Short Film: Whizz Bang Ooh Aah (2021)

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!

The Kick-About #40 ‘Flowers Of Fire’

After the gothic shadows of our last Kick-About together, how about a bit of flash, dazzle and colour? Inspired by the delightful illustrations from various collections of Japanese firework catalogues, the Kick-Abouters are lighting things up with a vibrant display of new works made in a short time. Whizz bang ooh ahh indeed!

Marion Raper

My first idea for this wonderful topic was to do some machine stitching on paper, as I thought I could get some exciting and interesting firework patterns with this. However, my sewing machine had other ideas and although I have used this method before, my needles kept breaking and I had to opt for plan B – hand stitching. First I used acrylic inks as background and then added various threads, sequins and oddments from my stash. As I sat sewing it came to me that life is like a firework! It starts off at great speed, happy, colourful and joyous, then there’s a bit of brilliance and sparkle and it finally shoots off into the heavens with a giant BOOM!!

Graeme Daly

Graeme:  I do have this massive piece of glass that was taken off a neighbour’s shower… it stands perfectly by itself, so I’m going to haul it into my room and give it a whirl for more experiments.

Phil: Don’t die.

Graeme: I’ll try!  I see why you love this practice so much. It’s so much fucking fun! I got lost in it. 

@graemedalyart / / / /

James Randall

“For some reason when I initially read the prompt list a lot of flowers types were in it (in my old persons head!) – so I worked with building photos and added flowers and water pics (from the archives) and Japanese type in a square format, but I had killed off any vitality. I ditched the type and changed the format to 1:3, and eventually lost the building layer. Also accidentally rotated the pic to portrait. I think it improved the piece.”

Phil Gomm

“This prompt got me thinking about ways I might make fireworks my photographic subject without burning down the house in the process! I settled upon an equivalent phenomena that shared both the ‘rainbows’ and ephemerality of fireworks, filling a large white bowl with water and lots of washing-up liquid, and setting about blowing large heaps of bubbles. I was able to focus on, and through, all the multiple planes of the bubbles, which I soon learned produced these nicely ‘explosive’ qualities. I was reminded of the moments just after a rocket explodes, so not the big sky-born chrysanthemums, but the petering out of the last few sparks against the smudges of smoke. I took a whole bunch of photographs, always trying to find the next most expressive composition, and all the time racing against the inevitable popping of my soapy installation. Even as I was happy with the resulting images, I felt pulled towards getting into the explosiveness a little more, evoking the sights and sounds of a firework display, and so putting some of these images to work. The short film ‘Whizz Bang Ooh Aah’ was the result of trying to do just that.”

Kerfe Roig

When I looked through the fireworks catalogues at all the different images, it made me think that the artists were trying to project their dreams into the sky.  Visions of wishes and magical things.  As usual, the collage turned out very differently than I imagined it, but I think it captures the spirit of what I intended to do.


you dreamed without beginning–
breath, stars, flowers
of light

you were happy to hold
hands with what was
not there

you closed your eyes and sang
from the inside, way down,
like flying,

listening to your heart beating,
rearranging the pattern
into constellations

you released what you had not
seen—you gave it away
without thinking

you dreamed with your arms open
and became entirely unafraid–
spilled over /

Phil Cooper

I really loved the Japanese firework illustrations for this prompt, they’re so controlled and carefully arranged; the opposite to what I think of as a firework going off, but they work beautifully. I’ve played with some photos I took a few weeks ago at the Britzer Garten in Berlin, where there was a fabulous display of Dahlias glowing in the autumn sunshine. The flowers were so firework-like, the colours so bright and hot, I really fell for them. We don’t have bonfire night here in Germany, so the Dahlias will have to do for me this year! / /

Tom Beg

“I was immediately struck by the simplicity of the illustrations, and how a few simply arranged shapes and colours could represent the forms of fireworks so well. I wanted to create something complex from something very simple and immediate, so I whipped up some very basic animation loops and then duplicated and rotated until some suitably cool looking abstract effects were generated. From a vertical orientation they remind me of fireworks shooting up into the sky and scattering in the atmosphere.” / /

Charly Skilling

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to contribute to this Kick-About because of time constraints, but I found I kept remembering the firework nights of my childhood (which, as you may already know, was a very long time ago!). In the end, the only way to get these memories out of my head was to put them down in words. Hopefully, it may trigger a memory for those of you old enough to remember, and for all the others, think of it as an example of the 1950’s English family at play. Weird or what!?”

