CRAZY LIKES CASSADY a Bit aBout aBucking Bronko Bukowski

I heard belatedly, as is my wont, that they were doing a letterpress book in a day on 24th April and of course I missed the deadline with my ‘submission to play’ which was-

MAD

LIKE

CASSADY

So I must learn to get in touch, I never did keep in touch, I am cool as a fool, no, make that tree werds; cool aka fool. I like this 3 werd ting. I spose it emanated from koans? Anyway, a friend was asking about how I write/prepare my blArts? As he sispected (hey spellcheck sod off, when I say sispected I mean sispected. Hell it’s hard to do sispected when spellchecker keeps changing the i to a u.) I don’t just write it off the top of me bonce, I longhand write it first then type it, the type-in is the first ‘edit & add’ stage then it goes on. I can ‘ed’ it again as I upload and I sometimes go back maybe weeks later and  ‘edit & add’ agin. The following three werds show how I edit my writing

CRAZY

AS

CASSADY

See what I mean? That encapsulates what I do. Those three words show how I edit and improve. The 3 I put in late were ok, but done in a rush sans gestation. Then I slept a couple o nichts on it and re-did my Buko article ready to post here and slept agen and saw that it would be better as CRAZY AS CASSADY. I wrote those tree werds cos Bukowski who didn’t like many folk liked Cassady and was like him except his drug of choice was alcohol whereas Cassady’s wer ‘speed’. In factotum speed was eventually, altho it took a LO…OO…OONG time, the death of Cassady when he decided, altho not any longer a young man, to race a alongside train, it was probably a art attack.

Actually

CRAZY

LIKES

CASSADY

May be better still.

 

I was not going to do this subject but I decided to because the centre for bookarts Bristol did an artist-buk-owski-in-a-day this week. I wrote this article on the Big Bolcher back in 2010 for canongate’s sadly defunct now culture site, Meet At The Gate. I thought those of you who know not a lot about the Big Bolcher might be fascinated by the following. I must admit I read the bio and the poetry books over the Christmas period and I am afraid they did nothing to help me have a merry time that year. In fact, every Christmas since I have been dull and unfestive. Not sure if that’s cos I gave up drinking alcohol, or the damage of seeping in Buko’s sad mindset or just age?

from my 1976 comic for brainstorm
from my 1976 comic for brainstorm Andrea See who edited the Meet At The Gate blog aksed me to review a book of poems, The Pleasures of the Damned. Bukowski Poems 1951-1993 selected by John Martin.

Review by Pete Kennedy Jan 2010. Image above (my copyrite) – Is this Bukowski as a youth?

“Dear Mother, dear Mother, the Church is cold,

But the ale-house is healthy & pleasant & warm”

William Blake wrote that and he also said it is, “the road to excess which leads to the palace of wisdom.” He may have been fore-seeing The Big Bolcher himself.

This big book, beautifully presented, with a new photo of our gnarled hero on the cover, is stimulating and enjoyable reading. Bukowski’s poems are not mystical like Kahlil Gibrans nor zen koans and Lorca influenced like Leonard Cohen. His were more downbeat with an earthy soul which climbed as high as any but with regular use of obscenities and sometimes distasteful subjects are not for the faint hearts. Len is quoted on the cover of this Canongate ‘best of the best’ Bukowski collection as saying that, ‘He brought everybody down to earth, even the angels’. Indeed he did and he dug deeper into the human condition too. He chose to retreat from ‘normal’ life doing low paid menial jobs which neither taxed his brain nor his preferred social standing, in the belly of society. I also worked in the post office awhile, and it was the pits for me too and like Bonny Face Boy says, working there helps you to ‘get’ Big Bolcher’s viewpoint. I got very upset working for nobodys who mis-used their position but that led to one of the best bits of advice I ever heard, from a good salt of the earth postman, ‘Hey Teach. Don’t expect nothing from nobodys.’ And despite his penchant for the lowest ebb of life Bukoboy was not a nobody.

