Guiding Lights.

Life is like a deck of Cards. It depends not so much on which cards you find in your hand but in how you might use them, or see them. There was a lovely song by Don Williams in the charts in the late 1950s, I was so much younger then, I Am older than that Now!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydDv7gyotCE

It used to make me cry because of its triumph of fairness over apparent blame.It had a big effect on my view of the world. I loved the way the young private had remained calm in the face of wrongful accusation, I loved his explanation and the singer’s revelation at the end. As a young boy, about 11 years old when I first heard it, I was well schooled in the Christian faith in both protestant and High Church, I loved the smell of incense wafting around near the altar and remember going around fascinated by pictures of the twelve stations of the cross, I wanted to be able to make images like that one day. My first sculpture ever was a plasticine pulpit made to show I too could make a pulpit like the boy last week who’d gotten so much praise. I took part with other 11 year olds to help create a mural about Jesus and I still keep the wooden cross with the brass Christ on which I saved my pocket money to buy.

Later, during my 6th form RE studies I heard about how the bible had not been written down during Christ’s lifetime and about some mysterious documents which had been found in pots near the Dead Sea. I gradually became aware that there were religions other than Christianity which also advocated goodwill toward humans and I spent many hours reading on different beliefs from different parts of the world. At college in the early 1970’s I was into Eastern ideas, they had become fashionable and in the mid-70’s I had read Hermann Hesse’s classic called Siddhartha about the young man who later became renowned as The Living Buddha. Last Wednesday night (27th November 2013) I made my way with a companion across London to watch a man called Sogyal Rinpoche talk. I have read his book, ‘The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying’, a couple of times and had found it an incredible help in my own take on the thing called death. Much better than my earlier reading of Evans-Wentz’s book ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’. The latter being written about Tibetan ideas by a well-meaning American and the former by a Tibetan brought up in and by their tradition. I had watched Sogyal on UTube and loved his relaxed way of conducting his talks and his apparent use of humour to lighten the load of the ideas he puts out. I was curious to hear him ‘in person’ in the same way I am sometimes curious to be there at a live gig by a singer or poet or actor etc. I feel I did learn quite a lot and felt some good feelings but I shall come back to that after my report on the rest of a very busy day.

At 11 am I walked into the Chelsea College Artist’s Book Archive to be shown some books by Gustavo Montero its chief archivist. I showed him some books I had made recently and he showed me some of Tom Phillips works. I had come to see the full hardback 1st edition book Phillips had made about Dante’s Inferno. Very impressive it was too. He showed me some of the various prints inspired from that book in small folders and several different versions of Humument. A new book for my delight is by George Brecht which composed of many different sized printed words and images contained in a box all of which for copyright reasons I am not allowed to share images of.

Whilst perusing these different ways of presenting the word the notion arose in me to ‘publish’ some of my 1970s writing in its original handwritten form, maybe even with added colour and various smudges, shifts and overprints which would make it illegible and obfuscate reading, more artwork than literary so the words become just shape and pattern like, say, a Mark Tobey painting. Then to make a legible, simply typed version available on an E Book. That would move my books even further into being ‘artworks’, but as there is always a text, a context and ongoing description it would be churlish not to let people find it in ‘readable form, whether they want to access it or not.

On hearing about the two short films, one describing the ideas behind the pot and its contents the other of my mask event talk with its famous scene of an idiot dancing, made around the time of the Final MA show Gustavo saw some stills and reckoned it would be a good idea to post edited down versions on U tube which I shall do when I learn editing. Of all the unique one off books and my new book ‘G Batch’ that Gustavo saw it was the concertina card book of the clay tablets in my pothi (Tibetan style book) which he liked most. He is into the work of Ed Ruscha who makes cheap, or did, publications in editions of c.1000 and Gustavo liked the ‘solution to the problem’ I had invented to get the words on my clay potis out to a public in a cheap accessible form.

So, back to Sogyal. Finding the Rigpa centre for the first time was quite a challenge but we arrived in good time. Sadly as we would need to leave to catch a train connection we would have to leave before the event concluded so we had to move from our cushions at the front to a place at the back. But Once Sogyal began to talk there was an amazing atmosphere of calm and serenity which he seems to generate. His talk has long pauses where he may be trying to remember what he had to say but more likely he deliberately slows things down slower and slowly slower til you are waiting expectantly for the next comment. He makes lots of jokes. He definitely doesn’t want you to approach serious subjects like death without a smile on your face. He talked about accepting death rather than fearing it and how serious life is but that there is a need for humour. It seems to me that’s a compassionate humour, an accepting what is was, what will be will come, Become. Be Calm & Carry on as my friend Colin Lloyd Tucker sings.

His message seemed to be about the difference between what we thing is real and what is really real. He used the story of the Tibetan sky as an analogy. He talked of the conceptual mind, the one we live with most of the time and the Buddha nature which is deep inside us. He likened the conceptual mind to the clouds furling and behind them the blue sky which is permanent [outer] space, infinity. He said to contact that real nature of mind we need to be natural [just] Be yourself. Whilst meditating don’t interrupt your mind with instructions just relax and allow it to be.