You’ll find a PDF version here.

The last time painter, Fernand Léger, featured as a prompt for the Kick-About, we were treated to a mouth-watering display of food, fruit, and flowers. For our next creative departure, our destination is Leger’s 1919 painting, La Ville. Enjoy your city-break!

When The Tides Went Down @ the BBC

“Back in the early Summer of 2019, I was invited by friend and filmmaker, Jordan Buckner, to produce his short animated film, When The Tides Went Down, for Screen South and the BBC. Jordan and I have worked together previously on the live-synchronisation animations La creation du monde (2013) and Red & The Kingdom Of Sound (2017) and Jordan’s //_sleeper for the BFI…”

… and tonight, Jordan’s film is featuring on the BBC homepage, where it is listed as one of ‘ten amazing artworks inspired by climate change’. Congratulations, Jordan! When The Tides Went Down was a timely film in 2019, and more so now.

‘Bird Eyes View’ / Fundus in Tangible Territory Journal Vol 1. Issue 3

Artist Tereza Stehlikova’s Tangible Territory is ‘a platform that offers a space for various voices to meet and discuss themes relating to the role of the body, the importance of place and embodied experience, in giving meaning to our every day experience of life and art. By extension, it also reflects on some of the transformations initiated by technology, globalisation and now also the pandemic and to it related questions of embodiment versus disembodiment, being simultaneously here and elsewhere, present and absent in our bodies and our surroundings.’ The Tangible Territory Journal is a ‘celebration of power of creative process and as such, is an ongoing project of collective learning and improving, of sharing, collaboration, curiosity and open mindedness.’

Tereza Stehlikova works as ‘an artist, filmmaker and a senior lecturer. She holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art, where she researched the tactile language of moving image. She is currently engaged in a cross-disciplinary research, investigating how moving image can be used to communicate embodied experience. Stehlikova is a senior lecturer in still and moving image theory and practice, at the University of Westminster and also supervises PhD students at the Royal College of Art. She is a founder of Sensory Sites, an international collective based in London, generating collaborative exhibitions, installations and research projects that explore multi-sensory perception and bodily experience. She also co-founded Artesian, a journal for committed creativity, featuring the writings of John Berger, Don DeLillo amongst many others. Stehlikova has presented her research at a number of international conferences and her films and performances have been shown at a variety of film and music festivals around the world. More about her projects here:‘.

Responding to Tereza’s call for submissions for the third edition of her Tangible Territory Journal, I shared Fundus, the short film made in response to The Kick-About No.30, and likewise wrote a short accompanying piece about lock-down, The Kick-About and of ‘making directly’ and ‘doing quickly:

“A few weeks back, the prompt for the Kick-About was ‘Fundus Photography’, with fundus pertaining to categories of retinal photography.  Challenged to respond to imagery that was both ‘of the human body’, but also suggestive of more galaxial realms, I set about inflating a latex glove with water and floating it in a goldfish bowl filled with water coloured with some old black ink cartridges I found at the back of a drawer.  As I was assembling these ad-hoc components (only let’s call it ‘playing’, for that is what it was), I had no idea I would soon be making a short experimental film in collaboration with another artist, Deanna Crisbacher.  As I was holding the latex glove under the tap, I had no guarantee (or indeed much hope), that my idea would come to anything at all.  Importantly, I suppose, I didn’t care.  I didn’t know then, as I turned the water black with squirrelled ink, that I was in the early stages of making a strange little film offering up expansive, cosmic impressions born from a combination of domestic objects.   I didn’t know then I might be writing about this project, even going as far as drawing out from it some final conclusion about the transformative and transportive power of creativity, of making directly, of doing quickly, and the value of community.”  

