The Kick-About #80 ‘Charles Sheeler’

Textile artist, Sheila Hicks, inspired our last Kick-About together, and it was all soft, cushiony forms, meshes and string. This time out, we’re keeping company with Charles Sheeler and his crisp, clean expressions of modernity.

Marion Raper

“I really love the work of Charles Sheeler. How exciting it must have been to live during the 1920s and 30s when industrial buildings provided such a wealth of artistic material. For my first attempt at a painting I began by sticking a lot of newspaper down and did a rough copy of some factories from a magazine, but I felt it needed to be much sharper. Secondly I used an old picture I did some time ago and revamped it.  I have to be honest and say I am not altogether sure where the original inspiration came from, but the colour scheme and shapes are all my own work.

Graeme Daly

“Sheeler’s modernist work makes me ponder the industrial revolution, the building up and tearing down of sprawling metropolises in all their in-betweens of metal, cement and beams. The shapely blocks of colour makes me think of movement, like a time-lapse of something that is always being altered. I created my film by modelling quick and dirty shapes in 3D, then tinkered with the camera to pull the focal length back and added many of the shapes in a line, through which the camera cranes. I added little movements here and there to the shapes to make things feel dynamic.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Charly Skilling

“When I was browsing through Sheeler’s paintings, I was struck by how clean and colourful his painting is, while his subjects  are often grim and grubby industrial sites.  What’s more, many of his works look like exercises in perspective. Amoskeag Mills 2 particularly caught my eye. A few weeks ago, I decided it might be time to own up to my ignorance and signed-up for an art class to learn some of the basics. (See the effect you guys have on people!). 3 weeks into a 14 week course and perspective is much on my mind, worrying about horizons, vanishing points, and 2-, 3- and multi-point perspectives. I don’t know what the opposite of a ‘Precisionist’ is, but I think, as an “Im-precisionist”, I’ve found my genre!”

Vanessa Clegg

“This was interesting, as I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t come across Sheeler but liked the way he shifted between painting and photography… Wish I could have spent longer exploring the theme, but had to be satisfied by a couple of off-centre shots (lying on the ground) of the Arts complex where I have my studio.”

Phil Gomm

“One of the things guarding against the prettification of my home town is the presence of an aggregate factory slap-bang in the harbour. With Sheeler’s flattened abstractions in my sights, and likewise his use of colour, I went out to photograph the factory buildings, with the idea of collaging them, so moving quickly beyond this first act of recording them. Whitstable is celebrated for its skyscapes. and on this day, the clouds were so much lace and the light was pin-prick clean. Had my camera been old school, I’d have anyway plumped for a polarising filter by which to pull more drama and detail from the clouds; in the instance of these images, I polarised my images in post and licked my lips as the skies offered up all this tonal range and texture. The dystopian vibes of these photographs diverge at once from Sheeler’s calming expressions of modernity; my photographs remind me of sets from science-fiction movies; they’re all a bit Metropolis and I don’t mind saying I’m very happy about that. I walk past this factory all the time; it’s never felt this cinematic before.”

James Randall

“Charles Sheeler created great strongly composed images. So I took off with my camera around Brisbane city and really didn’t take any inspired pics. I did take some textures; a couple were of grey black hoardings on a building site, which I overlayed with a shadow (reversed to be white) of a collapsible clothes dryer. This combination looked like search lights over a ‘war sky’ whatever that is. Thus I lost sight of Mr Sheeler and fell down the war rabbit hole – in Australia there has been so much news coverage about defence spending and new nuclear powered subs – having trouble with government’s spending of tax payer’s money on weapons, while our less wealthy citizens go homeless. Any how, I kept layering parts of my city photos and distorted or modified them and finally added a couple of quick Illustrator drawn figures.”

Kerfe Roig

“I was immediately drawn to Sheeler’s Against the Sky a Web has Spun, as much for the title as the painting. I made a cosmic collage, simplifying the forms, and embroidered a web on top, then wrote a short poem to accompany it.”


our limitations
turn inside
out expand
beyond the webs we build to
house infinity /

And from abstractions inspired by concrete jungles…

The Kick-About / A Third Year Later

Blimey! Now where did that year go?

