A change in my habits- I am giving good notice of an event, for your diary.

My new exhibition opens at Red Lion Bookshop, Colchester on Monday 3.2.14.

As I prepared for it I sent Peter Donaldson, the joint owner with his wife Sarah, some information which he may be able to use on his own social network to advertise a show in his gallery. My idea was to scan thru the pages of past observations made by professionals and public on my various exploits in Colchester over the past 20 years. I knew I had had two big shows, 1994 and 2000, but had forgotten some of the stunning remarks that have been made. I don’t know what Peter chose to use yet, but I decided to put them on my blarrt, so my readers, who are not that many to make it a ‘public’ domain, (believe me at present you are a pretty [well at least not ugly] select group). That being the case I have taken the liberty to use one or two comments which were shared to me in reaction to various recent works. I do hope that none of the people who made those (wonderful) comments mind me putting them out there? I just wanted to show anyone who looks at my work and feels, somehow, they find it to be good that they are not as alone as they may think. They are in good company. And that is a source of great joy to me because those who know me well understand that the flourish and flair that you see in my output did not come easily. It was 90% effort and 10% innate talent. (My grade at GCE art in 1966 was level 6, just a scrape of a pass. It was my worst result except in maths. So, being an awkward son of a bitch, and not having a chance as a mathsmatritionist, I chose to pursue a career in art, fool that I was, when really I could have been a geologist as I got level 4 in that. I never made it easy did I?

So below are the words for my poster/flyer, followed by some comments.


Word & Spirit, an Exhibition of Books

(and related stuff) by Pete Kennedy from

Monday 3rd February to Saturday 23rd 2014 in Red Lion Bookshop, 125 High St, Colchester, Essex co1 1sz phone: 01206 578584 open hours: Monday thru Saturday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. Also at 3pm on Saturday the 8th February Pete is doing a small performance of new versions of the poem ‘six mystics and one self’ from his new book ‘g batch’ An Introduction To The Clay Jug Project (on sale in the shop).


Six ‘words about the mystics’ vinyl banners in mind blowing colours hang on display alongside Pete’s clay pot with words embedded around the neck from an ancient Indian poem by mystic poet Kabir with six scrolls inside (a reference to the ancient tradition of keeping knowledge safe by hiding valuable manuscripts in pots). Six etchings of six mystics will be on display on the wall.


The unique pothi ‘book’ on clay tablets will be on display (but not for sale) with a cardboard- concertina book of the words from the clay pothi (available to buy).

Pete’s year-long notes and sketches for the unique handmade book ‘Inside This Clay Jug’ (nfs) will make up the boxed ‘Enbuk’ (for sale) comprised of six comb-bound A4 books in the style of Dieter Roth.

Contact Pete on blart@apulhed.co.uk for more details.

Visit Pete’s weekly blogart at:


Some back stories about Pete, his work and previous Colchester shows:

1994  Ray Rushton, renowned critic in Essex forestalled his retirement and wrote about Pete’s exhibition at Colchester, Trinity Street Studios:  ‘Here is a lively set of exhibits with the artist being so linear dedicated that the division between drawing and painting falls into oblivion. It is open black line throughout-whether depicting, in lounging energy, his hero Feliks Topolski (naturally) or members of his family…But perhaps the best oil here, ‘Pol with Cats and Roses’, is also the only true painting in which line and mass are equally spread. The grey cats in particular, are finely modelled …’


1998 June, Miriam Patchen, American poet Kenneth Patchen’s muse & widow wrote, “What superb drawings…(they) are strong proofs of your special quality as a meaningful artist.”  Then in August 1998 she wrote, “Apul-One is a marvellous tour de force. Your spelling is a wonderful way of helping people not to slide over words. This is truly delightful slowing the reader so he’ll think a bit. Teaching and writing! How do you manage both?”


2000 Pete was chosen as Colchester Library’s First Millennium Artist Exhibitor with his ‘Nonogon Story’. Opened with a dance featuring music designed by Pete and composed by Mick West & Mark Newby Robson in which 13 children danced the parts as Pete read the story. After that a multi-media exhibition of masks and Nonogon Character art ran for 3 weeks. Inez Bain wrote in the visitor’s book:

‘This would be superb material to take into schools, theatre visual workshops etc! Definitely brings out fun yet could send positive messages to youngsters- to images they would identify with- it’s wasted in library only!

2001- ‘I was impressed with the scope and ambition of the project. You have clearly spent a great deal of time researching and developing the project and there is much that would work well in a television drama. ‘Comment on Pete’s Nonogon Play script from Gemma Few, BBC Drama Serials.

2013. ‘I received your package yesterday, with the beautiful G BATCH. I look forward to reading it at leisure, but the production is wonderful.’ Nancy Campbell, artist book maker and poet.

Burkhard Quessel, Curator, Tibetan Collections at the British Library said about G Batch, ‘I have found and opened it now and must say that it is really quite a beautiful book.’

Ian Walker, an old school friend of Pete’s teenage year’s said recently on receiving a report about the ‘Talk’ given after his MA had finished, “Great photos. It sounds to have been a very interesting event. I would have loved to have been there and to have seen the reactions of the audience.  The photo of him sat down with his masks around him took me back to our youth – his “far away face”. His wicked smile. His “sod you I don’t care what you think about my work. I know it’s good.”  Pete is Apulhead. Apulhead lives!

