The latest Kick-About got me looking through an old archive of photographs, and images taken in Katowice, Poland, in particular. For this Friday’s retrospective, I’m offering up a collection of architectural highlights from my two visits to the city; the wonderfully cinematic Spodek (“It Came From Outer Space!“); an equally filmic old house, shrouded in drapes of black plastic; a view of the cathedral from the rain-wet atrium of the Filharmonia Śląska building, and the formidably organic-looking memorial commemorating the three post-WWI Polish armed uprisings against the German authorities of Upper Silesia in 1919, 1920 and 1921.
A few more city-inspired impressions, produced in response to The Kick-About No. 41, with Fernand Léger’s 1919 painting, La Ville, as it’s jumping-off point. These images were produced digitally, by layering up a single image and encouraging a certain ‘smudgery’ and pushing for a bit of visual grattage to void the digitalness of the process. There’s a certain build up of residue in some of these images I’m beginning to enjoy. ‘Dirty old town…’
From the ephemera of the last KA’s flowers of fire, to the more concrete energies of Fernand Leger’s La Ville, it’s another showcase of new works made in a short time by an eclectic group of creatives. We have ‘all sorts’ of different work in the mix – and quite literally this time too! Happy browsing.
“I wanted to create an abstract image that conjured up the feeling of climbing some obscenely huge tower and looking down on the endlessly sprawling megalopolis below.”
“I don’t know why, but Léger’s work reminds me of liquorice allsorts, with a touch of fuzzy felts (remember them?) thrown in… So I spent an enjoyable afternoon playing with sweets, attempting to recreate something vaguely Léger-like, at the same time gobbling the residue – eating the art! Can’t recommend it highly enough!”
“A collage with words.”
The City (after Leger)
In the beginning you can divide the questions
into a multitude of forms.
For your second act define your journey.
Offer your voice to the silence of light.
Remember to open the secret red door.
Do you know why?
It’s too early to be the end.
“My daughter had the good fortune to go to the premiere of the film, House of Gucci, in London recently. Whilst watching the stars parade down the red carpet, she took a fabulous photo on her mobile. It captured Lady Gaga walking through a forest of mobiles held aloft, and with the city lights all around. I thought this was such a great shot and would be just right for this Kick-About. I did a watercolour sketch first and then transcribed it into cubist terms. How times have changed since the times of Leger!”
“I do not share Léger’s delight in modern cities, In fact, the aspect of British cities I most enjoy is the eclectic mixture of architecture from throughout the centuries. Here you are very likely to find long-established shops housed in medieval buildings, sagging gently against a some tall, stern, corsetted Victorian hotel, which is itself being eyeballed by a 1960’s concrete office block. Leger wrote to a friend, ‘I am still constantly astonished by the vertical urge of these people drunk with architecture. From my room on the thirtieth floor, the night is the most astonishing spectacle in the world. Nothing can be compared to it… This city is infernal. A mixture of elegance and toughness.’
I am trying to capture, in crochet, that spirit of a night time cityscape. It is a work in progress, but I started with sketches, then collage, and then began recreating some of those images in what will eventually be, (I think), a five-panelled piece of work. As you can see, there is a way to go!”
“Léger may have lived in an exciting time when cities were evolving rapidly with new industries and styles emerging – and I do love a new architectural design device today but, after the last year and a half, cities have lost a lot of gloss for me. In my KA submission I used building facade photos to recreate the Covid 19 virus model from the CDC and popped a little fiery hell below it. Looks fairly cheery to me!“
“I took this photograph in Katowice, Poland, on the first of my two trips there in 2017 and 2019 respectively. My reason for visiting the city was on account of my collaboration with the orchestra there. This particular image was taken on my first visit, on a bright winter’s afternoon, as I explored the city in the gap between rehearsal and performance. Léger’s painting reminded me of this image, something about the absence of any horizon and all those vertical stripes, the prompt sending me back to my archives for a rummage.
The association made, I set myself the task of using this one photograph as the only element in a digital collage, re-sizing it, layering it, rotating it, slicing it up, and then building it back together again. Different layering combinations soon pushed out different colours, and ultimately, different cities, or rather the same city at different times of the day. In common with so many of these Kick-About challenges, I find restricting my available resources to be an effective way of getting into making different types of work.”