Bukowski had his own influences, from e e cummings to his favourite John Fante and the great Kenneth Patchen, whose habit of accompanying his work with paintings and drawings Bukowski replicates in the limited editions he did for John Martin his long time publisher who selected these  poems to represent the work he thinks stand out.. Bukowski was driven to write finding his voice* battering away at an old typewriter, usually into the night, after a couple of six packs. Bukowski’s religion was alcohol, mostly beer but cheap wine would do. His young daughter learned to call Ned’s liquor store, ‘Hank’s Store’ as her dad spent so much time in there. He was known as Hank to his close associates. (See p334 for his ode to Marina which shows his undoubted doting for his child.) For some reason when drunk he would hanker to fight the barman, or other drunks, or his woman, the former may have been a retribution for the beatings he suffered from his father. He often comes over as reprehensible like when casting insults about Madonna to her husband Sean Penn. He compulsively sought sexual pleasure outside the norms of ‘acceptability’, asking the recent widow of his good friend Jon Webb to make love with him. Despite his low view of the human condition he had a deep hope. His poems carry a beautiful but ironic insight. Bukowski lived at a time when men were men and women were a good source of sex and food makers. In a late poem, p399, on his life he refers to all his friends, men, dying and he regrets not knowing enough (about) women until late on, too late maybe? Despite all of his faults his work was very popular by the time he died. His friend Sean Penn stayed true and turned up at his funeral. All of his life he had refused to run with the pack which gave him the outsider’s viewpoint. His was a questioning spirit which looked at all humanity with a critical eye. He was the Clown Prince of Poetry and like jesters of old he took on society, shining his torch on the soft underbelly of all our weaknesses. He acted a fool as the drunk irresponsible hurt and potentially harmful human. His main view was from the bottom with his preferred view being of the woman’s bottom! He adopted the stance of a nihilist yet he was an inveterate   survivor whose constitution refused to succumb to the consequences of his lifestyle. He had no need to wear a mask as from behind his challenged features he viewed the world with the disdain of the down-trodden. The final two sections of this book, one on his cats and then on his impending death show his ability off magnificently. His ode to a ‘cross-eyed tailless cat’ is possibly his best self portrait ever. The penultimate poem-‘bluebird’- shows he had a heart and that he deliberately treated it badly until the very end! John Martin’s knowledge, garnered over half a life-time editing out the dross Bukowski sent alongside the gems, benefits this collection of poems.

* There are recordings of his reading but it seems his earlier best ones, uncontaminated by hecklers uninterested in his poems but eager to provoke his uncontrolled use of expletives in his reaction, were not recorded. His having lived the life of a punk at the time it was just becoming fashionable was a bonus for his public image. His spoken voice was however quite sensitive. He spoke slowly because as a child he had to measure everything he said as one wrong word could result in another beating from his father. His poems are best read aloud in a deep gruff Los Angeles lilt like Tom Waits who was surely influenced by Hank. As ‘The Boss’ Bruce Springstein must have been too, “The poets down here write noting at all, they just sit back and let it all be.”(Ashbury Park.)

The book has a good alphabetical index of the poems and a list of his major works with their dates. It would perhaps benefit from a mention of the date of writing and its published source at the foot of each poem?

I also reviewed a biog of Bukbolcher:

Review of Sounes’ Bukowski book by Pete Kennedy. Jan. 2010.

“Outsiders appear like pimples on a dying civilisation…If a civilisation is spiritually sick (so is the individual). If he is healthy enough to put up a fight, he becomes an Outsider.” (‘Religion & the Rebel’ by Colin Wilson, p9.)

The above quote encapsulates a large portion of Bukowski’s life, that is until his lifestyle became the object of fascination and he became quite rich and famous and people from Madonna to female students on a dare would pay him visits. He had the pimples, acne, which along with his German nationality led to his being ostracised at school where he would not join in the sporting hero mentality and was already siding with ‘losers’. He was not afraid of the bullying that came with being rejected as at home his own father would leather him with a strop, when he was not beating his wife whose own fear led to her seeming complicity as the boy got beaten. The beaten ones develop a hardness which in turn makes them harder to beat and later Bukowski was to take glee, during his drunken stupors, in fighting the bar-tender. Maybe he saw them as father-figures and wanted to vent his mis-placed anger on them. Some of his women were ‘whores’ and/or drunks and they would tease him sometimes by going off with other men, later when his women became more reliable he had the previous model imprinted on his psyche and successfully ruined many a good relationship by false accusations. One of Bukowski’s least tasteful habits was to fight his woman, even breaking Linda King’s nose, an act which cannot be condoned but which had an inevitability considering his previous penchant for picking the dregs of society as soul mates. If you think you can hack this guy read on, it gets worse, yet you gotta love him! Bukowski was a man of little faith in his life and great hope in his work which was eventually born out. When Rohde talks about men with a lack of faith in the power of love not surprisingly with his history this epitomises him as a man who has lost faith, who lives in fear and suspicion.  Yet he had a great Humanity, and a good writer’s voice and that is what attracted me to his work in the mid -1970’s. Although I loved his poems in ‘Days disappear like Wild Horses over the Hill’, I think his best poems are among the best poems, I became disenchanted with him on reading ‘The Fiend’, a short story about a rape, in ‘Bukowski Stories. Erections, Ejaculations etc’ whose editor at City Lights, Gail Chiarrello, must have allowed him total freedom. In this biography Sounes points out that basically Bukowski was ‘pandering to his readers’ basest expectations’ and seeing how far he could push the barriers. As a 25 year old aspiring writer in 1976 I was impressed by Bukowski’s apparent freedom from editorial eyes, I saw him as a freedom fighter and free thinking writer. Which, in some ways he was, but not in his work for City Lights where he was earning a fast buck by writing stuff beneath his real ability in order to titivate. However, most of the writing was done because he was obsessively driven. Like all good writers he had something to say and it would out. John Martin at Black Sparrow Press would receive batches of poems and would sift out the weaker ones with Bukowski’s permission.  Hank left a large body of commendable work which outweighs the stuff he felt the need to do to survive.

