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.” 


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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…”



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!”


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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.”


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Phil Gomm

“You can thank Tod Browning’s notorious 1932 film, Freaks, for what follows, ladies and gents, 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 inspired first and foremost 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

philgomm.com


With many thanks to Kick-Abouter and painter, Gary Thorne, we have our latest prompt. I can’t wait to see where this one takes us all! Have fun.



The Kick-About #50 ‘Linear Construction No. 2’


The swirling spiral introducing Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is one of Saul Bass’s most iconic designs, and our last Kick-About celebrated Bass’s bold, pared-back visuals with all the usual eclecticism and creativity. Our latest Kick-About originates from another spiralling form, Naum Gabo’s Linear Construction No. 2.


Charly Skilling

“I love the shapes Gabo created – the magic of straight lines working together to create curves, and curves working together to create depth and movement. I started playing around with some yarn and metal shapes, and found myself thinking about the shadows these artifacts could create, with the right backdrop and well placed lights. I’m really pleased with the results.”



Tom Beg

“In my other creative endeavours I recently came across the peculiar visual effects that can occur when you layer up uneven lines in a 2D or 3D space. In some cases this effect could be seen as undesirable but I very much enjoy the various patterns it generates at different levels of magnification and how it creates multiple levels of texture and visual interest.”


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Kerfe Roig

“The prompt brought to mind some small shibori fabric samples I had that I meant to embroider on.  I had planned to do several, but time shrinking as it seems to do so well lately, I only got one done.  I did, however, manage 5 Japanese style poems to go with the 5 photos attached.”


threads and circles

1
to be a thread held
on the wings of birds soaring
through vast light-filled air

2
layers merge
separate become
something else

3
stillness waits
to expand beyond
what is here

4
particles of light
that remain uncaught—a song
you can almost hear

5
tethered to itself
or maybe nothing at all–
just an idea


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Francesca Maxwell

“I have loved Gabo since I was 15 when I started experimenting with sculpture. I was already interested in light, movement and transparencies and I found traditional sculpture taught at my art school wonderful but not quite my cup of tea, until I discovered Gabo. His work has all those ingredients and an amazing dynamic strength. I was never much for the rounded shapes but I resonate with the way he uses them because they are so powerful and not soft or indecisive. So here is my attempt to create growth in delicacy through my fused glass sculpture.”


www.FBM.me.uk


Graeme Daly

“Some CGI Renders warped, blended, and mended together in light of Naum Gabo’s ethereal sculptures.”


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


Marion Raper

“Many of my friends know that I do a lot of arts and crafts and they often give me bits and pieces and say “Can you make some use of this?”  Well this is one of those times when the answer is “Yes!”   In fact I’m not quite sure what this material actually is.  It seems like a stiff and thick type of felt but the difference is I discovered that unlike ordinary felt, if you cut and twist this it will hold its shape beautifully.   So I cut and twisted some long strips and twisted them around a central thread and hung my construction in a sunlit window. Next I played around with some recycled ring pulls that I had been saving. Naum Gabo was a trail blazer – I wonder what ideas he would have come up with if he had the resources of today?”



Jan Blake

I love Naum Gabo and I know how much my work has been influenced by him and also that period in time when so many exciting new ideas were being put forward, both in the arts and philosophy. The transparency of the material and desire to stretch the boundaries of them is fascinating. In these times, I am working with cardboard and have been for the past twelve years, turning it backwards into and an organic form of light and transparency in opposition to its mechanical machined square frame. For this kick about my inspiration came initially from the spiral and then I returned to my collection of pods!


janblake.co.uk


Gary Thorne

I fell into looking at the brother, Antoine Pevsner, as his drawings and paintings triggered a desire to deconstruct older still-life paintings with an interest in achieving more spatially ambiguous subject matter and a hope to add more to dynamic composition. A mix of palette knife and brushwork helped counter habits being formed whilst a painting evolves. An enjoyable KA.”    


