On reading Ezra Pound

Rhody O’Dourke once asked me, ‘Where do I stand-sit now in the world of mice & men? How’m I doing Now?’ I just told him shut up whilst you still can O’D man.

Well am reading Ezra Pound (£) (Agenda 21st anniversary issue) which made me smile where it said his name in Japanese made him smile as it means, ‘This picture of a phallus costs ten yen.’ That made him a Ten Cent Dick Head? Now when I try to read Pound I feel like some folk must do when they try to read me (poems like ‘Six mystics’). But. Nothing comes from nothing. So, to read my work you need to have done some, work. We begin (our development as ‘readers’, writers, artists) at the beginning and layers are laid as we progress or digress or impress. I believe seeing people who are ‘good’ at what they do doing what they do is vital.

On seeing Ken Campbell on stage, back stage, and elsewhere was like watching a diamond glint. His story about a rose by any other name is similar to that one above about Pound’s name.  I saw him at Brentwood theatre where he would run thru his one-man shows first before moving on to bigger venues like The Cottesloe, Festival Hall, London. It was called ‘Violin Time’ and he featured a beautiful Vietnamese violinist called Teo-Wa Vuong. He asked me to do a picture which he used as the climax of his ‘hilarious and mind-boggling trip’ but he gave me no notice and I didn’t even have paper the size he wanted so I stuck together several sheets of A4. He wanted an image of Teo-Wa with a rose between her teeth and one of himself bending down with a rose emanating from his person. He said ‘You are the artist, you can do this for me’. (I had done a drawing which he posed for at the Philip K. Dick convention a few years earlier, sold it to John Dowie at a knock down price) So this master story-teller built the whole show up and it ended with the revelation that Teo-Wa Vuong, when spelt correctly meant something like ‘A face like a beautiful rose’ but if just one or two letters were mis-placed it could mean, ‘A rose sticking out of my backside’. So he said I should draw him with a rose coming from his derriere. I said ok, you bend doon over thur and draw you I shall. So, he did bendoon. About 3 minutes later he said thet’s enough and stood up leaving me to finish it off from memory. I hadn’t completed it when his show began so I snuck in when it were fini and passed it down to the stage from the back of the theatre. He saw it coming and said, Oh, the post has arrived and put it down onstage til he were ready. Then at the end of his gig he delivered his punchline, ‘Here’s a picture of a rose sticking out of my backside’.  It brought the house down as all of Ken’s shows in his later life did.

ken campbell backstage sm kb

(Image of Ken Campbell outside theatre)

Talking of roses, Umberto Eco wrote The Name Of The Rose and funny as it may seem the book is not about Sean Connery and a young apprentice who chooses not to become a monk. It really is about Eco’s fascination with language. He is first and foremost a linguist and a great writer in the field of semiology (he makes Ferdinand de Saussure almost comprehensible!). His ‘Open Work’ is seminal in understanding the place of the arts in our world.

Now, what is so fascinating about the works of Ezra £, Ken Campbell, Eco, Joyce & me is we all ploy wit werds, make witwit wirdz and we cheep-cheap wit littul burds. As also spracht me ole mater matey, ‘If wit were shit you’d be constipated’, or was it consternated? Or complicated? Who me? Not likely me old tatoe-heed. Not that olde chessnot. Brendan O’Carroll (friend of O’Blart & O’Dourke!) what wrote ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ said, ‘If I kept me mustache. I’d look like me mudda.’ And strangely, Mrs Brown’s Christian name is Agnes, The Name Of My Own Long Lost Birth Mother.

And even stranger than that. I was thinking earlier today about a lovely song I heard whilst driving a few weeks ago on the radio, wondering if I would hear it again and it came on Steve Wright in the afternoon. It happen to be by a certain George Ezra (Not £) called ‘Budapest…a bidio’ or sumtin.


Time ferra poym on my nuisance called O’Blarty?

He’s got an artist’s eye but

Wishes he had two too toot tutu

He has a nostril for words

Smells words out with his nostril but

Wishes he had the nose you knows

Has an ear for a tune but

If he had one more he’d

Be able to write some toons too to to yu.

