The Kick-About #26 ‘52.1429’


Welcome to this first anniversary edition of The Kick-About, a fortnightly blog-based creative challenge in which artists of all stripes come together to present work in response to a given prompt. I asked contributors to choose a favourite work of their own from the previous twenty-five editions so I could celebrate them all together here.

I just want to say a personal note of thanks to everyone who takes part. Producing new ideas and new work in under a fortnight brings with it its own challenges, insecurities and pressures, but if you’re anything like me, you will have enjoyed the otherwise simple satisfaction of making work, getting it done, expressing your creativity, and sharing it with a supportive community. Some of you have thanked me for hosting the Kick-About, and some of you have even worried about the work and time I may be giving it; rest assured, this is the work I like to do and I’m very happy to do it.

Thanks to everyone who has taken part this last year, and I’m very much hoping we can continue to combine our efforts as productively and imaginatively in the coming weeks. Now, just look at what you did…


Judy Watson

From Kick-About No.2 – ‘Metropolis

“Thanks for the Kick-About. For some of us, making art is as natural as breathing, and sometimes almost as necessary to life. During a dark time in history, thanks for stimulating art prompts among creative friends, unfettered by constraints, rules or judgement. Freedom to make in any direction. It’s been a joy. And since you want one favourite, I’m selecting those Bird Ladies from Kick-About No.2. And I hope they sort themselves out soon and send that bureaucratic penguin back to Antarctica.”


www.judywatson.net /  Instagram.com/judywatsonart / facebook.com/judywatsonart


Phill Hosking

From The Kick-About No.4 – Orphée

I’ve not been as involved as others in the bi-weekly Kick-About posts, but I’ve seriously enjoyed the challenge of completely unexpected briefs. I’ve chosen to include my piece ‘Orpheus’ this week. This one stood out to me for several reasons, partly because it allowed me to flex my digital painting muscles again, something I’d neglected for a while. Also it was a powerful story that instantly brought up images, compositions and drama. That narrative aspect is something I often neglect in my personal work. This was the challenge, like I had to capture the story, as if on the front cover of book. Our hero enters the underworld, ‘hell’ bent on saving his wife ‘Eurydice’ from the clutches of the dark forces below. Everything a digital painter wants in an image.”


instagram.com/eclecto2d linkedin.com/in/phill-hosking


Gary Thorne

From The Kick-About No.9 – ‘Short Ride In A Fast Machine’

“Selecting KA9 is easy, as it reminds me of how important instinct is within process, as well the time span of sitting across 4 hours 40 minutes to complete a process. I trusted my responses to the music, invited in chance, kept the demon of doubt outside the door, and I enjoyed colour as an  adventure. KA9 felt like a pure creative experience and it beckons me on to do more. The community of KA has been totally enriching and so rewarding.” 


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Emily Clarkson

From Kick-About No.1 – ‘Moon In A Bottle’

“Kick-About No.1 was a cathartic experience as I’m often caught up on details and reasoning. And those hang-ups can sometimes paralyse my creativity. I realise now, sometimes it’s just a simple premise, and it’s dumb fun and exploration that’s needed. And I definitely found joy and a small sense of achievement in that process!”


instagram.com/eclarkson2012 / twitter.com/eclarkson2012 / linkedin.com/in/emily-clarkson


Vanessa Clegg

From The Kick-About No.7 – ‘Ennui’

“Weirdly enough I’ve chosen this..a tough call but although I loved putting together the installations I only record them as 6” X 4” photos, which are then put into a KA book as a record. However, I do have my drawings, so could take a better photo, as they’re bigger! I chose this as it WAS tedious in its repetitive way, but after a while it became a form of meditation, and I was happy with the outcome, which is rare. Actually I could have chosen any as far as enjoying the process goes, so onwards to the next…” Graphite on Fabriano.


vanessaclegg.co.uk


Benedict Blythe

From The Kick-About No.8 – ‘Cicada’

“An epic and bi-sectioned electronic piece telling the story of the cicada life from a more dark point of view. Beware – the first four minutes are much quieter than the last two. Good speakers or headphones are recommended.”


soundcloud.com/BenedictBlythe


TJ and Jo Norman 

From the Kick-About No.5 – ‘Symbols’


“PUPA”

www.tjnartists.com / #tjnartists


Graeme Daly

From The Kick-About #22 – ‘Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez’

“The Kick About has brought me to places I’ve never dreamed of going. I’ve dipped my toes into mediums, styles and parts of myself that have otherwise been sealed off. I have learned to find magic in the mundane, while learning a great deal about films, authors, and artists, from the many prompts we have created together. I  always feel inspired to see what you all have created every fortnight, so for that I am thankful to all you fellow kick-abouters for your words and creations. 

In saying that, it is difficult to choose a favourite, as they all have been a joy to see flourish. One Kick-About does come to mind and that is No. 22, which was the art, life and times of the Austrian painter, Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez, and with it the Pools film. The reason why it is my favourite is because of the way it came to be and the journey it took to get it to that state. I wasn’t seeking this film out. I wasn’t trying to capture anything like it, I didn’t even know this place existed. I was merely bouncing around the innards of the forestry one bitter cold winter morning when a dumping of snow was beginning to melt, and where I set out to capture the extrusion of thick snow rimmed treetops. I found all that, but I also found this film – in a trench of shallow, glistening water.

Making Pools was a creative journey, and I’m thankful it happened in such an organic way: from finding the place and deciding to film it, to viewing the resulting footage as flawed, while still being preoccupied by it, to the Kick-About prompt providing the perfect opportunity to salvage the film into something I’m proud of.

It was a pure delve into the unknown to make something just for the sake of it, not knowing how the outcome would look but just enjoying the whole process of making this thing. I think, in its essence, that is what is so great about The Kick About and why I love being a part of it with you all.”


@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly / gentlegiant.blog


Tom Beg

From Kick-About No.2 – ‘Metropolis

“At the time of the making of my Metropolis images for The Kick-About #2 I had been living in the same apartment for over three years, and for some reason had never really taken the time to explore the surrounding area with the eye of a photographer or an artist, mostly because it all just seemed very boxy and residential in a way that I have become totally accustomed to seeing every day.