The internationally respected artist’s book-art’s exponent David Jury said of the article Pete wrote for the Artist’s Book Year Book 2014-15 (ABYB UWE Bristol) published in October 2013, ‘Your article is a remarkable documentary; lucid and unaffected, despite the fact that it records, in some detail, an impressively intellectual endeavour.’

Imagelucy on my mobile

Finally, last but not least, Lucy Lippard, much renowned USA critic,  commenting on a new article Pete has had accepted for The Blue Notebook  Spring Edition 2014 wrote, ‘I just got the article which I found lots of fun. Look forward to seeing your books in the flesh at some point.’

Last night (26.1.14) I was watching the Review show and what was being talked about stirred me up, emotionally. Forty years of  being rebuffed ignored condescended deflected by the ‘art world’ came soaring up to the surface and I got straight onto my blog and blarted. I must remember not to do that in the future, i must try to put some space between my viewing things and my reaction, to calm the vituperance which has gestated in me over the past 45 years. I recall Seamus Heaney saying that we need a job and poetry is the thing we do, if we are lucky, as a blessing. In my life, it was teaching that I did plus a number of other jobs which kept the wolf from the door and then I did my ‘arts’. I do believe you need to get out there and do things in the real world to gain insights into it and learn how to communicate with real people. Anyway, that is all behind me now. I can and do concentrate all of the time I am not doing yoga, tai chi, zumba, light gym and sawing wood for our fire on ‘art’. I do think however if I had had some work ‘accepted’ or ‘bought’ over the past 45 years it would have helped to generate more. Like now for example, I cannot really afford to go do ‘print’ or even make books to the spec I set myself. Maybe that’s good as as always i have to be ‘creative’ in working ways to be creative.

I am trying hard to get out onto a circuit doing my ‘talk’, so watch out art colleges etc, I’m coming at you with my lance and my trusted companion Sancho Panza on my wobbly horse what I stole from the set of Warhorse!

so Don’t read any further if you are of faint heart or dislike whingeing poms! Addition or Postscript:

This evening I watched the review show which I never watch much (wachmutch?) and they were praising up the new martin creed show at Haywerd. They were talking about how he won’t get stuck in a box or a hat, how he keeps his media wide open and turns from one to another etc. And I sat there and I thort, well isn’t that the very thing I done fer farty yearns? Isn’t it exactly that the ‘Arts Crownskill’ criticised about me, the fact I couldn’t be categorised or boxed or madhattered? In the 70’s! and in 1999 I designed my Nonogon show which used so many media, including films created by Field Merrijeff and dance choreographed by that girl who did a scene in bed with Harry Engfild? With music I designated and which was created from my directions by Mark Newby Robson and Mick West. Have not I been thur and gone and done it, many times. But when I ask the tate or any other gallery to consider me as a contributor they say, after long consideration please re-arrange this well known fraser or shaying, “Off ferk.” I’m still not bitter, I’m a budding bud-hist and I don’t imbibe.

My Dreams & Schemes And The See Eye Aye.

I been having these strange dreams of late about being there, being on time, being responsible for doing things ‘right’ making sure things get ‘done’ by others by being there to the bitter end to ‘see it through’. I am sure Sigmund, Gustav & Wilhelm would have a field day on me. As they would  concerning  the paranoia (paranoya, altho I tink paranoia is a lovely spelt word) I shall squawk about further on. I often awaken from these dreams and reflect on possible interpretations, do they have any relevance or meaning in my life. And of course life is what you make it, so to an extent my understanding of the dreams is important to a certain extent. Last night I dreamt I rescued a poodle (?! I don’t like miniature poodles, I like the bigger ones better but I prefer an Irish Wolf) which was standing at some traffic lights in that busy metropolis we find ourselves in in dreams. I was driving, as it happens a lovely Renault 5 which my wife had and lost years ago when some idiot cut across her when he was turning right and it was her right of way, so the loss value couldn’t replace it as it was a special car,(in fact it would have been even harder to replace my wife as she is rather special too and I am not saying that just to impress her cos she never reads this tripe as she calls it) but that’s not relevant to this story, only in its irrelevance is it at all relevant. And you know in dreams where you can stop and scoop a poodle who’s waiting at a traffic lights up under your left arm as you are running past? Well I did. And this elderly couple (they were probably younger than my 63 but I still think I am 16) saw it all and offered to help. There was a pet shop just over the road and I indicated they should take it there and off they set. Somehow then I had abandoned my (wife’s) car at a BUSY crossroads with quadruplequintiplet yellow and red lines. As I walked toward the pet shop (WHY? To check they had got there safely with the dog? I looked back and a traffic cop was about to book me so I pleaded on behalf of the dog’s needs and altho he didn’t understand what the hell I was going on about he pointed to the clock and said % minutes. So I set off at pace going the long way round the block (why I have no inkling) and that involved me running at hundreds of miles per hour and vaulting fences and and and then I came around to the pet shop to see the couple walking calmly in, they didn’t need my help. Oops it’s been over five minutes so I looked across the road and the car was gone. Some of my dreams are premonitory. I had better be careful if I see a poodle waiting at a crossing. So the lessons in the dream are, leave the poodle next time, it knew what it was doing, it didn’t need rescuing. Also, IF you rescue it then pass it over to an elderly couple who are in fact younger than you, leave them to get on with it. But the real lesson is, don’t get involved, just watch, we are living a life, we are here, now, on this planet taking part in an existence but we don’t have to interfere. Before you rescue the dog ask it, ask it if it needs rescuing or on second thoughts don’t even go there, move on round the corner may be a real emergency where all your first aid training can click into action. And seconly, learn to delegate, but with grace allowing them to do it themselves, you don’t have to do it for them once you’ve delegated. I did a management course (at Danbury actually DMS) under David Evans and Vernon Traffic, they were heavy so I asked them to gerroff) once, so I know all the theory. It was the practice I had trouble with.