For those of you who don’t know my ‘what I do’, I once was an artis onceuponathyme, but am all reight now, now I want to make the words rythme too, but they rarely do, that’s so true. I am just designing a new ‘book’, ‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’,  which should be ready for the artist’s book fairs coming up down south in September and Octembre. (At ‘In The Chapel’ & ‘The Wayshegoes’ respectively, may see yu thur?) My printer did a copy on cream paper today, looks wonderful.

a jugman in a jug

But that’s six poems about six mystics, a re-write of the ones I did in my previous ‘book’ G Batch. I’ll get them right one day. They are kind of traditional poems in that they ‘make sense’, have a ring to them and use not a little esoterica. I have written more ‘mundane poems’ over many years, since 1969 in fact, ‘poyms’ which adhere to no rules at all really. Just words jotted together according to moments in my life. They look quite simple and they are. Mostly. A bit like an artist’s sketchpad where they try things out; colour, marks, textures. Just playing with the components, often getting things off my chest. The Mystic’s poems are so much more considered. I gone back to them and redrawn them many times and am still adjusting them. When you see Dylan Thomas at work, or just peep thru the window of that little shed hanging over the cliff side in Wales you see aman obsessed with words and their order and getting it right. Obviously I am not obsessed. I am not sitting here at 05.31 hrs typing up my thoughts on poetry, not me, that’s my nuisance Danny O’Blarty, he’s blooming well insane anyways up.

Kahil Gibran mentioned that poetry is where we juggle with words. And Walt Whitman was adding to and changing his Leaves of Grass all his days. I sometimes associate Whitman (Witmun) with A. Ginsberg as the latter would have read the former (the former would not have read the latter but he did address his poems to him, and all of us future readers). Also, it becomes apparent Ginsberg was present at at least one of Dylan Thomas’s New York readings and I bet his Howl was aware of Thomas. Nothing comes from nothing or as Blarty said, ‘Nuthin cums frum nuttin Nutini!’.

Having seen the ‘copy’ of ‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’ from my printer yesterday i think i shall be doing my ‘final’ print off soon as it does look great in that form. Later today I shall take the one he did yesterday and cut and fold it. I may need to tiddle about with where the ‘pots’ are laid in page but i think it’s almost ‘done’.

Arcade Fire did a wonderful show at Glastonbury. Magnificent. Inspiring. That mix of tight tension in their beat and the zany additions, altho I wish he would enunciate his words more, all I hear is sound, the lead ‘singer’ or should I say ‘drawler’ of Elbow also needs some sessions in speech therapy*. She had a bit of Bjork in there, and as hard as she sometimes is to ‘get’ Bjork must be a top ‘marker’ when it comes to performance.

Now there’s one who enunciates well, so well he pulls his mouth contortedly, Paulo Nutini. His set was sadly cut short but he is incredibly good.

*I had to have some sessions misen back in my teacher training days. They thought I mumbled too much to teach. Luckily the lady what took me had worked in Accrington#. She knew that in that area, they either bark their words seemingly quite aggressively or they speak in a soft mumbly way like what I did at that time. My daddy came from near Mumbles in Welsh Wales so no wonder I mumbly do or did. She taught me to enunciate like a brown cow now. But insisted I keep my accent. Sad that, I never was good at selling my wares.

# Accrington is part of greater Brunlea you know, they say they were all ‘pals’ during the First World War, I am preparing a little artisbuk on it for 2016.

And finally, I wer reading an old sanskrit poem and I thought I’d nick some ideas from it. It says, ‘the realities & truths of existence, the joy of growth, the splendour of action are there in one day’. I want to take that and apply it to some images I made from leaves this week. ‘The realities & truths of existence, the joy of growth, the splendour of action are there in just one leaf.’

spike leaf sm kb

Just one leaf, that’s all it took, yeh. Thank you Hollies, some of whom hailed from Brunlea you know, the drummer came from Pike Hill. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32VWELcZUMM

And that’s Graham Nash who went off and lived the dream in Los Angeles (?).

