Something from the not-so distant past this week: a moody-looking scrap from the work I produced in response to one of our earliest Kick-Abouts, taking Fritz Lang’s Metropolis as its muse. These images resulted from first producing a series of architectural pencil drawings, then photographing those drawings as curved or folded surfaces, before finally collaging the resulting photographs digitally in Photoshop.
There are a number of things I miss about my previous role working in higher education – and many things I do not.
One of the things I miss most about those days was my day-to-day proximity to other creatives, to their respective projects, and to their conversations about them. An average day would see dozens of discussions about storytelling, art direction, materials, research, conceptualisation, producton design, visual representation and promotion. Manifesting ‘something from nothing’ was always the business of the day, as we all worked together to get an idea ‘from script to screen’ or from 2D into 3D, from a dream of a thing to the thing itself. I know now how luxurious my old job was. Actually, I knew it then and never once took it for granted. It was life-affirming to be in the company of people who could first see things in their mind, and then develop those images into concrete, substantive outcomes – an act of magic and an act of faith.
Hardly surprising then I might have wanted some of that back, to work again with a diverse community of artists, to give a fair whack of my time and energy to making a space in which more of those conversations could take place. So it was I had the idea for The Kick-About, a blog-based creative challenge, in which creatives of all kinds were given the chance to make some new work in response to a fortnightly prompt – myself included. One year later, and we’ve just published Edition 26 of The Kick-About, a gathering together of participants’ favourite submissions, and one thing is clear: there is power in community, not least because the expectation of an audience for new work is an effective means of seeing off procrastination and preciousness by encouraging decisiveness and utility. There is creative freedom too in ‘short sharp snaps’ of creative activity, that ability to start something up and then close it down in a succinct period of time.
Speaking personally, I’ve found The Kick-About to be a hugely satisfying experience, and after a decade-or-more of very happily giving my best ideas away to other people, it’s been reassuring and exciting to discover there are still more ideas where all those others came from. I’ve loved the problem-solving aspect of the fortnightly prompts – resolving cogent, authentic responses to the various prompts in lots of different ways. You might also call it ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ – and yes, it’s been fun.
Gathered here are all my Kick-About responses, digital artworks, sculptures, photographs, shorts films and short stories, and collaborations with other artists. Agreed, it makes for an eclectic ensemble, but I’m reminded – happily – of being nineteen years old and studying my Art Foundation course, which was all about trying and doing everything and not worrying about what it was all for, or what you were going to do with it, or what you were going to do next.
So yes, I do feel younger for running around with my fellow kick-abouters, and if not quite nineteen, then not far off. I just want to say a very real and heartfelt thank you to everyone in the Kick-About community, whether you’ve played once, or always. Your company and creativity is, and has been, restorative, and I’m very much looking forward to doing it all again with Kick-About No.27. Onwards!
When participating Kick-About artist and animator, Emily Clarkson, offered up ‘Metropolis‘ as the second prompt, I wasn’t alone in looking forward to walking into the expressionistic world of Fritz Lang’s epic work of science-fiction. At the outset I knew I wanted to begin with the concept drawings for the film by Erich Kettelhut, and I knew I’d be seeking to produce something by following the principles of collage and layering. What I didn’t know was that I’d find this particular challenge hugely addictive and satisfying, and that I’d produce a lot of stuff on my way to choosing the image for the Kick-About with which I was most happy.
Every image in this post (and many others not in it) were all seeded by one pencil drawing and my guiding principle was a simple one; do now as I did back on my art A’level and subsequent Foundation course, which is to keep pushing a very limited series of processes and tools until something interesting happens! What I enjoyed particularly about the later stages of the process was my inability to stop the imagery coalescing into rich Art Deco pattern-making, as if the stylistic motifs of the original movie are themselves somehow irrepressible.