But that has nothing to do with what I wanted to say today.

I have a new exhibition opening on February 3rd at red Lion Books in Colchester so I have been trying to alter the prose poem I did about the six mystics in my recent book G Batch. Although I was pleased with the end results I knew they were difficult for anyone not versed in the same literature as I had been steeped in to understand as they were not about everyday things and each individual ‘poem’ was a condensation of a large amount of information about one of the ‘mystics’. I thought they may come across better as songs but I have no experience as a song writer. So I thought I would take the originals and try to de-mystify them, take out as many difficult words and passages as I could and substitute them with more universally comprehensible things. If that is possible concerning the subject matter? I don’t like making my poems rhyme and I rarely write them to a beat or a rythme. So, songs are going to be difficult unless I can persuade a friend who is one of the best songwriters in the world to advise me. Bob Dylan for one uses such differing words and makes them rhyme. I put it to my song friendly friend and to my joy he didn’t dismiss the idea out of hand, so it remains to be seen if he would like to involve. He would have a big job on his hands made more difficult by my new versions. In fact, I may just write them as new ‘poems’ and read them on the day of the ‘signing’. Watch this space.

There’s a lot of activity in the lights from my computer plus’ connecting to the Internet altho’ I am not logged in. I wonder sometimes if (more likely ‘when’) the See Aye Aye spies on me. They are pretty certain to have an interest in my activity as I have criticised various presidents and their foreign policies in my blogs. But they are not alone, apart from criticising every poor quality teacher I ever witnessed I criticise the Roman Empire, British and anyone else overly despotic. Rulers and leaders almost always see a need to be Authoritarian’ to various degrees and tipping the balance is easy, witness; Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Kennedy (if you don’t believe me read Chomsky), Nixon, Two burning Bush dynastyans (funny that nasty comes out in that unsuccessful attempt to combine Dynasty & eons. Well it felt like eons, South & Central American covert wars and then the middle east and Africa. Blair, Pol Pot, Hirohito, Mao, the list seems endless and that is ONLY the 20th century. The Buddhist thing would be to forgive and have compassion for them, but I am afraid my karma and my anxiety are both deepened as I cannot help dwell on past atrocities, more in a desire that humans would one day learn from past mistakes, but it ain’t going to happen. Even the Buddhists had at least one monster in their camp, Asoka, who was instrumental in the spread of Buddhism in its early days was ‘a cruel and ruthless king who converted to Buddhism’ who created ‘edicts, inscribed on rocks and pillars, proclaim Asoka’s reforms and policies and promulgate’ in an attempt to make ‘an empire on the foundation of righteousness’. Quotes from link below http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/ashoka.html

So, there we have the notion of redemption of evil acts by eventual good actions? Could we place any of the above in the same situation had they converted to a set of peaceful ideas? Well we may never know. Shh…It happens throughout human history long before Rome, Britain & the USA were invented empires came and went; Phoenicians, Phrygians, Scythians, Hittites, Mayans, some of whom the Romans cleared out. And the Roman model was adopted first by Britain, (Hitler tried but his empire was short-lived, as was Mussolini’s attempt to revive Roman glories, mostly in Abyssinia (Sadly genocidal) and my own father fought the Italians in Port Said during the Second world war) the the USA in Vietnam, Laos and all. It seems to be a human condition, or should I say a male condition, would the world be any better if it wer run by women? Well Boudicca wer a good effort, but then thatcher blew that idea. Often it arises when groups of humans feel aggrieved and determined not to let it happen again, they gang together build up weaponry and go attack another group, making pre-emptive strikes against others deemed possible threats (see ‘Listen Little Man’ by Wilhelm Reich). It still happens, most recently in Central African Republic, Syria and the forgotten one in Tibet. And it goes on without being known outside like the internal one in Portugal which was ongoing in 1966 when the great Eusebio played a blinder for his adoptive country. I never knew until he died recently that Portugal was in the grip of a dictator who when the whole football world was offering Eusebio loads o money he couldn’t leave Portugal because of a ban on movement by the military dictator Salazar. Not a lot o people knew that.