“Léger’s love of the city is evident in his painting, La Ville. It hums with the energy and activity of the ever-changing urban landscape. Everything in the painting looks on the move, new structures are rising up before our eyes, while others are being knocked down to make way for yet more construction.
I live in Berlin, a city with a unique history and a place that’s had more than it’s fair share of destruction and renewal. The life of the city here has ebbed and flowed like the tide, dying down and growing up again dramatically over the last hundred years or so. I’ve been out sketching recently, taking a little folding stool out into the neighbourhood where I live, drawing and painting quickly (because it’s so chilly here at the moment!), responding to the strong shapes of the architecture and the frequently shifting landscape of the streets.
This sketch for the Kick-About is of a ruined old building that was part of a factory complex. Not that old, but derelict and dead, waiting to be cleared away for something else. It was a great subject to paint, probably more interesting than the bland blocks of flats that will undoubtedly take its place soon. Léger celebrated the shiny energy of the new, but I’ve been drawn to the melancholy of the city that is disappearing.”
“With Léger’s La Ville being inspired by the city’s urbanisation I decided to mimic the feeling of constant change. Gritty photos taken on the streets of my current stomping ground in London are meshed together in a smorgasbord of shapes, colours and texture, to highlight the building up and tearing down of the fast paced concrete jungle.”
Thanks to regular Kick-Abouter, Phil Cooper, we have a new prompt, Andy Goldsworthy’s Ice Spiral, which is surely a secret wish for the magic of winter and other transformations. Have fun, and see you back here in December.
I’m slightly torturing myself with this image, taken in some dusty French town in the late summer of 2011. I can almost feel the stored heat coming off that chalky white wall…
The fun thing about participating in The Kick-About is the way it produces these intense bouts of creative exploration, sending me off in different directions every two weeks and often exerting a tight grip on my imagination. What’s really nice about The Kick-About is the way these moments are fleeting, and when I’m finally done with something, I’m done.
With regards to the specific prompt for the KA#40 – exquisite illustrations for Japanese firework catalogues – I was as much drawn to the elegance of the illustrations’ portrait format, as to the visual pleasures of the fireworks themselves, which gave rise to this final turn of the wheel. These latest panels, which take their name from the Japanese word for firework (or fire flower), derive from the sleek letter-box format of the short film Whizz Bang Ooh Aah, which in turn derived from a series of photographs with soap bubbles as their original subject. They make me want to see them printed very large in a hushed and darkened room, lit by soft white light.
Thanks to The Kick-About No.40, I went shooting off on another short-lived, if intense, trajectory inspired by these beautiful and poetic illustrations of fireworks. I’ve been sharing images resulting from my photography of soap bubbles, which was the safest way I could think of – in a short time – to work with colourful displays as fleeting as fireworks. I really enjoyed some of imagery, finding in it some of the explosive qualities we associated with pyrotechnics. What these experiments couldn’t express was the kineticism and noise of a good firework display, so I was further tempted to have a bash at using the photographs to produce some moving-image. Whizz Bang Ooh Aah is the result, my intention being to get close to that moment at the end of a big organised show when the sights and sounds become almost over-whelming, before the abrupt outbreak of darkness, silence – and applause!
A few last squibs from my photographic mission to ‘blow things up’ in response to the firework theme of The Kick-About No.40, only the only ‘blowing up’ taking place in the production of these images was me blowing down a short length of hosepipe into some very soapy water. All the breaking apart and bokeh derives from focusing through the resulting bubbles, producing these immersive, layered constellations.
Another set of soap bubble-derived scintillas produced in a Kick-About-inspired quest to simulate the pyrotechnics of a firework display in the environs of my house.
A third collection of images produced for The Kick-About No.40, with some of these not giving out an explosive vibe at all, but something much more autumnal and becalmed; leaves on the surface of a pond, or somehow the aftermath of some starry party, a black studio floor littered with the metallic confetti of a Eurovision finale…
So not ‘throwing back’ very far this Friday, only as far as a few weeks ago, when I started thinking about all-things ‘firework-y’. Our house is full of dried allium heads, great big starbursts sitting atop various jugs and containers. I thought I’d have a bash at bringing out some of its visual associations, principally that ‘Laser Hazard Sign’! Zap!