You can read the complete article here and explore a whole host of other fascinating responses on a theme of creativity-under-lock-down in Tereza’s Tangible Territory Journal No. 3.

Fundus @ Motus Imago / Showcase of Shapes, Puppets & Moving Things

Fundus was a collaboration between myself and Deanna Crisbacher, a short abstract film comprising images I’d produced for The Kick-About No. 30. Fundus has been selected for Motus Imago, a new film festival going by the subtitle, a ‘Showcase of Shapes, Puppets & Moving Things’ – which I’m very happy about. Fundus is indeed a ‘moving thing’, but what sort of a moving thing I’m not sure! This is from the festival organisers: “Motus Imago – Showcase of Shapes, Puppets and Things in Motion, operates in the scope of programming artistic projects that operate in a vast interdisciplinary field, in the scope of multiformat manipulation, from puppet theatre to moving image. Through works that move between current and traditional techniques, dramaturgies and animated forms and animation cinema. It values the experimental nature of artistic works for adults and children and is presented with a set of educational actions that will take place from October 2021 in Aveiro.” Sounds like fun! Thanks again to Dee for the wizardry, and to The Kick-About community for giving me the get-up and go to keep doing stuff and sharing it.

The Two Rivers Café Podcast / Wine Doesn’t Agree With Me

Last year, composer Andrew Fisher very kindly agreed to write the theme for my audiobook adaptation of my first children’s book, Chimera Book 1. Andrew nailed it first time out, taking all the inspiration he needed from artist Phil Cooper’s artwork, and delivering a wonderful mix of b-movie-meets-magic, all shimmer, Halloween chills and a pang of melancholy. A few months later, Andrew invited me on as his first guest on his all-new The Two Rivers Café podcast, where he challenged me to make a new short film on a given theme, to which he would then compose an original score. The theme I chose to work with was ‘wine’ – which was counter-intuitive considering wine doesn’t agree with me! You can listen to our conversation here and watch the film we made together below. Andrew will be talking to, and collaborating with, other creatives in subsequent episodes, and I’m looking forward to spending more time in The Two Rivers Café .

Wine Doesn’t Agree With Me (2021) Phil Gomm / Andrew Fisher

The Kick-About #35 ‘Souvenir’

Our last Kick-About together was illuminated by Marie Menken’s experimental film, Lights. Made in 1966, the glow coming off Menken’s film is as much powered by a certain nostalgia for a particular time and place, as it is by electricity. Our attachment to artifacts of the past, and commitment to keeping and collecting moments-in-time, however fleeting, is explored in this week’s showcase of new work created by an eclectic community of creatives in the short space of two weeks. Enjoy.

Gary Thorne

“In 1959, my Mother took an emotional transatlantic flight from Vancouver to visit her folks in Bournemouth, whom she had not seen since 1951. On return, she brought home ‘memorable somethings’ for each of us four boys. At age seven I was thrilled with owning Sooty, hence today he is the most cherished of my possessions. My little 62 year old muse posed as part of ‘paintings of a morning’ achieved across the 31 days of August 2020, which mostly referenced local produce. This past week, this unassuming 20 x 20cm oil on board portrait was on exhibit in Whitstable’s The View Gallery, alongside 40 of my paintings.”

Charly Skilling

Hmmm… Just one word, eh? “Souvenir”. First thought was of those plastic lighthouses from the Isle of Wight filled with bands of different coloured sand; or a “Kiss Me Quick” hat from Blackpool. (Don’t know why. I’ve never owned either of them.) Second thought was the original meaning of the word, “to occur to the mind”. And the third thought was… my little red tartan box! Never having been the sort of person to let one word stand where a few hundred words might happily swarm, I hope the following words and images impart to you something of what my little red box means to me.”