Even Buddha was apparently confronted with and indeed is said to have used his ‘authority’. He changed the idea prevalent with the previous popular religion of the Brahmins as they saw no escape from the wheel of karma and there is one story where he declared his feeling for their ‘blind acceptance of Vedic tenets as immutable wisdom., “Like a chain of blind men…is the discourse of Brahmins. He who is in front sees nothing, he in the middle sees nothing, he who is behind sees nothing…”‘ There is also the story of the gang of six, young monks who ‘paid scant respect to the elders of the sanga (community) and were ever inclined to quarreling and strife and disputation. (quotes from ‘Gem in the Lotus’ by Abraham Eraly) It seems that similar to Gurdzhiev Buddha refused to set a final infinite set of rules for his sangha. Dispute and quarrels are allowed. I have seen exhibitions of the way they discuss for ‘exams’ where the teacher sits cross legged and two novices make their points one after the other each finishing his statement with a loud demonstrative handclap and bringing one foot down with a stamp. As an ex-teacher (not of buddhism) I would find it amazingly difficult to adopt and maintain such a position, where my head is below the students arms. This is very brave and shows great patience and trust, and control.

On a more personal note, the times I saw myself subject to the whim of a head of department/section/line manager/school are too numerous to mention. Some jerk gets it into their head, say that ‘you could do better/more/something instead of the perceived nothing you do (despite your results being the best in school, it’s only art and anyone can paint). That is why, I realised, I have those recurring dreams. The zen thing is to let it flow, say to myself, ‘It occurred apparent to me but they probably thought they were just doing their job’s worth, it happened (or appeared to) it has gone (for me I am re-tired) so let it go. Don’t worry, be happy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv-Fk1PwVeU

created to advertise my new show
created to advertise my new show

I am now in preparation for my next exhibition. I am working on the ‘songs’ idea, I love the idea of Blake and Whitman singing their poems in the street and river. I love all that.

I have to consider the arrangement of my exhibits. Glass cabinets or not? I need to inform folk it’s happening and invite some to my ‘readin & telling’. I intend to tell some (background) stories about say the day the Dalai Lama opened the Peace garden. For what it was worth. Most folk in Britain London Colchester haven’t even heard it exists. Apparently it’s wonderful now as the plants have no doubt grown highly. I may tell how I created designs for t shoits at the RA for the Beuys exhibition but his family/estate vetoed any use of his image on merchandise, and he, being the advocate that we are all artists!How I discovered the Silesius poem in a charity shop called Emmaus just down the road from the Red Lion bookshop. Also I found a reference to it in Barthes’ book ‘Neutral’! but it’s only a mention. I could say am about to add to the six mystics another 3, Blake Schopenhauer & either Swedenborg or Toshihiko Izutsu. Watch this space. Sorry am late this week, or last week.

R.A. r.a. Ray…the SHUN-shine of my life?


Now I have a surprise for yez, a little private ‘seekwet’, a little ray of Sunshine (not). I have to introduce you to my ‘littul helpa’, Daniel O’Blarty (Dob for short) who, I have to admit, has insisted on having some input to this blog since it started. Because I wanted to bask in all the glory misen I tried to keep the sekewut between him and I. But like me old mum used to say, ‘the truth will out’ and his mam would have said ‘tha troot weel oot’. The fact is O’Blarty is a distant cousin of mine from the olde country of my predecessors. He arrived for the weekend a while ago and has been here ever since. I have avoided making his contributions known for fear of contravening some recent rule about residence, entitlement to dole & housing allowances or payment of bed-rheum tacks. Oops there I go again, I’m afraid his influence is insidious, creeps up on yez it does. He is the same character that I wrote about in my tome with the working title, I Told You I Was A Genius where I disguised his identity with an alias, Rhody O’Dourke (O’Dork for short, Dork for even shorter). [If we can be bovvad to put his two monikers together and we have Dobdork!] or even Dork de Dob etc.

It all came out in the wash after the recent floods. People have been asking (he’d say aksin) why do I mis-spell words (werds) well truth (troot) be known that’s him! Sometimes as I’m writing he takes over my very pen and I’m too care-full to prevent him for fear of contravening some rule on political correctness or worse, race relations. I have to admit that I’m glad to have him around sometimes as there is a long tradition of great writers from the Olde Country; Jonofpen Swift, Dylon Tomas, Bendarn Behine, Rabbie Sideburns & Oscar Tamed were all frae Celtic soils. So from now on you’ll be able to tink to yourselves (yersens) or say out loud even, even unevenly, ‘Oh now I Understand, that’s not Pete (da Feat) who’s mis-sphelt that or said that profane ting or gotten it totally out of context, it must be his (illegal) immigrant helper Dan O’Blarty otherwise known in the Anglicised version of his moniker Dan Blarty or as they say in the Olde Country, Damien Blasterd?’

Author’s note. There is a long line of word changers, Shamans o’ de Pen including Flan O’Brien, Jimmy Joyce (as he’s known to his mates) and Georgie Herriman


whose Krazy Kat is for me the greatest komix ever by an  Arizonan country mile! Although Sheila Hodgett’s Toby Twirl illustrated by an e. Jeffrey is a stunning second for me published between 1946 – 1958 when I wer a lad.  http://www.tobytwirl.co.uk/

e jeffreys toby twirl

So. They invented characters, which is what the artist/writer artisriter does. In their day Krazy Kat and Toby Twirl were hughely popular which is no longer the case. Blake went the other way, his stuff was not popular in his day but has now got an international acclaim. Me, well I invented Apulhed, well at least once upon a time i believed i did. In 1971 I was a 20 year old student from Exeter working in Bournemouth for the summer when I drew my first apple with a face on adding things in its mind so you could see what he was thinking.