However, with a lot of free time and a phone-camera in hand, I thought that surely the true mundaneness of a real metropolis could be made into something interesting somehow. After fiddling with some images, I ended up with some quite authentic looking silent film production set photos which of course really reminded me of that other Metropolis. I think they even capture the unusual atmosphere and uncertainty of the time they were created.”


twitter.com/earthlystranger / vimeo.com/tombeg


Simon Holland

“I choose this one because I managed to capture a very personal sense of nostalgia, which is something that I had been trying to crack for a while. Also, it was the first time I had been motivated to break out the paints for over a year, which is a long time, especially when I had been making work every day. It highlighted to me that I need to stronger with myself as a creative and have the fortitude to keep pushing through various blocks and it did herald a period of increased productivity. Also, it is one of the artier of my submissions…”


twitter.com/simonholland74 / corvusdesigns.blogspot.com / instagram.com/simonholland74


Francesca Maxwell

From Kick-About No.6 – ‘A Field Guide To Getting Lost’

“The Kick-About #6 is still one of my favourite prompts, and one of the most meaningful series of paintings I have done in the last few years. It represents the beginning of a new creative journey for me, a new painting style, and, at the same time, it encompasses much of my life and experiences. For this “anniversary” I picked just one of the four, my favourite, and the first one I painted. It was originally inspired by a photograph of the Canadian winter landscape by Evelin Berg and, as I mentioned, were partly concept paintings for a short animation I haven’t finished yet. The journey, the film, the story….all still ongoing.” Ink on watercolour paper, 240x680cm.


www.FBM.me.uk


Julien Van Wallendael

From The Kick-About No.12 – ‘The Cottingley Fairies’


jvwlld.wixsite.com/portfolio / instagram.com/fruit.fool / linkedin.com/in/julien-van-wallendael


Tony Reeves

From The Kick-About No.2 – ‘Metropolis’


twitter.com/Nature_FoN / forcesofnaturerecords.bandcamp.com


Charly Skilling

From Kick-About No.6 – ‘A Field Guide To Getting Lost’

“I have learnt so much over the last year from participating in The Kick-About, and enjoyed so many different aspects, that I found it really difficult to pick a ‘favourite’. Some pieces have stretched me technically, some have taken me into totally unfamiliar territory, some have felt satisfactorily “complete”. But one submission made me smile when it first occurred to me, smile as I worked on it, and smile even now when I read it back. I can’t think of a better reason for re-visiting it, so my ‘Favourite Kick-About’ is Field Guide to Getting Lost and The Ballad of Ethel and Hilda’.



Jan Blake

From The Kick-About No.21 – ‘The Five Canons Of Rhetoric’

“It’s the Five Canons of Rhetoric! I’ve chosen this one as it made me really think about my work and its origins and process. It led to the story of this Sea Heart pod that continues to fascinate me along with all the other seed-pods in my life! The journey of this pod crept into the following Kick-About as well, maybe because I can’t travel at the moment and I long to be doing so. It always refreshes my mind and creativity… apart from missing my friends in distant lands.”


janblake.co.uk


Molly Bolder

From The Kick-About No.8 – ‘Cicada’


instagram.com/mollys_makes / facebook.com/MollyBMakes


Glen Coleman

‘Wane’ from The Kick-About No.1 – ‘Moon In A Bottle’


linkedin.com/in/glen-coleman


Maxine Chester

From The Kick-About No.4 – Orphée

“The prompt was Cocteau’s Orpheus, because of the element of serendipity: on a Covid walk, I dragged home two entwined ivy trees, saw the prompt, (not sure which happened first)  something clicked, and I set about exploring the potential…”


instagram.com/maxineschester / maxine-chester.squarespace.com


Stephen Foy-Philp

From the Kick-About No.5 – ‘Symbols’


instagram.com/stephen_fp_


James Randall

From The Kick-About No.23 – ‘Museum Wormianum’


“The KA’s have been a great way to divert my attention and have provided reason for exploration of deep buried thoughts. Thank you’s to all of you who have donated jumping off points – sometimes they resonate so deafeningly – not always at the point of conceptualising – the museum KA didn’t kick-in for me until I started putting paint to paper but then it dragged up some of the creative juices that I thought had been long gone. So I guess that makes it my significant KA moment.  I love the tantalising breadth of work created by all of you. KA reveal days are always so exciting. It amazes me how you seem to tumble out great pieces or concepts. Also amazing how open you have been with background stories to some of the works. Thanks again and I hope KA can continue long after lockdown.”



Brian Noble

From The Kick-About #22 – ‘Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez’


flowingwaterart.ca / linkedin.com/in/brian-noble


Harry Bell

From Kick-About No.2 – ‘Metropolis


harrybellart.com / facebook.com/harrybellartist/ facebook.com/Harry-Bell-Cartoons-Illustration-364689853546105/ instagram.com/harrybell.art


Vikki Kerslake

From Kick-About No.2 – ‘Metropolis



Kevin Clarkson

From The Kick-About No.22 – ‘Eugen von Rannsonet-Villez’

“In response to the “Kick-about anniversary” (and my very small contribution to it) I have chosen to revisit my take on the Eugen von Ransonnet Villez submarine paintings.

Marine paintings have become a large part of my creative output over the last decade. As a graphic designer just over ten years ago my health took something of a wobble and the medical advice was to change lifestyle. This evolved over a few years and resulted in less use of the mouse and tablet and more the old fashioned paintbrush. It became as much as anything else a journey of self discovery. Several visual themes emerged but the one most urgent in my need to explore was the sea. I soon found like minded painters at the National Maritime Museum Art Club where I became chairman. The club has had a couple of identity changes since then but still exists as the Thames Maritime Artists and I am still chairman.