I believe that I saw some things during the session which I shall try to explain. I am using my way with words my play with words here, not Sogyals:

Realisation

Real-I-Say So On

It’s Real I say Shone

The Real I say shone (The Light)

So, I say I saw the light here, I sat there and saw sensed what I call ‘nuances’. These are my ‘beliefs’ or my considerations, not necessarily anything Sogyal said. I had been looking at ‘spirit’ over many many years. I did a comic which you can see in my book ‘Apul-One’ where author Paul Brunton was in the Great Pyramid overnight and he saw two lights coming toward him like sentient beings who spoke with him. And that was what I felt when Sogyal talked of past masters, buddhas, who gather round and watch [over] us. I call them the Wise Ones or the Watchers. There is a mantra, ‘Om Mani Padme Hung’, which if you say it , to yourself, or out loud or even in a group, will summon the community of buddhas to your side. I know some folk, many folk will be thinking that I am a poor misguided soul by now, but I really do think there is something in it. And my belief doesn’t hurt anybody, in fact I hope it can help somebody, me at least. Whether Brunton thought ‘buddhist’ when he ‘saw’ his watchers is debatable but I don’t perceive them as denominational! Spirit is much bigger than human divisions. So, let me finish before you go to sleep.

An Astounding Revelation arrives in the strangest of ways.

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I can see an incredible ‘spirit’ being in this painting/collage of ‘the Dalai Lama standing in front of a Tibet mountain’ that I produced which ‘appeared’ without my intervention. I am not going to point it out but it is there for those with eyes to see.

Sogyal was talking about what Buddhists call your ‘Buddha-nature’, about if you look inside there you can find your ‘real’ nature, the constant self, the one which is not blown in the wind nor changes with it. I scanned around the room, I listened to the silence which Sogyal could bring to the gathering, and I let my mind go…allowed it to think of the possibility that they were gathered and ‘watching’, the wise ones that is. They are there.                Forever.

I mentioned the watchers on the first page of my book Apul-One in 1975 when I wrote the last chapter which in fact became the first. I know I didn’t know then why I was mentioning them, I remember thinking , ‘you idiot, what’s all this about ‘watchers’ but part of me insisted on keeping it in. It was about a greater benevolence which watches waiting for me to tune in, to become aware and mind-full or rather, ‘void’- mind-less. And here I was on Wednesday 27 November 2013 sitting as cross legged as I can manage. In about an hour’s time my companion was about to get all esoteric on me when all of a suddy she said we are all air, water, earth & fire, but she hadn’t said that yet when Sogyal said something which resonated at a very deep level, a profound level which showed me his emphasis on humour is in fact so much deeper then we think. He started to joke about ‘guru’ the word which he said in Tibetan means ‘donkey’. Then he mimicked the sound of a donkey bray. He moved on saying about his words [to us], ‘A few droppings…and I want you to cherish them….relish them.’ He was still playing the donkey. He was giggling and waiting for us to ‘get’ what he was saying. I got it alright on more levels than he meant it, or did he? Obviously he was being self-deferential, kicking off any hero-worship, quite rightly and semi-ridiculing himself, and us for being there, so serious. And he is still playing the humour card. [Gurdjeff does it by saying we are all idiots and he, Gurdzhiev, is Arch-idiot, the King of all Idiots.] BUT, for me Sogyal had said something which in fact made profound sense to me and I think that is what enlightenment is all about. It Is very individual, it’s personal and this was so personal. He was talking of the donkey droppings being as pearls of wisdom.

The title of my 1975 book for which Apul-One is the sub-title is, ‘Standing On The Bannister Contemplating The Ways Of The World And The Farting Donkey.’

 I bid you good night.

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ps you can see my two books at my friend Kevin’s books site if you go in and scroll down about five books at

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maeldune-Antiquarian/263122683823240

pps On Wednesday night Sogyal Rinpoche talked about the word ‘donkey’ being the Tibetan translation of the word ‘guru’. A donkey can sometimes (erroneously) be called an ‘ass’. An ass is sometimes (metaphorically) the substitute name used for ‘arse’. Sogyal said his words could be seen as ‘little droppings from a donkey’, which I compared to the original title of my first self-published book in which I reported I contemplated ‘the farting donkey’. So, IF you buy that book, what would that make you seem to be? Someone who likes listening to a man (albeit in his early 20s) who was talking through his donkey. And you know I keep saying I Am 63, old, now? Well age, like Einstein’s theory, is relative. Let me tell you a story which is sad but truly wonderful. My father was dying in a hospital and I was sitting around as he dozed and I could hear two ‘old’ female patients who didn’t know I was nearby, and didn’t know me anyway, they said, “ Have you heard they brought Odd-Job Jack in?” “Yes. They say he won’t recover.” “He used to mend my roof, he never charged very much.” “Yes. They say the good die young.” As I reflected on this chance conversation I thought how beautiful is that, they were talking about my dad. He was 73 year old.

taf oil

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Artasblag. Blagasart.It’s a Big Blart.

I’m Bloggin, just Bloggin and I Know you like blogging it too! Thank you Bob Marley. (In about 1972 we stood and watched him at Rolle College Exmouth play about 3 hours before he became ‘famous’, there were about 30 of us. We were lucky, I just kept downing my pint and wiggerling to the sound, went to the bar, gorranutha pint, wiggled back to Bob and his wailing alongsters. I never thought to bring my camera nor invite him and his boys to play football in the afternoon. Talk about missed opportunities.

Now I am taking the blog line, I still take photos but I had to stop playing football about five years ago. Not before I had the chance to play with my veteran side against Jobserve at Upton Park, twas like playing on a billiard table. Lovely.

Now am changing the name of what I do in this blog. It’s a Blart. Blog-blag art. It’s mine, It’s my art as blogs. Artasblag. Blagasart. Back to blart. I blurt my blart!

So, I drop the name blag, too similar to brag, I don’t like to brag but I do like to celebrate achievement. My blart creates and celebrates. Ok, so, I did some articles and may do some more, I got some in the pipeline but they are a distraction from my real creativity. That happens as I paint, draw, write, print etc. My creativity is a happening process, it’s in process. Compiling a blart is a process in which I bring together old and new ideas and ideas come in the process of the bringing together.