 At the time I was very interested in extraterrestrials and whether they had ever visited planet Earth but soon I came to realise he was not extraterrestrial, he was from another dimension. Then I found an etching which he did where he was drawing me!


And his tutor was looking over his shoulder saying, ‘Look at what you gone done now. You do know that somewhere, in another dimension, that monstrosity will now come into existence?’ He created me! So he drew me so I could draw him. Later on when I created the Nonogon Nomads I pondered on whether or not they merely used me as a vehicle through which to manifest in this dimension. They are avatars. They each represent a human psychological attribute. They may even all be different aspects of my Self? Then I created Rhody O’Dourke, alias Daniel O’Blarty. Or did I just realise them? However, words and imagesare (only) symbols for ideas. Ideas are representative of concepts. Concepts are attempts to convey ‘real’ or imaginary perceptions. So (I invented) Apulhed and most of my ‘characters’ to convey ideas, concepts, perceptions & notions, from my understanding and experience. Together I use them in my (sometimes) rather pitiful efforts to convey stories, true or false. But that is what artisriters do. We (humankind) rely on them to ‘think outside the box’ to ‘create’ new worlds or new views on our world and other possibilities. I for example look to the likes of Hundertwasser, Alan Davie, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K Dick or even Philip Glass to create inroads into other dimensions of thinking hearing and seeing. Then, when those artisriter-musiciens raise their heads above the parapet we often shoot them down and say hey you, how dare you say you are good? We desperately need your input but don’t expect any reward, just keep on doing it til you disappear off this mortail coil and then we will say wernt he good now we can sell the work he left and line up in our thousands at variouarse citidals of fashion and say hmm this was a good one or this was not one of his best and all the rest of that carp.

I’m not a bitter man, in fact I don’t drink beer at all. Am stopping here, believe it or not this has taken days to write and you need a rest. I shall try to arrest you again with a follow on in a day or two.

also (Ah So!)

You know from my calling card that I was awarded Royal Akademy ‘Doubtful’ status in 2008. But there is another, even worse, RA in my life, Rheumatoid Arthritis. So, I have a swelling on my right mid-knuckles, it’s a rheumatoid factor, may be a remnant of when I was seriously incapacitated by my unwelcome lodger, Ruemore-Toad (face) Arthuright-ass. I had almost cleared every vestige of the damn feller, with the expert help of my doctors, Walters & Ovareachi. Plus an ever increasing schedule of light fitness training in Tai Chi, Ashtanga Yoga, Gym, Zumba and Tantricks Sex. I had rid mysen of most outer showings. Then recently a new swelling erupted around my middle knuckle. Being hypochondriatic I began to wonder what had caused this renewal. I went thru a number of possible causes. Then, as is my wont, I was reading Flan O’Brien’s book A Hard Life, as it happened, shortly after I had determined to discover the cause once and fer all. And there it was in his very words! Tha answer. On page 17 Mr Collopy is reminiscing on hurling sticks, ‘Many a good puck I had myself in the quondam days of my nonage. I could draw on a ball in those days and clatter in a goal from midfield, man.’(So similar to me on the football field but I used to punch the ball with my fist!) At which Mrs Crotty said bleakly, ‘Well it’s no wonder you are never done talking about the rheumatism in your knuckles!’ there it is, the cause. Recently I have been using a sledge hammer to hit some wedges into various sized logs to split ‘em. Sometimes the logs resist and take many blows which I knew had affected my ears cos my tinnitus returned (I never knew it had gone til it came back). But I was not really conscious of the damage it wer doing to my knuckles. I even blamed this typing lark, thought I may have to refrain from me blarting. ButNo, (me dad would have said ‘But no buttie’ as he were Welsh), I shall have to stop the splitting and hope the knuckles can recover. Funny that, I never did curling, nor cricket for thet matter and rounders, well I couldn’t hit an elephant’s arse with a ball hit from my rounders bat.

You know I would be King (Not!)


Happy Apulhed surfing on the Leeds to Liverpool canal just passing thru Brunlea over the Culvert Bridge.

(c) pete kennedy 2014

I said in my most recent blogart that I’d been trying unsuccessfully to learn how to meditate and I had found a meditation on the Four Immeasurables* which decided me to try this meditation exercise which concentrated on them; *Loving Kindness, Joy, Compassion, Equanimity. I also said erroneously that ‘meditation is difficult cos you do nothing’, erroneous cos in fact it’s even harder than that, you actually have to do something very difficult, especially for me, STILL your mind. Stop the chattering of the monkey mind as they say.

One of Tavener’s last pieces was a song to SHUNYA, also called SUNYATA meaning ‘luminous emptiness’ or pure untrammelled ‘openness’.