The limpid, accurately observed and interpreted tones and colours used by Ransonnel Villez immediately struck a chord with my own struggle to capture how we see water and objects in water. Seascape and coastal painting is quite a niche area in painting, not fashionable, and hasn’t been since the Royal Navy stopped ruling the waves, but I have never been troubled by fashion. For me the test of how well I am performing is to be judged by peers and to that end over a number of years I have submitted paintings to the Royal Society of Marine Artists annual open exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. For four years I failed to get anything into the show, I was disappointed but not discouraged and eventually in 2019 I got a piece into the show. In 2020 in the middle of the pandemic I got two pieces in – and won the Classic Boat Prize. It certainly does not beat taking your life in your hands going under the sea in a primitive diving bell but sometimes dogged persistence does pay off. I have attached a couple of RSMA exhibition to add to the original set.”


kevinclarkson.co.uk /artfinder.com/kevin-clarkson / kevinclarksonart.blogspot.com


Eleanor Spence-Welch

From the Kick-About No.5 – ‘Symbols’

“For the Kick-About I’d like to submit my Symbols piece (#5). Of all the digital work I’ve produced over the last year, it stands out to me as being truly different and emotionally driven. Something in Alice Neel’s original painting really clicked with me.”


instagram.com/espence96 / twitter.com/E1eanor_Spence / facebook.com/ESpence-Art


Robbie Cheadle

From The Kick-About No.12 – ‘The Cottingley Fairies’


robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com


Marion Raper

From The Kick-About No.3 – ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’

“I would like to choose ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ as my favourite piece. It was my very first appearance on the Kick-about and possibly one of my best works. It involved using the mixed media of silk material and painting, and I felt it was a good showcase for my manipulative skills with fabric. I definitely got a buzz from seeing my picture on the internet and I loved using the bright, cheerful colours. It made me feel excited, hopeful and creative even though it was the start of lockdown.”



Liam Scarlino

While I haven’t been able to contribute as often as I would like in recent months, The Kick-About is a welcome stretch away from my day-to-day. Working in design, I’ve felt it more and more challenging to work without a brief or steer, to make for the pleasure of making, without feeling the need to justify time spent playing as part of a longer project or showreel piece. The Kick-About has provided that stimulus, giving a direction but not a destination, and a space to remember that away from the rounds of amends, renders and timesheets, making is simply, fun. For this reason, making a witches bottle due to a misreading of a painting by Alice Neel was the most enjoyable project for me, reading and researching down whatever avenue seemed interesting, formulating an idea without thinking of demographics or target audience, and then making something however crudely with real physical materials, not worrying about brand guidelines or alignment or safe margins. Looking at the high quality of the other submissions makes it lucky I’m dressing up my motivation in the same outfit as naive or folk art. However, at a time which created a step back from our daily lives and the time to think about why we do the things we do, for me The Kick-About is the reminder I needed to not pack everything in and try to manage a hedge fund. Joy! It’s all about joy!


 liamscarlino.net vimeo.com/liamscarlino


Jackie Hagan

From The Kick-About No.22 –  ‘Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez’



Kerfe Roig

From The Kick-About No.13 – ‘Ersilia’

“I’m choosing the Invisible Cities (Ersilla) prompt as my favorite. First, because it was something I wanted to do as soon as I read the book a few years ago, but had never gotten around to.  And also because it expanded my work from my usual repertoire, which is basically 2-dimensional. 

I would say that almost all the prompts have pushed me further than I would normally go outside my comfort zone which is a very good thing.  And everyone else’s work is so inspiring, it keeps my mind full of different ideas and inspiration.”



Alan Postings

From Kick-About No.2 – ‘Metropolis


website / linkedin.com/in/alanpostings


Phil Cooper

From The Kick-About No.4 – Orphée

“I’ve loved being part of the Kick-About over the last year. It’s got me doing things I’ve never done before, such as writing and recording my own voice, and it’s going me doing things that I’d never have done without it, so a big thank you, Phil, for putting this together every fortnight. It’s been a real pleasure seeing how people have responded to the prompts and I’m always in awe of the variety, the talent and the creativity that appears in each post.

I’ve got a few favourites from the past year, but i’m choosing this image, which I called ‘Forest Flare’ and made in response to the Orphée’prompt way back last June I think. I painted some 2D trees, an arch and a sky onto card, and then lit and photographed th em on my desk. The main reason I was pleased with how it turned out is that, in the photographic image, a small figure appeared, sitting on the floor, framed by the arch and looking like a faun that had wandered out of the paper forest. It wasn’t there when I looked at the table top set up, but some magic happened in the camera and the image turned out more interesting that I’d planned – quite spooky!”


instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com


Phil Gomm

From The Kick-About No. 20 – ‘The Ashley Book Of Knots

“I’ve chosen ‘Baba’s Important Work’ because the resulting short story speaks to the power of a random prompt to produce something satisfying, unpredictable and inevitable-seeming. That a story set in a static caravan, in some dystopian society, should have issued from an old book on nautical knot-work, makes me feel excited about the creative process in all its strangeness. I find it reassuring too, a bit like going to Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, opening its doors, and finding, thank goodness, there are still ideas in there after all.



Marcy Erb

From The Kick-About No.10 – ‘Romantic Museum’

“Albatross Box is the only sculpture I’ve done for the Kick Abouts – and it is the one that has proven the most constant source of inspiration since I made it. It is still hung up in my house, changing with the light and day and it is a source of endless fascination for my 3 year old. Once COVID restrictions ease a bit, I’d love to scout out some more bones and do a few more bone shadow boxes with poetry and make it a series (I confess to already rescuing another wooden box from the curb in anticipation!). “


marcyerb.com


Jordan Buckner

From Kick-About No.1 – ‘Moon In A Bottle’

“Picking a personal favourite is so tricky! My mind immediately jumps to the Alice Neel prompt from Kick-About #3. I really enjoyed the making of that piece in it’s simplicity and assemblage of iconography. I also enjoyed Kick-About #23 in which I could channel grief into some strange cardboard constructions. Both of those prompts were so calming and helpful to produce. But if I’m honest with myself, I think the very first Kick-About was my favourite subject, largely because the Max Ernst prompt is well suited to my comfort zone – bizarre landscapes and painting methods. What a boring choice I know, but I remember that painting evolving so clearly in my head, and it was a joy.”


instagram.com/jordan_buckner / twitter.com/jordan_buckner / linkedin.com/in/jordan-buckner / jordanbuckner.co.uk


And, oh look, we’re off again already – with a new painting-based prompt, Giorgio de Chirico’s The Song Of Love (1914)…


The Secret World Of Foley (2014)


When it came to my parenting, my step-dad had one solemn rule: I was never ever to tell him how certain things in his favourite movies were accomplished. Accordingly, behind-the-scenes documentaries were forbidden. My breathless chatter about puppets, animatronics and green-screen wizardry were quickly curtailed. For my step-dad, movies are real, dialogue arriving in the actors’ mouths spontaneously and as required. Special effects are nothing of the sort – they’re documentary footage. For this reason, watching a good film with him is one of my great pleasures; watching him watching movies returns me to the powerful magic of cinema.