This moment in my blogging year does remind me a bit of when I used to put all my beloved He-Man figures on display, so I could just sit back with a purring of pleasure, satisfied by the simple act of amassing stuff: or when VHS was a thing, running my fingertip across all the lurid spines of my very many horror videos, finding comfort in the accruing and arranging of like-minded things. Mostly, however, I experience a funny sort of relief because even though this past year of Kick-Abouts has been busy with everything else, this latest miscellany suggests I am bloody-minded enough to hold on to all this thinking, doing and making even when circumstances are far from conducive. When your hands are full, you have to be careful what you put down. Looking back, all these little undertakings feel like spells cast for warding off world events and other slumps, like bobbing up again after intrusive thoughts of sinking and staying sunk.

I owe much of my buoyancy to the other Kick-Abouters, for The Kick-About is a lot like lighting a candle and putting it in my window, and then looking out and seeing all these other candles appearing one-by-one – and oh! the comfort and encouragement that brings!

Read the PDF here

Read the PDF here

Read the PDF here

Hermione Gray & The Murdered Magician

The Kick-About #78 ‘156.536’

Welcome to this anniversary edition of The Kick-About – a fortnightly creative challenge in which a loose community of artists make new works in a short time in response to a specific prompt. Gathered here, and in no particular order, are selections from one year’s worth of online exhibitions, with works inspired by a richly eclectic range of starting points, so everything from drum solos to volcanic eruptions. To everyone who participates, regularly or otherwise, a great big thank you for all your time and energy. I enjoy your company and relish your creativity and very much hope we continue to meet in the park over the coming weeks and months with our jumpers on the grass for goalposts. Happy anniversary to you all!

Francesca Maxwell – The Kick-About No.56

“I find percussions and drums quite fascinating. When I was heavily pregnant with Sophie, we went to a Kodo Drummers gig. I didn’t realise it would be quite so loud and powerful, I could feel the sound waves going through me like through air, I could barely breathe. I was quite worried about Sophie, but she started kicking madly as soon as the sound stopped, which I took as a sign of appreciation. So here I am, back on the heart, and the heart beat responding to the drumming.” Acrylic Inks on watercolour paper, 25×17 cm.

Graeme Daly – The Kick-About No.64

“As always it’s hard to pick a favourite from the past year as the kick about has taken me in places I never imagined. I decided to go with the sound suits Kick-About, purely for the automatic response of chucking a load of sequins into a wok and waving a few LED lights about and not knowing if the output would translate to what I had in mind. I remember feeling so enthralled with the process but contemplating if I had captured anything worthwhile at all; but upon importing the footage to my laptop, the videos I thought were duds turned out to capture the same primal element I got from the soundsuits.  The edit was an absolute dream and all in all one of my favourite Kick-Abouts thus far.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Phill Hosking – The Kick-About No.67

“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.” / /

Gary Thorne – The Kick-About No.74

“Reflecting back, Kick-About No.74 provides good example of the ‘pleasurable’ creative struggle when handling materials which resist, go against a personal inclination, instead ask for respect to limitations. You just cannot bend something your way, instead its happen-chance and an unpredictability which often rewards you. Which is the joy of KA – in joining up with like minded KA-ers in pursuit of surprises.”

Judy Watson – The Kick-About No.57

“There’s much to explore in response to Peake’s work, and I don’t think I can do it on one hit, so let us see where it takes me. But to begin with, it has taken me back to two mediums I loved in earlier years but have neglected more recently. Obviously this is all about the line. But it’s also about embracing a medium that can’t or won’t be fully controlled. I worked pretty small with these and just enjoyed making lots of small doodles. Perhaps some more finished work will come later.” / /

Tom Beg – The Kick-About No.53

“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!” / /

Kerfe Roig – The Kick-About No.54

‘Whirligigs was a challenge for me in that it called for a three-dimensional response.  I had the idea right away to do something with birds.  But it took a while for me to come up with the rings within rings to incorporate motion.  I wanted to hang all the birds, but couldn’t figure out how to do it.  But I like the way the outer mandala turned out, with all the birds moving at once contrasted with the birds in the center on their strings.  I can’t tell you the steps I took to get there – I just keep going until I get something that works. /

James Randall – The Kick-About No.65

“Sometimes you push and push for the birth of an  idea and sometimes they tumble out of the dark recesses. Tumbling out were my Halloween themed Long Vehicle images responding to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris – home to Jim Morrison etc. I had taken consecutive photos passing a long load truck on a road trip and combined them with other photos into a gothic narrative within five deconstructed letterform frames. Whoosh!”