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Phil Gomm

“The following photographs were produced by stringing nylon wire between the legs of a console table pushed up against one long wall in our kitchen, and then using the torch on my knackered old iPhone to produce some high-points of reflection on some wires, and to cast some shadows too. Something expansive and landscape-like got started in these images, and I’m adding these experiments to my list entitled ‘One day, I’ll do this all again on a MUCH bigger scale.’



James Randall

Naum Gabo_Linear Construction Number 2 – such a hopeful outlook to art. I used to love string art as a kid, all those rigid lines. On a recent walk I took photos of the rather drab grey and fairly ugly Story Bridge here in Brisbane and drew it in illustrator in a formal fashion in orange. I thought of adding buildings behind or portions of cars but the bridge turned out so complicated I just added a bit of white cloud – a portion of low quality iPhone photo, but I think it worked and it broke up the rigid picture framing a little. It was nice to spend time concentrating on all those bright orange shapes and not on the world as it is.



And for our next creative run-around together, our prompt is the celebrated Ukrainian folk-artist, Maria Prymachenko.



The Kick-About #49 ‘Saul Bass’


From the lovely free-wheeling associations of our last Kick-About together, to the pared-down, typographic compositions of graphic designer and film-maker, Saul Bass, welcome to another showcase of new works made in a short time.


Vanessa Clegg

“Lots of ideas came and went with this prompt, including the darkness of present day Ukraine but, finally, I settled on something that had, hopefully, a sense of vertigo, as well as a tinge of Hitchcock. I remembered a trip to New Zealand, during which there was a minor earthquake. I was standing outside having walked in a surprisingly calm manner out of the vibrating house (no damage) and watched frozen to the spot, the feeling of the earth beneath my feet no longer being solid, static and secure but moving in waves – a living thing – resulting in a true loss of balance.” Tracing paper, string, cracked mirror, graphite and watercolour on gesso.


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Kerfe Roig

“When I looked at the work of Saul Bass (familiar, although I did not know his name) word collage seemed the obvious response.  I didn’t overthink it.”


haunted by an inferno of blood

shattered by grief–

why this needless danse macabre?



if you follow fate

far away to the return of time

understand

that the passage

into prophecy and myth

is final



when the hidden clue

is fluctuating between

sinister truth

and the vestiges of myth


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Charly Skilling

“Although I did not know the name of Saul Bass before this prompt, much of his work was instantly recognizable.  Here are the film posters I grew up with, and I had a really fun time playing with the colours, the geometrics, and the directness of Bass’s images. I had to find some new techniques and some worked better than others, but overall, I am pleased with the finished object. So next time I want to curl up on the sofa to watch a classic movie, my “Movie Night” throw will be right there with me!”



Graeme Daly

“Some Saul Bass inspired illustrations from the gorgeous and brutal The Handmaid’s Tale. Its stunning red and teal colour palette was truly calling for it!”


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


Tom Beg

“The work of early motion designers like Saul Bass and John Whitney is something of an enigma, which I think comes from a certain looseness hard to replicate using modern digital animation techniques. Recently, I have begun to pick up a bit of coding to supplement my usual creative outlets and try to understand an entirely new way to generate art and animation that just a few months ago had basically been totally unknown to me. Despite what may sound like quite a rigid and unforgiving system of creativity, I have found there is a kind of looseness in programming graphics that is a lot of fun to play with. Add a few lines or numbers and expressions and just see what happens. Sometimes you can produce some unexpected and interesting results that harken back to the days of the early computer artists and graphics designers.

As for me, it’s very early days, as far as my skills go, but I have been able to produce a few little interesting bits. One of the exciting things about using code is that nearly everything can be randomised or given a level of user interactivity. No two images or animations will appear the completely same. Feel free to generate your own unique versions of these images using the links below.”

