The Kick-About #20 〰️ The Ashley Book Of Knots

〰️ Design 1 〰️

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.

〰️ Design 2 〰️
〰️ Design 3 〰️

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

〰️ Ó’Dálaigh/Daly Clan Symbol 〰️
〰️Daly Clan Stitch and Aran Jumper 〰️

Art Forms In Nature

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.

The Kick About #17 Hely Hutchinson – Andante quasi lento e contabile

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.

The Forestry – The kick About #16

This weeks kick About over at Reds Kingdom – The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep by Robert Frost can be viewed here. With my offering for this weeks prompt below.

“My family owns a few chunks of land in rural Ireland, one of which is the forestry and pictured here on a typical misty, wintry morning in the back arse of nowhere. The forestry is populated with pine trees and used to house some of our horses – Dawn, Jessy and the majestic Esmerelda along with the cows. The animals are no longer, unfortunately we sold them off for whatever reason. The stables still remain with sprinklings of hay still scattered around its edges and when the weather calls for it – downy flake. I remember the forestry and the surrounding areas with utmost joy as it houses a lot of fond memories of my rambunctious, pubescent teenage years.

Me and my cousin and a family friend used to creep around our houses in the dead of night, tip toeing about the place to steal whatever booze and cigarettes we could find until ultimately my parents noticed the dwindling of the expensive, ancient wine in our wine cellar; and subsequently bought a padlock (that I got a hold of and got a key copied). Sometimes I would steal a cigar or two from our unbeknownst slumbering parents and when the weather was bitter and frosting over the pavements – as most harsh, Irish winters are, we used to meet up and collate all of our stash together, we were once lucky enough that a friend who would join us sometimes managed to score some poitín – an Irish illegal moonshine that is so strong it can apparently make you blind… it certainly didn’t have that of a dramatic affect on us but fuck, it burned our chests as it went down and our vision was definitely impaired after drinking enough of the liquid lava.

We drank and smoked into the early hours of the morning sliding and jumping on the frosty, black plastic wrapped bales of hay, thee odd time we played music that we recorded off the tv on our Nokia phones, we sat in the cold that we no longer felt and looked to the stars and chatted about probable nonsense with the night in Ireland being as black as the void, the stars would glisten and litter the sky in a spectacle, dancing even in our inebriated states; Esmerelda, Dawn and Jessy and of course the cows would gather around us watching with perplexing bemusement. little tuffs of smoke would be plumbing out of the surrounding houses chimneys in the distance as they started to burn out. I’m not sure why we mainly did this in the flesh tingling cold of winter or why I remember it the most, I think we just wanted something to do, something that made it feel like summer again.”

Some of the trees in the forestry have since been cut down and sold off, a pavement runs through its centre which thankfully is starting to return to nature with grass and wildflowers starting to grow over it. The pine trees are being used for Christmas trees with them being chopped down and installed as the yearly Christmas tree in the shithole that is the town I grew up in, probably somewhat of a beacon for the paralytic drunks that live inside the copious amounts of pubs perpetrating the Christmas tree. I don’t feel sorry for them this year. They can fuck off and find some other vice to get through the Christmas; or they can just drink themselves to oblivion in their own homes. I shall revisit the forestry when I return home this Christmas where I think echoes and visions of my memories will resurface.”

The Kick About #15 – Eric Ravilious, High Street

This weeks Kick About over at Reds Kingdom is the gorgeous illustrations by Eric Ravilious entitled High Street (1938). I drew one of my favourite places to have a drink or ten with my friends during the Christmas back in my home turf in shop street Galway city – a place that is always bustling with the right amount of life. It will certainly be different this year but Ravilious illustrations made me think back to those bitter winter nights where our bellies would be warm with booze and the sound of buskers filled the cobbled streets.

The Kick About #14 〰️ Boogie Woogie by Norman McLaren

This kick about over at Reds Kingdom was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed injecting some colour into the greyness that is 2020. Dancing blobs, brush strokes and spirals got me out of a bit of a funk as I think it’s impossible to fret when listening to the tunes of Arnold Ammons who accompanied the vivacious animation by Norman McLaren – The whole Boogie Woogie genre is sure to make you smile.

It’s also proving worthwhile translating what I am learning from the Ersilia project into this little animation as the same old school paint effect techniques of those constricting ropes in which Ersilia resides is used in a much more colourful way with this approach. I apologise for the tragic quality of the video! for some reason it looks like I uploaded it with a microwave… but as this current version is a WIP hopefully I’ll figure out why the crispness is naught… or maybe that works well with the nostalgia of the music? I’ve attached some screen grabs and more experimental renders that are being edited in for the latter chunk of the song.

Screen Grabs

Experimental Renders

Throwback – Dance of the Happy Shades and Sergey Cheremisinov

〰️ Dance of the Happy shades Film 〰️

Dance of the Happy Shades – a previous kick about over on Reds Kingdom was one of the most enjoyable Kick About’s thus far. I loved this prompt because it came very instinctively where I ended up making a little micro short, filmed from the inside of my bathroom’s poorly painted cabinet in my dingy west London apartment, where the light was shining brilliantly through the dusty bathroom window and in through a crack in the cabinet. I used my phone to film the light as I repeatedly opened and closed the cabinet door – making the light flow across the cabinet and then bringing those clips into after effects and mucking about by using some blend mode trickery, where lights and shadows started to materialise interesting shapes. To the precise eye some of them resembling a shodowy effigy.