Phil Cooper – The Kick-About No.66

“I’ve enjoyed the Kick-About posts so much over the last year and I’m gobsmacked every time by all the amazing work people create in just two weeks. One of the many things I love about this forthnightly challenge is how it gets me doing all kinds of things I never usually do in my creative practice. The prompts themselves, and the timescale which stops me overthinking, push me into trying new things and not worrying so much about whether what I’m making is ‘good’. I’ve found it so rewarding and the experience has opened up new ways of working for me.

For this ‘best-of’ edition, I’ve chosen the mask I made last autumn in response to Turner’s Vesuvius painting. If it hadn’t been for the Kick-About, I can’t imagine I would ever make a demon mask out of a paper bag and get my husband to photograph me wearing it whilst wandering around an industrial estate at night. It was great fun and I’m looking forward to trying all kinds of other weird and wonderful things for the Kick-About prompts to come.” / /

Lisa Fox – The Kick-About No.73

“How this piece came about is when I became part of a postcard exchange mail group and was making my first group of cards to mail out. I looked to a book I have called Art Deco: Design Fantasies by E.H. Raskin and took illustration #7 as my starting point for inspiration. From there, it took on a life of its own. As I put it together, I imagined two spiny sea creatures, cephalopods, if you will, reaching out for each other. Of course my mind operates in metaphors and I see them as two people who ordinarily do not do well with others but still need the comfort of human companionship, reaching out to each other. The companionship is represented by the little pink in the center.”

Jordan Buckner – The Kick-About No.57

“It’s hard to resist that textural ink approach Peake was famous for. I recognised some of Peake’s work but didn’t have a great knowledge on who he was, or what his work amounted to. It’s wonderful to see that even in his more observational work, that gothic storytelling still feels present.”

Charly Skilling – The Kick-About No.64

“I have had great fun with many of the Kick-Abouts this year, but the Nick Cave prompt was undoubtedly one to remember.  It was certainly the only Kick-About to leave me literally breathless with laughter!”

Claire-Beth Gibson – The Kick-About No.65

“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.”

@claire_beth_claire / /

Marion Raper – The Kick-About No.67

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!

Colin Bean – The Kick-About No.53

“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…”

Jan Blake – The Kick-About No.56

“The one I have chosen is KA 56  For drummers only. This piece was truly compelling and i think it continued into paint in the following KA when I travelled around Cornwall. The anticipation of allowing myself to travel further for the first time during Covid unleashed my imagination. I need to take more journeys!”

Phil Gomm – The Kick-About No.53

“My choice dates all the way back to the short story I wrote in response to a particular painting by Toulouse-Lautrec featuring a clown performing alongside a little black pig. As revenge narratives go, it’s as black-as-pitch and I suppose there’s a part of me that glimmers away quite darkly beneath my otherwise mild-mannered and restrained exterior. I recall a snippet of an interview with the late director, Wes Craven, talking about Hitchcock, saying how Hitchcock presented as an avuncular, rather urbane character, but how there was something feral at work beneath it all, and I’ve always liked and identified with that description. Certainly, it just felt liberating to be in the company of this story’s motley crew of showbiz misfits, and to allow things to run their course – however despicable.”

Vanessa Clegg – The Kick-About No.77

“This was a perfect prompt for me as I’ve long been a fan of Eliot’s work, so pulled out my battered and very old copy of his poetry to refresh my mind as well as do a little online research. The effect of WW1 struck me as the dominant first layer followed by references to sexuality, love and its unpredictable consequences; so with the help of an extremely scratched record, my dansette record player, iPad and a lot of soil and cardboard I cobbled together what I hoped would be (as near as possible) some kind of atmosphere of war and its encroachment on everyday life, as well as the post-war period of the 20s/30s when The Waste Land was published… it was a great way to spend Easter!”

And just like that, the wheel turns and we’re into another cycle of serendipity and playfulness, and we’re kicking things off with the sumptuous large-scale installations of Sheila Hicks. ‘Happy New Year’!

The Kick-About #77 ‘The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne’

We spent our last Kick-About together riffing on a surrealistic painting by Lucian Freud – a depiction of a strange artificial-seeming room filled with improbable objects and an air of unfinished business. Courtesy of an extract from part two of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, we’re this week occupants of another theatrical interior, as ripe with arresting imagery.

Vanessa Clegg

“This was a perfect prompt for me as I’ve long been a fan of Eliot’s work, so pulled out my battered and very old copy of his poetry to refresh my mind as well as do a little online research. The effect of WW1 struck me as the dominant first layer followed by references to sexuality, love and its unpredictable consequences; so with the help of an extremely scratched record, my dansette record player, iPad and a lot of soil and cardboard I cobbled together what I hoped would be (as near as possible) some kind of atmosphere of war and its encroachment on everyday life, as well as the post-war period of the 20s/30s when The Waste Land was published… it was a great way to spend Easter!”