From Bukowski’s relatively long and complex life Sounes has pieced together a commendable work which he went about researching well, following up many interviews with surviving friends, lovers and protagonists of the poet. He leaves no stone unturned in the quest to uncover Bukowski, worms and all. Although there is still an academic book to write about Bukowski and his inspirations and influences which would provide great food for thought this is a thorough testimony. Bukowski used his own low-life experience rather than explain it, as Mallarme said “suggestion is the ultimate creative act whereas to name is to destroy”. As an Outsider Bukowski hated any form of privilege, hence his disdain for Robert Creeley the Black Mountain College poet and his liking of Neal Cassady, friend of Kerouac, who he believed was madder than he was!

Finally, the book has good source notes, bibliography & index which are truly helpful. It sets out Bukowski’s life in a brisk easy to read style.

Some more quotes relevant to Buk’s stance?

“If Henry Miller is to be believed, the erotic nihilist is the most pronounced type in America” (Peter Rohde in ‘Henry Miller, Between Heaven & Hell a symposium’ p51)

In the same pubcn.- …we find in (Miller & Whitman) the same joyous and impudent glorification of the sinful life. ..they are strong, full of health, at peace with themselves… they believe in life and they plunge into the intoxification of living with a child-like brutality. (Albert Maillet, p65)

 buko an icemen

The similarity of this Ice Age sculpture from Czechoslovakia made me wonder if it is a 26,000 year old ancestor of Bukowski? Was he around then or is he a reincarnation?

Is Bukowski an Immortal?

Now we deal with copyrights. I don’t own the © on any of the tree images above, but do I? You see I have changed them, so does that make them mine? Well, I tink you got to change them so much they are unrecognizable but then let’s say I appropriated some images. I wish it to be known I have invented this following symbol (a) as it’s like a ©, but I cannot get this stupid computer to place it in a circle. But the c in a circle denotes copyrights. So, I appropriate (so I Am). I appropriate an image from a magazine, I won’t tell you it’s from National Geographica as they may sue you for looking at it. The image is one they have appropriated from a 26,000 year old sculpture-man, altho it may be a woman wot did it so I shall utilise my word for male and female humans, ubein. T’other image I appropriated frae canongate’s cover, but they won’t mind cos I just advertised their two buks about Buko. And anyway, the composition of the tree images together is mine and mine only, so therefore QED. In fact, letting you in on a secwet, I intend to do a lot of images in ‘panels’ like that, you know, triptychs and all. © pete kennedy2014

 

http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/world-book-night-2014.htm 2014 booknite video

 

http://themostdifficultthingever.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/world-book-night-special-wednesday-23rd.html a blog about bukowski by kevin Boniface

 

 

 

Advertisements

I wanted to be an artist but I’m alright right now, right. (What is original & what is quality? Part 2)

Did you hear the joke, ‘Once I was a werewolf, but I’m alright No…oooow!’? Well once, only once, I wanted to be an artis but I’m all write No…oooow! In fact my art is my right, I have a write to be an artis. OK, back to the real.

Eva Hesse was an artist and groundbreaker of considerable skill but one day she woke up and realised something rather strange, that she didn’t HAVE TO make art, that life continues even when you do not make art.

On Originality. I want to mention Maria Popova’s stuff, she writes well, I could do an analysis or commentary but that would take ages I have not got and my fingers would wear out typing it in, so, you can take a look at her stuff here:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/02/13/uncreative-writing-kenneth-goldsmith/

She quotes  Twain, “Substantially all ideas are second-hand,” Mark Twain observed, “consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them.” And she often refers to this ting called,

‘The power of the synthesizing mind and the building blocks of combinatorial creativity.’ See her article in:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/combinatorial-creativity-and-the-myth-of-originality-114843098/?no-ist