Now I am back on the main trail, being a bookman, making up my buk…s. They come in many forms. I have just started my new buk. It has images in it like this

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I began making images like that back in 1968

I have been meaning to ‘publish’ them in some form ever since and now am as the Stones sang, ‘Just A Step Away’. In fact it’s coming thru quicker than I ever hoped it would, that first new squidgerat buk. I don’t think it’ll be in the shops by Christmas. Maybe by May it will be BABE? Am chuffed to bits. In a way it’s a getting one thing out the way so I can plough on thru to the other side, did Jim Morrison sing that? And by the way don’t nobody nick the name, It’s mine all mine. ©pete kennedy2013 and way back way way back. I wouldn’t say that but someone in Ghana has nicked my apulhed name, well they’ve temporarily borrowed it cos they can’t keep it cos I invented it, way way back.

Also you can get my recent book, G Batch, from the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maeldune-Antiquarian/263122683823240

just open the link and scroll down it’s about the third book down. My friend Kevin at Allbooks in Maldon has kindly put the book up on his site. If you look at the image of the title page you’ll ‘get’ why I called it G Batch. Some folk have said that that name don’t reflect the contents, too mathematical, so when I do a wrap-around cover I shall re-name it something like, ‘Inside the jug’, what’s inside? The whole of existence. That’s inside the jug, but in my book it’s just an intro. Kevin is also doing a link to my 1975 buk, ‘Apul-One’ in the near future.

“There’s not many books that I’ve read from cover to cover, honestly, very few, but Apulhead is amongst that few. It still resonates with me 30+ years later, I don’t think you’re ever the same after reading it…and I mean that in a positive way!” Alan Williams said of it on Aug 10th 2013. But let’s move to the near past. To the spate of books which I did for my MA. I need to tell you about them:

G Batch, about which Burkhard Quessel of the British Library has said “Anyway, I found and opened it now and must say that it is really quite a beautiful book.”, was like my ‘commercial’ version of the etchings and prose poem I did for my reaction to Jackie Leven’s rendition of Kabir’s astounding poem, Inside this Clay Jug. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfiKUhS1cnI

Jackie died recently but luckily I had been able to catch up with him in a small folk club in Southend. He told me not to leave it 30 years before we meet again because we would both be dead. Sadly he didn’t stick around long enough for me to get back to chat some more. My whole Clay jug project is dedicated to his memory. I’m crying now just thinking of him and I have seen grown men cry listening to his stuff, other than clay jug. He really touches chords. Ian, IF you can watch this link it will show you Jackie as he performed in 2011 he uses that deep vocal growl from the depths of his Experience. His Experience was profound and he’d really been around.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR571ZM_7d4

It is a sad reflection of society that he was not more lauded in his own lifetime, but, that is the way it goes. He did skirt with fame as Doll by Doll and hated it so he spent most of his days as a troubadour. I admired his tenacity. When I saw him at Southend, I thought, where does he stay? Why does he do this? I never got to ask him. Enough people of quality, like Mike Scott and Robert Bly appreciated him. Anyway, he inspired me to do my clay jug stuff. The pot you see on the cover of the G Batch book was made at the start of the project when I intended my ‘book’ just to be six scrolls in a pot, reminiscent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As I rolled thru the learning curve I came across such a vast body of knowledge and I learned so much, about my Self more than anything, and about all sorts of incredible ideas and their sources that I decided to make some ‘books’ which could also carry the ideas and which themselves would have beautiful qualities.

The first ‘book’ was a poti/pothi, a Tibetan style of book where they don’t necessarily bind the pages, altho sometimes they have holes in each sheet and the sheets drop onto metal spikes in a pile which is then covered on both sides with wooden supports. Sometimes they may bind the sheets with a thong of leather instead of the rod. I decided that my pages were not to be paper but fired clay like the cuneiform tablets the first alphabet was scribed into in Uggarit. So I created a clay poti with some symbols which I cut into the wooden top, a copy is on the back page of G Batch which you can see on Kevin’s site. This would cost you a lot of money to buy and as there is only one I decided to make a book of the writings on each of the pages in a card version, this is now available as a concertina book. The Chinese were making Buddhist concertina books hundreds of years ago so I thought that would be an appropriate way of presenting my pages which are each a condensing down of the ideas of six men I call ‘mystics’, those names represented in the title, ‘G Batch’ .

I also did a series of ‘banners’ which also have some words related to each mystic on. I deliberately made them really hard to read, more ‘word as art’ than word as message! I also used a style of layout reminiscent of the likes of Bochner whose exhibition I saw in 2012 at the Whitechapel. These and the clay poti book with the card replicas will be on display at my next show at The Red Lion bookshop, Colchester in February 2014. Watch this space for more details.

After the clay poti I decided that I wanted to make images of the six ‘mystics’;

G…iorgi Ivanovitch Gurdzhiev (more often known as Gurdjeff)

B…euys Joseph

A…ngeli Silesii

T…enzin Gyatso

Carl… Gustav Jung

H…ermann Hesse.

Which I did from various sources including photos I took of the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, when he came to open the Peace Garden in London and drawings I did of him whilst he was on television. The one of Joseph Beuys I did to put in a pitch to do a T shirt for the show at Royal Academy of his work but it stumbled on the refusal of his estate to allow images of him to be used. Funny that, a man who said everything is art and we can all be artists having his legacy so corrupted. I suppose that’s life, or death. Anyway, I did a series of collages from which I did some master drawings which you can see at Kevin’s site, as they are the main illustrations in G Batch. I then transferred these drawings onto zinc plates and did several etchings copies of each onto Somerset paper. I had to blind emboss a triangle to simulate a ‘folio’ for each print and a rectangle on each sheet for the prose poems I did about each mystic. Karen Harrison says of the ‘poem, “ It’s a brilliant transformation. Maybe it’s a prose poem. I can hear the musicality in the word sounds now. And it’s got a core, maybe like a pot. It must be the dance metaphor weaving through it. I found this version quite moving, (no pun intended!)”