That said, I think even my step-dad would enjoy Daniel Jewel’s wonderful The Secret World Of Foley, for though it certainly lifts the curtain between appearance and reality, it’s a backstage secret serving only to re-magic the illusions of cinematic storytelling.

I am always left invigorated by this short film. It never fails to get me off my arse.


I Peer At Doors (2020)


The nice thing about participating in the fortnightly Kick-About is the gentle pressure it applies to respond in new ways to new prompts. When Gary Thorne proposed ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ for the Kick-About #3 prompt, I experienced that initial moment of creative freefall, known less poetically as ‘having no ideas’ – or rather feeling no immediate connection to the words or the images they evoked.

I remember very well the sort of helpless flapping around of students when first confronted with a new brief and how their anxiety would frustrate me, arguing how the state of ‘not knowing’ is what adventure feels like – but here I was, flapping a bit myself! In an instance of ‘physician heal theyself’, I did a bit of research (okay, I googled Gary’s prompt) and quickly understood ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ was in fact the title of a collection of short stories by Alice Munro. A few clicks later, and I was reading one of Munro’s stories, and it’s as I’ve already said in the kick-about preamble: Inspiration came from Alice Munro’s Walker Brothers Cowboy, the very first story in Munro’s Dance Of The Happy Shades. In it, a little girl and her brother are too hot and listless in the back of their father’s car. They play I Spy to pass the time:

“We play I Spy, but it is hard to find many colours.  Grey for the barns and sheds and toilets and houses, brown for the yard and fields, black or brown for the dogs.  The rusting cars show rainbow patches, in which I strain to pick out purple or green; likewise I peer at doors for shreds of peeling paint, maroon or yellow.”

But inspiration is rarely a linear thing. Arguably it wasn’t Alice Munro or even Gary’s prompt that first inspired me to undertake this exercise in ‘slow cinema’, rather it was the old garage door I’ve been walking past every day for years. I’ve always loved its brick and mustard scales, and the way the colours cook and crackle under the heat of the day. It was this remarkable/unremarkable garage door I saw most vividly when I read about the little girl playing I Spy in Munro’s story.


The old garage door


The other big influence is surely the lock-down itself, or rather the new quality of looking and listening we’ve all acquired over these strangely attenuated days. Torpor has restored vivacity to our otherwise over-looked surroundings as we’ve rested our eyes and our minds, our ears detecting new strata of sounds, once stifled by the percussion of the rat-race. I took the camera on our long evening walks, hunting out interesting surfaces that I might otherwise ignore, reminding myself of similar behaviours as a child when I collected the prettiest pebbles from the beach (usually only to find them much less fascinating when they’ve lost the glossing of the sea). The images that go on to feature in the film derive from beach huts and brick walls, from careworn sheds and even an old corroded cannon. What I liked about these images was how quickly they transformed themselves into seascapes or aerial photographs of far-off geographies. Perhaps this is what travel looks like when you can’t go anywhere.

With the exception of a few sound effects purloined from the BBC SFX archive, the majority of sounds in the film were recorded in an around the rather careworn seaside town I call home. Fragments of three songs feature in the work too, the first being La Pastoura als camps arranged by Joseph Canteloube, one of his Chants d’Auvergne, so chosen because this song soundtracks the longed-for moment when my husband and I will arrive again at the old house in France, bringing with it the neat line of poplar trees, the yellow roar of sunflowers, and breezes dry and warm. The second song, Carey, by Joni Mitchell, is what a Summer holiday sounds like when you’re young and time extends away from you in a haze of non-commitment, and Ella Fitzgerald’s Get Out Of Town is as languid an expression of longing as you’ll find anywhere. Elsewhere in the film, I noodle about on a guitar, which I recorded next to an open window to fold-in as much ambient noise as possible.

What began with a prompt with which I was totally unfamiliar has resulted in a piece of work that feels entirely personal and familiar. This might be expressed more simply by admitting I didn’t know what I was doing until I’d done it.




The Kick-About #3 ‘Dance Of The Happy Shades’


Metropolis – our last kick-about prompt – inspired a wide-range of creative responses from a wide-range of creatives. I experienced a proper thrill of anticipation as the submissions began to arrive via email, blogposts and Twitter. ‘Metropolis’ brought with it some very clear and beloved associations; many of us couldn’t wait to channel our inner Fritz Lang. Prompt No 3 – ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ – was an arguably more elusive start-point inspiring another rich collection of responses in a variety of different media. Enjoy!