Vanessa Clegg

This is via a friend who has a friend, who bought the watch back from China (obviously a while ago), so not my own souvenir but one I couldn’t resist! The star goes around, and I think the arm must wave on the hour… brilliant. ‘Keeping Time’, graphite and watercolour on paper.

James Randall

“We recently had a wonderful day visiting the Queensland Art Gallery, which was showing a selection of master works from the Met. Great show. Halfway through it they offered a number of activities to clear away the visual overload, including a costumed life drawing station. I took the weight off my feet and did a quick sketch – my souvenir from the show. Since then I’ve been layering the sketch over some brightly recoloured charcoal layers. A bit of fun for me to do.”

Francesca Maxwell

“Here is my souvenir. A shell picked up on some holiday, turned into an etching a long time ago when I was studying under my maestro, now turned into a memento of another time, another place, another life…” Drypoint 15 x 12 cm.

Kerfe Roig

“The prompt of souvenir seemed perfect: my daughter had given me a small sketchbook, and every day I sat on my beach chair with my feet in the waves doing a drawing, and then writing a haiku to accompany it.  The sketchbook would be my souvenir.

On the last day the ocean was quite rough, due to Hurricane Henri passing by, so I sat far up on the sand, where only a small piece of a dying wave occasionally brushed my toes.  Holding my sketchbook up to let the watercolor pencil drawing dry I was suddenly totally upended by a rogue wave that covered me completely. I stood up, soaked, clutching my pencils in one hand, but watching my sketchbook being pulled under and out to sea.  I will replay that image in my mind for a long time, maybe forever. When I got home, I channeled my emotional turmoil into neocolors, drawing from memory the ocean that was now fixed in my mind.  The sketchbook drawings were so much more beautiful though.  At least that’s how I’ll always remember them.”


I could not
look at it from be
fore or aft
er, only
the angle of gone, dissolved,
empty, vanishing–

not just the
material thing
that had been
but what it represented–
a piece of myself,

never to
be recovered–and
here I am
left watching,
clinging to impermanence
like water and wind /

Marion Raper

“I mentioned before I am a bit if a hoarder, and therefore this prompt was rather a godsend to me. I have had some fabulous holidays but one of the most exciting was a trip to Arizona – the highlight being a trip to Tombstone. It was a fascinating place, and kept in it’s original state with a saloon bar, horse drawn carriages, and, of course, the OK Corral. It is said that ‘Death never took a holiday in Tombstone’ My souvenirs include copies of some old posters and a booklet listing the graves in Boothill Graveyard. The headstones include descriptions of how some residents met their demise, such as ‘Hanged by mistake,’ ‘Wagon rang over his head’ and ‘Discussion over fastest way to draw’. Life was tough in those days! Another treasured poster is an original photo of Geronimo and friends in the battlefield in 1886. The scenery of Arizona is breathtaking and I have attempted to paint the Chiracahua National Monument where Geronimo and his Apache band once found refuge.”

Phil Gomm

“I’ve got a number of scars on my forty-six year old body; the ubiquitous BCG crater on my arm, a hernia scar from when I was a tiny baby, a ‘hole’ between my eyebrows where I picked a chicken pox spot, and more recently acquired, a scattering of other facial scars following a particularly nasty attack of shingles back in the winter of 2015. You might call these dents and puckerings my ‘souvenirs’ of the wear-and-tear of just being alive.

One of my favourite scenes in Jaws (1975), is the sweet, funny moment when grizzled shark-hunter Quint compares war wounds with the more academic oceanographer and shark expert, Matt Hooper. The two men trade stories about the various different ways various different things have taken lumps out of their respective flesh, leaving them with anecdotes written into the surfaces of their bodies. Meanwhile, Chief Brody looks on, deciding against sharing his own battle scar, because, we suspect, his ‘souvenir ‘ is unlikely to impress. I know how Brody feels. With this in mind, I’ve imagined myself as being as colorful a character as Quint, and with just as many stories to tell about terrifying encounters and near-death experiences, and all of them leaving their mark on my body. These imaginary encounters derive from the spectacular dangers of my adolescent life, or rather from my formative confrontations with a host of larger-than-life fictional perils found in paperbacks and on VHS cassette tapes…”