Saul Bass Inspired Spirals: https://openprocessing.org/sketch/1508265

Lissajous Curves: https://openprocessing.org/sketch/1510216

Painterly Swirls: https://openprocessing.org/sketch/1508666


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Phil Gomm

“Back when I was teaching an undergraduate course, one of my yearly highlights was a screening for students of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho on the big screen. There are many showier reasons for enjoying this film, but I always loved the Saul Bass-designed opening titles – those simple horizontal lines sliding in across the frame with such urgency, while Bernard Herrmann’s score propelled them along. Working with a few simple elements – dots and dashes, lines and ellipses – I set about producing an affectionate fantasia on some Bass-inspired themes.”



Marion Raper

“We have a ‘clattering’ of jackdaws which visit us at least twice a day to gather up the food that has been spilled from our bird feeders by the other smaller birds. One day we noticed one jackdaw was moving around rather strangely and being shooed away by the others.  As it hopped about we could then see it had a badly damaged wing, and when the others flew off it quickly ran/jumped away and scuttled into our hedge.  Over the last 5 or 6 weeks ‘Hoppy’ has managed to survive by scrounging food from us and various other neighbours in turn.  Now he is not intimidated by the other birds and manages to hold his own even against some huge black crows and rooks which sometimes arrive.  In fact, he is tolerated quite well by the other birds, and I have even seen a couple of his jackdaw mates fly up and knock food down from the feeders especially for him as he waits below. You can’t help but admire Hoppy, and for this reason I have made him the star of my Saul Bass-style poster.”



James Randall

“Sorry – bit of a rant but better out than in. The face is made of of little figures – meant to be asexual, they look more like men with extra big hips. I just can’t imagine how awful life must be for the Ukrainians because of that psychopath. Nukes, China? I think at a human level it is well past time to step in.”



Gary Thorne

“I struggled to find a form of language/text to add to a painting that further portrayed the emotion within the situation I was visualising. I realised that in this most horrific of situations there was ‘voice’ yet their distress calls simply evaporated into the cloud formations above, leaving no hope for those adrift in the English Channel. A bleak painting for bleak times.”  


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Phil Cooper

I remember watching movies as a kid and loving the Saul Bass credit sequences more than the actual film; they seemed more exciting and mysterious by far. Whilst doing a bit of research for this prompt, I came across on old Sci-fi short film Saul and Elaine Bass directed called Quest. It looks dated and clunky now, but I liked it all the same, with some nice visuals and design. The ending resonated with the current times for me, and it led me to thinking about how precious every day of our lives are. This piece of work might be a poster for the movie. I’d been looking at Saul Bass when I made it. “


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Inspired perhaps by the whirling spirograph of Saul Bass’s Vertigo poster, but prompted too by the importance of parsing distinctions between ideologies and individuals, Naum Gabo’s Linear Construction No.2 is our jumping-off point for the next two weeks.

“Returning to Russia after the Revolution, Gabo saw political forces redirect Russian art from exploration to propaganda. In 1920 [Gabo] issued the “Realistic Manifesto” of Constructivism, which [he] posted and distributed in the streets of Moscow. In it [Gabo] asserted that art had a value and function independent of the state.”



The Kick-About #48 ‘Blown In’


If the last Kick-About got us circling around ideas of different pieces and the ties that bind them, this week’s showcase, inspired by the free-associating permissions of Lousie Baldwin’s contemporary textiles, is an offering no less preoccupied with fragments, layers, and bits. Enjoy this latest collection of ‘new works made in a short time’, in the knowledge that civilisation is a fragile thing, configured from acts of creativity, however small.


Marion Raper

“Well my life has certainly been bound up with fabric and stitch. I always have something ‘on the go’. From my earliest days I was making crocheted hairbands, scarves and berets (as worn by Bonnie Parker!) We thought we were so chic! Then came the ‘fab’ colourful clothes of the 60s with such happy memories of village hall discos and crazy parties!  The 70s were slightly more sedate as lacemaking and patchwork reappeared. Like countless other sewers, I have a bag of leftover scraps of fabric that instantly take me back to when I made a certain dress, where I wore it and the people I was with then. Next came the wonderful Stage Shows and Carnival Costumes of the 80s. Such a tapestry of music and mayhem with enough memories to fill a book. Even now I am making a baby shawl for a great nephew arriving soon. Time moves on and the world seems a more dangerous place. Yet the basic fabric of life is still the same. There will always be a need for a baby’s shawl.”