I hinted at the fact that I had loosened the grip of my own expectations by thanking some folk for some adverse criticism but taking the advice of Tata Madiba I realise now that I have to do more. He said, “To be Free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

I remember when I was preparing for my Book Exhibition at JDD’s studio last October when I planned to do a ‘reading’ from my prose poem, ‘Inside My Clay Jug’ and the idea dawned on me that there may be one or two folk in the gathering who had no liking or respect for my poem and who may voice those feelings. I remember saying to myself, well if that happens you need to be prepared. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So I was a bit better prepared when I found much to my amazement there was one heckler there, my wife. Whatever her opinion, it’s not any good asking cos she wouldn’t say anyway, but she saw my reading the poem as unnecessary. I’ve heard about the enemy within but that seemed ridiculous. However, like Mandela said we need to learn how to “live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Wow that’s hard. Actors and actresses (when did actresses suddenly all become honorary ‘actors’? tell me) learn to take the critic’s opinions, it’s part of the training. They also learn, if they are doing live performances to fend off the blows graciously, like Billy Connelly did (not!), especially in Australia. Life’s a constant renegotiation, a compromise between misunderstandings, a best fit, a learn-to-live together thing.

Anyway as they say in the song, If You Can’t Stand The Heat Get Out The Kitchen. In fact one of my resolutions is to cook some more, which won’t be too hard as I didn’t cook at all for a long time.

So, as I embark on a new round of putting my work out there in 2014. I hope I can apply these new found skills in dealing with the rough and the smooth, the criticism and the praise. I’ve been saying for some time I’m different, I do Do difference. To help me move forward I’ve been looking at different cultures since way back, well, in the 1960’s. As a youngster I was fascinated by earlier cultures and by taking History I looked to learn more about Egypt, Assyria etc but the English exam system concentrates on Europe.I did a bit about Israel in A level R.E. and heard about the Q documents and the Dead Sea Scrolls for the first time. Masada is a stunning example of the Roman Empire’s way of annihilating a group using astounding engineering skills and them writing it out of history. They did it to Carthage, one of their most dangerous rivals, razing that civilisation to the ground. I was lucky to see Dan Snow’s programme on New Year’s Eve about how they destroyed the Dacians (like you I’d never heard of the Dacians! So the Romans were indeed effective) in central Europe when they didn’t really need to be so severe but wanted to set the Dacian rebellion as an example of something they would not tolerate.

So, in 105 AD Trajan built a mile long stone bridge across the Danube then besieged the Dacian capital of Sarmizegethusa, cut off the water supply and when the town surrendered Decebalus killed himself he razed and burned it to the ground. The, and Dacia, which corresponds roughly to modern Romania, was occupied as a Roman province.

This rule by tyrannical oppression was adopted by many later empire builders like the Brits, Stalin and Hitler. I won’t bother to name the massacres carried out by these empire builders as they are well documented elsewhere.

On the other hand Snow said that the Romans learned not to always destroy their rivals. In the now desert land around Petra in North Africa they set up a trading centre manned of course by a series of barracks. It must have been a thriving fertile area with at least 20 thousand inhabitants which I presume collapsed after Rome was razed by the tribes who had gathered together to defeat it.

The vainglorious overthrow of cultures which had less devastating technologies & techniques for war (like the Brits in Tibet) has always mortified me. I prefer the way Peter O’Toole, bless his socks, does it in Lawrence in Arabia or the twins in tandem do it in Connery & Caine’s Man Who Would Be King. They found the so called ‘primitive & inferior’ cultures could have more than enough to handle and indeed had a lot to teach ‘em. I once met, or rather accosted a very famous individual. I know that I said in my last blart that I rarely impinged on the space of ‘famous’ folk but I did ignore that rule once near the National Portrait Gallery in Londres with my young son when I spotted a man in the strangest green trousers you’ll ever see standing tall talking to a much older man. He was Richard Harris and I was an artist who did portraits of folk with interesting visages and character, so I approached him and handed my card to him. I don’t know why I bother with a card as I never got any business from it. People look at my cards and invariably go, ‘That’s a wonderful card’, then put it away forever and a day. Richard said when I asked him to contact me if he would like a portrait, ‘Thank you Pete I’ll think about that.’ How did he know my name? I thought. Then I realised he’d read the card in an intake of breath and called me by my name with the outtake. I loved Harris’s Celtic nature, that madness I am part of myself, that insane ability to do the impossible. Who else other than Harris could have taken a song everyone and their dogs had rejected with words second only to Procol Harum’s hit about waiters floating across the floor for incomprehensibility and turn it into a classic? MacArthritis Park:


they tell me that he only chose the song cos everyone who was anyone had rejected it.

As it happened in the USA, a spiritless place with blood on its hands, with the decimated indigenous injuns still living in poverty* as do the original (even called Aboriginal) populations of Australia and Tasmania. Younghusbandman the conqueror of Tibet eventually took to mystical religious beliefs, maybe the spirits of those he killed slaughtered came back to possess him? In fact as the Tibetans, when they realised the force they faced was too great, turned their backs and walked away being sent to their Nirvanas by a hail of British bullets. The rich heritage of the Americas, going back like the Australian aboriginals tens of thousands of years, which was so totally unheeded during their genocide which took place with the equally stupid slaughter of the buffaloes in the 19th century, is now being increasingly unearthed and revealed. The USA had better sort it act out, I suggest making reparations to past ‘foes’, something they rarely consider and the list is long; Cuba, Vietnam, Korea, the indigenous peoples, the list goes on. Look at what happened to the Mayans. When the pendulum swings the worm turns. Africa, China and India are all on the rise now, all of them still troubled by things the imperialists left behind, mostly divisive partitions and setting of false boundaries causing generations of internal disputes. I am making myself scarce, even tho my ancestors, including my dad, played their roles in the Empire’s Conquests as previously subjugated subjects, I am disappearing myself, into SHUNYA. I declare myself a Buddhist tinka searching for the Void, Nothing or as Apulhed might say Nuttingness.