Marion Raper

“This seemed to be a very tough prompt, and the only sense I could make of it was that there was a lot of dissatisfaction after World War 1 – as well there would be.  Many women were, on the one hand, looking forward to their men coming home, whilst on the other hand dreading the thought of what it would mean – inevitably having more babies and more mouths to feed. The men would also have changed dramatically after fighting in a war and would have been shell-shocked and traumatised. It must have been a very challenging and depressing time for everyone. I have been doing a few charcoal drawings recently and one of the things I do for inspiration is to take photos on the TV, with my mobile, of documentaries which have old black and white pictures in them. These faces from the past seemed to fit in with the characters from the poem. So here they are.”

Kerfe Roig

“Apropos of nothing, really, I composed this collage. It does feature chess pieces and contains some of the things mentioned in the poem, but it is certainly far from a literal translation. I have to thank Restoration Hardware for the chess pieces and some of the background images taken straight out of their overpriced and pretentious catalogs. The atmosphere Eliot has created seems similarly overdone.  The poem is a Silver Shovel – the last words of each line repeat one of the lines of A Game of Chess, minus the ‘or’.”


Her voice attempted to soothe, unguent–
but it grated against his ears like powdered
sand.  Her eyes pooled like liquid
poured chaotically from a troubled
mind.  The aggregate left him confused.

“unguent, powdered, or liquid—troubled, confused”
from A Game of Chess, T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land” /

Graeme Daly

“I thought about doing an illustration of a grand hall worthy of a queen, pooling with rim light, but I really wanted to do something physical and with my hands, mainly to crack into the little art studio I have revamped so that I don’t turn my bedroom into a catastrophe of shite while doing Kick-Abouts late into the night like this, so some still life photography it is then! Something about the grandiosity of the poem, the spectacle of the conceitedness, signified a sense of danger and something uglier underneath. With these photos, I wanted to tell a story – they may look aesthetic and familiar, but things are not as they seem – much like those in power, littered with gold and jewels, but who are usually the most corrupt imposters of all, and wear their porcelain masks to hide behind a facade. I took and borrowed elements of my own and my roommates, including my jewellery, my favourite wine glass I accidentally smashed and plucked out of the garbage, silk pillowcases, lots of fruit, and trimmings of plants I nicked on my neighbourhood runs.” / @graemedalyart / / / /

Phil Gomm

“My imagination attached itself to these lines in Eliot’s poem: ‘In vials of ivory and coloured glass / Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes / Unguent, powdered, or liquid’. I got this immediate mental impression of colour, specularity and transparency, so I gathered together the many various old glass bottles we’ve collected over the years, reached for some food colouring and assembled a still life or two. The resulting images were produced by purposefully defocusing the photograph and over-exposing the bottles. I was pushing for something as painterly as possible and while some of these photographs are a bit ‘IKEA’ I suppose, I enjoyed all the in-camera transformations of simple things using light, colour and time.”

James Randall

A note to say how wonderful all your diverse responses were to Freud two weeks ago! And how nice this time to respond to words – picking up on tone or a word here and there or the poem as a whole (whole excerpt.) I took off on a walk around town taking some pics and used one of a riveted plate on our Story Bridge. I used it to build an internal space as the poem seemed claustrophobic. I deep etched a cloud to use as seven candle flames. I have been using shaved charcoal photos to add texture to compositions and decided to add a figure made up of many layers of these photos in black with white highlights. I had the figure over the wall of rivet plates but it felt too hard – I added a photo of linen fabric. This didn’t open up the background enough so I ‘floated’ the plates back – initially further away at the bottom but then rotated to the top. The candle flames needed to be moved from a straight line to encircle the figure head and I took the opportunity to make them all different – animals, bits of bark, water reflections… Then I wanted to add a table with greenery in front below the figure. I used blue green and yellow in an Illustrator file which I took into photoshop to blur and added (eventually) a brown photo of water. This table wasn’t sitting well at the page bottom so I turned it around and added a reflected second on the other side of the figure. I now needed a new table so went back to Illustrator to create a much thinner form. This started to work but the horizon line was missing so I added a concertina of clouds. I didn’t have dolphins to add so I threw in a couple of whales from long ago. The image kept getting wider so I added some ‘circular line work in the empty corners. My last element was to add charcoal on the table.

