A Return to The Forest #1

I promised I would return to this enchanted forest this Winter after reliving the memories that this forest holds with a recent kick about reflecting on the words of Robert Frost. I did return to the forest when we got a dumping of snow and I relished in all its sensory overload.

As I was editing these pictures I could hear the birds, I can feel the clean air through the bristles of my beard, I can hear the sound of melting snow dropping from the Spruce’s above into a water filled trench below, I can feel myself watching the water ripple as the drippings lapped the forest colours in a mesmerising kaleidoscope, I could feel the snow squelch beneath my boots as I walked further and further. I could feel it all as if the images from my laptop imploded into a projection around my room in an augmented reality of memories and senses.

This is where you do lockdown right, how you spend your time correctly in a worldwide pandemic. In a place and surroundings that don’t feel like it has been gripped by the turmoil of Miss Rona. It doesn’t feel like anything is starkly different here because in all reality, it isn’t. It is untouched and it always will be. I miss the sheer joy on my dogs faces as they jumped with glee to see that I was taking out the leash from the shed to go on another daily adventure. I miss my neighbours allowing me to hop over the fence in their yard and trudge through the shite in my wellies to find mini universes iced over in the ponds and lakes that weave amongst the surplus of trees. I miss the smells, I miss the air, I miss the peace. I miss it.

The Kick-About #19 Art Forms In Nature – Ernst Haeckel — Red’s Kingdom

Following the simple, unadorned charms of our previous still-life inspired Kick-About, in which we were encouraged to turn our creative attentions to objects rather ordinary and domestic, this week’s edition is a good deal more fanciful. With Ernst Haeckel’s Art Forms in Nature as our collective stomping ground, we’ve generated between us a veritable coral reef of different ideas, processes and creativity.

The Kick-About #19 Art Forms In Nature – Ernst Haeckel — Red’s Kingdom

The Kick-About #18 Still Life With Blue Vase, Fernand Leger (1951) — Red’s Kingdom

After the heightened atmosphere of our last kick-about, and the rich food of the festive season now largely behind us, Leger’s simpler fare was a welcome offering. Leger’s still life was brought to the attention of the Kick-Abouters by artist, Gary Thorne; well, Leger can keep his roast beef. I’d rather get my hands on all those delicious-looking prawns and creamy avocados…

The Kick-About #18 Still Life With Blue Vase, Fernand Leger (1951) — Red’s Kingdom

The Kick-About #17 ‘Andante quasi lento e contabile’ – Hely-Hutchinson — Red’s Kingdom

This week, the woods remain lovely, dark and deep, as dreams of snow and ice continue to characterise this suitably festive Kick-About, with new works inspired by the third slow movement from Hely-Hutchinson’s 1927 A Carol Symphony. The Kick-About has been running for thirty-four weeks and was started, in part, as a response to the first lock-down. Throughout this time, our fortnightly shindigs have been a constant source of anticipation, comfort and satisfaction and I just wanted to say a big thank you to all my fellow kick-abouters for your creativity, conversation and always, the surprises. A big thank you too to all those who comment, who participate, who browse and who share. Now go have yourselves a very merry Christmas!

The Kick-About #17 ‘Andante quasi lento e contabile’ – Hely-Hutchinson — Red’s Kingdom

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. 

The Kick-About #12 ‘The Cottingley Fairies’

Kick About #12 exploring the oddities of the The Cottingley Fairies

Red's Kingdom


It’s tempting to draw the obvious conclusion from the recent choice of prompts offered up by the kick-about artists of late. Last time it was the exoplanet Trappist 1e, with its promise of new beginnings ‘off-world’, and an escape from this one, which seems smaller by the day and rather dimmed. This week it’s fairies – or more accurately, the need to go on believing in them, a yearning for something as-yet-unspoiled and magical. In these different ways, we seem preoccupied with escapism and realms more expansive than those afforded by our current circumstances.


Julien Van Wallendael

“I saw something about the Cottingley Fairies being the theme of the month on your blog, so I put this together last night as a response… I was mainly driven by the need to figure out something that could be done in one sitting! The Cottingley Fairies case exposes all at once…

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