The music discovered and accompanied this prompt is by Sergey Cheremisinov, which really drived this short and remembering that I went back to Sergey’s catalog to see if anything would fit the current short that I am working on. I found a piece that made me smile and shiver and after hearing the score it changed the periphery of the film into something a lot less dark, which I think works better (2020 is dark enough!) probably more sombre but I think that will be up to interpretation. Something about Sergey’s pieces with all its the creaks and fizzes overlaid sporadically invigorates a visceral reaction that make it feel like some thing is alive that shouldn’t be. I envision a lot when I listen to his music and like his music I want this film to have a replayability factor, so that really is the mission of this film and a whole new territory for me and one I’m excited to give a whirl.

〰️ Dance of The Happy Shades Film Still 1 〰️
〰️ Dance of The Happy Shades Film Still 2 〰️
〰️ Dance of The Happy Shades Film Still 3 〰️

The kick About #13 – Ersilia

Calvino’s Invisible Cities – Ersilia

Another kick about is over at Reds Kingdom with a smorgasbord of offerings from artists across the globe. I put forward this prompt over at Reds Kingdom as Calvino’s Invisible Cities is something that has always inspired me, it was my first digital painting project of my first year at Computer Animation Arts and with I started to quickly fall in love with digital painting and because of that it’s one of my favourite creative practices.

With digital painting I do find that their is a “shite zone” where things look like shite for a time before some golden nugget clicks, Whenever I am very deep In the shite zone I remember back to the invisible cities project and just how curious I was about the vast possibilities that photoshop has when it comes to digital painting. I found myself trying every tool within photoshop to see what it did and because of that I wasn’t worrying about the final outcome but enjoying the process and visualising the possibilities as they started to materialise. I always try to mimic that feeling with everything I do nowadays so that an accident or just mucking about with something can leave something interesting.

With this prompt Calvino describes a city made out of strings – “In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or grey or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain”

I originally was thinking about doing a piece of concept art or traditional art but I was itching to do something a bit more abstract and a bit uncanny. The Uncanny is always something I’ve wanted to take a proper bash at, inspired a good few kick about’s ago where I went into detail about the eerie nature plumbing from my Dad’s basement and in that basement Dolls inhabited the darkness along with the spiders and the pungent dust and how it all horrified me – in the best way; remembering that I decided this kick about was the one for such imagery.

The film is currently still ongoing, I am thoroughly enjoying doing something aesthetically completely different to anything I have ever done before and also learning the technical elements to achieve the look of the film, which aren’t that technical and a bonus! The whole film is rendered with Maya software which is glorious because it is rendering quickly and means that it doesn’t take long to see the results, I choose this option for that reason and also because Maya software renders with the moody lighting I was after. Until the film is ready to be released I have attached some of the renders from the film below.

The Kick About #12 – The Cottingley Fairies

Another Kick About has been unfurled over at Reds Kingdom with many delightful offers from artists all over. I decided to focus on a story that is well known around my home town of Knockatee, Dunmore which is that of Fairy Hill.

Fairy Hill is a hill that overlooks the emerald green of Ireland, The hill always felt like a picturesque place out of a film, it is covered in wildflowers with a swing fashioned out of old frayed rope and driftwood, suspended sturdily above the canopy of trees. You can hear the river sinking gently lapping nearby with grinded down little paths that meander around the fairy and chestnut trees. To the east you can see Dunmore castle peeping out from the swatches of high trees as you swing away.

Dunmore Castle

The story of Fairy Hill went that builders tried to build Dunmore castle on Fairy Hill but the vivacious fairies would awake from their slumber in the dead of night, knock the stones down to the ground and did so every night to save their homes. The builders decided to build the castle down the road on a less magnificent hill which is now where Dunmore castle is seen. 

Fairy Hill sits beneath the tree branch

But these stories are not mere wives tales, they are built into our history and heritage, So much so I am sharing an article here dated back to 1912 “On the History and Antiquities of the Parish of Dunmore” which goes into detail about Fairy hill and the aforementioned story that I grow up with.

“The tradition [6] preserved by old Treacy from the mouth of the poet O’Coman, is that the noble Haiste, [7] the son of Membric, a distinguished warrior of the Welsh nation, commenced erecting a castle a short distance to the west of where Dunmore Castle now stands, but that the fairy who presides over the place, Mor Ni Mananain, not wishing that he should erect his fortress there, destroyed by night as much as his masons had erected by day, and that she continued to do so for several nights until Haiste consulted a Magician, who told him that Mor-Ny-Mhanannain did not wish him to place his fortress there, but that she would be willing to allow him to erect it on the site of her own fort, and Hasty, taking the advice of the Sage, and seeing the old Dun a favourable position, immediately commenced to build there, and More, being delighted to view so lofty a pile towering over the humble mounds of her ancient fortress, suffered no fairy to interrupt the work.

Ireland is bursting with stories like this. Planning permission for motorways have been scrapped because a pesky fairy tree is in its route and needs to be cherished. Irish people have all grown up with the stories of the Sluagh, the wailing banshee and of course the fairies, It is something I take pride in and something that I think sparked my imagination when I was a wee tot, Maybe these stories of paranormal oddities is why people view the Irish as a bit mad!? or maybe we refuse to grow up; I’ll take the latter.