The prints of the words I put onto kozo Japanese paper using an inkjet printer and then had to work out how to stick the extremely fine print onto the Somerset paper base. This I did using Japanese rice glue. And it wasn’t east to get the beautifully finished look. I lost several etchings because the wordprints crinkled. So, now I had 3 ‘good’ sets of the whole pages, two I kept as long sheets and one set I tore carefully in half so leaving a rough edge like you get on the other sides from the paper-making process. Now I had one set which I could ‘bind’ like a book. I tried several different cover ideas including my favoured one a ‘secret Belgian’ form which Mike Sullivan had said would allow the prints to sit flat as the pages were turned. BUT I decided that I did not want to stitch the prints together, they are lovely separate so, having seen many (many) ‘books’ were not stitched in the beautiful book, ‘A 1000 artist’s books’

http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/1000-Artists-Books-Sandra-Salamony/9781592537747?redirected=true&utm_medium=Shopping&utm_campaign=ShoppingUk&utm_source=UK&utm_content=1000-Artists-Books

I decide to build a pouch to hold my prints inside a book cover. I had a model of a small book I had bought in Bruges which had leaves covering the cover and as I had a lovely castor oil plant I decided to use the leaves from that on my cover. To stop the prints flopping around I created a way of binding them in using two leather straps and two little brass studs. I was also able to use a bay stick on the spine similar to the little stick on the spine of my Bruges leaf book.

bukartobjet 002the big leaf book

But that ‘book’ again would cost you hundreds nay thousands of £s  or $s or yens to buy so I did G Batch for the normal person.

I still have lots to say about my recent books and future plans but it’s sunny out and my fingers are aching from all this tapping of the type. So, I shall close for the day. Enjoy.

OOOOPs I fergot!

I fergot to tell you what I dun wid the other two copies of my etchings batch! So, here we go agen. One of em, the least good un or the one with most mistakes, I just rolled and scrolled them into the pot. They cum out at exherbitions and stand like tin soldjas..

north sea scrolls at JDD

And t’other lot, well I call them my ‘Flat scrolls’ a contradiction in terms cos you cannot get flat scrolls cos scrolls are scrolled up documents. Anyway they are in a claret colored burlap covered portfolio what I med. And they may or may not be a book and I don’t give a.. ducking and diving has always been my business.

jo2 042

I didn’t mention my ‘Enbuk’, well that’ll be the day said Buddy Holley. An udder day. My Enbuk is a series of ring bound books with all the notes I did on the run up to making the Big Leaf Book and the pot and all the stuff during my MA course year 2. It’s designed like a catalog I bought at the Dieter Roth show at the Hayward gallery in 1973. The books fit into a plastic box. Since making it in 2013 nobody yet no-one has shown any interest in buying one. Sad that. Mind you nobody has bought any of the work at all. I do it for love.

Fame and Spirit

A cretin’s indiscreting?

 Something strange happened this week, I popped into a Farleigh Hospice charity shop after visiting my dentice, that’s my way of treating myself! I was on the prowl for a cd with some interesting music on. I found a copy of one by John Taverner, so of course I bought it. I got home and played it while I recovered from the evil dentist’s rooting around in my gob. On the news that night I saw that Taverner had died that day. I hear some muttering ‘mere coincidence’. But I believe synchronous events to have strong & powerful meaning. During the night Lennon got assassinated I dreamt a skunk had jumped on my back and no matter which way I twisted and turned I could not reach to pull or shake it off. Synchronistically Chapman was a skunk.

I believe in ‘spirit’ and that some have Spirit which is spirit with a capital S not just spirit, which everyone has. When humans die spirit seperates. There is some (cosmic) law which states, at least on (our) planet Earth that once departed (from the portage device (our Body) we/that spirit can no longer make a physical contact. I don’t understand why but there it is. Like I cannot understand why planet Earth is so isolated in ‘space’/the Universe. It’s almost as if we (our spirits) have been (somehow deliberately) ‘sentenced’ to isolation. I believe we can see Earth bound existence as either Positive or Negative, depending where our spirit is ‘at’ in terms of development. And development in terms of millennia not decades, again I don’t ‘know’ why. However there are Higher levels both for and in us, other than ‘us’ or me mySelf I. Back to Taverner…There was some sort of ‘link’ between us, as indicated by that synchronicity- I could have bought the cd any day before or since, but on the very day he died is a bit much- these links occur, sometimes thru physical contact and sometimes thru the spirit at work. We ‘tune in’ to the work others do. In Taverner’s case I saw a performance of his work at St Paul. I never actually saw Lennon, just loved his music and writings. Significantly I also did ‘portraits’ of both. The Lennon one is in an earlier blog.

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This is my Taverner, where I utilised his visage to represent Thomas Plume in the mural that I did in Maldon, Essex with a bunch of children. It’s still on the side of a house near the junction of Cross Rd and Fambridge Rd if you want go see it. It’s not my work, it’s drawings the kids did which I then enlarged and transcribed onto an 8×4 board, then they helped me to paint it using high quality acrylics which still retain their colour 9 years on.I added some images to represent famed historic characters of the Maldon area like Plume, Britnoth,  

OK so my apparent faux pas during Andrew Roth’s talk when I asked out loud with my mouth, “Isn’t he dead?” about Tadanori Yokoo, because I believed that sadly he was. Well, it seems my faux pas wasn’t so foolish after all. Returning to a Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain book about the Japanese artist, whose graphic works I admire after I did a study on them in 1972-73, it seems I had been misled somewhere over the past 40 years. And by Yokoo himself! Actually around the time he was accompanied to New York by Daido Moriyama with whom and from whose photos taken at the time A. Roth did the book he was showing us at First Site. On p125 Yokoo says, “I’m so terrified of death that I killed myself through a desire to be reborn. I even had an announcement of my death published in the press…my wife…was asked [as part of the plot] to go into mourning. Death is an abominable thing we would do anything to dispose of,…I wanted to get closer to death through my fear of it, and cast aside that fear…we should view our lives in this world as playacting.” In fact that is a theme I saw running thru A. Roth’s talk, especially in the books by David Wojnarowicz, Rimbaud In New York and in Pretend You’re Actually Alive by Leigh Ledare whose mother seems very much to view her whole life as an act and is viewed voyeuristically by her son as an act.