*I understand some injuns do have their finger on a fortune, is it Las Vegas area? Well, the fact they appear to have re-invested some pay-back money for the whites stealing their land in what? Gambling dens isn’t it? Well that is an indicator of how bad things got for them. And the bigger they are the harder they fall as the saying says. All the Empires bite the dust eventually. Tink about it. Rome, Assyria, Egypt, Mongol, Mughal, Hittite to name but six that have disappeared.

(quote the Shelly poem from the Italian bk with brian eno in)

Asoka was a vicious tyrant who as it happened saw the Light. He took up the ways of the Buddhists and found his own piece of peace spreading the words and ideas of Buddha as far as Egypt and Israel where some writers feel that first the Theraputae then the early Christians adopted the ideas. Even Buddhist peaceful civilisations like those at Gandhara and Dunhuang on the silk road http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunhuang

‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains, round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundlsee and bare

The loan and level sands stretch far away.

P B Shelley 1817

“Ozymandias” may have been a corruption of Rameses II, ruled Egypt for 67 years in the 13th century BC who defeated the Hittites, the Nubians and the Canaanites and had massive statues made to commemorate his majesty. These enormous sculptures had been lost beneath the sands before the 19th century invasion of Egypt by the French under another self-appointed ruler, Napoleon Bonaparte, who devastated lands and eventually brought ignominy upon his loyal forces and effectively made the French incapable of self-defence* as a consequence of the vast loss of population that occurred in his battles and campaigns to rule the world.

*witness the French capitulation to the Prussian invasion in 1870 then its need for outside intervention to prevent it happening again in 1914 then the massive prolonged push by the Allied forces to oust Hitler who had steamrollered over France in 1939. Yet for some strange reason the main thrust of French consciousness is apparently anti-English?

The book that may have informed Shelley of “Ozymandias” was thought to be “The Ruins” (1791) a French treatise on why civilisations fell by the Comte de Volney. I know the enigmatic Sphinx was built for different reasons to Rameses monuments and was possibly thousands of years older but it too was almost totally submerged beneath sand. In the 1970’s I was fortunate to be asked to contribute a comic to Brainstorm 2 by its publisher Lee Harris. The Brainstorm Trilogy was Bryan Talbot’s arrival on the world graphic novel scene. I met Rick Griffin the genius of American Underground comic art at the launch as Lee had invited him over to it. Of my four pager Rick said only two words as he shook my hand, “Good Strip”. So, I could stop now, it would never get better than that. Indeed it was about to get much much worse, and the outcome was my withdrawal from the ‘comic’ fraternity but not before I got wounded by the barbs and editorial knife of one Marc Proops of the piss yellow suit. Despite Lee & Bryan liking my next offering enough to insist against his desire to take it out of the next comic he lost it on the way to the printers. Oddly it did turn up several months later and I am including it here because the world needs to see it. No really, it is about the Sphinx and that mystery of the Watchers. I am not complaining that it was edited out but I am a little angry that I gave up so easily. In fact I did not stop creating ‘comics’. I moved on. I was working on a graphic novel with my Apulhed character in it on a holiday to the south coast. I called it Apulhed & the Grockles. It wasn’t so bad but I decided after talking with retail outlets like Martins that I could not afford the outlay and the risk attached. It would not have sold anyway. There is a reality out there. You have to be famous to get published etc etc etc. I did try to get Apulhed ‘famous’ but that’s another story. The thing that grew out of The Grockle comic development was a new style Apulhed, one I could draw quickly and who could be animated more easily. He became more zen. He started to have a more zen acceptance of the human story with all of its ups and downs. But that is another blog.


Casting Pearls Into The Ether.

Here is a wondeful tribute to John Tavener shown on the BBC on New year’s Eve which you’ll get on iplayer if yor quick.


there’s a lovely song at the end about SHUNYA, the Void, or as Tavener says, Nirvana. I was pleased to find that Tavener along with his stated and obvious love for Orthodox Christian ideas and sounds was into Buddhist ideas (also Hindu and Islamic too). I feel honoured that I had chosen to use his visage to portray Thomas Plume in a ‘mural’ that I did in Maldon in Essex.


Surya Das in his book about the Buddha Within on p. 130 says the Buddha taught that everything is ephemeral, interdependent and in process and that…some folk have a clear sense of purpose and direction whereas others are blown about by every passing breeze. It is part of a call to be master of your own destiny.

As 2013 drew to a close I was reflecting on the bygone year and wondering if I should post my thanks to all those who helped me (in my weakness…I heard the drifter say…thanks zimmer man).

I thought if I thank JDD for letting me use his place for a small exhibition, DJ for his lovely comments particularly on my article in ABYB and on G BATCH An Introduction to Six Mystics, SB for publishing the article and so on to thank so many who really helped like MB who taught me how to coil pot again only much better than before. Then I thought if I try to remember & name all those who helped and if I listed them I would be bound to forget one or two really key folk like DD, MLL & DW without whom my journey would have been stalled. I concluded that I couldn’t list all those who helped. But I thank them.

