This weeks kick about over on Red’s Kingdom revolves around the life and times of German animator Lotte Reinager who was the pioneer of shadow puppet animation. The responses from all the creatives offer an eclectic bunch of contributions to feast your eyes on. When doing research for the Howard Sooley – Prospect Cottage prompt I came across the inspiring work of Reinager and since then I have been busy cutting, gluing and making for a shadow puppet animated short entitled The Lighthouse Keeper which centres around the peculiar landscape of Dungeness and a couple of burley blokes. Creating something for the sake of creating and figuring out the hurdles and bumps is what proves most enjoyable about delving into a fresh medium that I have yet to attempt. The stage is now set, the characters are ready to move, the lights are on and with it the sheer joy of seeing the cutout shapes and silhouettes lit up ablaze brings a smile to my face that makes the absolute bomb site of my shrinking bedroom all worth it.
I am sharing the majority of the cut out shapes, the stage and silhouettes that will feature in the film as well as some lighting and staging tests that feature the main protagonist. I will be showcasing all the nitty and gritty process here, things that worked, things that didn’t and how I plan on animating elements that would require more than just my two hands.
This weeks kick about over on Reds Kingdom where artists from all across the lands provide a creative response is an exert from Haruki Murakamis 1Q84 where he describes the transcendent moon as a perceptive but mute watcher over the earth and all it encompasses.
I feel like with the words of Murakami, the moon has an element of ominous brooding and a spark of stoicism at remembering what used to be. The light I am capturing with these long exposure shots, which rim the highlights of ornate wood panelling and makes the hard wood floor sing with colour, makes me wonder who used to reside in this old house previously? Who wandered through the hallways? Who ran their fingers along the wood panels? Who tended to the rose gardens? Who hung up all the photos that still have a small circular imprint on the ancient stained walls? I imagine the original family in black and white or faded sepia, posed on an old chaise lounge, looking dapper but serious.
This old creaky house with its not so glamorous leaks and constantly breaking faucets still has so much charm to it, bursting with history as high as its ceilings. The mammoth floors above us are now converted into flats, but one wonders how it all looked in its original form? How would the moon have shone into those vast rooms above me? I can only fantasise.
The process of producing these photos was relatively simple. I used long exposure photography to take the initial photographs (seen below) – curbing my preference for large swings of a light source, instead opting for a central steady point so that the light source would not bleed out from where the moon would be placed. From the Scientific Visualization Studio site I downloaded a HD colour and displacement map of the moon which I then plugged into a simple sphere within Maya so that I could get some nice renders of the moon with depth and texture. I then plopped the renders of the moon on top of the long exposure shots and edited to my hearts content so that the makeshift moon look as though it is the original light source.
With the recent first birthday of the fortnightly Kick About over on Reds Kingdom I noticed I have a few prompts that haven’t been uploaded here on Gentle Giant, so I will be resolving that in the coming weeks. This prompt being of Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950) being one of them and one of my favourite responses thus far.
“I knew exactly what I was going to create when I seen the new prompt for this weeks kick about, It was the night before my birthday and I was sitting out in the tiny garden in my previous London apartment, I was drinking red wine and smoking a cigarette and frankly, was feeling rather shit. Not sure if it was the birthday blues or if was a amalgamation of other things but my neighbours behind my house were having a party; they recently installed some outside lighting which surrounded their roomy garden in a blazing warm hue that lit up the brick of their apartment like a beacon in the night.
In my garden there is a full length mirror that is perched against a rickety garden shed that is full of art supplies and spiders. The light from the neighbours garden was reflecting brilliantly against the mirror – it looked otherworldly placed against the black shed and darkness of my garden, like the light didn’t belong in the darkness. I thought to myself “I wish that that was a fucking portal so I could step through, leave this place and see some happy faces”. The neighbours next door continued to dance and sing into the night.”
in regards to my own response I have been having wildly vivid dreams as of late, the kind of dreams where you wake up in the middle of the night and need to write them down, the kind you remember so clearly when you get out of bed in the morning, the kind where you try to decipher their meaning to see if its some sort of cosmic message within your unconscious psyche that needs to be brought to fruition.
These dreams feel as though they relate to the collective phenomena, where people at the start of lockdown had extremely vivid dreams, probably in relation to their unconscious being so fired up because their everyday lives felt like Groundhog Day, something I still feel like I can relate too.
Surrealism, as an art form, is cemented in the unconscious, with surrealist painters adopting many techniques to unlock the power within their unconscious, so that it translates through to their art, including many being influenced by allusive dreams. With this in mind, and with this week’s The Song of love prompt, I have created a landscape of some of the symbols I have recently seen in one dream that has had a lasting effect..
This weeks Kick about over on Reds Kingdom is a delight of colour and symbolism! Firstly, I was gobsmacked by the age of Aquarius song from the musical Hair. It left the hairs standing on my arms with the booming lead singer’s voice being absolutely phenomenal. If this show ever returns to live audiences I would love to see it! The “hippie” people of this era wanted to show their respect and love for the earth and focus on the world around them, while doing it as a group effort to show a sense of community and togetherness. Aquarius is an air sign, and as a fellow air sign myself, they are known to be creative, free spirited, and always seek clarity.
The symbol for Aquarius being the ‘water bearer’, who eternally gives life and spiritual food to the world, while also washing away the past and making room for a fresh start is usually depicted as a mighty figure pouring water from a vessel onto the earth. When seeing the image of the water bearer, I wanted to focus on a previous experience surrounding water that ignited the Pools film from the Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez prompt, which gave me more respect for the earth and the little wonders that happen sporadically, if you are open enough to find them.