Phil Cooper

“I started off by painting some foliage and flower shapes onto tracing paper, cutting them out, placing on a light box and photographing them. I meant the results to be shadowy and rather gothic, but they turned out rather different. Perhaps because it feels like full-on summer here in Berlin this week, and perhaps because I watched Picnic at Hanging Rock the other night, the photos have more the atmosphere of a languorous sunny afternoon in the garden –  not what I set out to do at all.  I was so seduced by the colour palette of Picnic at Hanging Rock, I’ve let the images go in this direction…”


instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com


Francesca Maxwell

“On reading the title “Dance of the Happy Shades” I immediately thought of shadows, and the shades of tones in the shadows, rather than shades of greys and colours. I thought of the subtle tones in a desaturated situation, like during twilight, one of my favourite times of day. Still, I needed a relatively strong source of light to create the shadows. Also, I was looking at translucent rather than solid objects, to get more nuances in the tones, as well as texture – translucency and texture being also some of the things that most inspire and attract me. I tried and looked at few different things, including rereading “In the Praise of Shadows” by Junichiro Tanizaki, and watching the Zhang Yimou’s film “Shadow” – an amazing film. In the end, it was the moving reflection on the wall of three glass flowers I made few years back standing on my mantelpiece that I wanted to do. I was originally going to paint them with the Chinese ink and brush technique, but I started sketching them out in colour pencil and rather enjoyed the process, and the result was close to my idea. Pencils on hot press watercolour paper. 84×60 cm.



www.FBM.me.uk


Emily Clarkson

“I’ve got two quite different responses this week. Firstly, one very silly gif. This was inspired by a friend, when I asked her, ‘What do you think of when I say ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’?’ she responded, ‘I just see a dude dancing in shades.’ Her response made me think of an older gent embodying a Dad-joke of sorts…”



“The second idea that came to mind was old Disney style – Fantasia – but instead of brooms and the like, it was floor lamps, with shades. (It’s a tenuous link, I know!). I hadn’t fully worked out how I could animate the idea (plus I left it too late anyway) but that didn’t mean I couldn’t embody it somehow! So here’s a silly storyboard of some dancing floor lamps! I put together a quick animatic – it’s not as motion-filled as I’d like, but I hope it gets my daft idea across a bit better. Haha!”



instagram.com/eclarkson2012 / twitter.com/eclarkson2012 / linkedin.com/in/emily-clarkson


Phil Gomm

Inspiration came from Alice Munro’s Walker Brothers Cowboy, the very first story in Munro’s Dance Of The Happy Shades. In it, a little girl and her brother are too hot and listless in the back of their father’s car. They play I Spy to pass the time:

“We play I Spy, but it is hard to find many colours.  Grey for the barns and sheds and toilets and houses, brown for the yard and fields, black or brown for the dogs.  The rusting cars show rainbow patches, in which I strain to pick out purple or green; likewise I peer at doors for shreds of peeling paint, maroon or yellow.”

I wanted to evoke the languor of a similarly long hot day and the way lethargy encourages you to look for escape-routes in ordinary and over-looked places – like the peeling paint on a garage door, which if you squint, might come to resemble some glinting sea or exotic terrain. With the exception of a few sound effects purloined from the BBC SFX archive, the majority of sounds in the film were recorded in an around the rather careworn seaside town I call home. At risk of sounding bossy, grab some headphones for a suitably immersive experience.




Kerfe Roig

“My Rorschach ancestor mirrors himself and transforms in both vertical and horizontal directions.  It was fun to add a little nonsensical creation to my days.”



He seems friendly
enough, this presence
of the past, shifting
languorously as if
drugged by sun
light shining in his eyes
after a thundering rain

In truth his voice
is seldom called
upon—an apparition
furniturial, fixed
impermanently in
corners and along
walls



His dance contains
unpredictable
undertones—the hours
move around him
as his buddha smile
glimmers knowingly
in the dark


kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Liam Scarlino

“I found a photo of the author of Dance Of The Happy Shades, Alice Munro from 1971, a couple of years after the book was published. I thought it would be nice to add some colour to it. While it was possible to find photos from a few years later that I could reference for eye colour, skin tones, hair etc, I still feel there’s a large degree of fiction in this, or any other colourised photo. Where the photo was taken, what time of day, what colour clothing all became something imagined without proper sources. This is an interesting contradiction for me, because by trying to bring something to life, it actually makes it more like a woozy loose memory. I’ve been doing something similar with old family photos recently, and have been able to test the memories of elder relatives in the photos for details. While a modern sheen of colour makes the image feel more appealing, I often wonder if the photos are more meaningful in their original state.”


 liamscarlino.net vimeo.com/liamscarlino


Vikki Kerslake

“My mind went straight to ballerina dancers and wanted to capture them in a loose style, and was thinking of black and grey shades. So I did some small charcoal sketches of ballerina dancers as an initial response while sitting out in the park… I moved them into Photoshop and did some tweaking and painting to make them fit into a more complete image.”  


twitter.com/ambivalent__cat


Marion Raper

“I was thinking of a very exuberant Flamenco Dancer wearing a fabulous skirt of happy, bright and gaudy layers. I painted on Yupo paper for the woman’s figure and used scraps of silk and net individually twisted and bound for her skirt. I enjoyed the whole task very much and it definitely made me want to do a happy dance!”



Annie Roberts

“Originally, I wanted to respond to a couple of quotes within the book, make some kind of lively piece with dancers and muted colours, but after reading up on Orfeo ed Eurydice, I decided instead to look to the Greek god of the underworld, Hades. Not only did it relate to this Kick-About prompt, but also to another project I’ve been working on. Right now, it’s called “So, this is life?” and involves a goddess in the stars being banished from the heavens and forced to live among humans. I’m basing the characters on constellations and Greek mythologies, so Hades was perfect. I’m still working out kinks on the story but the basic world-building is the “constellation” gods and goddesses watch over whatever humans were born under their star and act as lore keepers for them. When the humans die, they must journey to Hades and the constellations hand over their lore to Hades. This current design of Hades is the first iteration. He’s bound to change as I develop this concept further.”


linkedin.com/in/annie-roberts / twitter.com/owljunk / owljunk.wixsite.com


Graeme Daly

“I am absolutely loving these Kick Abouts! It has completely opened my eyes to the possibility of doing quick little ‘micro shorts’ – and this time I decided to give it a whirl for a film of sorts.  For the Metropolis prompt, I was drawing and animating the creative responses using a particular set of Photoshop brushes that are always my go to.  I was in my bathroom and opened up my medicine cabinet, and just as I did, the light from outside was shining into the window and through a crack of the medicine cabinet door. It created this brilliant concentrated brush stroke of dancing illuminating light that mimics one of the brushes I love to use in Photoshop. I took out my phone and filmed myself opening and closing the medicine cabinet door over and over again, as I knew this would not last long because of how pinprick precise the light was in that moment. I realised I could work with the videos to produce something for the kick-about, so I started to play. 