Vanessa Clegg

“I’ve been saving the wrappings on my favourite Spanish sugar biscuits and this seemed the ideal prompt to put some to use…it also gave me a theme. So, despite having a schoolgirl knowledge of stitch work (Charly, avert your eyes!) I had a great time cobbling this together.”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


James Randall

“After wallowing in the talent on display from the last KA, I rushed off to read about Louise Baldwin and took away sewing and recycling to present you with fabric and a local garbo. I’ve been snapping people from our second story apartment thinking about contemporary reality and how we don’t acknowledge the people who look after our day to day (essential) needs. I drew up the snapped garbo and his trusty truck in Illustrator and filled the shapes with with fabrics from the web – I’ve wanted to try this “fill with texture thing” for a while but have been a little afraid of it resulting in a total time consuming mess – I think it worked though.”


“And because I had the time, I decided to try and push the sewing aspect and digitally ripped the image and “sewed” it down – concept fully abused!”



Phil Cooper

“I didn’t know Louise Baldwin’s work before this prompt, but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know it over the past couple of weeks. I love the colour and texture of course, and there’s a dreaminess to the work I’m drawn to. a mood that seems to float between various emotional states. Reading up about Louise’s process I could see how this rather ambiguous sensibility might come about; working directly with the materials, responding to each piece as it is made rather than having a pre-conceived idea of what it was going to be.

This led me to thinking about my own approach to making work, how much of it was intuitive and responsive and how much was planned and conceived. I talked about it to a friend who directed my gaze to the surface of my art table, covered with spattered layers of paint and pigment that had built over many years of working on this surface. The marks were entirely accidental, but this had generated its own particular quality and magic so that the table top ended up looking like an abstract expressionist painting from the 1950s. It’s a lovely thing in its own right, the random marks and colour like a palimpsest, recording the days of my working and living.”



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Gary Thorne

“With sewing not in my skill set, the focus landed on Baldwin’s layering with some interest on pattern, to be applied to still-life painting. Leaning towards a darker palette established a preferred mood, and the overlapping nature of form seems to add spatial ambiguity which is a rewarding discovery for me. There may be an edgy threat within, most likely influenced by the worrying state of current affairs.” Oil on prepared paper 65cmx50cm.   

     


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Phil Gomm

“What a joyful prompt this was! Baldwin’s work gave me permission to draw quickly and instinctively, and embrace colour and abstraction, to produce a whole series of exuberant large-scale compositions. I just sat down and drew a few impressions of some of our many houseplants – in this instance, a Pilea peperomioides – and then used them to produce some big bold abstracts. In truth, I could have gone on and on with this, wishing I had the resources to produce them as massive prints for the soft white walls of some airy penthouse atelier. There is such pleasure to be found in colour and the rush and whirl of a few bold lines.”



Kerfe Roig

“I made several attempts to do this in textiles, but it just wasn’t working for me.  The design looks much more painterly than textile-ish to my eye, and has an Asian feeling.  So I combined watercolor and origami paper.  For the first one I glued 3 squares of origami paper on some rice paper and used watercolor and black ink on top.  The second one was painted first, then I cut out origami paper dots and glued them on, stitching some embellishment as a nod to the stitching in Baldwin’s piece.  Her focus on spontaneity is often my approach in watercolor so that felt right as well.


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Graeme Daly

“I ran with two things from this week’s prompt – the blobby shapes and the colours!”


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Charly Skilling

“They are like the bits of information, memories and desires that float around our brains”.