Synthesizing and being combinatorial are, it seems to me, top requirements of creative process. When we used to assess kids doing ‘O’ level, or any other level for that matter, they got into top grades when you could see evidence of synthesizing. Interesting. Over the past 45 years of me being ‘creative’ I did two tings; I looked at the creativity of others and I stayed in touch thru mags like Studio International, Graphis and the Museum of Mankind, then again I ignored the work of others and tried to cocoon mysel in a hole in the ground so as not to be ‘influenced’ and I refused to watch what was prevalent at the time. I skrtled between the twain. But, in the end whatever you do has its progenitors. One of my heroes Popova mentioned was henry miller, not so much his Tropics more his humanist writings. I wer told by john Atkins, over 20 years after the event that the reason Calder did NOT publish my tome called ‘The Shrewd Idiot’ was cos me writings were reminiscent of Miller and Miller wer going out o fashion and punk was coming in. So me, the post-hippieman, what had given up his daily job in 1976 to consecrate on his art & writing, I wer too dated, out dated. Such is the elusivity of fame & four tunes. Have you heard the one about the fork ‘andles? Maybe I got lucky not getting published as there is a shortage of paper in the world or at least the tree that makes the paper. And my tome was a BIG tome which I did cut by half like Calder aksed me to, but really, for all our sakes it would be better if I produce it misen as an artisbuk, with some of it in the original handpen, some in the JilLittly typed-up version and some set in a computer type. In fact I move tward a new ‘style’ of crazed words and non-sense writings after Flan O’Brien and Louis Carrott wat rote ‘Alice’ fer Jeffersen Airplane. Vatch dis spade.

My recent work has been to do with mysticism. As I investigated the phenomena I found out aboyut whole cultural groups (civilisations) which ‘we’ (in the west) never heard of. The Gandharan community, a Buddhist group who lived over 2000 yearns ago whose influence is vast but most of us never heard of and they are not the only ones. http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Buddhist-Scrolls-Gandhara-Gandharan/dp/0295977698

So why is a cutting edge artis like misen looking at ancient stuff and mystics be blowed? Well, one because it’s all been done before and we need to get informed and two, becos nodoby elsa is it doing indeed. But seriously folks (said Spike Milligan again) nobody in the ‘art world’ is doing mystics right now so I am original, not really (cos everything has bin dun afore asn’tit). In fact I have a lovely buk called ‘Time machine’ http://www.jamesputnam.org.uk/inv_publication_03.html

In which several artists do work with an eye to Ancient Egypt. I wer doing that back in the 70’s. Am glad thur catching up wit me.

created to go in Big Six, lost on way to printers!
created to go in Big Six, lost on way to printers!

Now onto what I started today’s Blarty Phart for:

Robert Smithson (RS), famous for his ‘Spiral Jetty’ in the lake at Salt Lake City, & Bruce McLean (BM) and their relationships with ‘originality’ .

Land art & symbolic interventions is what Mel Gooding calls the work of Robert Smithson and the British counterparts like Richard Long in his book, Song of the Earth. http://www.thamesandhudson.com/Song_of_the_Earth/9780500510162

Bruce McKlean’s work is being shown in a stunning show at firstsite in Colchester thru the summer of 2014, til septembre.

It’s fascinating how ‘art’ so often parallels ‘science’. Whilst science is busy creating new ‘man-made’ elements some of which only exist momentarily, just long enough for scientists to be able to make deductions, artists like McLean in 1967 made ‘Floataway sculptures’ which were ‘predicated on the impermanence of their form’. Gooding goes on to talk about Sjoerd Buisman’s collaborations with nature which he notes have, ‘A keen sense of affinity with scientists…and are in certain crucial ways closely akin to the procedures of scientists.’

BM was photo’d as he carried mirrors into parks etc in 1969 but his action post-dated RM’s use of mirrors. And I thought, ‘Is that why they (rather sadly) call it ‘Post’ Modernism? Precisely cos it repeats, mimics, appropriates*.’ Lucy Lippard has a good take on RM & mirrors (see ‘Lucy Lippard’s Activism and Artists’ Books Activate Me’;  Vol 8 No 2, April 2014 http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/bnotebk.htm). RM was using mirrors back in ’64 with The Eliminator and 65 with Enantiomorphic Chambers. The British boys (and girls) were plugging into anything new from USA. (in the late 60’s I refused. I wer stuck in Europe still but that’s anudda storey.)

*Appropriationism is the mode now, Nick it all Nick Na Noo! And folk like Popova are writing tracts about how nothing is ‘original’. Except we, we with Buddhist inclinations, know EVERYTING IS original. It has to Be. Every breath you take is different, new, original if only cos the universe and beyond have never been in that position ever before nor never again. Everything is always on the change, in flux, and we cannot alter that. Copyright, intellectual right etc etc etc are there to protect, property etc but they are not ‘real’. When you read/red/reed say, Brautigan, you steal, you steal the words off the page into your mind what may be ‘high’ like his was wherever that may be or not to be ( I just nicked Shake’s spear!) The more folk what steals yer werk by listening, repeating, passing on etc the more your work is ‘out there’.