A lot of what is going in the film fell into place through experimenting by mixing all the videos together, playing with blend modes, light, shadow and shapes. The song is Grey Drops by Sergey Cheremisinov. When listening to Cheremisinov’s unique pieces I always imagine something odd and intriguing coming to life, something with a lot of texture. I envisioned things moving in the shadows that shouldn’t move. The best thing about creating like this is something magical happens by itself; as I was swinging the medicine cabinet door, I noticed it looked like the light was giving way to these phantom spectres that were projecting part of themselves away and then consuming it again with every swing of the door. Everything started to intensify as I edited the film together, and then a story started to flourish.”



@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly


Tom Beg

“Dance of the Happy Shades is a title as evocative as it is elusive. In an attempt to understand the mystery and make the shades dance, here is a little series of blindingly colourful, expressionist and illusionistic photographic manipulations.”


twitter.com/earthlystranger / vimeo.com/tombeg


Gary Thorne

It all turned about-face after the start. The studio’s sense of itself took over. Nuances I set about exploring ended up as grey-scale shades flowing from colour. HB pencil, on Artistico Fabriano 640gsm hot pressed. 77cm x 56cm. 24 hour drawing.”


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Charly Skilling

“I was going through some old paperwork when a photo fluttered to the ground, one of me as a child, which prompted a rush of memories. I found other photos, of other times, and I tried to set down in words the feelings and images they evoked.  I recalled sounds, music, voices, and wanted to find a way to combine images, words and sounds to share with others the emotions they aroused in me.  I don’t have the technical knowledge or skills to create what I envisaged – but luckily, I know a man who does!  We talked for a long time about the ways and means, of shape and substance and then he took my words, my images, my memories, and between us produced the following short film.



Jordan Buckner

“Optimism isn’t my comfort zone, but it was lovely to work more abstractly and suggestively than usual. I’ve never read Dance of the Happy Shades, but the title alone suggests to me the movements of grass fields, dappled sunlight and a shifting summer breeze. This is the best I can do to evoke Van Gogh. Unfortunately, the grey British skies did not imbue my blood with a great talent for evoking the beauty of the sun!”


instagram.com/jordan_buckner / twitter.com/jordan_buckner /linkedin.com/in/jordan-buckner jordanbuckner.co.uk

Watch Jordan paint live at twitch.tv/jordan_buckner


Courtesy of Berlin-based artist, Phil Cooper, we have our new prompt – a short sequence from Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950). In common with all previous kick-abouts, you’re invited to respond to the new prompt in anyway that gets your juices flowing, and if you’ve enjoyed this third creative run-around and you want to get involved, then crack on!





The Kick About #2 ‘Metropolis’


We were all surprised and delighted by the response to the first Kick About, with a whole range of work in a variety of media triggered by Max Ernst’s 1955 painting, Moon In A Bottle. We got sculptures and paintings both analogue and digital, drawings in pastel and in Sharpie Pen, animated loops, and even a verse or two of original poetry. The Kick About #1 also garnered interest from other creatives up for a bit of running around, which means this second edition is a veritable cornucopia of creativity.

This time out, our prompt was a single word: metropolis. When I look across this eclectic range of work, I’m reminded of another collection of cities – Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, a book in which Calvino describes an array of architectural marvels, all of them different, but all of them ultimately revealed to be expressions of the characteristics of only one city – Venice. Here too, a single name for a city inspires multiple impressions.


Kerfe Roig

“Most everything I own is in storage, and I do not have many collage materials in my temporary apartment.  But I do get the NY Times delivered, and I cut them up for what I’m working on as needed I took two of the obituary pages from last Sunday’s paper and collaged it with images and headline haiku collected from the last month’s papers.”


Kerfe Roig, Headline Haiku: Metropolis, collage

kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com


Jordan Buckner

“Over the past few weeks, I’ve been making a painting a day as part of the #MaySketchaDay. It’s been fun, but also tough to consistently make new, interesting things. However, when the theme word Metropolis showed up I took a sigh of relief. Not purely because the Fritz Lang film Metropolis is a huge inspiration to me, but also because it’s the kind of word that I could apply to a lot of my work. Big, bulking cityscapes with dark corners, glimmering towers and hidden stories.

So, in response, I made a couple of neon-British industrial cityscapes. If Blade Runner took place in Manchester maybe? Due to the nature of #MaySketchaDay I have to be pretty quick, so to speed up the process I take my old paintings and collage them together as my starting point. In the way of Gestalt psychology, this noise eventually begins to express pattern and shape, and from there, the painting starts to take hold.”


instagram.com/jordan_buckner / twitter.com/jordan_buckner / linkedin.com/in/jordan-buckner jordanbuckner.co.uk

Watch Jordan paint live at twitch.tv/jordan_buckner


Harry Bell

“It started life as a doodle, became a drawing, then in Photoshop was turned into a fanzine cover for Beam 10 (X).”


harrybellart.com / facebook.com/harrybellartist/ facebook.com/Harry-Bell-Cartoons-Illustration-364689853546105/ instagram.com/harrybell.art


Alan Postings

“A ray gun prop inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis created in Autodesk Maya. I set a challenge of a day’s build/design (plus a few hours of edits) and made it up as I went along!”


website / linkedin.com/in/alanpostings


Tom Beg

It’s safe to say we are pretty crammed in here in Yokohama, a city of nearly 4 million inhabitants perched on a series of rocky hills overlooking the Tokyo Bay. Space is at a premium and geometric tower blocks, condominiums and apartments dot the landscape to the backdrop of rusting factories and billowing smokestacks. It’s hard not to think or see metropolis whenever I step out my front door. It’s also hard not to think about Fritz Lang’s seminal sci-fi film Metropolis because I love it so much. For this Kick About then, I’ve reimagined my local area as some sort of lost production set for that film. I’m more of an old-fashioned traditionalist when it comes to photography but going with the theme I’ve harnessed the futurist power of my phone and its camera to create my very own and very local metropolis.