Shortly after I posted this blArt Brother Mungus* sent these kind words and a little poem: “I love the image of pottihed holding the membrane of the vessel, it is so modern in cartoon form and yet so ancient as well, you could imagine it also having been scratched on the clay 2000 years ago. Here’s a little ditty”:

Pottihed stands ajar
inside the earthen jug
his six-limbed body
holds the membrane tight
between spirit and form.

He sends out
his messenger bees
to learn and relay
the spirit from mind inside
to man outside.

MunGUS Walkerboy

Interesting, cos I related to the ‘jugheaded man in the pic. I see him as the man inside the pot etc. But he is also the man who made the pothis. Pothi man. Last year i mimicked the Eastern way of making books which they call potis or pothis. The difference with mine instead of using daphne paper shaped like papyrus leaves, I used clay with the words inscribed as they did in the earlier cunieform tablets  thus combining two ancient writing forms.

biscuit fired poti page*

and Mungus was an airy man. Funny, as i mentioned  my birt-mama  had me in Glasgui, which was the name given to it by its founder St Mungus and it means dear green place, which it is I remember.


Subtle Pull & Push of the Printed Surface Permeates this Potential Masters’ Degree Show, IMPRESS, at Courtauld’s Gallery.

First I want to note how nice it was to receive a note of appreciation on twitter from somebody at firstsite for my blArt last week about Bruce McKlean’s show there. This blArt is about this week at Courtauld’s wonderful new exhibition. The Courtauld is held in high esteem and I must say i have always been impressed by their collection and particularly by their library which is set in astounding spaces underground. They have a box with a collection of my artefacts in as part of their massive library on most every artist that has ever done anything of worth. I watched the interaction between the students and their tutor guides and other curators and was most pleased to observe a wonderful sense of trust and honesty there which I am certain is the foundation of their great reputation. These attributes are a great asset and they should not be taken for granted as they are not present in all establishments. The exhibition by the students is locked in to a bigger show about the Institution’s large print collection although many of the works accessed by the students for their show came from elsewhere.

a trip to the courtauld sm res

A trip to the Gallery


Did you ever ponder upon the process of making a print? These MA students have advanced the idea of the imprint for me. The impression left by someone’s hand in the fabric of the settee inspired them to search for evidence of the clever ways people impinge on surfaces to impress so subtle ideas on varying materials for us to enjoy in such abundance. Carefully selected and placed pieces thrill your tactile sensitivities.


The sheer plane of a photograph on an aluminium surface in the late Donald Rodney’s ‘In the House of My Father’* is placed next to the weighty black bolster sinking into the soft white pillow. Matt Collishaw’s blind embossed letterpress page from D H Lawrence echoes the UNO City impression by Langlands & Bell. The image of the chair next to its cane impress on handmade paper is juxtaposed beside the colourful soft flesh photo-etched buttocks which may have sat on it by Tim Mara in an exquisite display of his dexterity in several print forms on one small surface. The fine sand in Mona Hatoum’s dual between positive and negative forces as the wheel in time first creates then flattens furrows in her ‘+ and –’kinetic sculpture. The form of the human torso tattooed totally in taboos and traditions by Edward Lipski. I could wax lyrical about the whole show but the truth is you must see it for yourself.

* Donald Rodney inherited the blood disease sickle cell anaemia from the house that was his father. This he illustrated beautifully in the print of an enlargement of his own hand in which you see his fingerprints and on which he has created a small paper house. This is a wonderful visual analogy of his predicament which he must have created in full knowledge of the inevitable outcome and gives us an insight into another form of edition, the evolving human being.

a follow me said Stuart the pied piper

Pied Piper of Courtauld Gallery

Young Stuart Moss called us to attention, well he tried to but as we were all chattering away he could not do so without doing a little dance, then we all followed the little pied piper into the main gallery to listen to the grateful speeches mostly attributing praise to the eleven relatively anonymous student curators who did show their hands when requested to.

mad 073

Martin Caiger-Smith teases the MA curators

(Head of MA Programme: Curating the Art Museum), Martin Caiger-Smith’s talk was gentle and inspired with humour, (forecasting the demise of the England team which was being marmalized & condemned to world cup oblivion by Louis Saurez as he spoke), with sympathy and appreciation about the team of graduates who had worked well together to prepare the exhibition over the past six months.

a mad talks to senior curator sm res

student in conversation with senior curator

The encouraging mutual affection between teachers at the Courtauld and their students is admirable and deserves notice. This mutual respect generates an atmosphere of trust, support and the expectation of high standards, which are evidenced in this sensational result, an exhibition of the highest calibre which I recommend wholeheartedly that you visit. It stands alongside the present feature of ‘From Bruegel to Freud(el)’ curated by Rachel Sloan,  a show of the continual re-invention of print-making, at Somerset House until September 21st. It is well worth a visit if only to catch a glimpse of a beautiful artist’s book by Oskar Kokoshka.