From the foothills to the footholds of the art.

So we ascertain that it is ok to be original and it’s ok to be not-original. There are some who would say that everything has been done before. A beautiful example of that I saw in the British Museum’s El Dorado show last month. I saw some gold flat figures about 1-2 inch high that’s 40 – 50 millimetres today folk.  They’d been crafted several hundred years back by Colombian pre-Columbian indigenous peoples. The BM made some nice enamel red on stainless steel replicas. I am aware that Keith Haring was influenced by other cultures and I am unsure if he ever saw these figures but the similarity with his ‘cosmic baby’ figures is extraordinary. In my previous blart I shewed a flower of Legers what I did not copy but again the similarity is enormous. In my book that does not make mine any less ‘quality’ or ‘original’, we both ‘copied’ flowers! The accidents which led mine to be so similar are just a happy synchronous occurrence. In fact, the final, well never final as I keep altering it, version has a different flower image in it innit?

leger flowa sm kbLeger’s flower

artist with offering
artist (what is moi) with offering

I shall harp on about this Venus stares image a lot in the future, so vatch dis splice.

Hey, talk abart appropriationism, Kenneth Patchen stole my Apulhed long before I created him, (he wer clairvoyant!) and also William Blake’s name (see the image ‘hurrah’ below), didn’t he? I don’t mind, I love his work and am borrowing the image below but only to advertise him, I was reading Tom Wolfe this week, ‘electric cool aid acid testes’ and I note how much he took from his hero Kerouac and of course Kerouac had his progenitoir, Patchen! Now, I have found many references in Cool aid acid test to stuff i am working with now, like Jung and synchronicity. As I sit ere in 2014 i can say truly that I had not seen Wolfe’s book previously. Strangely, he mentions Hopis, and other tings what i linger longer on over the years. My work on ‘the other’ hails from the early 70’s. I had a small task called survival to cope with in the years between and became a teacher of art to keep Beuy’s coyotes from my door. So, altho I never gave up making art, my activities and energies were often curtailed. Now am 64 and free of it, i just make art and mess and fuss and waves and wave bye bye for noo to yu.

drawn in comic about Sphinx
drawn in comic about Sphinx

apul patchen

 

This blart all © pete kennedy 2014 (real-lee?) except of course the hyperlinked stuff and the old jokes and the pyramids and ad infinitum. You cannot nick it appropriate it altho I know you are able but if I ketchup wid ya oil scorch yer pants but that would only hurt misen cos as you know we are all interconnected in destiny no matter how daft ye be.

 

 

 

 

And that’s why am doing this now. (What is original & what is quality? Part 1)

What is original & what is quality? Part 1

all art and words (c) pete kennedy (except the hands of Leger pic which is not my copyright)

I know my work has originality within it. I think it has good quality within it. But, ‘how good?’ is another answer, one which I am in an impossible position to say because I cannot be objective about me.I can of course be relatively objective about all other human beings (hubeings…ube-ins…ubeans) but only relatively cos I have my own experience, knowledge AND prejudices. Objective is hard to define (in the arts) as there are few accurate measurable. They say to get 100% in a Maths ‘A’ level is do-able but it’s more difficult in English because the latter depends on subjective decisions. Most people believe that science is a ‘fixed’ or ‘set’ field of knowledge, within which Maths may be included(?) but it is now known that science is an open, moving, field, not so fixed. There are frequent discoveries & realisations. Similarly in history where they thought the bronze tool was first made 4,ooo (4K) years back until a man was found in the Alps in a very well preserved state with a bronze axe and a stone knife and he lived 5K years back so the acquisition of working bronze was pushed back a thousand years. In almost every field of ube-in* endeavour there are shifts both small and substantial. So, let me like Paolozzi said, return to my original obsession, art(s).

*Hey, I’m tinking about this. Why not call them ‘ubes’? “I am a ube, or more corectli “I Am an ube’” the strange creature on planet earth said when we interviewed it.

I mentioned Hockney wat is about 10 years older than me in my last blart. He was ‘a precocious talent’ at school for sure, considered to be brilliant at the what-was-considered-then-to-be ‘good’ art. I was apparently not, altho this can be debated…when I about 13 I did a still life of some woodwork tools in pastel shades of yellow and with an expressive brush-stroke. Eye (oops, Freudian slip) I let loose, making the surface of the painting throb with texture and vibrancy. The teacher who triggered my effort was about to depart the school appreciated my efforts but Bennett the incoming guy did not and my expressive skills had to be put on ice only to be re-awakened when I discovered a chap called Van Gogh in the biggest retrospective of his work ever to be held in London when I was a sixth former visiting the capital during the first half term about 4 years later. I knew I had found my master. But before that my art floundered as I was pretty useless at the normal for those days requirements. My mate Steve Hezzlewood, everyone knew, was like Hockney, a genius with the norm gaining a grade 1 at ‘o’ level with me a close bottom of class with a grade 6, the lowest pass. I should have dropped art, it was my worst grade by far, but being me I chose it as my main focus for life. Silly me. So, with my gradesix in the bag I decided I was to be an artis. But, as I entered the 6th form art class everything for me changed it did. (ta Yoda) In Padiham town hall I saw a Gaudier Brzesca pastel sketch, Alan Smith another art s precocious talent with a grade 1 from the local sec mod school joined our class making it tree and persuaded me to accompany him to a little southern town called Londres during the October half term in the first year sixth where I saw the big Van Gogh show. I took the bit and I bit very hard and that’s why am doing this now.

