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..
I have been cleaning and gardening around our house and came across a peculiar bell jar with pureed blackened berries cemented to the bottom like tar. It’s mad what you’ll find in an old house with plenty of history! Before chucking boiling water in it and dumping it down the drain I took some photos and did some edits to show its glistening gooeyness.
The majority of my roommates moved out recently and I miss them dearly, the house is so quite and feels empty knowing that I can’t go outside our garden and have a cigarette and a laugh with them or be a victim of one of their many pranks or have them be a victim of one of mine. I live in a converted mansion of a house where the outside walls are brick red with gothic, victorian esque rounded towers, the house now converted into 3 separate buildings where our floor on the bottom being the largest house, while the floors above us converted into apartments with sprawling staircases.
My roommates have taken the wifi with them and I have been subjected to a digital detox which has been a blessing in disguise (currently using my dwindling data to post this) as its proving to get on with things that otherwise might have been put off. I have always wanted to give a bash at painting with light using long exposure trickery in particular when living in this house, the high ceilings with its ornate painted plaster and extruded window nooks with long thick curtains – one can imagine how the light would look in all its divots and grooves making it an ideal spot to give it a shoulder popping whirl.
I found myself finding things strewn about the place that I thought would work well – One morning after waking up to our roommates mammoth mounds of no longer of use rubbish strewn across the front patio thanks to pesky foxes I found a red bicycle light, and deep within the experiments of painting with light I noticed a rod hooked up to the large curtains used to draw back them back so you don’t end up pulling them off the rail, it became the perfect apparatus to attach the bicycle light too, meaning I wouldn’t be seen as some sort of shadowy figure in the results of the long exposure shots, even though wearing all black didn’t completely get me in the clear of some of the earlier shots.
I can really see the appeal of this endeavorer – It is invigorating to press the shutter button, swing violently away and away and then run back to your camera to await patiently for the shutter to finally release so that you can see the fruits of your labour. while the house is still empty I am going to keep experimenting with this. I bought some new LED strip lights but the results were less than desirable as the lights are too bright with too many – meaning the room was far too lit up, but with some tinkering I might be able to salvage something out of them. In the dedicated store room of our home where the walls are filled with discarded amazon boxes I found a head lamp with a strap, another golden opportunity to see what this light source can do, there’s also the possibility of not showing parts of the light – what about putting a bright light in say, a food strainer and spin that violently around? or some some of tube that funnels the light? the experiments feel endless and the creative juices are bubbling.
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.
Some photos taking back from the Emerald Isle from this past winter. I find it so fascinating to observe the minute details that a single patch of earth provides in rural Ireland, every few feet there is something different to marvel at – a new collection of colours and textures that are only heightened during crisp, dewy winter mornings where the parts of the flora are submerged and stuck in its icy capture. Their tendrils like a miniature kraken raring to pounce or some sort of leggy thing cracking out of a shell and ready to usurp whatever living thing is staring at it.
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…”
I have been busy setting up an online shop for art photography prints and have been in the process of organising, selecting and editing a slew of photos to see what will make the cut. Here is some edits of photos that was taken back in January of this year, which feels like a lifetime ago. I can almost taste the clean air and feel my boots squelch in the rich peat filled trenches as my dogs watch cautiously in preparation for an almost face plant.
With this week’s prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “You were once wild here, don’t let them tame you” I instantly thought about being amongst the countryside of Ireland, and surrounded by flora and fauna. When I was younger, I was wild at heart; I climbed the highest trees, I made hideouts, I swam in rivers. The ground on top of hills surrounded by fairy trees was ground down by my cousins and myself, with our bikes fucked into the nearest ditch. We could be heard screaming with joy in this landscape playground that was all around us. We would cycle into town, put our money together and buy sweets and milkshakes, then cycle back – milkshake in hand and eat our feasts, supported by tree trunks and makeshift wooden slats. I feel like I grew up on the precipice of this wild and free way of life, before it started to die out with the younger generation concentrating more on the protective shield of screens. I still feel like I have that sense of adventure within me, and when it is my birthday this year I am buying myself a bike to find some places that remind me of that time, I might not make hideouts like I used too, but I will be taking photos of places that bring me back to that untamed nature.
Pictured here are photos from the forest taken this past Christmas, where we ran amok often. I wanted the photos to feel nostalgic, with a rustic warmness to them and an influx of colour, but also show that we adventured to places like this in all seasons and all weather, where we were free and wild with not a care in the world. We never let anyone tame us and that’s how it should be.
I completely forgot about these experiments that never seen the light of day when creating the pools film. I thought about possibly interspersing short elements of treetops that I filmed and have these otherworldly orbs float amongst and behind the tree trunks to encapsulate and cocoon the texture, colours and nature with the forestry into mini universes. These orbs were created by using the filmed footage from the Pools film and turning it into image sequences and applying them to spheres within Maya, then adding lots of depth to them by applying bump and displacement maps. Displacement and bump maps basically calculate the white and black of texture maps within a 3D space and in turn raise or decrease the geometry to extrude and add depth, without these maps the sphere would have been a basic sphere. As I was editing the pools film I knew they weren’t going to make the cut and it was best to leave it be. Still enjoyable to play around with though! Especially with its uncertainty and since the filmed footage is basically plugged into the spheres and changes frame by frame it would have been really interesting to see what happens when finished rendering I can imagine those water ripples causing Synesthesia like effects. Maybe something will happen with them in the future, even to just full-fill my curiosity…