I never knew the great man began as a printmaker!



Don’t be fooled like I was by the Day at the Races print either, I assumed wrongly it was another Degas, but no, it’s by Toulouse Lautrec, the boy was good you know!


A small concise well designed booklet accompanies the show contains well informed descriptions of the exhibits by Jack Shepherdson, Charlotte North, Jazia Hammoudi & Madeleine Kennedy. I found the glossary of printmaking quite enlightening and useful for an introduction to some print processes, although the work in the show incorporates more advanced methods too. The students were allowed to choose prints from any source that they thought was appropriate to their theme and their choice of exhibits shows great understanding and appreciation of the subtleties of the ways people make marks in edition or continuities.

Finally. The welcome we received with constant provision of light refreshments from another fine team was likely to IMPRESS even the coldest heart.

a service with some smiles


This is the best exhibition of my work, ever.

 bruce mc hand 2 face sm res

Bruce McLean & Michelle Cotton in front of his One day Tate Installation

Bruce McLean said, ‘This is the best exhibition of my work, ever, even better than the German one. It has been mounted by a very good team in an excellent gallery’. I agree and would add it is not only an excellent show of his work, past and present but also a wonderful first sight into the beauty of the Firstsite gallery in all its use of angles and reflected light from the architect’s plans brought out by this stunning display which for the first time utilises the whole of the gallery just concentrating on one thing, Bruce McLean’s considerable oeuvre.

The decision to feature his work for their summer-long show is an inspired one. McLean represents that era from the early 1970’s, post Beatles and Hockney’s heyday and post Caro’s break with Henry Moore’s form,  when it seemed everything had been done. What to do next? McLean came up with some suggestions. His art was like the stance of the Rolling Stones who took the previous and challenged it with new ways of presentation. With the Stones it was Rhythm & Blues, for McLean it was sculpture for he still prefers to be seen as a sculptor and some of the ‘paintings’ in this show are in fact sculptures. One, which reflects his thinking in a series of very large canvas ‘paintings’, comprised of several images which mirror and reflect aspects of each other. Shades of Henry Moore’s imagery and, dare I say Barry Flanagan or Joseph Beuys’s hare, inhabit the canvas along with naked figures drawn in his own unfussy way. When you walk out of the main exhibition space you see to your left, on the way to the café, two paintings on the wall with another standing in front obscuring most of them and an old plastic and metal chair. You wonder why the gallery didn’t get the show ready by now until you see the chair in one of the paintings and you realise it is part of the work and the work is a sculpture piece. It is a typical McLean break with convention, a break he instigated whilst still at Central School St Martins when he created some sculpture with curtains and plywood boards on the roof thus making the building itself the pedestal. Caro had brought over from meeting David Smith in the USA the use of industrial metal (girders) in his sculptures and now one of his pupils was extending the material which could be used with not a little tongue in cheek, for cheeky is what McLean’s art invariably is. As is the man, with references to Scottish transvestites being more severe and colourful than any others to illustrate the severity of Scottish weather with its dominant displays of lugubrious grey which, with his being born and bred in Glasgow, is McLean’s favoured colour. His greys however, like his Scottish transvestite analogy, are rather more colourful too.

McLean represents the consciousness that emanates from the (2nd world) ‘war babies’, born 1944, with all of its energy, influences and contravention of previous canons.

a ny ex gallery owner and friend

Ex-owner of New York gallery which showed McLean first in USA.