 

However, as I said in a previous blart, altho he loved my work and said not to do a Fine Art degree at Leeds cos it would stiflekill me but to go down the road to the art college and mention his name I ignored Quentin Bell’s advice and did not go to art school, whereas Hockney had gone to first Bratferd then the RCA colleges. Hezzy had joined the police cadets cos he thought he wer Barman and wanted to chase criminals, and after gerrin a good grade at A level I went to ‘Teachers’ Training College’ in Exeter. And that’s why am doing this now. So, I enter St Luke’s college and by now I am the precocious talent. I took my wrapping paper off my stuff wat mi mum had packed for me to leave home with, lots of different shades of green an brown and did an abstract like wat Matisse did . Immediately the 3rd year who had taken me under his wing said don’t let the art dept see that or you’ll be kicked out. Boom boom, ‘they shot me down’ said Cher. The course at St Lukes was overseen by Dereck Lawrence R A and was quite old fashioned by 1973 standards. By the end of the 1st year they’d invented a new grade for their 3 most vociferous ‘rebels’, me, Charlie Kavanagh a ‘mature’ student (they were drafting all the folk they couls get into teaching then) and ex-army PTA and a girl with lots of talent called Siobhan Kelly, an E minus grade. And DLRA aksed me to please leave ‘As this is not an art college this is a ‘Teachers’ Training College’, go and do an art college course as you’ll never make a teacher. But that wer a red rag to a bull, I had to stay on and become a teacher even tho I knew he wer right. And I stayed on, to the bitter end, And that’s why am doing this now. Only a handful of the other forty odd students could draw, but that didn’t matter if you wished to be a teacher apparently, you just had to shut up and do what you were telt. And he had this irritating habit of giving out sweeties to the good obedient students, I never got one. However I did become a star there at the end of the 3 years and Ruskin Spear RA said my work was good but to be careful not to get stuck in a particular era. My art had a ‘pop’ feeling to it, so I said not I won’t but my art will define an era. Then at the end of the 4th year the Prin from Brum Art College wer my external and he said I should apply to do an MA there, but I dint and that’s why am doing this now.

I thought I wer good in some limited ways BUT I had already missed the first big boat- my days wer filled with Art but also Philosophy AND Education theory & teaching prac with other distractions like photography (wet) graphic stories (comic) and reading books on the supernatural & spirit like Paul Brunton, J W Dunne and Joan Grant. Had I gone to art college my days would have been filled with (just) art. In 1969 a good art dept would have fuelled my fires whereas Lukes doused mine, even a new box of matches had difficulty re-igniting it. It didn’t help when I was in the 3rd year, using the second rate facilities in screen printing when I paid a visit to the RCA’s print dept Final Show. The talent there with their access to much better resources became vividly apparent. I saw work there which made my meagre efforts look like a toddler’s work, I most certainly was not meeting his standards in my best work. I wish I could remember the name of the artist whose degree show in graphics blew me away, burri can’t. His work made Hockney & Hezzy look like Alfred Wallis. But all was not lost. I always seem to rally round in the face of adversity.

 Image

My appleheadman comics were certainly different and I was incorporating ideas from the likes of Alfred Jarry into my work, very strange. I thought IF I can’t join em beat em with knowledge. By being informed by the history of thought and ideas I could do stuff which was conceptually ‘out there’ on its own.my character creation was weirder than wierd. I mean, a talking apple with ears? One guest editor at Sennet the college paper I put Apulhed ‘comics’ in said Hell, what drug is he on? When he saw my strips. My ‘originality’ was based in the surrealists, dada, Gerald Scarfe and others if that can be called ‘original’ (see next blart)

I was different and some of my product may have been considered excellent but I was leagues behind the stuff I saw at the RCA. My lack of access to good equipment didn’t help, ours at Lukes was primitive BUT that did me good as I had to learn to produce quality out of nil resources, a lifetime habit it became said yoda. I was very hands on with the techniques I was using, I could smell the ink and feel the textures. So when in 1973 I saw Dieter Roth’s work with screens, his constant shifts and changes, instead of doing 100 edition all the same, I loved them cos I wer already doing the same as he. Then the books he made subliminally led me to do my first book, ApulOne in which I was showing my body of work was not opuscule!