Gary Thorne

“The devil, although never mentioned nor blamed and in fact non-existent, nevertheless comes to mind, with its glorious horns and red-face, an easy access symbol to portray evil within man. Philomela’s horrid rape and mutilation by Tereus stirred on making this bedroom ceiling lampshade, with its 360-degree watchful eyes heeding a warning to those that over-night in the guest room!”

Phil Cooper

“I’ve never read The Waste Land, in fact, I have to confess my knowledge of T. S. Ellot’s poetry pretty much stops with Old Possum’s book of Practical Cats. So I took these lines in the prompt at face value and just explored the idea of chairs, and thrones and power. I made a drawing of an image I’d taken of my friend Hans on a walk last spring and combined it with an edited version of the original photo. We were walking across a field and we came across a red plastic chair plonked in the middle of the empty space. It had an odd presence and was just asking to be sat on. Hans was wearing a patchwork hoodie with a long tail on the hood that looked a little like a jester or a typical ‘fool’ archetype. He’s surveying his realm in the picture, but there’s not much there, almost nothing really…” / /

Charly Skilling

“It may be all the depressing news at present, but I was struck by the contrast between T. S. Eliot’s verse and modern day experience.  But however depressing everyday life can be, there is always a spark of joy, somewhere.”

Rather brilliantly, The Kick-About No.78 is our third anniversary edition – and in keeping with tradition, our next exhibition will be a ‘Best Of’, in which our community of Kick-Abouters – regular and less-so – are challenged to pick their own favourite submission from their previous year’s projects to be showcased together in celebration. I’m looking forward to it already – and, incase you’re wondering, as of the 78th edition, the Kick-About will have been ‘kicking-about’ for a grand total of 156.536 weeks (or thereabouts).

Short film: Tuinvolk (2023)

This week, The Kick-About No.75 had Hieronymus Bosch’s deliciously abstruse painting, The Garden Of Earthly Delights, as its prompt, and I was prompted to produce a little maquette in homage to the strange pink architecture in Bosch’s landscape and likewise his swarms of small pink people.

Having made my little ball of Bosch, I got thinking about raves in woodlands and the likes of the Glastonbury music festival, and I was reminded of a bit of footage I once saw online of an alfresco raver dancing away in the dawning light – even though the music had long since stopped and everyone else was heading home. I thought about Bosch’s garden revellers and how, exhausted from their various exertions, and stoned on strawberry pips and pectin, they might commune nonetheless with the sunrise. By way of a response, I made this little film quickly and simply, with Tuinvolk being Dutch for ‘Garden Folk’

The Kick-About #75 ‘The Garden Of Earthly Delights’

Our previous Kick-About together was inspired by the organic, floating vessels of Ruth Asawa, exemplars of restraint. Much less so, the teeming visual motifs characterising Bosch’s extraordinary three-act painting, a maximalism of symbols, detail and hybridity. Bosch’s garden has made for a fertile stomping ground for these latest works made in a short time. Welcome to the party – and for all previous editions of The Kick-About, find them compiled right here.

Charly Skilling

“I can’t help wondering what the people around Bosch thought of this painting; family, apprentices, neighbours etc.  I suspect there must have been quite a few raised eyebrows, disapproving looks, perhaps one or two lascivious leers.  But the painting has survived, and been treasured, for over 500 years. You wonder how it would be received if it had been painted today? 

Although Bosch was in middle age and beyond when he painted his Garden of Earthly Delights, I tried to envisage a scene where Bosch’s mother was called in to have one of those chats at his school, when Bosch, as a young boy, first began to show signs of his artistry…”

Kerfe Roig

“I decided to explore the architecture in the Garden…” /

Tom Beg

“When I was a student I made an animation based on The Garden of the Earthly Delights, which now, much to my embarrassment ,is posted on numerous places on the internet and still gets the odd random YouTube comment. Looking at it now, it’s clearly the work of someone still trying to understand the esoteric world of computer animation software with mistakes and oversights galore. I can only say that it is what is, but I used this prompt to go back and refine some of the things on one of the original models. Mostly it’s minor things, like adding ridges or holes where two objects originally penetrated through each other. Going back and fixing some of these has added an extra level believability to the model, and  I have a bit motivation now to give the rest of the models the same 2023 treatment. Stay tuned!” / /

Jan Blake

“I’ve always been intrigued by these paintings of such weirdness and complexity. They remind me of so many things and of the artists who have been influenced by them that, to find my own angle, and what intrigued me, took a while to arrive. So I returned to the earth and the recent work that biologists such as Merlin Sheldrake have been studying  in the realms of the entangled lives of mycorrhizal fungi and mycelial networks. It has turned my head upside down to think about these organisms as being the  predecessors of us as beings and how much we depend on them. My model making does not allow too much close inspection but I did enjoy creating creatures that sprang from the network webbing of the roots that surround us.  They remained white having only recently come out of the earth! We are a flawed species and still evolving but at the beginning we may have been something totally mixed-up. We still enjoy dressing up as creatures whether from this planet or another.  The fantasy of becoming Other is still with us.”