I usually spend several days just thinking about a new KA prompt; mulling ideas over, discarding them, then resurrecting them for a second try. Usually, I have a fairly clear plan in my head before I ever pick up crochet hook or pen. But this time I decided to set all prior planning aside and see what was “floating around my brain.” I selected a yarn of which I had sufficient stock for experimenting, found an appropriate size hook, and began to crochet, changing colour, direction or stitch as the whim took me.

At first I just thought “green, nature, outdoors” but as the piece progressed, I found myself thinking more and more of  the chalk hills of The Chilterns, where so much of my life has been spent. These chalk ridges, created long ago from the skeletons of innumerable tiny creatures, roll in waves across much of southern England, an everlasting memorial to a receding prehistoric sea. The high ridges have been grazed by sheep and walked by man for millennia, and the thin topsoil has been scraped, and shaped, by Nature and by design, to reveal  flowing lines and wondrous shapes, all gleaming white chalk against the green sward. It doesn’t seem so long ago we were flying kites on Ivinghoe Beacon, rolling down Combe Hill’s steep inclines, or chasing across Dunstable Downs, arms stretched wide and coats flapping behind, as though we might take flight at any moment!”



And for our next runaround together, our next creative muse is graphic designer and filmmaker, Saul Bass. Have lots of bold, colourful and typographical fun!



The Kick-About #47 ‘Marriage’


Our last Kick-About, inspired by the writings of Gaston Bachelard, encouraged us to examine our domestic spaces and think about the physical and emotional parameters of home. Now, with John Stezaker’s uneasy marriage between photographic fragments as our starting pointing, we’re exploring issues of identity, affinity and discord.


James Randall

“Life can be scary – survival of the fittest – relationships can bring together different strengths, and if nothing more, give you the courage to bungle on. My image is simple – a river pushing dangerous detritus along – life. I was wanting to have an overlay of two figures swirling about and holding hands but it was too naive looking, and too complicated with the background, so I struggled to find an alternative representation. The lines represent two different shades of people (a couple – sorry such a vanilla representation of marriage) and their individual positive qualities merging to form a barrier protecting the couple from the detritus. The ring blur demonstrates how marriage can soften the edges of thorny life. The colour is joyous (I hope) as marriage is to me (if a lot quieter.)”



Charly Skilling

“When I started looking at John Stezaker’s ‘Marriage’, the thing that struck me most was that ever-present straight line running through each image, often more than once  Was this the joint where two personalities dovetailed? Or a boundary line, safeguarding  personal territory? Are people diminished by marriage? Or magnified? So I started thinking about some of the models of marriage I’ve come across. and came up with some ‘Marital Maths’.”



Kerfe Roig

“I’m always doing that surrealist kind of thing with human bodies and collage so I decided to try something different.  I liked the idea of using one or two inserted elements, as my work is usually much more complex.  Instead of using classic film stars I decided to use the work of classic painters.  I took Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, cut it up, and inserted it into works by Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Homer.  They work together quite well I think.”


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Marion Raper

“I luckily came across some old toys belonging to my grandsons which were waiting to be recycled and I thought they would look great if I combined a few of them and turned them into some very strange looking creatures.  This then inspired me to do some collage using some old photos and magazine cuttings to create some more fantastical beings, which looked like they had sprung from the pages of a Marvel comic.”



Vanessa Clegg

“By putting two different images together Stezaker seems to create a third dimension, so, ‘sort of’ following this train of thought I’ve dovetailed two extreme scenarios on an old alarm clock set to silent. (Another thought.. weren’t the lurid green numbers painted with something containing uranium to make it shine in the dark?).

Scenario 1: Apocalypse – midnight on the doomsday clock. A young girl runs for her life, her clothes shredded, the sky dark, as a mushroom cloud reaches the stars.