Image

I had spent about seven years dedicated to improving my skills as an artis and my knowledge but the galleries were locked to me as player, stable is full, I heard that so many times and ApulOne was my way of saying, Hey, I’m here, notice me I’ve arrived and I am not going to go away. I’m an artis. The next few years saw me trying to break into the art world to no avail. I failed to see my buk had done it already, I didn’t need to fight to get accepted I just needed to do more buks. I did write another book several years later when I realised I really was an artis, but that like so many of my scripts awaits publication. I am plowing thru them, slowly. I sed plowing not pluffing. You know plough, rough, trough, all spelt same all sound diffrunt.

 

So what is an artis?

Well look at me for one. But they are hard to define. It is a state of mind, It is a state of mine. So, a politician is not an artis, no way.

I wanted to be an artis all my life and one wonderful day back in the 80’s I realised I could stop striving to be this artis I wanted to be becos I had ‘become’ that artist. It was not a case of trying to be (good enough) it was in my case I was one. I had been in this constant internal mind stretching bemused state, ‘How can I prove to the world I am an artist (of worth)? Then I realised (enlightenment in the arts) I already was and that ‘I’ did not have to ‘prove’ anyting. I had my grade six be blowed. The art you make/produce is that, just that, the art you make, nothing else. How the art you make is received, accolade, put down, ignored, praised, prized, honoured, given noble piece awards woteva, that’s down to those out there but wot yu produce, that’s wot meks you a player. and they can’t stop you.

I attended a little show Thursday back and I had two pieces on show. I thought as usual my work was good. And there was a young lad whose little drawing appropriated from a manga page wer also on show. And he wer proud of it. And he wer an artist. When you look at a copy of a manga sketch you may tink oh that is easy, anyone can copy that, and it may be so. But that lad had done it and it wer a stage in his development, like the first 5metres you swim is the start of your swimming life. Good for him. Being an artis is not subject to any assessor, it just ‘is’, like Joseph Beuys said, everyone is an artist (if they wanna be) altho I don’t agree cos a politician is not an artis. Funny cos Beuys was a politician, he wer a politician on the Eur-Asian world stage and he stood up for the environment and all that. Funny too cos by saying watti jus said above, I too become a politician, in the game of who’s who and who’s good (enough) etc. So as a politician, by the rule I created above, I cannot be an artis, which shows how stupid rules are even mine and of course rules are made to be broken. And I do…break rules.

One rule I broke was to write about originality in this blart, so just wait for the next blart when I want to talk about Maclean, Smithson and Maria Popova’s article on originality.

pps I wish to mention an English scientist whose work was ahead of his time but who (allegedly) gave up because of adverse criticism. Born on November 26, 1837 in London, England John Alexander Reina Newlands was a British chemist who noticed the repeating pattern of elements arranged by atomic weight where every eighth element had similar chemical properties. He called this the Law of octaves and was a major contribution towards the development of the periodic table. Because he then tried to explain his idea using an octave on a piano the hundreds of scientists present at his talk ridiculed him and he never recovered Mendeleev, the Russian who is credited with creating the first real periodic table of the elements, where trends (periodicity) could be seen when the elements were ordered according to atomic weight, was able to move into the gap Newlands left. I point this out for two reasons. The men who laughed at Newlands did so out of ignorance, they just couldn’t understand where he was coming from, they didn’t have his insights. The fact that circumstances pushed him to one side and allowed Mendeleev to ‘shine’ through is either fate or an accident of history. But for me it shows that we (ubeins) cannot ‘know’ evryting. Newland’s giving up allowed another man through and in a way Newlands has a right to be proud of his achievement/failure. I was shortening words, spelling them differently partly for speed writing back in 1973. Many thought I was (just) a fool. Nowadays hundreds of thousands of people are shortening words, spelling them differently partly for speed writing on mobile devices, it’s called text talk. I didn’t ‘give up’ writing, altho when I left my teaching job in 1976 to write a book based on Apul-One I did spell the words in the more normal way, mostly.

Footnote & fancy free: Wattan idjet! I apogolise to all (3) of my readers. In my last blart I said I wert inking of entrin this years RA show. Well it’s too late, entries were closed in feb this year. Maybe that’s a good thing? I shall save the money and avoid the hassle. BUT I do need to put my werk ‘out there’ so I AM looking for spaces to exhibit. The 1metre by 1.39 metre version of my Venus Stares image arrived this week and WOW it is stunning even if I say so myself which I do. It’s the best ting I ever done. And there’s several key images from my oeuvre (posh way of saying output) ready for similar treatment. I am ready for a big show so c’mon you gallerists, who’s up to the challenge? Look, like the kids at the Pentagon in 1967, I’ll hit you with a flower http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_Power_(photograph)

 a pete wit flowa power

This is part of the big one.

