A concluding set of photographs produced for our recent Vesuvius-inspired Kick-About – a crowd of ash-entombed individuals just passing the time.
Ash Crowd #2 (2022)
The prompt for The Kick-About No.66 was Turner’s 1817 painting of Mount Vesuvius in spectacular eruption… which inspired this response from me; a casual gathering of ash-encased bystanders left pondering the apocalypse.
Ash Crowd #1 (2022)
A few points of reference going on in these images produced for The Kick-About No.66, as inspired by Turner’s 1817 painting, Mount Vesuvius In Eruption: of course, those ash-encased bodies of Pompeii’s unlucky inhabitants, entombed where they embraced by the volcano’s pyroclastic flow, but also memories of watching the news in the aftermath of 9/11, people walking through the city streets, bewildered, made ghostly by their lamina of ash.
I sourced some of those little people architects deploy to bring their scale models to life, coated them with a few blasts of hairspray, then rolled them in wood ash from the stove. I was particularly taken by the figures’ humdrum poses and, in some strange way, find the resulting photographs comforting. It’s as if those poor Pompeiians got up off the floor one day and resumed their lives, chatting, flirting, popping down the shops…
The Kick-About #66 ‘Vesuvius’
In contrast to the sombre and sepulchral offerings of our previous Kick-About together, this week’s collection of new works made in a short time is a more explosive affair. Inspired by Turner’s painterly apocalypse, enjoy the flash and sizzle of our own creative outpourings. Boom!
“My take of an explosion of some kind, more of an emotional kind, I think, so I wanted to feel surrounded by and immersed in it. Not the beautiful and dramatic rendition of Turner’s Vesuvious one – close enough to make us feel the power of it but from some safe distance. Nor the fireworks we seem to get these days, more noise than light! I used to love watching the fireworks over the sea for Genova’s Saint Patron’s day as a child. It was a glorious spectacle of lights, colours and patterns, mirrored on the water surface – and far enough not to be too noisy. I suppose now we need to be more environmentally conscious with these things as well. Hope you all had a fun weekend!“
“It came to mind I had previously done a painting entitled “Volcano”, albeit about 55 years ago! This was when I was at senior school and the reason it has stuck in my mind… is because I never actually finished it! I had painted people trying to escape, and running away in panic from a volcano, but the thing was the bell rang for end of lesson before I had time to put in their faces! It was therefore quite a surprise for me to see, about a week later, my unfinished masterpiece hanging on the wall outside the headmistress study! It was even more of a shock when the headmistress herself happened to be walking by, as I stood with my mouth open saying to some friends “Blimey! That’s my picture up there!” She gave me a very stoney stare (which others who went to this same school may vividly remember) and said “Did you mean for all the people to be faceless?” I was always taught that honesty is the best policy so I said, in a very feeble voice, “Well actually Miss I didn’t get to finish it” Wrong answer. Next day my painting had disappeared from the wall.”
“When looking at images of volcanoes, I am always struck by the contrast between the life and heat and light and movement of the explosions and the lava flow and the cold, dark, stillness of the ash and landscape left behind. I have tried to capture some of this contrast with a freeform crochet, approximately 25″ x 38″. I used a yarn with sequins for the lava itself, the sequins reflected light giving life and movement Other yarns, with a fine silver fleck running through them, helped bring a suggestion of light and movement to the more distant volcanic cloud and the night sky. The landscape surrounding the volcano is made up of greys, charcoal and blacks, with streaks of fire giving the terrain some definition. Finally, an old tree, lit by moonlight on one side and firelight on the other, stands poised at the moment the first flames begin to lick – on the cusp of flaring into destruction.”
“1983: I close my eyes. Hearing the crunch of hardened lava… a calcified sea leading into the forest… ascending into the thinning air, straining the lungs, weakening the legs, pumping the heart… progress slowing. Six hours later: emerging into mist, temperature dropping, giant pointed succulents scattered over rubble, light failing, crawling to the crater’s lip, peering into the depths… a stomach flip from the power and scale… molten lava hidden by cloud smoke. Three metal huts… most without floors… just below the peak. Eating out of tins, curling like squirrels into a deep damp sleep… the bass notes of the mountain penetrating our dreams.”
Mt Meru, Tanzania, stratovolcano (last eruption 1910) Walk: 2001. Pen and ink on paper
Nyragongo, Congo, live stratovolcano last eruption prior to walk in1977) Walk: 1983. Pen and ink on paper
“For many years I had this desire to go up a volcano on horse-back. The fact I had never been on a horse before was not going to deter me. My dear friend Penny, who died a few months ago in Mexico, was Don Quixote to my Sancho Panza. Jesus and his little son, Simon appropriately led us up the volcano. There was no-one else for 8 hours. So the prompt this time for me was not the blazing furnace of a volcano erupting, but the life-changing experience of climbing this steaming, breathing volcano. It had grown to eruption in 10 years in 1952, enveloping the pueblo and ending abruptly at the altar of the church. From the top you can see across the whole of Mexico and the fault line runs steeply down to South America. When we arrived back to Guadalajara I made this first painting. It was as if the volcano had entered my entire body, so visceral were the feelings. We hardly spoke for hours. Here is that drawing and a detail of the core. I selected out a photo of the volcano landscape itself, so still, silent and empty on the downward slope, a complete opposite of the Turner eruption and magnitude of its flaring torment. The earth talks to us very clearly. I hope the politicians are listening. Maybe they should take them up to the top of a breathing earth next time – rather than a mega-rich paradise!”