These photos show a snapshot of a spectacle that was for my eyes only, where a trickling of snow was melting and forming a mirage of colours in a shallow lagoon of water. It was a joyous occasion to just sit and watch this natural occurrence, and with its dancing display, it allowed me to stop worrying about everything and what the future holds and just be here in this moment. I think experiences like that are important for grounding you and bringing you back to your present reality, where worry has no place, as the hippies in Hair embodied this physicality here and now by dancing and moving their bodies like water…”
Another kick about has been unleashed over on Red’s kingdom! this time the prompt being the Museum Wormianum – by Ole Worm, a cabinet of curiosities of Worm’s Relics from far and wide. I was initially going to use many of the collectable bric a brac scattered around my dads house and superimpose those on makeshift shelves using roof timber slats that are littered with spiders, but I decided to go against that as I wanted to not mimic Ole Worm’s Museum Wormianum but to go on an adventure and create a story around the origins of all the collectibles and relics that Worm has in his possession.
I imagine Old Ole as an adventurer, wearing tan colours and a careworn hat bleached from sweat from adventuring to mysterious places where the sun scorches and the animals and plant life are of the carnivorous sort. Old Ole Has fought mutant monsters deep within the caverns of caves, sailed high seas and fought his way through torturous chambers, Old Ole has earned his stripes and his relics.
Since Old Ole’s book of treasure dates back to 1655 I wanted to use a medium that is also ancient but has stood the test of time so I turned to collage. I used many of the bric a brac that is dust ridden around my Dads house to kit bash and collage them together as well as pages from the Museum Wormianum to create the ocean as well as some hieroglyphics scattered about. I have become a bit obsessed with house plants so some of my plants are in there – a fatsia, Monstera and Schefflera.
I had many options with this kick about as Ireland’s heritage is teaming with Celtic knot and rope references in art jewellery and clothes. I decided to do a mash up of different perspectives, one inspired by the Aran weather, Aran given its name comes from the picturesque Aran islands off Galway Bay was a sweater knitted for the fishermen that relied on the livestock around the Atlantic Ocean. The Jumpers were made from the sheep that populated the fields in the islands and retain their natural oils meaning they are water repellent – Ideal for Irish weather! and because the sweater is water repellent it meant that the fishermen wouldn’t feel the chill from getting wet while out fishing.
The stitches in an Aran sweater are used to signify different important factors such as the diamond stitch representing the fields in the Aran Islands and wishes health and success while the cable stitch represents the Fishermans ropes and are a promise of safety and good luck while out fishing. The combination of different stitches are divided into different clans for each family name of kinship in Ireland. Around the borders of my designs is the diamond stitch which is central to the specific Daly clan Aran sweater, with the overall theme of these designs trying to reflect Ancient Celtic Artwork including the triple spiral or Triskele where the Irish believes everything happens in 3’s and can symbolise the mental physical and spiritual self or birth death and rebirth. You can read more about the history of the Irish Aran Jumper here as well as the symbolism of Knots in Irish Celtic Art here
I was spoiled for choice with this kick about with rural Ireland having a bountiful abundance of botany with textures, colours and shapes of all the flora and vegetation, feeling like an endless pick’n’mix. I always find myself thinking about the intricate patterns and shapes as I snap away, mint green reindeer moss looking like bleached coral under a microscopic macro lens and the swirling and meandering of ice a jigsaw of frozen motion, while twigs, branches and petals looking like spores after some careful manipulation. suffice to say I loved this kick about and loved editing, warping and colour correcting a surplus of photos from recent adventures around Ireland to get a photomontage and mimic Ernst Haeckel’s inspiring Illustrations. I have a real hankering to go on and on with creating more designs like this.
This kick-about prompt by Fernand Leger felt very homely; an abundance of food reminds me of home, so I painted a kitchen illustration of a section of our kitchen, mimicking the colour and skewed perspective of Leger’s piece.
The music of this weeks Kick About prompt over on Reds Kingdom felt very christmasy and warm indeed. To me nothing feels more christmasy than going for a walk in the countryside of Ireland where the invigorating air hits you with pure refreshment and the frost glistens the shrubbery and flora. I spent a lot of my time when I was a young lad outside building rickety hideouts and treehouses with my friends and cousins. Going for a walk near my family home always feels like I am dipping into my memory fault where walking past a particular tree will spark a memory of us building and climbing away, walking through the grasses of the fields reminds me of being cut by barbed wire and being so dumbfounded by having fun that I didn’t realise I was bleeding with barbed wire marks in my palms.
I remember the beehive that was camouflaged into the ground of a particular field in perpendicular view from the balcony of our home, when all us had awoken the beast I can only imagine the sight of seeing us all running and screaming our heads off from the balcony as we ran for our lives away from the angry hive. Memories like that are scattered around the countryside of Ireland, they will echo as I stroll past them and now that I am older I can really appreciate them. Although all the hideouts and treehouses are dismantled, the trails that were grinded down are now full of vegetation again, It’s the clean air and the bright stars that haven’t changed.
Although isolation has for now stopped me from revisiting those actual areas of my past I remember them as I walk through the bogland surrounding my Mams house where I know I would have been in my element too when I was younger. I am still drawn to those picturesque areas and the crisp clean air, and I really appreciate the little bird houses built into the trees to shelter the birds in the bitter winter. I still sometimes walk past a particular tree and think – that would have been a good one.