Scenario 2: The clock strikes twelve. Cinderella flees from the ball as her coach, horses, footmen and dress disappear in a puff of pink smoke…the fairy Godmother waves her wand… Abracadabra!”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Phil Cooper

“A strange and unsettling prompt this time. John Stezaker’s work stirs up a variety of different feelings when I look at them, feelings that are quite difficult to articulate. There is something about the violence of cutting up a picture of a human face that makes such images as ‘Marriage’ quite a visceral experience for me. I can almost feel the slice of the scalpel, and I wince at the thought of accidents and slips with the knife; as an artist who uses collage a lot in my work, I’m well used to my hands sporting at least a couple of plasters covering cuts and scrapes.

Stezaker’s portraits also make me think of Francis Bacon paintings, of how he attacked the faces of his sitters in paint, carving them open with the brush to create images that look like something from a butcher’s shop window. I’ve gone down a similar route with my Kick-About response this week, cutting up photos of glamorous people from glossy magazines, smearing their faces with oil pastel, and mangling them further in Procreate to make fractured images of half-remembered nightmares.”


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Graeme Daly

“Because Stezaker drew inspiration from dadaism and surrealism by kitbashing and appropriating images into bizarre collages, I decided to splice together some absurdities in a fun, no fucks given kind of way – all images nicked from the public domain, of course.”


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Phil Gomm

“All of this began simply enough: try and construct a new face from fragments in a Stezaker-style, and in so doing, seek to produce something as unsettling as some of the photographer’s sepia chimeras.

Reaching for the remainders of some nylon tights and toy-stuffing left-over from the very first Kick-About, I set about sewing together a new face around the shell of a white balaclava. I wanted to produce a fine-art object, as opposed to anything too illusionist, something a bit deconstructed, with its seams showing and the fact of its construction left conspicuous. In this, I looked to Stezaker’s own collages, which likewise make no secret of their provenance of different parts.



“The head-thing fabricated, I then left it about the house, like a thing left behind or dropped, and photographed it in situ. At times creepy, and at other times just rather sad-seeming, this quickly-produced face-of-bits kept accruing personality and the uncanny ability to seem life-like, even in spite of its obvious anatomical imprecisions and sticky-out bits of thread. That’s the thing about faces, I suppose – even the ones fashioned badly out of tights and Kapok; we can’t help relating to them.”



The other bit of the prompt I was interested in was the title of Stezaker’s collages, ‘Marriage’: I happen to be married to someone who is willing to share his home with a disembodied head, and the guy who made it. These last photographs are for my husband, Paul, by way of reassurance: however weird things get, I’m still right here and laughing my arse off.”



With many thanks to regular Kick-Abouter, Marion Raper, we have our new prompt, the work of contemporary textile artist, Louise Baldwin. Have fun.


The Kick-About #45 ‘Splendor Solis’


From the effortless, airborne whirligigs of our last Kick-About together to another transmutation of matter into something elemental and illuminating! For this week’s creative challenge, we’ve been in the business of summoning the sunshine, and, at risk of seeming self-serving, I want to give special thanks to Gary Thorne for his contribution, which has something nice to say about all these continuing acts of creativity of ours, and the light they bring.


Vanessa Clegg

“I was thinking what could be the most ‘alchemical’ transformation imagined? What on Earth happens in those tiny parcels called the chrysalis? From the juicy tube of a caterpillar, wrapped tight and left to transform, an entirely new creature is made: the butterfly, drying and pumping its wings in the sun, a symbol of summer. The image is upside down, as I wanted the cases to look like ‘sort of’ vessels, with the butterfly levitating and held by one antenna; the dark and the light existing together.”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Charly Skilling

“I have tried to capture the colours and shapes of the Sun, as depicted through centuries of astrological and alchemical treatises and depictions. It was much aided by photographing in the bright clear sunshine of an unexpectedly lovely January day.”



Tom Beg

“Of all the imagery in Splendor Solis, what amused me the most was the theatricality of three-headed dragons, peacocks and a menagerie of other bizarre things magically appearing in bottles by the presumed mixing of various materials and more than a bit of a hocus pocus. I decided to conjure up some of my own alchemic creations and create something a bit fantastical.”


