just put an image down, snap a photo, then rearrange and do another one.” 


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


Marion Raper

“It is a strange coincidence that this time the Kick-About concerns a wonderful picture of a head by Jean-Michel Basquiat, as I have recently spent some time in A and E with a fractured jaw! The body is an amazing concept with its own protective mechanisms which,until we do something to ‘test it’ so to speak, we have no knowledge of (although I wouldnt recommend this!). For example, swelling around a damaged bone as protection ,and also bone spicules, which are little unwanted slithers of tooth/bone which work their way out through the gums to help the healing process. Amazing! No wonder Jean-Michel was intrigued as a boy after his broken arm and spleen surgery… My collage was done a while ago using cut scraps from a magazine, and the portrait is from a recent art class – which really made me concentrate on bone structure.”



Charly Skilling

“Jean-Michel Basquiat is new to me, and I was drawn to his use of colour and the strong sense of playfulness in some of his work.  When I saw  his Dinosaur (Pez Dispenser), it immediately brought a broad smile to my face and memories of Pez dispensers I have known (mostly Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Pluto that I recall, though I am sure there have been many more over the years! Did you know you can still get them? On Amazon, of course. Amazing!) Anyway, Basquiat’s dinosaur got me thinking about how I would create its like in crochet and my path was set.”



Colin Bean

Three related graffiti images appeared en route (on pathway, road and wall) between my home and the supermarket, each outline in a different situation, but all with a red spray can ‘shot’ in the head. The wall version is pictured running from a large white cloud with the word ‘Life’ centred in it, and the colours used are red, white and black. The narrative of my panel re-uses  those images  and adds to it associated human and animal ‘chance encounters and irrational meetings’ on the walk. The panel itself recollects a much larger French tapestry. Not far off what the Surrealists and Dadaist were trying out and experimenting with in the 20’s.

The central panel is satin stitch, and detail are simple straight stitch or zig zag, the dots hole-punched in card, used as stencil with a felt tip. The design was reversed and traced with an embroidery pencil onto ordinary tracing paper… you just iron on and the lines transfer. The narrow panels are just freely stitched with separated threads of tapestry wool. The cans were internet images cut up and zig zagged on, as were the scrap white cotton for the bags. Cannabis leaves were felt tipped in before embroidery. The two lines above and below the text were ‘built in’ embroidery stitches already in the sewing machine. The lettering was hand-drawn with no font used, and as for the coloured lettering, that’s created with thread that is bought already randomly variegated, so the colour changes as you stitch.”



Vanessa Clegg

“Some of Basquiat’s portraits have a kind of looseness that looks like threads unravelling, so it got me to once more reach for the sewing bag and start stitching. Building the colours and trying to get a ‘drawn’ element, this eventually resulted in ‘Eve.’ – a bit of a crazed-looking individual, but a great way to work (ie: starting with no idea what to do but letting it evolve) for someone who researches and plans assiduously, so another triumph for the Kick-About in it’s continual way of challenging and stimulating through each prompt. So glad to be back!”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Thanks to crochet queen and regular Kick-Abouter, Charly Skilling, we have a brand new prompt: “Drum roll, please…”



Short Story: Toupie (2022)


You can thank Tod Browning’s notorious 1932 film, Freaks, for what follows, which is certainly one of the most vivid circus-centric narratives I know. The important thing about Browning’s unfairly maligned movie is where the director puts our sympathies – we are never in any doubt – and likewise the age-old question it asks as to the difference between men and ‘monsters’. I’m not going to say much more about the short story that follows, except to say it was written for The Kick-About No.53, and inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting of a clown performing with his black pig, and also this: The Greatest Showman it is not.


You can find a PDF version here


The Kick-About #53 ‘At The Circus’


The last edition of The Kick-About marked our second birthday and two year’s of fortnightly creative challenges encouraging artists of all stripes to make new work in a short time. As such, it was something of a three-ringed circus, an eclectic, celebratory showcase with a little bit of something for everyone. How appropriate then our first prompt of the new Kick-About year should focus our attention on the circus paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec. ‘Roll up, roll up!’