twitter.com/earthlystranger / vimeo.com/tombeg


Gary Thorne

“My prompt was Mother-city; the hub providing settlers to beyond, with the sparrow characterising community and Springtime nest building. The unanchored nature reflects a very common feeling. HB pencil, on Artistico Fabriano 640gsm hot pressed. 77cm x 56cm. These drawings demand 24 hours commitment, as nothing is forward planned, usually reaching completion in 3-5 days.”


linkedin.com/in/gary-thorne


Judy Watson

“The current theme is Metropolis, which could mean any metropolis, but I have taken it to be the 1927 German expressionist Sci-fi film by Fritz Lang, because it’s one of my favourite films. I have fond memories of being taken along to it as a teenager by my big brother. My eyes were nearly popping out of my headsome of the most compelling memories of the movie for me were the scenes in the Rich Men’s pleasure gardens. The Pleasure Gardens are extraordinary. They are stupendously opulent, and are filled with tumescent plants and feature a scalloped grotto and various fountains…”


www.judywatson.net /  Instagram.com/judywatsonart / facebook.com/judywatsonart


Benedict Blythe

“I became rather inspired by some cinematic B-roll footage of Shanghai, and several images of empty, dystopian style environments. This piece soundtracks the emotions and ‘point of view’ of a person as they move with a steady pace through this cityscape. The architecture builds around them and the barren day passes and transforms into a frantic nightlife. The heavy, clean drums give the music a heavy and prominent pulse, defining the slow but steady movement and the jazzesque chords are supposed to mimic the music associated with these places and spaces. The use of contemporary, electronic sounds are to further add to this sense of a mundane, dystopian forest of concrete. I used FL Studio Mobile on my Ipad to write the actual music and mix the parts. The wind and city soundscapes were added afterwards on my laptop and mixed in Garageband.”


Benedict Blythe, Metropolis V3, May 2020

soundcloud.com/BenedictBlythe


Anass Moudakir

“All I could think of was modernity and buildings, a lot of them. It started as a De Stijl influenced doodle, which then turned into a more constructivist piece and finally a bit more tweaking and ambience. A lot of fun during the process.”


instagram.com/zi_dni


Phil Cooper

“The following images are photos of models I put together for a touring stage production of Hansel and Gretel that I worked on in 2018; you can read more about the production in a blog post I wrote while we were developing the show here.

We devised an approach to the staging that used a lot of children’s toys for the table top models and for the screen projections. The toys added an additional poignant, emotional quality to the music and words and gave the Hansel and Gretel puppet characters something to interact with. For some architectural elements we used toy building blocks. We painted them in monochrome tones to suggest an environment without pulling too much attention away from the music and words.”


instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com


Kevin Clarkson


Kevin Clarkson, Metropolis, Acrylic on board

kevinclarkson.co.uk / artfinder.com/kevin-clarkson / kevinclarksonart.blogspot.com


Lewis Punton

“Metropolis, a prompt that couldn’t help but be met with an onslaught of quarantine consumed media, meaning that those initial visions of bronzed skyscrapers somehow found themselves in a rather uncomfortable blend of Mad Max and the Peaky Blinders! A mingling that resulted in a somewhat smoky poem…”


twitter.com/whenlewmetlew / instagram.com/whenlewmetlew


Phill Hosking

“I took the notion of the ‘Metropolis’ as an overcrowded and oppressive place and projected it into one possible future, a mildly dystopian and ugly one, where there’s evidence of human ingenuity but very little evidence of humanity.” 


instagram.com/eclecto2d linkedin.com/in/phill-hosking


Tony Reeves

“We absolutely loved doing this kick about, thank you Phil for inviting us in! First and foremost, we’d like to thank the Pexels video community for the fabulous free footage. In terms of workflow, the Forces are experimenting with an improvised approach to composition. We have a bunch of loops in Ableton live, and a bunch of samples in an iPhone app called CueZy (which is fantastic for live performance). We’re then running another iPhone with synths including a couple of awesome apps called TC-Performer and TC-11, and using piano, rhodes and other samples on Logic. The idea is to use sound more as colour, so we can improvise in response to visuals – hence why we loved the Metropolis project. All compositions are just recorded down to a stereo out, so there’s no going back and re-editing – what you hear is all a single take. We hope you enjoy, and we can’t wait to see what everyone else has come up with!”


twitter.com/Nature_FoN / forcesofnaturerecords.bandcamp.com


Vikki Kerslake

“It’s pastels on paper with a bit of Photoshop editing. I had German 1930s film sets in mind.”


twitter.com/ambivalent__cat


Matthew Eluwande

“The pandemic has kept us out of our daily life and activities. We were cut off from life itself, but we are coming back to life using beauty – here represented by the sinamay roses. The tiger whiskers attached to the rose depict our strength. We’re taking back our metropolis, using our sense of style as our means of protection.


Piece made from Sinamay fibre, eco friendly and sustainable.

mattheweluwandemillinery.com / linkedin.com/in/matthew-eluwande / instagram.com/mattheweluwande


Charly Skilling



…and a bonus ‘metropolis of string’ “I started thinking about the networks, the connections that make up a major city – the roads, the cables,  the lighting, the energy. My thanks to the photographer for his skills.”



Liam Scarlino

“I lived in this building for two years, in Taipei. It’s in a back road of the red-light district. The lane is full of gentlemen’s clubs in the basements and bars on street level. The strip is teaming with marauding businessmen and pop-up food vendors in the evenings, dying down at around midnight when everyone packs up or goes downstairs. The building itself has five floors and no lift, with a long staircase heading right to the top in a single column.I lived in an illegal extension on the top floor, a fairly common arrangement in Taiwan. The walls shifted from side to side during earthquakes and in typhoons water dripped through the light fixtures. The apartment was clean though, and despite the grime outside, the area was intense and colourful and full of life. The rent was also very cheap.