So maybe my indiscretion can be forgiven?

But talking about death. Which I shall do more when I blag about Sogyal Rinpoche to report on his Tibetan Buddhist ideas on the Inevitable, and when you read that one you’ll see I am not being ‘morbid’. (Talk of death is a serious taboo, probably seen as worse than ‘expletive deleted’s, in the West whereas the Tibetan Buddhists and some other cultures actually look at death in a creative and more positive way.) I want to dwell for a moment on my own mortality.

Despite my attempts to convince myself that I’ll live forever I shall inevitably step off this mortal coil from this incarnation soon enough. I Am 63 years young. (Six and Three make up Nine, all vital numbers in Gurdjeff’s cosmology). Granted good health and clean living, avoiding accidents and (more) disease I may add another 20 – 30 years more or less active creative living. Even so in 30 years from now I will have passed thru the car to the other side to paraphrase a statement attributed to Lennon. So, I have already lived between two thirds to ¾ of my ‘life’ this time around. I have spent at least 2/3 of my 63 years as an adult whose main interest was making his ‘art-output’. That output has been even by conservative estimate, ‘productive’. Although much of it has failed to see ‘light of day’ in publication or exhibition and my total exposure on TV has been 60 seconds on Anglia about my Maeldune show in 2007 and even less on National ITV in a shot of me laughing during one of Ken Campbell’s shows about science which the producer chose to also use during the credits. So, 90 seconds of ‘fame’. Warhola reckoned I am owed 3 and ½  minutes by right. I’m working towards that.

My Blag Pages

Past.

Ok. So, I been doing this blag a week or two now and it does get compulsive. Now I find myself forever checking how many folk have visited, who is commenting, following and all. All of that is pretty much a waste of time because, I have work to do, my ‘werk’. Although, having been checking, it seems not a lot of folk are popping back to some of my earlier blags, they get lonely you know! This is not a rehearsal, it’s real art. Art I hear you cry, yes this is part of my art. This blag. That’s why I write the way I do, with creative manipulation of letters in and as word. So, if you go back and see some of the earlier ones you will get the drift. Most of the blags so far have been done when I see a need. Not ‘planned’. And that’s good in its own way, organic.

A good note I must share is that First Site have seen the need to work on the marketing of the gallery. They are looking to appoint a marketing manager (?) and I looked at the job brief. I am sure I could do about a hundred of the tasks but am lacking in about 7,354. So I won’t apply, am too old anyway, am ‘retired’ and doing what I worked all my life for, my own art. More good news, a little bird tells me that one of the lecturers at the Courtauld Institute’s MA course thinks very highly of First Site and encourages his students to go loolk for themselves.

And talking about my ‘art’. I have just scanned thru my previous blags and I don’t seem to have said ought about the range of publications that came out of my MA studies. So in my next one I shall list ‘em and indicate what they are about. I have mentioned G Batch already and that has just gone on sale at a bookshop in Maldon, Essex and is being put on his webpage for sale. More in the dedicated blag to follow.

Future

For my sins at school as one of the most irritating pupils you could ever meet, especially if you were , in mine and other pupils’ eyes, a crap teacher, I was condemned to Teacher’s Training College so I could put my money where my mouth was and show them how it was done. I must have been a crap teacher too if you consider how many irritating kids I had to try to tolerate. However they were massively outnumbered by the great kids who had learned to tolerate me. Anyway I digress. What I was on about is that at St Luke’s we were told about ‘Aims & Objectives’. Although that led to great debate amongst us trainees, and remember we were the dross what couldn’t get enough ‘levels’ to go to proper uni! So it were hard trying to get ought into our thick skulls. But what I understood was ; the ‘Aim’ was the end you were aiming for, so for example, a cake; the ‘Objectives’ were the stepping stones on the way to achieving the Aim, the ingredients of the cake. OK.

So what is my aim with these blags? Well to be honest, to flag up my work and ideas. Why? so as to maybe gain a repertation and generate some interest which may instigate some incoming funds to offset the amounts that have gushed out of every orifice of my accounts to fund my ‘projecs’. And i suppose the blags I list below are the objectives? So when folk read them they gain a little insight into what the hell am on about? Why? Well what am on about is interesting. (?). I think it is becos I spent 45 years pursuing it but i may just be prejudiced. It’s true that when you set out on a journey you know not where you’ll end up. I never thought my pursuit of art would lead me to mystics. I never knew when i learned how to write with a dip pen at junior school one day i would be typing onto a computer with 3 fingers many of the words i learned to spell and mis-spell. One of the things I go on about is the ideas of a bloke called Gurdjeff. I am back reading around that old charlatan. Another bloke, I think, yes AnthonyGeorgeEdward Blake looks like a bloke’s name, let’s call him Age, Age Blake. Now I was skimming thru his book, ‘The Intelligent Enneagram’ and on p54 he says,”An aim has promise of fulfillment; an idea has the potential to be realized; and a seed contains the fully developed plant.” BUT we need to tend to these things with consummate care. That’s why I am saying my what (I think/intend) what future blags will be below. I intend to do a weekly blag topic-ting. Each ting will come from my stable of interests, some of which are ongoing in previous blags. I shall list ‘em, not that most of ‘em will mean much to you until I do a blag abart ‘em. (Oh by the way ‘blag’ is my Essex drawl for blog, I am a nationalised Essex boy now cos I lived ‘ere longer than I did in my home town!) Here’s the list, altho the order will differ and shift:

