The Kick-About #67 ‘El Anatsui’


Our previous Kick-About was an explosive affair, as Turner’s Mount Vesuvius in Eruption re-surfaced the land, sea and sky with glowing skeins of lava and fired our imaginations. No less spectacular are the sculptural installations of artist El Anatsui, whose enormous, glinting mosaics drape gallery walls like bejewelled magma. Enjoy this latest showcase of new works made in a short time inspired by Anatsui’s works.


Phil Hosking

“On seeing El Anatsui’s incredible sculptures I felt exceptionally inspired to make. There’s something about his process of turning discarded relics of human mass consumption into objects of such beauty that resonated with me. Over recent years I’ve collected bucket loads of plastic from various beaches in Kent, never really knowing what to do with them, suddenly when I laid a bucket full out on the work bench, I started pulling them together and adding some order, which is what I got from Anatsui’s work, order brought to valueless trash. As the wired-together plastic was only about a foot across, I cut out and painted a wooden frame, as if the silhouette was intentional.”


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Gary Thorne

“I had some other intentions as to what could happen making use of this collection of old photos inspired by El Anatsui yet, by the end of mucking-about, this assemblage gave the impression of Rome’s Pantheon inner dome and gazing upward through the central opening to the sky. I wasn’t even thinking about it yet, I did just return last week from Rome. Might be nice to glue the whole lot to the spare bedroom ceiling.” 


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Marion Raper

I very much admire the work of El Anatsui and his amazing way of using recycled items such as bottle tops and turning them into fabulous artworks and metallic cloth sculptures.   I was trying to think of a way that I could emulate such wizardry and came up with the idea of weaving some of my stash of old ties. I used some black crinkly wool for the weft threads, which I stretched over an old picture mount to make a loom. Next, I cut the most colourful ties into long strips and threaded them in and out as the weft threads. I must say I was rather surprised at how a few vividly coloured gents’ ties (from the last few decades) could transpire to resemble a wonderful African fabric, but weirdly they do!



Kerfe Roig

“I’ve reverted to a grid, echoing El Anatsui’s use of recycled materials.  I wanted to sew the squares together, so I needed something fairly thin.  I painted newspaper in 3 ways with watercolor–one primarily red, one blue, and one with neon spatters.  I then cut them into 2 x 4 inch pieces and folded them into squares.  I used embroidery floss to sew them together – the back with the threads also makes an interesting piece of art I think.  There are many other different variations I could do with this, both using different papers and different ways of sewing the squares together.  I’ll certainly keep it in mind for one of my monthly grids in the future.”


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Jan Blake

“I came across El Anatsui’s work many years ago at the October gallery in London. I loved their enormity and grandeur from such a humble material and maybe subconsciously some years later I found myself drawn to using cardboard, a material that I could recycle and obtain easily. Curiously, when I went to Mexico to make a sculptural piece for a contemporary dance company, I found that finding and selling-on cardboard for a poor Mexican was a way of making a living! So looking at these wonderful looping hangings I am attracted by the metallic and repeating rhythms interrupted by a fold. There is something Mediaeval about them as well like illuminated manuscripts. With these thoughts in mind I turned to a piece that I had started last year but was uncertain of its development. I have added a second row as it were that twists in an opposite direction like cable knitted jumpers. Ultimately these rows will grow but they are time consuming to complete right now. However I have been wanting to add colour to these structures for a while so here is my trial . Taking the idea of illuminated manuscripts and vaulting on Cathedral ceilings, I have painted them differently on the two sides. The result in some ways is more like an old fairground and the colour only appears as it twists round.”


janblake.co.uk


Phil Gomm

“Whenever I pop over to visit my parents, I’m heartened by the small bowl of toffee eclairs on the table in the hall. On my way back out the door, I always pocket a couple to sustain me on my journey home. The toffees come wrapped in these blue and gold twists of metallicised cellophane, many of which have found their way into the washing machine. Once washed, these wrappers take on a very pleasing patina, exfoliated of much of their original gaudiness and turned instead into these rather more translucent, opalescent swatches. I wondered if I could assemble a few of the wrappers together to produce a very small scale homage to Anatsui’s extraordinary tapestries-come-sculptures. While not convinced I managed that exactly, I found myself instead thinking about geological strata and seams of gold, about crystalline caves and fantastical canyons. I’ve also been thinking… I really needed to eat more of those toffee eclairs!”