Phil Gomm

“I was very drawn to all those shell-pink structures and prawnish people in Bosch’s wonderfully strange and limpid painting, so set about building a miniature version of something so inspired. Sadly, I couldn’t get my hands on a more lewd assortment of little people, so this lot seem content to stand about as silent spectators. I rather think they’re missing out.”

“Having made my little bit of Bosch, I got thinking about raves in woodlands and the likes of the Glastonbury music festival, and I was reminded of a bit of footage I once saw online of an alfresco raver dancing away in the dawning light – even though the music had long since stopped and everyone else was heading home. I thought about Bosch’s garden revellers and how, exhausted from their various exertions, and stoned on strawberry pips and pectin, they might commune nonetheless with the sunrise. I made this little film quickly and simply, with ‘Tuinvolk’ being Dutch for ‘Garden Folk’.”

Graeme Daly

“I am in the process of a big DIY project at the moment, which is turning a shithole of a room in my shared house that is used for storage and discarded items into an artist’s studio where I can work on creative things such as the Kick-About. In the process, I happened to come across the box where I kept all my life drawings from uni; being the sentimental type I could never throw them away and I always wanted to create this project – so the kick about provides that drive yet again. 

I decided to focus on the busyness of Bosch’s painting with emphasis on the figures and go against my usual likeness towards landscapes. Realising I didn’t need to photograph every sheet of life drawing I dusted off my old hard drive that contains photographs of those life drawings and re-photographed a few that were otherwise of an abysmal quality. I then popped them into Photoshop and cut out each figure from the sheet of paper and collaged them together accordingly. A very sentimental feeling seeing all my uni life drawings in one place together and a fulfilling experience.” / @graemedalyart / / / /

Gary Thorne

“There are two portraits in question of the illusive H. Bosch, both proposed as possible self-portraits, and it was this which triggered my thinking across a fortnight of bitterly cold mornings. Catching the first of the sun’s rays as they peaked over the fence, avoided the glass table-top from losing its filter characteristics yet, it demanded a somewhat contortionist approach to taking a selfie.”

Phil Cooper

To me, The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of the most extraordinary paintings every made. I was looking round one of the big state museums here in Berlin last week that had a collection of art from around the same period. I came out feeling like I had gone slightly mad, the paintings and sculptures were so weird, so peculiar to my 21st century eyes that I couldn’t find a way into most of it at all. Having read up about The Garden of Earthly Delights, it seems nobody really knows what the painting is about either. Academics seem to disagree as to whether it is a celebration of erotic joy, of the Garden of Eden before the Fall, or rather an admonition of fleshly pleasures.  Certainly, it is a work of the imagination, a world conjured from the internal life of its maker. So I’ve made a self-portrait image, a photo of me with my eyes closed, looking inward, overlayed with some drawings I made in one of the glasshouses at the Botanical Gardens in Berlin. Many of us yearn for ‘the garden’, whatever that means to each of us, a paradise free from the stresses and strains of the mundane world we live in. Bosch’s painting seems to express that feeling in many of the innocent playful figures that frolic about in the soft light and benign green landscape of its central panel. Sometimes we experience it for real, and sometimes it lives mainly behind our eyelids… / /

Marion Raper

“This is kind of a tall order to condense the woes of civilisation into just two weeks work!  However I’m up for a challenge! Coincidentally,  as I sat looking at the image of The Garden of Earthly Delights the radio played the beautiful song by Mark Knoffler “Are we in trouble now”. How very apt.”

James Randall

“The Garden of Earthly Delights is so dense it was too much for me as a youngster and too strange. Even now I find there is an unpleasant cartoonish characteristic to much of it.

What to say in our AI-driven world? I began this challenge thinking about a visual language beyond zeros and ones perhaps so dense with information that it could be represented by strips of colours so my triptych backgrounds became stretched pixel samples from the original artwork. Then what to say? Something true to homosapiens, and what may come perhaps. I think existence is simple. Then I tried to add a visual representation of this simplicity.”

