The Kick-About #71 ‘Christo & Jeanne-Claude’


If our last Kick-About showcased new works made in a short time inspired by an extraordinary artist with which some of us were unfamiliar, this week’s online exhibition takes its cue from a very famous double-act, famous, that is, for wrapping landmarks and landscapes in swathes of material. Happy browsing.


Gary Thorne

“Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s trees reminded me of an Autumn ’22 visit to Eastwell in Kent, where I did these sketches. For KA, I’ve combined tree structure with architecture to produce this white-card model, but then found myself short of time. The old idiot box was on whilst modelling, conveniently offering some varied backdrops, although as an unfinished KA, I prefer the black backing. being it reminds me I’ve homework to do on this KA.” 



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Graeme Daly

“I wanted to make a miniature version of Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s impressive, uncanny installation art, but attempt to make it look larger, as if I had the resources to produce something of that scale. So I did some deadheading of branches and flora around my garden, wrapped cling-film around them and stuck the encapsulated snippings into styrofoam to keep them steady as I photographed the results. I loved how, in certain shots of Christo & Claude’s pieces, the sun shone through. It reminds me of poppy seed pods or Chinese lanterns. As I was taking photos, in spurts the sun broke through the clouds of the dreary sky and lit the tombs of these plants in spots and lines. Another treat was after a slight sprinkling of rain, which made me focus more on the intrinsics of the composition rather than its initial scale”   


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Vanessa Clegg

“This is a pretty basic response so I think you can see my thinking … that is, layers, seeing, not seeing… I found the piece of conifer on the street and, to me, it looked like a bonsai version of the “mother tree” so reflecting our prompt on a mini scale. A screen in front breaks up the image. I wanted to use elements that ran parallel to this: beetle, stone, seed.”


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Jan Blake

“These enormous sculptures in the landscape and city scapes that Christo and Jeanne Claude have created over the years have highlighted our attention to these landmarks in a different way, allowing them to be reconsidered/reawaken us when they are revealed again after the wrapping up. ‘Lock-Down’ during the past few years has personally given me the feeling of being wrapped up like an insect in a cocoon. So I started to try and create a kind of cocoon and failed miserably!  However, this searching turned my attention to butterflies and moths that create these extraordinary constructions as a chrysalis. In the past I have used  a translucent silk (organza) to create sculptures to transform internal public spaces, and the silk has come from  the silk worms that feed on bushes so… I took another look at how millions of these moths or butterfly cocoons wrap up trees, bushes and grasses in the landscape. Here are a couple of photos taken in our countryside.”


janblake.co.uk


James Randall

“I’m afraid, although they created beautiful works, the scale and materials Christo and Jeanne Claude used have always made me uncomfortable, as we show little respect for our world’s resources. So I began this KA thinking I’d use some previous pics of tied-up pillows to collage into a tied-up earth, but it looked nothing like the earth or anything tied-up. There was something good happening visually so I returned to the tortured pillows and added an angry Spanish fountain lion head and a lizard leg; it felt angry (about wasting resources). I backgrounded it with pristine rainforest images (abused resources). By this point it wasn’t looking very Christo and Jeanne Claude and my mind was turning to the big industries that manufacture toxic products (like some of the materials Christo and Jeanne Claude used) and I added a power figure wrapped in a couple of cotton sheets, which looked appropriate. Of course, the question arises why we continue to abuse the earth, and then I heard a podcast with Adam Alter on judgement, decision making and social psychology, which threw social media into my mind and resulted in the addition of icons left and right of the figure. Oh, and the halo of fire is a nod to petrochemical industries.”



Phil Gomm

“The short version is we bought a new sofa recently, which turned out to be too big for the room it was meant for. The sofa came wrapped in plastic – and remains so while we wait for some nice people to come and collect it and take it back to wherever unwanted sofas are destined to go. We have been living with this ‘un-sofa’ for quite a few weeks now. I scowl at it every morning, not least because I was responsible for measuring up and only have myself to blame. Still, what is it that chipper types say about making lemonade when life gives you lemons (or outsized sofas)? I started noticing how different types of light at different times of day produced strange mountainous terrains out of the plastic wrapping covering the sofa, so with the Kick-About in mind, I set about investigating them.”


philgomm.com


Marion Raper

“I decided I would apply my ‘wrapping’ technique to some old plastic bangles I have in my stash of ‘possibly useful things!’ The first one I covered with net, followed by a thread in a variety of colours to add a bit of sparkle. The second I wrapped in strips of pink chiffon and then put some glittery material over the top. Lastly, for the third, I used the hem I had trimmed off a denim dress to wrap around the bangle, followed by a long silver chain. The necklace was recycled from an old pendant, wrapped in threads and some embroidery added. I really enjoyed this project and may well have a go at doing some more.”



Kerfe Roig

When ‘The Gates’ were installed in Central Park in February 2005 there was a lot of criticism and complaining from the Powers That Be.  But for my daughter and I, and all the other people with us inside of the installation, it was a wonderful experience.  This prompt returned me to that time and the photos I took.  I printed out some of them and cut them into squares, which I turned into grids.  Mother Nature had even co-operated, and the vibrant colors shadowed with black branches, moving in the wind against the snow, was truly magical. 


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With many thanks to regular KA-er, Vanessa Clegg, we have our latest prompt – a celebrated mediation on the art and act of looking…



The Kick-About #70 ‘Hilma Af Klint’


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


Graeme Daly

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


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Kerfe Roig

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


circled by spirit

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

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


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Charly Skilling

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




James Randall

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



Gary Thorne

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


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Vanessa Clegg

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


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Phil Gomm

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



philgomm.com


Marion Raper

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



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

Um, about that…



The Kick-About #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!”



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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!”


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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!


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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

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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 #65 ‘Cimetière du Père Lachaise’


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


Tom Beg

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


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Phil Cooper

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


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Graeme Daly

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


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Charly Skilling

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

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

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

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

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


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



Gary Thorne

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


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Claire-Beth Gibson

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


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Vanessa Clegg

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


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Phil Gomm

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


philgomm.com


James Randall

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



Kerfe Roig

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



star children

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

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

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

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

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


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


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



The Kick-About #63 ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi’


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


Graeme Daly

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


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James Randall

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



Kerfe Roig

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


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Marion Raper

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



Phil Cooper

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


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Gary Thorne

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


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Phil Gomm

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


philgomm.com


Charly Skilling

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



Vanessa Clegg

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


vanessaclegg.co.uk


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



The Kick-About #62 ‘Powers Of Ten’


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


James Randall

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



Vanessa Clegg

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


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

vanessaclegg.co.uk


Gary Thorne

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


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Charly Skilling

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



Phil Cooper

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

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



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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.”