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Phil Cooper

“I was making a collage earlier this week, painting textured papers to make the raw material and then snipping and glueing into place for the final image. When I’m working with collage, the papers and leftover cuttings get strewn about the floor and quickly build up to form drifts of scraps around my feet. While I was making, from time to time, I’d muse on the beautiful Splendor Solis prompt, and what I might make for this week’s Kick-About. 

I started to focus on the transmutation of alchemy, and so turned to the flotsam and jetsam surrounding my desk as I was messing about with collage. It’s a medium I enjoy working with for many reasons, mainly for the surprising juxtapositions that can emerge as I put one piece of paper next to another; effects that would never have happened if I’d tried to direct painting. When it works, it’s transformative, the separate elements of the collage become more than the sum of parts and something new is created. 

So this piece is using up some of those paper scraps that have been generated by my work earlier in the week. Using the alchemy of collage, I’m reflecting on the rather everyday, mundane alchemy that we’re all doing all the time; how our thoughts, words and actions ripple out into the world, influencing and changing things, sometimes dramatically, sometimes subtly.”


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James Randall

“My pic was born a couple of days before the KA announcement but I thought it fitted in – colour if not theme. It’s about how we are just ‘other’ animals – not nearly as clever as we’d like to believe. It is also to do with male sexuality (cue an old book “Sex On the Brain: The Biological Differences Between Men and Women”). I added a couple of quick sketches fully in response to the KA.”



Marion Raper

“It’s been a hard 2 weeks at the office! I have tried various methods to obtain my Eureka moment – one of which included getting up at 5.30am to capture the sun rise ( which when it happened I seemed to miss!). Eventually I decided to use a sacred geometry and alchemy symbol and copied the design using black threads on a painted background. However, being a ‘perfectionist Virgo’ I was not content with the result, so I then spent some time adding various bits of crochet , threads and material scraps from my ‘magpie stash.'”



Kerfe Roig

“Thanks for the introduction to this wonderful book!  I could have gone on and on time permitting, and will keep it in mind for future expLorations. Out of the 22 images of the Splendor Solis, I chose to work with Plate 2, The Alchemist: “Seek the Nature of the Four Elements”.  First I did a collage based on the painting alone, then, after reading a bit about its symbolism, I made my own, looser interpretation.  I was especially drawn to the Alchemist’s connection to the natural world, in particular flowers and birds, and his alternate identity as the Deity of Celestial Light.”



The Alchemist

Below my feet the path waits
for the earth to open me–
the layers of brown and green
remember the moon, its circles
orbiting continuously
through both dark and light.

The chill of morning warms
to birdsong. The seasons
endure.  In spring the autumn
seems far away, but life is
always preparing to die
and start all over again.

What is the secret of transformation?–
ancestors embedded in every root,
in every branch rich with leaves
that will blaze in a sudden last glory–
nourishing what follows
with what has come before.

We know so little, after all,
of the workings of nature,
of its consciousness.  Does it
even have yesterdays or tomorrows?
Does it acknowledge return, or is all
but a single endless moment in time?

We mirror our own inner maps
as stars–the dust of elements
contained in our bones–
merely vessels, seeking
the essence of who we are
inside the question itself.


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Phil Gomm

“So, how to conjure an astronomical phenomena into being in a short space of time, when access to fusion reactors, rocket-ships or celestial wormholes is otherwise unavailable? There’s a part of me that wants to keep the whole process behind these photographs as mysterious and unknowable as their subject; another part of me can’t wait to tell you I quite literally put a source of light into a glass vessel and then gave it a bloody good shake… light and time producing an alchemy all of its own.”