Graeme Daly

“I don’t know about anyone else but I have felt a shift in the air with things starting to feel more autumnal. I may have been watching too many horror and slasher films, but for this prompt, my head went straight to the macabre…”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Tom Beg

“Near to my place here in Japan is a lonely, tucked away and somewhat overgrown Buddhist temple. There are thousands of these all over the country and they are always filled with interesting statues, iconography, mementos and architecture that give us a glimpse and a reminder into the history of places and people. I braved the 32 degree sunshine and mosquitoes so that I could capture the moment of that place and perhaps in the future, look back and be reminded of hot and humid August afternoons somewhere far away from home.” / /

Jan Blake

“Apart from my huge collection of pods I have brought back, or been given, from all over the world my inspiration for this Kick-About came from a specific experience that continually informs my work. I’ve spoken of it before in a previous KA. It’s that time of year again for the storms to transform the coastal dunes around the island of Isle D’Oleron. It will always mark that change for me between Summer and Autumn.  So I am taken back to the dunes, and those battered fences that are twisted and turned by the raging sea.”

Chris Rutter & Evelyn Bennett

“We made an anagram of Souvenir – In Over Us – and this reminded us of rainy days in Berlin some years ago.” /

With many thanks to regular kick-abouter, Vanessa Clegg, with have a brand new prompt to see us off on our next series of creative undertakings. Introducing The Phantom of Surrealism

The Kick-About #34 ‘Menken’s Lights’

How do you follow a dancing chicken? This sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, I know, but after the previous Kick-About’s riffing on a theme of performing poultry, where next for our fearless community of creatives? Fortunately, we have Marie Menken’s Lights to illuminate the workings of our respective imaginations, as this week we showcase new works created in response to Menken’s 1966 experimental film. Enjoy.

Vanessa Clegg

“A Light in the Night.1”. Crayon on watercolour paper.10 cm X 9 cm

“ A Light in the Night.2” Watercolour on watercolour paper. 10cm X 7cm

Phil Cooper

“I love the prompt for the Kick About this week. Ever since I can remember I’ve been excited by Christmas lights and decorations, things that only have one purpose and that’s to be lovely to look at. As a kid I yearned for Christmas as it was a time of the year when the beige colour palette of 70’s life was momentarily broken and you didn’t need any excuse to cover things in glitter and garishly-coloured baubles. Marie Menken’s film makes me quite wistful for those childhood Christmases. It’s summer and still sweltering here in Berlin, though, and Christmas trees feel a very long way off. So, for my response, I’ve filmed some Alder trees which overhang one of our favourite bathing lakes in the Grunewald forest to the south east of the city. In the late afternoon the sunlight is reflected off the rippling surface of the lake onto the undersides of the Alder leaves and the effect is like being in a giant green disco ball. It’s rather lovely, relaxing and cheering at the same time.” / /

Marion Raper

“The theme of lights made me think of city lights and as I was enraptured with the Olympics I managed to find a wonderful photograph of the city of Tokyo. It’s so dazzling and vibrant I feel that you would need to wear sunglasses permanantly if you lived or worked there. I just love the contrast of the vivid reds and neon oranges against the blue of the skyscraper buildings.  You can just imagine the crowds of onlookers gazing up in awe and wonderment. Not so sure what they would think of my Japanese lettering however!”

Phil Gomm

“There is something so emancipating about Menken’s experimental short film, Lights; it expresses a sort of child-like wonder in the way in which the camera transforms what it sees – municipal Christmas decorations into streaking discs of glowing colour and traffic into living electrified scribbles. You get a sense of Menken playing and exploring, embracing the ‘failure’ of the technology at her disposal to cope with light, time and motion, producing vibrant smears and patterns from otherwise rather ubiquitous components.