philgomm.com


Vanessa Clegg

“This was perfect timing for me as I did a 2 day course in collograph (no experience..total beginner) over the last fortnight and the result seems to fit the prompt. What I was aiming for was a block of specimen samples, the little glass slides that fit into a microscope. Insects and organic-like textures were my subject matter, with a lot of experimenting and, of course, mistakes but for me that’s what makes it an interesting process as the semi-lack of control can lead to surprising and unlooked for effects… More exploration in the future!”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Francesca Maxwell

“I had many ideas inspired by the wonderful work of El Anatsui. I love the texture and the concept. It must be amazing to see them in person, unfortunately I never have. I watched a documentary about his work and how labour intensive it is and I also love how much creativity he allows his helpers and the curators exhibiting his work.  I am a scavenger myself, and over the many years working in theatre and stop motion animation, I collected all sort of rejected bits and pieces. I particularly love metal and I am fascinated by metal mesh, it looks like shimmering fabric. So I put together a mix of found and bought steel, copper and brass mesh photographed and assemble as a mosaic. I don’t have enough to do a large drape like El Anatsui.”


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Graeme Daly

“What you are looking at here is the tinfoil leftover from a steak pie, coloured with multicolored markers, photographed, warped and collaged together in photoshop to mimic El Anatsui’s illuminating repurposed sculptures. For scale and grandiosity, I then popped them into an artplacer app.” 


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James Randall

Of course the message is our environment’s degradation. I have been trying to put together a few key words that encapsulate my concerns but it’s complicated. Let me start by admitting my own guilt: plastic and petrol are still a part of my life. I should have added apathy to my list. Nobody seems to discuss over-population or education focusing on engineering and sciences that enable petrochemical industries (at the expense of arts and humanities, which question our actions…) let alone company (not government only) reparations for years of ignorant profiteering at the expense of the world community – so my few words became several ‘dot’ points. One of the materials that El Anatsui uses is flattened bottle caps – I started my piece by drawing one on computer, then repeated it in on overlapped pattern that reminded me of Islamic art, so I fiddled with the graphic of my list to pursue Islamic text and that set my piece’s style. I think of this work as an environmental incantation.



Charly Skilling

“El Anatsui takes the discarded detritus of modern life – bottle caps, wiring, scraps of aluminium – and transforms them into something that moves and breathes and drapes like the sheerest fabric. I don’t have access to much of that type of material, but one thing I have in abundance is yarn swatches.  I  am always making small swatches to try out a new yarn, a new stitch, a colour combination or just to get the tension right for a new project. Sometimes these swatches get incorporated into a piece of work, but mostly they just sit in a bag in one of my work boxes. I also have some knitting needles that I haven’t used in years, dozens of excess crochet hooks and hundreds of blocking pins. So, a couple of hours of folding, twirling, sticking and pinning later,  a pile of nothing very much has become something colourful and cheerful, which might, conceivably, have occurred naturally in a garden.”



… and courtesy of Charly Skilling, we have our next prompt: the narrative quilts of American folk artist, Harriet Powers. Have fun!



The Kick-About #66 ‘Vesuvius’


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


Francesca Maxwell

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


www.FBM.me.uk


Marion Raper

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



Charly Skilling

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



Vanessa Clegg

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


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

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

vanessaclegg.co.uk


Jan Blake

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



James Randall

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



Phil Cooper

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


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Phil Gomm

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


philgomm.com


Graeme Daly

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


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Kerfe Roig

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



in search of Venus

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

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

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

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

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


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Gary Thorne

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


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



The Kick-About #62 ‘Powers Of Ten’


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


James Randall

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



Vanessa Clegg

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


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

vanessaclegg.co.uk


Gary Thorne

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


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Charly Skilling

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



Phil Cooper

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

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



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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 #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!”


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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…





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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…”



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.”


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


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.”


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


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.”