I’ve been trying to learn how to meditate for a couple of years now as some very clever humans inform me that the skill is most important and beneficial. Up to the day before yesterday the skill evaded me. I see it as a learning curve unlike say swimming or Tai chi or Ashtanga Yoga all of which you learn in a physical, tangible way. Meditation is more difficult cos you do, nothing. That’s the point, you stop. You don’t even tink. Well, my mum Jenny used to say, I’m like, like a hen on a hot girdle ( I tink she meant gridle, a hot bed of iron used for cooking lovely drop scones on, imagine that then you get a metaphor for me). A fart in a cullender is another analogy she used to describe my blarting on long before I started blarting on blogart, HEY! I just invented a blogart- a bloke wat blarts on in the blog somewhat like a blaggart…I do go on). Jennie wer a Geordie, salt of the earth. So, after 2 yearns trying I wer no nearer being able to meditate. Then I found a meditation on the 4 Immeasurables*. And that cracked it for me in a funny way, it snuck up on me with stunning results. I had a real problem letting go of some things that occurred in 2013. I received some ignominious observations and marks during times when I was vulnerable from some who should know better. I felt hurt and en-angered (not enraged, enangered). My past conditioning would have had me confront the perpetrators of these perceived insults and have it out, pistols at dawn. Every day those insults would plague me but my four closest advisors had advisedly suggested I drop it and carry on regardless.

Anyway, I was carrying on regardless (not) and I decided to try this meditation exercise on Loving Kindness, Joy, Compassion, Equanimity. Miracle. I came round after only about 20 minutes and there in the greasy palm of my long artistic fingered hand was a solution. Thank them. For their invidious ness, because they above all the helpers & kindnesses helped me, to sharpen my mettle and keep me from conceit. They put me on my toes on the lookout for adversity with a new readiness to understand their view as legitimate observations from their respective positions, their ‘where they’re at’.their actions or absence of them, remarks & examples drove me to do more, to improve my peractice and spurred me on to write more and get published. I awoke to the Buddhist belief in being generous to others, especially your critics and denigrators.


I wer unsure if I should even mention it for fear of appearing vindictive myself and also empowering my critics by giving them the pleasure of knowing that they had an effect on me but I saw the need to rise above (my own)small-mindedness (and believe me I have some of that in bucket-loads, the smile on my face is an upside down frown, thanks John Prine). Another Buddhist notion is to move on, let go, stop clinging, to the bad as well as the good. As an ex-teacher I recall the tendency at the end of a day to recall the kids who had been most upsetting to me and their contemporaries before reminding myself about the 75-90% who had been ok or great. So, now as I look back on my teaching career I can now see the hundreds of pupils with whom I had a great time learning and growing (up or along) together. When I look at my own educators the ratio reverses, only a minority of teachers have that special something. In my case they had to be big enough to see thru the veil of idiocy I erected for my own protection. I must admit I did the disguise very well so I should forgive those who could not see through it, most of all myself. Another Buddhist ting is to learn to love yourself as you would love others or something like that. (You’ve forgotten again haven’t you you idiot. No no no, you godda luv me.)

That’s ok cos ‘everything is ephemeral, interdependent and in process’. Do not fret about scattering your pearls because only those with eyes to see can find them.

A ‘see’ Horse casting pearls for those with ‘eyes’ at sea

Watch out those of you with eyes to see, for new gems this year as they will inevitably appear. Take a gander at  http://thepublicblogger.com/

It’s someone in the USA who has looked in at my blog whose site seems very interesting.

Events to look out for: February 3rd opening of my Bookart show at Red Lion bookshop, Colchester.

A new article in the Blue Notebook sometime in spring.

May, the Norwich artist’s book fair, I’ll be there with me mates , Gambit.

Sometime in 2014 a new PK artisbuk, Squidgerats Scribblings.

October- When I’m 64. Will You Still Love Me By Then? Thank you John & George.

That’s it fer this tweek, Boo Boo, said Yogi Bear the Injun Mystic.

Ps Warning. Please do not read on below if you don’t wish to be touched by sadness today. Below is finishing off something I began to blart about last year on how an Annie Lennox cd had helped me in difficult circumstance around about 20 years ago:

In my blog last week/year I mentioned the beautiful impact this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HG7I4oniOyA.in by Annie Lennox had on me as I drove to see my father on his dying day. ‘Why’ was such a pertinent song, so powerful so apt for me at that time as I drove thru the night as my father’s bodily boat sank irretrievably from my grasp and I kissed his forehead as he lay there on my arrival. I think that was the only time I ever kissed him. There were no man-hugs in those days. Even when I had told him a couple of weeks before that I loved him he looked at me in a form of disbelief that came from his war-generation era and said, ‘Do you?’, which momentarily made me doubt what I had just said. But I did love him, despite and because of his weaknesses one of which was the constant need to show he was strong. Annie’s song accompanied me to that final kiss and I have tried to contac her to let her know how much that meant to me then, and since. Tho I spose she gets lots of calls like that Bless her cotton socks.