I can see the headlines noo. ‘Unknown artisbloke becomes good at last!’ and ‘Overnicht success fer artis wat struggled with farty yearns’ artis says, ‘I all ways wanted to suck seed. It were hard But I did it at last before I quit this this owen coyle.’ Critics say, ‘He makes it look easy. In fact he got others to do it fer him instead of keep doing all that usual crap like screenprints and lino and etchers and lithography by hand, he just told his printer to print it BIG’ I don’t blame him.’  ‘Why bark when you got a dog what’ll do it fer ya?’ Radial Berst, Britpack artis was heard to have said.

leger flowa sm kb

WOW, I must share this with youse!  I bought a book awhile ago from the barbican on Leger cos they wer selling em off cheaper after a show with his werk in. I like his werk but I always had him in the second tier, not up there with Picasso and Miro et al. I may be wrong. I know he influenced the likes of Roy Lichtenstein. I was tinking that my new Stares pic had a need for a stronger, but not as strong as Beckman, outline. And I had not looked at the Leger book awhile. Then I thought, Leger does tick lions around his images. So I pulled it oot and there on the cover was a hand holding a flower which is SO like the flower in my Stares pic! I am pleased abart that.

New article out and new bid in.

Earlier this week I received a copy of The Blue Notebook with my new article in it. It is so nice to have an article accepted for such a wonderful publication, thank you Sarah and your team of referees. And good to be in such good company too:

Vol 8 No 2, April 2014

Essays and reviews: Alison Gibbons: Tension, Style, and the Modern Psyche,

A Stylistic Analysis of Philip Zimmermann’s ‘High Tension’; Jeremy Dixon: Aliens, Sunset, and Radioactivity: visiting three artists’ books in Philadelphia; Ciara Healy: And the night was kind. ‘Ruskin’s Ponds’ book works by John Woodman; Pete Kennedy: Lucy Lippard’s Activism and Artists’ Books Activate Me; John McDowall: Some artists’ books and literature; Mat Osmond: The Mingled Measure, Interpreting and Adapting S. T. Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. You too can obtain a copy by going to

http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/bnotebk.htm

I also got a copy of Vol1 for which Guy Bigland (UK) has designed a brilliant textwork cover, badge and sticker for this issue. The badge comes in a little tiny bag which rustles as you turn pages.

Time they had my sculpture of Jim McIlroy at Burnley FC!

jim slides sm kb

image of my design for a sculpture for Burnley FC

Also, talking about referees,  this week I am putting in another pitch to do a sculpture of Jim McIlroy, my childhood hero who played for Burnley and Ireland. I only hope my pitch lights up the directors there like his skills used to light up the pitch for me and my mates in the early sixties. He was good at sliding for the ball and springing up again. Also upright, perfectly balanced, ball at his feet, sizing up the defender swerving, dodging, where the ball seems like it’s on a piece of elastic pinned to his boot front then flicking the ball in the opposite direction to that expected before skipping over the frustrated lunge.’ I believe he wer an inspiration for a young kid called Georgie who went on to play a few games for Man U. & Ireland.

 Image

Talking about Burnley, I am in contact with the central library there trying to trace some copies of the Burnley Express from around 1916, or maybe it wer a summing up copy at the end of WW1? I saw it in 1969 when in the reference library, it commemorated the lads who the town lost in that stupid war, there wer no room fer any other news. I wish to use the info for a book along with some stuff about Ted Walker’s  dad who survived it and a poem about it written by my girl when she wer about 14.

I am also exhibiting a couple of tings in Tindalls of Colchester this coming Thorsday; a painting of one of my invented characters, Bedmonster, so called cos he’ll steal the brass nobs from the bed as you sleep

Image

 Image

And a bronze cast of my Lorryhead sculpture.

My blart is short and positive this week, surprised?

Well, err indoors got me a little book of daily advices which told me not to involve by talking about bad news, so I won’t. Except for there where I just mentioned it, oops, nobody’s perfec.

And finally am working up a major piece, a version of my Venus at the stairs image, 1m X1.5m! Wondering whether to enter it for a big exhibition in Londres? What do you tink?

 Image

 

This is just the initial starting point but it gives an idea of the content & composition. I am also tinking of entering some print too. Maybe I can do better than ‘Doubtful’ this time. Oh, by the way, the bad news, all artin this blart rhymes wit part, did you ever hear the one about the king and queen wat went up th’ill and parted? did you ever hear abart t s eliot,