And with thanks to Brisbane-based artist and regular Kick-Abouter, James Randall, we have our new prompt. And you thought Bosch’s garden took some puzzling out! Have fun in this painter’s room…

The Kick-About #73 ‘Cephalopod’

Our last Kick-About was prompted by a work of art celebrated for its complex commentary on the act of looking. The subject of this week’s showcase of new works made in a short time is no less enigmatic – the otherworldly cephalopod. Enjoy this latest dive into the deep waters of creative play…

Marion Raper

“I have to say that cephalopods are not really my favourite thing. They are rather too wriggly and slippery for my liking and have too many tentacles and suckers to grab their unsuspecting prey!  However, I do admit they are super-amazing in their ability to survive this world for so long by camouflage and cleverness. I especially like the information I read about the octopus that sneaked out of its tank, climbed over to another fish tank, ate the fish inside and then sneaked  back again! I used some yuppo paper, which I marbled to create my octopus collage, with some added acrylic paint.” 

Gary Thorne

“So fascinating, I’ve learned so much about the Octopus; its brainy capabilities, balletic physicality; capacity to mimic and play, and dodge harm coming its way. I’m now full of ‘respect’ for this amazingly exotic creature. Perhaps it’s the playful nature which inspired this simple colourful child-like 8-propellor whirligig.”

Kerfe Roig

“I wasn’t sure what to do after a drawing failed to excite me, but I found some pieces of African fabrics that I decided to make into a stuffed animal. I made no pattern but just started cutting and stitching in the manner of my collages except with fabric and thread instead of paper and glue. My cuttlefish is totally not anatomically correct, but has the general form and spirit of a sea creature with tentacles that can change the color and pattern of its skin.  I photographed it on a few different backgrounds, and also did one photo of the bottom. I wanted to do some more embroidery on it but ran out of time…” /

Lisa Fox

“How this piece came about is when I became part of a postcard exchange mail group and was making my first group of cards to mail out. I looked to a book I have called Art Deco: Design Fantasies by E.H. Raskin and took illustration #7 as my starting point for inspiration. From there, it took on a life of its own. As I put it together, I imagined two spiny sea creatures, cephalopods, if you will, reaching out for each other. Of course my mind operates in metaphors and I see them as two people who ordinarily do not do well with others but still need the comfort of human companionship, reaching out to each other. The companionship is represented by the little pink in the center.”

James Randall

“I had seen a ghostly pickled giant squid (and other cephalopods) at the Queensland Museum recently, so I headed back there with my camera on a 35 degree day. The museum opened at 9.30 and even then it was full of people (definitely a free public museum in need of expansion.) In the darkish venue I took my blurry pics of the decaying white carcasses. Back home I used Photoshop and Illustrator to come up wth an image. I also began reading Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith: I didn’t get far, but I noted how far back on the evolutionary tree that cephalopods branched away from humans and how their minds developed independently to ours. At that time I also listened to a podcast about AI art – How will AI change our understanding of Art? – my takeaway from that was to ask why we would engage computers to create art when that is something we simply enjoy doing (at the fundamental level of painting and writing) and can use to honestly question existence. We don’t properly question science; we just pursue all of its branches in pursuit of the mighty dollar or genuine, but sometimes flawed curiosity. I think occasionally you need to ask why and say no. I don’t think we will ask ourselves if AI should be pursued, so that generated thoughts on evolution and what hope the future holds if our next iteration is formed from minds that pursue power and profit above all else… So with that I added a couple of words to my image.”

Francesca Maxwell

“I love cephalopods, my favourite creatures. So beautiful and so intelligent. So much so, that an octopus is one of the main characters in a story I wrote years ago for a little animation film. Still working on it! It might never become a film but it has become the inspiration for a lot of my paintings. So here is my friend coming to the surface to greet, help and guide the lost girl of the story.”

