Another sultry night in France in 2015, and this time I was working in the bamboo and bramble tunnel running between the old French house and the Widow’s house. It can take the summoning of a bit of courage to work in the night, laughing off the residual fear of the dark – almost. When I look at these specific images, I recall very clearly the indignation of the Screech owl perched somewhere above me, who was unhappy at my long-exposure exertions.
What I particularly enjoy about these images is the way the pillars of light connect with the leaf litter, helping me vouch for the ‘in-cameraness’ of the image-making – no Photoshop tomfoolery here, thank you very much. I should say too these images spooked me; there’s something sentient about these manifestations…
I think this is probably an instance wherein the methodology behind the images is ultimately more arresting than the outcome itself, but having tasked myself with the challenge of trying to recreate the silent surface of the moon in response to the Kick-About No.29, I ended up working with some very earth-bound materials – principally, eight bags of plain flour, a plastic spatula for contouring, and three big glass paperweights.
That said, I must admit to a rush of fond filmic recollections, enjoying the way such humdrum materials could be turned into other-worldly vistas. One of my great excitements as a kid was learning how film-makers produced their special effects, kit-bashing spaceships from bits of Airfix models, or lining the corridors of futuristic sets with cheap plastic food containers bought in bulk and glue-gunned to the wall.
That I was able to recreate a lunar landscape on my dining room table, using the simplest means, reminds me of the power of imagination and the importance of play.
The ‘surface of the moon’ as it manifested in reality – a large plastic seed-tray filled with flour!
Our last Kick-About together was inspired by the lunar-like landscape of Dungeness beach and Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage. This week’s creative run-around-between-friends is inspired by the actual moon, or rather by Haruki Murakami’s evocative description of its silent, watchful orbit…
“I won’t over explain this, so it is what it is: the human need to control the natural world, and the eye in the sky bearing witness. (Moths were already dead)”. Moon and pinned moths. 2’ X 2’. Graphite, oil paint and pinned Moths on Gesso.
“It is usually thought of that our humble moon is essentially a big dead rock in floating in space, but I have always liked how Murakami imbues the objects and places in the lives of his characters with surrealistic life or uses them to communicate something from other strange and unseen worlds. Perhaps in our world, the moon might just appear to be a a big dead rock in floating in space, but in Murakami’s world things are always saying something, even if they are silent.”
“I used Yupo paper and acrylic oils to produce the marbled background for this picture. For the earth and moon I used tissue paper and water colours. Really not much more to say except I am intrigued by 1Q84 and feel I must make an effort to read it, although 3 volumes is a bit of a tall order for me!”
“Inspiring prompt, this Murakami extract about the moon, so much could be done. Here, I wanted to catch the stillness of the moon, beautifully conveyed in the novel, with the perpetual action and energy of the cosmos around it, and particularly on Earth. The painting started originally as a “calligraphy”, expression humanity and history, then all the movement and happenings over time as creative chaos. The “moon” with her round shape, so self-contained and seemingly detached.”
“I’m always photographing the moon. I decided to go through my archives and make some postcards from some of my pictures. The results proved to me, once again, that if you take enough photos, some are bound to look good. I then consulted with the collage box Oracle. The Oracle knows the moon well.”
“I think this is probably an instance wherein the methodology behind the images is ultimately more arresting than the outcome itself, but having tasked myself with the challenge of trying to recreate the silent surface of the moon under largely straightened circumstances, I ended up working with some very earth-bound materials – principally, eight bags of plain flour, a plastic spatula for contouring, and three big glass paperweights!”
“I feel like with the words of Murakami, the moon has an element of ominous brooding and a spark of stoicism at remembering what used to be. The light I am capturing with these long exposure shots, which rim the highlights of ornate wood panelling and makes the hard wood floor sing with colour, makes me wonder who used to reside in this old house previously? Who wandered through the hallways? Who ran their fingers along the wood panels? Who tended to the rose gardens? Who hung up all the photos that still have a small circular imprint on the ancient stained walls? I imagine the original family in black and white or faded sepia, posed on an old chaise lounge, looking dapper but serious. This old creaky house with its not so glamorous leaks and constantly breaking faucets still has so much charm to it, bursting with history as high as its ceilings. The mammoth floors above us are now converted into flats, but one wonders how it all looked in its original form? How would the moon have shone into those vast rooms above me? I can only fantasise.”