  • My MA publications
  • An unfinished Masterpiece inspired by Schlemmer.
  • Sogyal’s book and talk
  • Lucy wings it all along
  • Nono-Stories
  • ‘62’ the first photo part of my book on The Genius of RoD.
  • Squidgerats writings
  • The Dieter versus Ed dichotomy
  • Prints
  • Lorry heads in bronze

That’ll keep me going for at least 10 weeks. On top of that I’ve got several ‘new’ books am working on. They won’t be all hand-printed and bound, they’ll be more like G Batch, commercially printed and maybe but not definitely bound by my fair fingers.

So watch this space.

ANDREW ROTH’s Talk at First Site last Saturday

Imageandrew unwraps his books

Andrew Roth came over from New York and did a talk  about his Artist Book publications under his ppp imprint. This was the final talk in the Xerox show series. And proved fortuitous for me for several reasons. It was a real highlight to see such a big player in the artist book field in Colchester. It has added a lot to my proposed article on First Site. But more importantly It gave me an insight which will astronomically impact on my understanding of the constitution of artist’s books which I will conceal until my 3rd proposed article for UWE about a split which has become apparent to me. This split is fundamental, involves how people consider books and how people ‘make’ books. It reflects issues in the interface between the ‘art-world’ and everyday life. After 45 years poking my nose into ‘galleries’ I detect a definite ‘us and them’, it’s not nuclear physics, it’s obvious. I perceive that folk like Lucy Lippard (see my proposed 2nd article for UWE) spent a life time working to break down the barriers. The world of artist’s books has brought the opportunity and practice which can seal the rift, especially with the energy that emanates from UWE, Bristol.

On the day after I visited First Site to see Andrew Roth I took this photo

Imagecrowds at First Site

 of the gallery’s entrance packed with people, a sight for sore eyes which I would love to see more often. However they were there for a church meeting, not to view the art of Xerox on its final day. For Roth’s talk there was an audience of less than ten which is a tragedy when you think that David Jury ran a Book Art MA for several years within 100 metres of the gallery! There are so many folk who should have been there who would have been fascinated by Roth but as someone pointed out First Site’s promotion programme has a high degree of stealth. It’s similar to the USA’s use of stealth bombers. You never hear them as they come and go about their business. This is for me, and I have to say from my viewpoint, a tragedy. First Site has enormous potential for both the local community for national and international art and film and performance and all sorts too many to mention. For some reason it has not yet caught the popular imagination. As a friend of Tate for 40 years, recently withdrawn cos I can’t afford it, I was lucky to be able to go to Bankside when they were preparing the gallery and what an achievement that was. To turn that vast area into a national mecca of art was almost impossible I thought as I looked at the remnants of the old industrial building. It would take a miracle not just of logistics but cultural perception to attract people into such a space. And, they his the ground running and have not stopped since. First Site has been dogged by issues and perceptions which clogged their early years. The controversy over the build, the lack of access for cars, the kids outside commanding the area off-putting potential visitors all contributed to a slow start. Only the dogged have continued to connect. At both talks I went to, Ann Stephens had about 6 and Andrew had about 10 listeners. The gallery itself is reminiscent of an empty church in an isolated village. Usually the wonderful staff seem to outnumber the visitors. This is a tragedy with so many colleges and galleries in the area with good rail links, the town station is literally 5 minutes walk. Within 60 miles you have Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge, London, Sudbury and Aldeburgh, all full of folk who love art etc. Somehow the imagination of those people has to be touched. Somehow they have to be informed about what they are missing. I for one would prefer to travel to Colchester rather than to London. And London based folk need to know it’s only and hour to Colchester if and when the trains are running. Hell, I have travelled to London a thousand times in the last 40 years to see art etc, get off yer asses and travel to Colchester. I’ve been to Edinburgh, Cambridge, Norwich, Bruges, Burnley, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, Tours, New York chasing galleries etc. Come on, come to Colchester!

And the staff at First Site are great. They have Michelle Cotton as head Curator whose knowledge and daring ideas should be commended. (Feb 2015- I have been told Michelle has been given a curatorship in a big gallery in a big German city whose name I forget. This is sad for us but good for the gallery as it can add the fact that staff move onto bigger things!)  Her ground breaking catalogues for the recent shows are a real treat. The choice of exhibition content is designed to put Colchester on the map in quality and subject matter related to the 21st century state of the arts. The attendants who watch over the gallery spaces are always keen to share their knowledge of the work on display. The bookshop is so well stocked with recent books on art. The café is wonderful with good coffee and the food is fresh with nice crisp chips. It is a great space to go.

Back to Andrew Roth who showed us several books from his stable:

Takuma Nakahira ‘For A Language To Come’

David Wojnarowicz, Rimbaud In New York, 2004 ( I loved this book of photos and it was lovely to see his mask of Rimbaud so reminiscent of the series of masks that I did for my end of MA Talk in Colchester on 3rd August 2013.

Imageme in a mask event

I was unaware of Wojnarowicz’s mask. Gave me the idea to do a mimic book of me in Colchester etc wearing masks but I have been told I have more original things to finish first.

Daido Moriyama, 71-Ny, 2002 (Apparently Daido came over to NY with Tadanoori Yokoo an artist I studied in the early 70’s and Andrew happily corrected my wrong assumption that he is no longer with us, silly me.)