Tom Beg

“I was instantly drawn to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s line drawings that he produced much earlier in his career, and felt perhaps there was a way to capture the immediacy, simplicity and instinctiveness of those sketches with the modern digital tools I typically use. Channelling the spirit of an earlier Kick-About, Herzog’s Dancing Chicken, which also evoked manic movement and energy, I just applied the same techniques but attempted to reduce it down even more. I think there is an entire series to be made of these at some point!”


twitter.com/earthlystranger / vimeo.com/tombeg / tombeg.com


Colin Bean

“I was about eight (late fifties) when, on a Saturday afternoon, the treat was a trip to the circus that had arrived in town. It was traditional in every way, clowns, band, ringmaster, plumed horses  and glamorous riders, acrobats, contortionist, flying trapeze, performing chimps, lions and tamers, tigers and camels.  My great Uncle Arthur was a forward agent for circuses, and I believe he supplied some free tickets. By that time, he had taken over a zoo and kept chimps and a lion called Sultan, amongst others animals. The zoo, and an accompanying Archery Stall, was in Ramsgate on the far end of the sea front, and at the time, part of the complex of amusements known as ‘Merrie England’ (later ‘Pleasurama’).  I doubt if it was that merrie or pleasurable for the animals. Welfare and safety concerns were soon to radically change the idea of circus and zoos. For me, this Kick-About is about nostalgia, and the memory of Merrie England, the circus and zoo, and great Uncle Arthur…”



James Randall

“Toulouse: What a great prompt. We don’t see a lot of his work down here but his use of colour certainly has burnt into my mind. I was a bit short of time, though I think I got the essence of what I was after – would benefit from actually being painted. I saw a man dangling from ropes cleaning an old brick building with a high pressure water hose – bit like an acrobat – with an audience at the stop lights. I was thinking of the figure with the ropes pressing around him and experimented with photographing a pillow tied up with string – not wanting to throw the images out, I put them in the background building’s windows (who knows what goes on in the buildings we walk past every day!) I kind of turned the image from day to night and took the photos to use as spotlights behind the dangling man. Anyway fodder for a later project perhaps.”



Kerfe Roig

“A circus immediately brings to mind clowns, a disguise that has always seemed a bit creepy to me. But it also reminded me of a book of photos taken by Matthew Rolston of some of the ventriloquist dummies in the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Haunting and aware, I’ve always wanted to try to capture some of the sentience of the photos in a drawing. And so I did, randomly opening the book to four different faces. One of the essays in the book says they are meant “to suggest life”, but any supposedly “inanimate” object so entwined with a human life is alive. Any child can tell you that. They may have been separated from their humans, but these faces remember them. Here’s a link to Roston’s photos.”


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Charly Skilling



Graeme Daly

“Initially, I had the idea of loading up an old battered and broken blue iPhone that I didn’t expect to turn on, from which to rip some photographs from a circus I attended with friends, the circus standing tall on the iconic Rochester hill where I went to uni. Amazingly, the phone turned on with its red battery charging symbol loading through the cracked pixelated screen. The joy on my face when I held the tiny phone in my comically large hands… However in my many attempts to get all those photos off this ancient iPhone, technology somehow fucked me over and devastatingly wiped every single photo from the phone, including all the photos I wanted to use for this week’s prompt!

I ended up sitting and sulking on the idea for a while and contemplated coming up with something completely different, but stubbornly I didn’t want to, and I did have a handful of those very photos from that iPhone stored on my laptop that I never deleted. So instead of being a moody little shit, I decided to try and make something from them by duplicating the original photos and using previous creations and random photos laid on top to attempt to create some new compositions exploring the light, energy and disorientating weirdness of a circus. I guess with the recent anniversary of the Kick-About, in some ways it can seem poetic to use a bunch of outpourings from previous Kick-Abouts to create something completely new.”