Gary Thorne

“When in the period of the Post-Covid, people’s minds were waking from the long sleep of darkness, Phil Gomm, one of the well known Adepts of Inspiration, went forth (with his followers) in further search of that secret knowledge, the possession of which leads to Alchemical Adeptship for the Truely Motivated. Let those, lost in times of darkness, reflect on the reputed works of the KA Adepts, to ignite their own transformation.”


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


And for our next foray, ladies and gentlemen, a few expansive words on the theme of home and habitations from the likes of Gaston Bachelard…


The Kick-About #42 ‘Ice Spiral’


After our short city break for the KA No.41, we’ve taken a brisk, bracing detour out into the wintry countryside, where we encountered Ice Spiral by the celebrated land artist, Andy Goldsworthy. Enjoy this latest collection of artistic responses to Goldsworthy’s fleeting installation of ice, light, place and form.


Graeme Daly

“When I felt the cold from this week’s prompt, I wanted to recollect the bitter winter in rural Ireland from last year. When I look at these photos, all I can think about is miniature vistas frozen in time: pocketed air bubbles, mimicking silver dollar plants, are trapped among planes of ice like tiny moons; milky swirls of frozen water interjected with brambles, which loop in and out like a serpent on the hunt, and if the camera panned up, something would surely arise from the mist!”


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Phil Cooper

“Right on cue for this more wintry Kick-About prompt we actually had some snow yesterday. I woke up to a blue opalescent sky this morning and a white frosting over the ground, ice crystals twinkling on every twig and leaf. It was lovely.

I like Anthony Goldsworthy’s ephemeral land art interventions, especially the snow and ice work. They are so striking, but they disappear without a trace so quickly, with only the photographs remaining as evidence that anything happened. He transforms what he finds in the landscape, and it’s this transformational thread running his work that’s caught my attention.

I was out cycling through the forest on the outskirts of Berlin recently and, with the Goldsworthy images in my mind, I tuned in to the natural processes of transformation that were going on in the woods; everything was changing constantly, some things quickly, like the opening of a flower, and some things very slowly, such as the decaying of a fallen tree, or the erosion of pebble. The trees were all in different stages of their life cycles, from tiny saplings to great fallen giants.

I’ve focused on a tree stump for this Kick-About. The tree itself has gone, but the remaining stump has become home to a host of other life forms – moss, fungi, insects – that step into the gap left by the tree, adding their own voices to the story of the forest. Water crystallising into ice adds another momentary layer of transformation over the surface, changing the top of the tree stump into a tiny winter wonderland of frosted sculptural shapes.”


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Charly Skilling

“I couldn’t rustle up any snow or hard frosts, so I settled for capturing a winter sky in the cupped hands of a friendly neighbourhood tree.  Really enjoyed this Kickabout!”



Phil Gomm

“Although the weather has turned much colder here in the UK, it’s not yet cold enough here in Whitstable to produce or happen upon any Goldsworthy-esque installations out in the wild. No matter, as off into the garden I went, looking for interesting seed heads and any flashes of remaining colour, before pulling out some handy Tuppaware and a big Pyrex dish, filling them with water, then entombing my finds from the garden in ice, courtesy of the bottom drawer of the freezer. Once released from their adhoc moulds, I then moved quickly to photograph the resulting artefacts, squizzing with pleasure at their magical displays of colour, light and translucencywhile all the time mopping up the pools of melt water with an old dishcloth.”



Tom Beg

“I wanted to jump into the magical spiral of the prompt image as if I was travelling into the eye of a storm. Eventually I got these suitably frosty and rather sinister effects. Not so much Christmas morning whimsical but more like an icy maelstrom.”


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Kerfe Roig

My first idea was to do something with layering ensos, but it looked too stark. Then I monoprinted over them, which I liked better, but it again seemed unfinished. I decided to cut them out and put them on a collage landscape – still not right – so I stitched over them. Not happy with that either. Turn the collage over, and the stark stitching is better: maybe I should have just stitched? At any rate I have some spirally circles and a collage, which I’m sure I can incorporate into something else somewhere down the line. They have a wintery feel anyway.