Leigh Ledare, Pretend You’re Actually Alive

William E. Jones, Killed

All of which may be controversial because of some of their content but all are first class in their production. I am sorely tempted to buy a copy of  “In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955” about artists operating at the peripheries of mainstream art-cultures as Roth points out ‘a neglected art-form that is neither artists’ book nor ephemera, but is entirely its own unique object.’

Words..werds..wurds..smiths.wordsmit..werdsmyth..wurdsmeet..

I play..I pley..I ploy..I emploi word.

A friend has pointed out that I have been making my blog stuff difficult for people to understand because of the combination of personal phonetics and stream of consciousness. I am doing my epistles in that form because I find it to be so user friendly, I love the immediacy and the way folk can make comment, interrupt, intercept etcetera. One of the reasons I can care-less in my use of words, apart from believing there is vast scope for play, is that as a newly elected 63 year old who no longer cares if and when he ‘makes it’ I felt the context was and is emancipating.

These blogs are written in a style which is meant to be playful and not constrained by (even my) editorial overseeing. I do not see my writing..ritin..wrightin as obstacle, rather I see it as crafting words, altho I accept my chisel may be blunt and my output more like an expressionist art than a pre-raphaelite. Obviously it goes against the grain. 3 artists I like who go against the grain; Alan Davie, Phillip Guston & Gaylen Hansen.  Davies was against the groan of modernist artists in Britain like Sutherland and Piper. Guston was against his own groin, against his Abstract Expressionist phase. And Hansen was against the whole of the artworld’s grange.

They follow their own stars. As a wordwright I too follow my own star. Yes there are pre-decessors like Joyce and maybe Kerouac both of whom I love their use of and abuse of word. My personal preference is a poet/writer/artist called Kenneth Patchen who was much admired they say by the Beat poets. I love the way he combines words and image. The trouble with being a groundbreaker is we have to break some eggs to cook our stuff.

Now a lot of us do it apparently intuitively, we appear to be innocent of what we are doing. During the past 40years I have deliberately employed ‘chance’ or ‘accident’ in my mark-making in the picutures I make or the letters I use in words. Although often these things are really not chance etc, they are either considered orbased in experience. As a maker of output for over 45 years you can imagine I’ve had a lot of experience of ‘making’ (some say making havoc). So nowadays when I play with words marks ideas paint print it’s grounded in experience. You cannot ‘try’ to be different, spontaneous, unusual, these things have to arise from your action. It’s not productive neither conducive to producing quality if you are forever thinking/fretting about your next action, it needs to be free of constraint. When I paint portraits from a model I use what I call ‘pull and push’, where I would begin with very liberal mark making and then pull them in tighter to reflect the subject. Same with words. This form I use in my blog is ‘free’ of constraint (mostly). I am not definitely doing every word as a personal phonetically changed spelling (just) to be awkward and stop your flow of reading or consciousness . If I were every word would be different from the norm, and that is not the case. I do edit my stuff before and during typing it. I don’t edit ad infinitum, like Beckett did. The blog is about release, I release my ideas, when it is no longer liberating I shall desist. I play with words, just that and that only now and then. I am building up to create a book based around my Squidgerats drawings & play with werds. I believe it will leave all my previous efforts standing, the best thing I ever produce. Creating the images , which are essentially linear, will give me a bank from which I can make more paintings, prints, animations even. Groundbreakers back to Leonardo and Michael Angelo invariably ‘do’ a lot which we common folk can’t ‘get’, ‘like’ ‘see’ etc. We all have a picture in our mind of say a Rodin, a Moore, a Miro but each creative does a thousand times more than that simple picture we hold in our minds. Isaac Newton for example, he did more supernatural stuff like alchemy than the ‘science’ which has been preserved. William Blake, he wrote thousands of often densely scripted poems and prose pieces but most folk just recall his feet on Pleasant Lands or his Tyger Burning or his Lamb so sweet.

 

Remembrin them

The fathers and mothers of many of my contemporaries fought inWorld War 2, some I never knew about in my youth. My daa was in Air Sea Rescue. Roy’s dad walked from the jungle of Burma a very thin man in need of some northern pies. Duncan’s father was captured at Dunkirk and became a slave of the 3rd Reich breaking stones in Poland when He was forced marched at the war’s end then abandoned as the Russians approached.Gus’s dad rescued his future father in law from the shark infested Atlantic as he helped defend the convoys. Our parents had lived to tell the tale and bring us into this world. My dad said nothing about his experiences, but I was told later it was a dirty war. Dirt and mud and millions dead make memories of the First World war almost unbearable. My great uncle Ned spoke softly with no malice of his days in the trenches.I wrote the piece below for Meet at the Gate a couple of years back.

Less we forget, oops we forget.
Dedicated to; Harry Patch, William Stone, Henry Allingham.
For the survivors from two world wars, and those who did not pull through. illusn, warrior
Madeleine showed signs of being a talented writer in Year 9 when aged 14 she wrote this poem:
No Man’s Land
The vacuum between good and evil;
man and monster;
victory and defeat;
Between hell above and hell below.
All men that step there sure-footed,
All those who stride out, and the others-
Whose last reluctant motion,
Lands him in the vast ocean of souls.
Slowly absorbing, consuming, devouring, entwining,
Bullet and body alike.
Like a crippling tower he falls,
His last breath to be of blood and dirt,
As his face is enveloped in the land all men dread, yet yearn to own.
No man’s land it is, and will always be.
© Madeleine Kennedy 2008

haunted warrior ww1

It makes me cry when I read it and no doubt I will I will look on with pride as a friend reads it out at the village Remembrance Day service. I would love to read it aloud myself but I get overcome with emotion which is intensified by my good fortune at having known so many who survived and my sadness for those on all sides who did not.