“Once again I appreciated Gary’s KA topic. Very evocative. I made a quick sketch as soon as I read the passage, but it has been quite a long process evolving this into a submittable form. I created several moons with face and/or textures before finding Nasa’s library of images and finally trying to recreate a moon in Illustrator (why didn’t I just use the original photo I ask myself – well I try and justify it with ‘it better fits stylistically with the rest of the image’.) The Earth (temptation) was originally going to be a simple arc containing temptations. It evolved with more Nasa pics, before it was abandoned for type and amorphous shapes with tangled line work set in a frame that pulls/clutches at the moon, and the sheer curtain acting as a barrier to the earth’s attraction. In amongst this, one sunny morning, I spotted some very attractive light and shadows on my glass-topped table around a full moon-shaped ring of water, which probably fitted the text better – anyway they are both here.“
“As soon as I think of the distant moon, I think of this one moment, which changed my way of thinking, so I thought I’d share it.”
“Moons have appeared often in my work, usually over a landscape scene. I’m drawn to the more transformative atmosphere of twilight and moonlight; the appearances of things change, shadows thicken, possibilities open up as less detail is described, and the mysteries of night hold sway. This is a collage I made earlier in the year that seemed to fit the brief this week. A huge full moon hangs in the sky, illuminating a couple who are toiling their way up a path to a lighthouse – to what end we’ll never know…”
“Warm Italian summer evenings, with a moon-filled sky, a handful of Peroni, a couple of friends and that simple pleasure of stripping off. Memory is a fine thing yet, with the weather improving, temptation is at it again so, may not be long before it’s time to escape the constraints.” Oil on prepared paper 50×57 cm.
A further selection of images from my late afternoon at the edge of a large field of slightly weary rapeseed, playing about with focus, and courting the bleaching effects of the sunshine. I was enjoying all the dry-looking clouds of gold, as if applied to the landscape by the rough end of a yellow pastel.
More chalky puffs of yellow from the rapeseed field by Bysing Wood. I always imagine these images as huge, perfectly matte prints behind non-reflective glass on large white walls in big, softly-lit spaces – as opposed to postage stamps on a mobile phone. I’d love to see them ‘life-size’, standing in front of them, as I originally stood at the edge of the field itself. Until that lottery win materialises, I’ll go on sharing them on here.
Back in 2012, I went to a conference in Florida. It was an academic sort of affair, but there was a little time on either side to do some sightseeing, include a road trip to the Gulf Coast and a visit to Universal Studios. It was difficult not to think hyperreal filmic thoughts as we drank coffee in roadside diners and walked around movie lots, harder still to resist taking hyperreal filmic snaps.
The first batch of photographs taken of the big rapeseed field at the edge of Bysing Wood. I know people have mixed feelings about these uncompromising swathes of yellow, and you might observe I’ve been working against the ‘YELLOWNESS!’ by photographing into the sun and shooting for more granular, powdery impressions. In actual fact, the rapeseed was already going over and less intense and profuse than it might have been, which helped it embed a little more convincingly into the environment around it. Ultimately, the colour, the light and the proper punch of heat made for a restorative visit and a lovely sensorial rush.
At the end of last week, at the end of the day, we went out to take in the view of a very large field of rapeseed just on the edge of Bysing Wood. I was soon lost, taking a great many photographs of the sea of billowing yellow flowers, photographing into the haze of the sun, over-exposing, and courting as much diffusion and noise as possible to produce my preference for painterly effects. The field itself was raised up above the level of the road and flanked by a steep, lush verge of the softest wild plants and flowers, a vertical garden more beautiful than any scheme I’ve seen designed and installed elsewhere. The sun was pushing into the camera through the voile of rapeseed at the very top of the verge, and the resulting light was like something out of Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. In coming days, Red’s Kingdom will be awash with golden fields; in advance of that, enjoy these postcards from the edge.