Relating to the idea of a metropolis is the position of the building on Taipei’s tessellating grid system. Blocky buildings in different sizes and states of repair populate the back lanes, bumped right up to the edge of the road. Air conditioning units protrude out of grey broken tiles between steel and glass.

It’s by no stretch a beautiful city, but at night-time the neon lights switch on, and all the surfaces glow in greens and blues and pinks. Taxis slowly wind their way through the crowds with warm headlights casting long shadows into the distance. Everything mingles together and this vivid amphetamine version of Boris Bilinsky’s famous poster becomes far more appealing.

Returning home late at night, my building loomed overhead, bathed in neon and surprisingly still, with a few lightbulbs reflecting off protective bars, as the wiring gently hummed.”


Liam Scarlino, Linsen North Road, created in Cinema 4D

 liamscarlino.net vimeo.com/liamscarlino


Graeme Daly

“I wanted to capture the energy and constant movement that encompasses a metropolis, like a long exposure shot caught in an instant with lots of energy in the line-work and brightness in the blinding city lights,  I had a go of animating it too, as I want to incorporate such elements into my new animated short so it felt good to get some practice.  I also couldn’t help but pay homage to Metropolis by Fritz Lang – it’s one of my favourites!  Those harrowing tunnels with the workers heads hung low as they approach the underbelly of the city always stuck with me.”


@graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly


Emily Clarkson

“My submission was entirely inspired by the aesthetics of the Fritz Lang movie poster, and the opening titles to ‘Batman – The Animated Series’. I love the drama in the storyboards by Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm. The bold, dramatic environments in the show and the movie poster really stand out, although they are quite different. Strong graphics and shapes appeal to me hugely and that’s something the Art Deco period had in spades!” 


instagram.com/eclarkson2012 / twitter.com/eclarkson2012 / linkedin.com/in/emily-clarkson


Phil Gomm

“I really enjoyed this challenge.  It was like being back on my Art Foundation course!”


Phil Gomm, Tower, Pencil drawing > photography > Photoshop


Eleanor Spence-Welch

“This is really an amalgamation of my favourite parts of the 1927 film. Perhaps it’s a little too literal an interpretation of the prompt, but it’s been fun to reminisce over my memories of watching Metropolis for the first time. Perhaps I need to watch it again soon…”


instagram.com/espence96 / twitter.com/E1eanor_Spence / facebook.com/ESpence-Art


Simon Holland

 “A bit of Metropolis meets a bit of Egyptian meets some other stuff.”


twitter.com/simonholland74 / corvusdesigns.blogspot.com / instagram.com/simonholland74


Who’s up for another game? Courtesy of Kick-About team mate, Gary Thorne, we have a brand new prompt for a brand new creative challenge – see below for our latest theme and new submission deadline. Have fun – and anyone visiting who’d like to have a run around with us, then do please get in touch. The more the merrier.



Gelata Spongia Oculus Eruptus

jelly_blob_eye_pop – exploring the relationship between daft archive sound effects and clever software

It’s very early days, but Ethan Shilling and I are working on a new animation project together. Ethan has been my friend and technical director on a whole bunch of whacking great projects, usually involving entire uncharted territories and ridiculously tight time-frames and budgets. Miraculously, Ethan is still talking to me.

I like to think when I email Ethan, his face lights up with glee at the prospect of another adventure in sight and sound. In reality, I suspect he probably groans a bit, because he knows what’s coming next – from me, lots of ‘What ifs?’ and ‘What happens if we do this?’ and from Ethan, lots of ‘Sorry, you want it to do what?‘ and ‘Doing it that way will cost you thousands of pounds’.

One of our last big gigs together was conceptualising and producing over forty minutes of CG-animation for a series of live-synchronisation concerts in France and Poland. The short version is we turned four movements of Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet into episodes of abstract animation. The long version is Ethan invented a plug-in to work within Autodesk Maya that took Berlioz’s music and transformed its every note and nuance into a series of instructions to drive the behaviours of all the animated elements on screen. We had tumbling obsidian blocks against a sullen red sky that tumbled exactly in time with Berlioz’s music; we had dancing swirls of light, a dizzying riot of golden balls, and a balletic spray of petals that danced on screen for a full fifteen minutes or so, and which always got a round of applause from concert goers for their sheer hypnotic loveliness.



I think Ethan and I both knew Romeo and Juliet wasn’t going to be the last time we were going to fire up Spectrogram and play around some more with idea of the visualisation of sound. There’s just something wonderfully experimental and unpredictable about this process, and working with Ethan is like working alongside a magician. He allows me to ask for stupid things and muck about a bit and ‘not know’ what I’m trying to achieve from the outset, and that makes the ‘not knowing’ bit very recreational and playful.

The last project Ethan and I worked on together was Marcus and the Mystery of the Pudding Pans for the Seaside Museum Herne Bay and Heritage Lottery. I mention this only because it was while working on the sound design for this film that I happened upon the online BBC Sound Effects archive. The actual url address for the site is bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk – an acropolis being an ancient citadel. This image of this collection of sound effects existing within the vaults of some dusty, cavernous environment really fired my imagination. I also experienced a weird pang of sadness for all those strange categories of sound effects – sonic relics going otherwise unheard. My mind’s eye then presented me with a fleeting image of some abyssal trench, where deep down in the dark, these disembodied sound effects circled each other like rarely glimpsed species of marine life…

And that was it. A few email exchanges later with Ethan, and we’d agreed to develop this idea a little further. A few more emails later, we were already experimenting, and as of right now, we’re moving forwards on a fun idea for a new short animated film we’re calling ‘gelata spongia oculous eruptus’ – which is bastardised Latin for ‘jelly blob eye pop’ – the title Ethan gave to one of our first little experimental clips.



What follows are a series of very early experiments in which a bunch of very silly sound effects dug out from the BBC acropolis are given the Spectrogram treatment. I’m going to say ‘enjoy’, because you probably will, for these are childish joyful things! If Silly Putty could make a noise, it would make noises like these!








As Ethan and I continue to develop this project from these early trials to something more coherent, I’ll be sharing updates on our progress here. More blob-shaped sonic oddities coming soon.