Phill Hosking

“These are taken from a set of posts I made a while ago, during a time of drawing practice exploring a new subject every month. These are in various mediums, including coloured pencils, markers, inks and digital. A good subject for loose and expressive mark-making.” / /

Graeme Daly

“There was a few failed attempts at different iterations for this weeks kick about, one of which was a lot less colourful and leaning a lot towards the the horror side. I decided to salvage one of the 3D models from that attempt and use the gooey textures from a previous kick about onto the 3D models of Octopuses. Things started to take place when I laid the 3D models onto of each other – as if the octopuses are in some sort of a dance together, possibly one of the lethal kind.” / @graemedalyart / / / /

Tom Beg

“I’ve used this technique a lot in past Kick-Abouts for generating all sorts of things in a loose but still recognisable form. It feels like sketching in 3D and it’s always satisfying to see what kind of forms emerge in a natural way, and given the chameleonic nature of cephalopods. I thought I would dust it off for perhaps one last spin. Its tentacle-like quality seemed a perfect fit for creating some abstract and otherworldly octopus-like creatures… although, apparently, an octopus technically doesn’t have tentacles!” / /

Phil Gomm

“There’s a longer bit of preamble for another time in which I reveal how the images in this short film were made, but, in typical Kick-About style, no actual cephalopods were employed in the making of it. Instead, this whole thing began with a white bathroom tile, a fish bowl and a single flashing light source, lo-fi, low-budget japes ensuing! Inspired directly by this footage of a sleeping octopus, I went about imagining both the interior and exterior expression of a dreaming cephalopod, further inspired by the finale to Spielberg’s wonderful Close Encounters of The Third Kind.”

Vanessa Clegg

“I wanted to do a simple drawing for a change and approach it from a slightly sideways direction. The suckers reminded me of the ‘cupping’ the early doctors/quaks were so fond of by applying leeches for almost any ailment…also of the marks left by giant squid down in the infinite deep whilst battling with sperm whales.”

“This is a strange, calm underwater world where octopuses, and maybe a giant squid or two, roam … above, the world is in turmoil. The merman/maid has yet to be discovered.”

Charly Skilling

A few years ago, my brother Jon went on a trip to the Falklands and South Georgia. He is an avid photographer and bird watcher and came back with trillions of holiday snaps.  Amongst  these was a series of extraordinary photographs of an encounter he witnessed on the shores of South Georgia, an encounter between a seagull and an octopus. As soon as I saw these photos, I was convinced there was a story to be told.  When the KA prompt came up as ‘Cephalopod’, the phrase ‘The Seagull and the Cephalopod’ immediately came to mind and the rhythm and alliteration was stuck in my head until I’d written the poem. The photos actually show a black-backed gull, Jon informs me, but I ignored that and used the term “seagull” or “common gull”… easier for scansion and more potential for humour.  People who know about these things say it is very unlikely for an octopus to be so close to the shore in this area unless it is on the point of death, but I didn’t want to think about this octopus in that way. In other words, don’t look to my work for scientific accuracy, or indeed, any kind of accuracy at all, but the one particular photo that inspired this poem is absolutely genuine and I am very grateful to Jon for allowing me to share it with you.

With thanks to regular Kick-Abouter and conjuror of crochet, Charly Skilling, we have our all-new prompt, courtesy of Ruth Asawa. Enjoy yourselves!

The Kick-About #69 ‘The Christmas Tree’

Our last Kick-About celebrated an art form and creative practice form more readily associated with home and hearth, and while not everyone may identify as being as creative as quilt-maker, Harriet Powers, it’s also true that Christmas is a time when many people assume the role of installation artist and transform their living spaces into something more extraordinary. Consider the Christmas tree, a simple enough idea of evergreen hope and light-in-the-darkness, but complex too in terms of issues of matters of tradition, culture and taste. With the season of goodwill fast approaching, enjoy this latest selection of new works made in a short time, and with the Christmas tree – in all its creative incarnations – as this week’s inspiration.

Tom Beg

“I have more lasting memories of my mum’s attempts at putting together artisanal and minimalistic Christmas trees (a few twigs with some baubles hanging on) than I do of a proud-looking pine or spruce in the corner of the living room. Thinking back those twigs were actually impressively avant-garde and experimental in the all the ways I wish I could be, so here’s my ode to one of mum’s many avant-garde trees.” / /

Kerfe Roig

“I wanted to make a cosmic tree–and I made three that were supposed to stand up, but they were very hard to photograph that way. So for most of the photos I took them apart and laid them flat.  I used various grounds you may recognise from past projects. I was also thinking of the EE Cummings poem Little Tree and did my own cosmic version.”

big universe

big universe
vast and filled with wonder
endless and infinite
everything all at once

how is it we are here?–
looking up, far, into infinity–
we stand inside the glitter of dust
seeking to capture the stars

a seed was planted–
a long sleep surrounded by a dark womb–
an unformed dream
awakened into manifestation

we hold our children close
and then release them–
what will their spirits carry
when they open to the light?

will there ever be an ending?
a time when particles cease to wave?–
we can only hold hands with the spiral
and continue dancing