“Way back in 2008 we walked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand – eight hours, 19kms – along the way reaching the top of the still active red crater. A fabulous walk full of fascinating natural wonders- a yellow lake, emerald lakes, areas of snow, waterfalls, steam rising from rocks and amazing colours. When we got home I spotted a photo I had taken of a ridge line which was part of the track and there was a row of tiny people one after the other on it. Who knows how many people walk the track every day, but it would be enormous. I wouldn’t want not to have undertaken this marvel trek, but the impact on nature must be devastating. So my image is of the pleading volcano – I suppose a comment on over population. Also time for a gouache painting I thought. And I was inspired by several of the last Art challenge submissions that took a simpler approach – not that I achieved simplicity here, but I really liked what they achieved!”
“Turner’s painting of Vesuvius is so sublime, so epic. I can’t compete with that, so I’ve gone to the other end of the scale – a bit of a damp squib compared to Turner’s fiery mountain. I photographed a fire demon who has lost his mojo. He should be running around causing mischief, but he’s over it and doesn’t quite know what to do with himself; what does a demon do if he’s not wreaking havoc? His demon friends think he’s a loser and ordinary folk run away screaming. He doesn’t fit in anywhere these days. He did go off and get a prospectus from the community college last week, so that’s a start…”
instagram.com/philcoops / hedgecrows.wordpress.com / phil-cooper.com
“A few points of reference going on here: of course, those ash-encased bodies of Pompeii’s unlucky inhabitants, entombed where they embraced by the volcano’s pyroclastic flow, but also memories of watching the news in the aftermath of 9/11, people walking through the city streets, bewildered, made ghostly by their lamina of ash. I sourced some of those little people architects deploy to bring their scale models to life, coated them with a few blasts of hairspray, then rolled them in wood ash from the stove. I was particularly taken by the humdrum poses of the figures and, in some strange way, find the resulting photographs comforting. It’s as if those poor Pompeiians got up off the floor one day and resumed their lives, chatting, flirting, popping down the shops…”
“I was awestruck by the colours of Turner’s painting, especially the light and darkness, and contemplated how the land after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius would have been nothing but dark ash and charred to a crisp, the poisoned, suffocating smoke billowing into the air, the wispy remains of trees, and how the lava cemented the landscape. I decided to comb through the surplus of landscape photography I have of rural Ireland, and gave a whirl to producing apocalyptic, darker hues. Here are some mixed media images created by digitally painting over my photography of those images of rural Ireland.”
graemedaly.com / graemedalyart.com / @graemedalyart / vimeo.com/graemedaly / linkedin.com/in/graeme-daly / twitter.com/Graeme_Daly / gentlegiant.blog
“Vesuvius has always seemed cosmic to me, so I consulted my stash of cosmic reference photos in order to construct some collage. The third one didn’t work as I originally created it, so I cut it into two—much better. And when, after doing the collages, I did a little research and discovered that Venus is the patroness of Pompeii, I thought: perfect! I’ve also put together five volcanic haiku to make a cadralor. According to Wikipedia, “The root of the word Pompeii would appear to be the Oscan word for the number five, pompe”. Venus is also associated with the pentagram, another five.“
in search of Venus
what season is this?
dark, enigmatic, grown wild–
spilling from our eyes
the madness of fire–
consummation and release,
sweeping life away
inside opens out
what was not, now is
random lines break down–
the page explodes, caught trembling–
from nothing, vast light
the locus that gyres–
gravities of orbiting
become somewhere else
kblog.blog / methodtwomadness.wordpress.com
“KA coincided with a nice surprise of an abundance of flowers arriving to the house. Try-outs to capture the explosive nature of this group proved difficult, until the rain chucked it down beneath a heavily overcast sky. I simply rotated the vase 90 degrees, trying to capture subtle differences. I find it is with zoomed-in examination that things appear really sensual. Zoom-away to freely discover your own hidden treasures. ”
And for our 67th run-about together, feast your eyes on the extraordinary sculpture-come-wall-hangings of the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, who uses recycled materials to produce huge, sumptuous installations: “Anatsui refers to himself as both a painter and a sculptor. He essentially ‘paints’ and builds up colour and pattern with the bottle-caps – with his works have been compared to traditional Ghanaian kente cloth, Western mosaics, tapestries and paintings by Gustav Klimt…”