I missed the Second World War but was fortunate to live with two people, and get to know others, who came through it. My mum, Jenny Dickinson, was in the WRAF stationed first in the Oxford then Ipswich area.
illus My dad Jack was in RAF Air Sea Rescue on the Suez canal and ended his war in Aden now the Yemen, which was a hotbed like Iraq today. His time in the middle- east gave him great respect for its people especially Egyptians for their peaceful demeanour and the Sikhs for their cleanliness and fighting prowess.
Lest we forget, and we do, thousands of peoples from the West Indies, India & Africa and other British ‘Empire’ countries, fought on both sides in both world wars not to mention the African Americans and ‘Indians’. Recently I heard a tale about how the Navajos were used in American ‘Intelligence’ to convey messages in their native tongue which is so distinct from all other languages that the Germans could not decipher it. Our countries conveniently ‘forgot’ these efforts after the war with racial prejudice continuing for many years in the activities of the Klan in USA and the difficulties immigrants from the West Indies and other Commonwealth countries were to experience here. The fact that Obama, the next President of USA is mixed race, or black, will perhaps usher in a new dawn of mutual respect amongst all peoples. Sticking my neck out I would love it if Obama would invite Bin Laden to talks about an end to all the killing, let’s get together to make this world a better place. (ed. He didn’t, did he?)
Neither parent told me directly of their own hardships during the war but the way they conducted their lives set an example for me. Honesty & trustworthiness, dedication to task and a refusal to be defeated all came from their example as did respect for others and having fear of no one, especially authority figures. My father was fearless, they called him ‘Big Taff’ in Burnley and I heard it said that “He had muscles in his spit Taffy.” He taught weight training, ran ‘physical culture’ shows where I saw Bernard Stone ‘The Silver Statue’ ripple his muscles to music long before Tony Holland won Opportunity Knocks with his muscle control routine. I also got to shake hands with the then Mr. Universe Earl Maynard who later had small parts in Hollywood movies as a baddie. In my mid-teens I was doing work outs with weights long before sports halls got equipped with multi-gyms. We used disc dumbbells and a metal bench my dad made. He trained us to do repeats of eights with weights inside our capability building strength & resilience rather than bulk. I never developed muscles like him but when he last saw my son as a 3 year old he must have observed that his prowess had merely skipped a generation. During the day he was a steeplejack and demolition man with a licence to knock down chimneys with his hands and/or explosives. Whilst working in Glasgow the year of my birth there 1950 he lost a close buddy who fell from top of a factory chimney, after that he never fully committed to close friendship. Yet he had great love for and was loved by many who knew him. He often came home covered in soot which he would clean off his face using margarine and newspaper. It left mascara like lines around his eyes but I never heard of anyone who ventured to comment disparagingly! Miners in Burnley used to bear the same mark of their day jobs. I had the good fortune to work a few weeks with him on some factory chimneys during my breaks from college. I used to read Sons & Lovers in his van during my lunch breaks. He never wanted me to be a steeplejack and I could understand why so I became a teacher of which he was proud.
My mum, Jenny, I believe, lost a pilot friend during the war but never spoke about it her only war memories being the beauty of Oxford city. It was her uncle Ned from Netherton who most impressed me. Coming from the North East he had been in the trenches during World War One and told me a remarkable tale. He had joined up with a friend who he had known since starting school. When a mate on his side took a bullet he turned to tell his old school chum on his right only to find he had been killed too. Great uncle Ned survived to tell me about it in 1961 because machine guns pause slightly between bullets. Ned got lucky like Harry Patch, William Stone and Henry Allingham who have survived to this day and amazingly represent one of each of the 3 services.

neds gang
This week on television I observed Dan Snow’s deep embarrasment as he tried to come to terms with his own feeling of a need to apologise to a descendant of a soldier who died as a result of his great grandfather’s lack of attention to reality during the Battle of the Somme. Dan has no guilt attached, he was not there, but it was fascinating to hear aired so prominently the fact that so many had died as a result of their leaders’ incompetence. Almost as long as I have lived I have cursed the ‘leaders’ on all sides in the First World War. I wish I could go back in time to that famous impromptu game of football played on Christmas Day 1914 between soldiers from both sides in the mud of the trenches and say, “OK chaps, Happy Christmas the war is over”, especially if I could time it to intervene when the Brits were winning by the odd goal.
In some municipal building, in Bishop Stortford I believe, there is displayed in a glass cabinet a trophy awarded to the local townsfolk for their part in ‘the war to end all wars’ from the Lord of the Manor. I was shaken to find the date inscribed on it was 1815, the end of The Napoleonic War. War has a way of continuing regardless of best intent as we witness today in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 110 year old war veteran, Harry Patch is quoted in this week’s Radio Times (w/e 14nov) as saying that he remains scornful of anyone who seeks war over peace, “War always finishes with both sides sitting down and talking; why the devil don’t they do that beforehand?” he asked.
illus- This idea was echoed at this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival by the writer James Ferguson who wrote “A Million Bullets” after meeting the Taliban in Afghanistan. He says that there is only one way to end that war too, and it means talking to the Taliban.
I believe Lennon was sincere in his refrains, “Give Peace A Chance” and “Stop The Killing Now”. Some may think he was a dreamer but he was not the only one. I for one hope and pray that one day all ‘leaders’ will heed his suggestion to ‘Imagine’. Peace be with you.

lennon an boms

Today I heard the Brits sent 100,000 to Korea and a thousand died. Luckily they declined the call to Vietnam or I may have tasted battle.I still hope that Lennon’s words in Imagine will come true.That one day soon they will leap frog the wars and go straight to the reconciliations and rebuildings. Om Mani Padme Hum.