With this playfulness very much in mind, I tried something quick and dirty: painting a sheet of glass with black acrylic, before scratching parts of the painted surface away in the form of lines of irregular dots and dashes. Very simply, the painted sheet of glass was then positioned in front of windows, bright environments and television screens, and the surface of the glass photographed. Sometimes, during one exposure, I would push the focus from pin-prick sharp to diffuse, which had the satisfying effect of ‘spherizing’ the scratched patterns on the surface of the glass, producing the illusion of strings of lights or illuminated bubbles. I don’t mind admitting some of the resulting images had me laughing out loud with pleasure, so closely did they recall the aesthetic of mid-century avant-garde animations and the like. It gave me a secret squizz of pleasure too – the trick of it, the very fact of me not, in fact, photographing strings of fairy-lights or pastel-coloured Christmas baubles, or those long balloons out of which you might fashion a poodle: no, just a sheet of glass, painted black, with marks scratched into it using the end of a matchstick and a zester swiped from the kitchen drawer.

After that, there was no stopping me, and for days afterwards, I was lying on different floors around my house trying a bunch of different things with this same sheet of hurriedly painted glass. There have been moments over this last fortnight when I have been completely at peace creatively, just trying stuff out and worrying not at all about the other things a man of my age and responsibilities should probably be thinking about.”

Tom Beg

“I wanted the capture the potential that experimental filmmakers like Marie Menken saw in the mediums of their era, and just make something that moved and tickled the senses, without being overly narrative driven or thematic. I’ve always been inspired by the directness of film, and the lack of control, so when using modern software, I try to look for ways of losing control to get the kind of happy accidents that occur when you use analogue formats.

The lights and camera effects in this animation were all generated semi-randomly so seeing the final visuals in this animation made me feel in the same way that Menken and her peers probably felt when they got their processed film back, and marveled at the bizarre and wonderful things they had captured. In the spirit of that, I named the animation after her.” / /

Kerfe Roig

This prompt was perfect for an idea I’ve wanted to try for awhile.  I did a layered collage with a drawing and a map with circles cut out on top awhile ago, but I wanted to try it with two layers of pattern, and the lights were a good inspiration.  It took me a while to figure out how to do the watercolor to get the effect I wanted, but finally I got two paintings I thought would work well as layers.  I cut circles out of one of them, and made different arrangements of all 3 components–ground, cut circle painting, and the circles themselves.  I’ve photographed both the original elements and some different layerings. I was pleased with the way it managed to evoke the flashing and moving lights of the film.” /

James Randall

“I See The Lights:  I’ve been taking a lot of iPhone shots of light through windows landing on walls – through palm trees outside and through screens so I used those as a basis for this KA. Layered them in different colours then added some charcoal scribbles and a few shapes from previous Illustrator files. Not exactly cheery again – maybe therapy!”

Chris Rutter & Evelyn Bennett

“Evelyn is being ‘Guided by the Lights’ in her painting. I am noodling on ‘Always on your Mind’ by Elvis (today I bought a motorbike, which is the same as Elvis used in ‘Roustabout’). Evelyn was wearing a cowboy hat, as she was feeling Mexican. Alf Rutter did the filming. Loved the last Kick-About…” /

Jan Blake

“I did not know the work of Marie Menken so as often with the Kick- About, I have to do some research and to enter an unknown realm. It led me to wander round with my camera to my garden. It sent me back to childhood and watching the sparkle of sun through trees and fences near the cherry tree that supported my swing. I have tried to recreate this feeling by moving the camera in that lulling motion.’

Charly Skilling

“After watching Marie Menken’s ‘Lights’, I found myself walking around muttering ‘lights, lights, lights, lights’ over and over in a sort of chant. As I did, I became very aware of the number of lights, large and small, significant and insignificant, that fill our modern lives.  This poem is my attempt to express that awareness.”

Graeme Daly

“These long exposure photographs were taken a while ago, situated in one of the turrets in our home and framed by its long theatrical curtains. One day I would like to try and make an animation out of these techniques and mimic Menken’s inspirational film more.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

And for our 35th run-around together, coming as it does in the final days of August, a single evocative word…