A mentionable crowd from London turned up but most importantly McLean was there, not only at Firstsite last Saturday, more importantly he was there as a daring pioneer, a mischievous player in 1965-69 when art was bubbling up with great potentials like the world of rock music and film much stifled since by the adoption of the Duchamp take by the Brit Pack and Saatchi lot. McLean was one of the foremost advocates of that potential with its experimentalist breakaway and its creating new grounds on which to place ponder and see ‘art’. McLean was in St Martins under Caro and King (Philip) when Paolozzi was making and breaking his plaster of paris takes and re-assembling them into traditional bronzes. Meanwhile McLean was adopting non-traditional materials; industrial steel like his tutor Caro, fibre board, plastic, his nose and glass mirrors reflecting the influences of Robert Smithson and others across the Atlantic. He saw Gilbert & George doing their human body sculptures so he did his own poses, even creating a ‘band’ of posers who opened gigs for groups like Roxy Music just as John Cooper Clarke had for the punk bands and John Dowie was to do his talks fashioned on the work od Ken Campbell.

The show reverberates with energy. Michelle Cotton and her team of curators have placed McLean’s work throughout the gallery space in every nook and cranny. Making full use of the space for the first time since its inception this show exhibits the gallery itself and utilises all of its marvellous facilities through film, video, personal appearances and discussions, artist’s books and more. This exhibition shows off the attention to detail, like the wooden flooring, which the architects considered in their design of gallery’s spaces and the ways it was designed to be used with the geometry of the walls, ceilings and windows mirroring and reflecting the light from both inside and outside.

little lady in hat

A London Lady in her Vasarely hat

With subtle shades of colour and geometric form, counterpoising the same content that echoes throughout McLean’s works which are indeed sometimes enhanced by these reflections as in the long glass case which houses his far from o’puscular artist’s books.

a reflections in mac lean sm res

Part of a McLean book in glass case.

Cotton’s monograph, written and edited to coincide with this thorough showing of his full life work, is a fitting measure of its importance. Its knock down price of just under £25, paralleling similar books from more financially secure galleries like Tate, who do in fact endorse firstsite, is more than reasonable and it should become a collector’s item.


McLean’s work has a lively, daring, vibrant, ebullient immediacy which is almost always subversive too. Like a song of Tom Waits, ‘I don’t have to ask permission. If I want to go out fishing.’ it inspires you to try things out. A visit, indeed several visits, would be well rewarded and could help lift the rather grey cloud that has hung over this golden gallery since its inception. ‘A Whiter Shade Of Grey’?

This is, like McLean said for other reasons, the best show so far.

a bruce an frend sm res

McLean ‘at home’ in firstsite with friends.


Artist Writer Agent of change – Egocentric or Altruistic?

kokopeli kokahoop

There is something in me that pushes always for change; dissatisfaction (with status quo), dislike of canons, desire for improvement, hankering for difference, dislike of monopolies, the list goes on, well it would if I could think of more ideas behind what drives me. I have this desire to see things changed, for better or worse? Not always sure. Sometimes I know I can visualise a better way, other times I am being mischievous and promote change just to unseat somebody or knock them off a pedestal or I am simply insanely jealous of success (which I know so little about, not) that I want to unsettle others more apparently ‘recognised’, prized or given accolade.

Question is, is my change drive egocentric or altruistic.

I often say it’s the latter when in fact it turns out to be the former. So, I may vaunt a gallery, say it’s wonderful, build it up etc supposedly for ‘public’- benefit but the real reasons may just be I want to see the gallery succeed so that one day they will realise I am ‘good enough’ and exhibit my work, altho that’s a contradiction in terms as successful places don’t exhibit normal human beings, only gods o’fart.

Anyway, I am building up to a diatribe against the artworld. Some will say yeah, he’s so right, others will say he’s just griping cos they never let him in, he’s a wimp what never done nothing of no worth. (read that carefully). Yes part of me has plenty to gripe-moan about, part of me has lots to rejoice about, me, I just try to steer the middle path cos afterall, I have work to do, ongoing, in books, images and artefacts, and I will undoubtedly do my outputs til the day I die. I am an ideas man and I cannot stem the flow, good or poor, I have to let it out.

However, things are what they are. It IS what it IS. Accept? There’s this ting in the realm of ideas and thought that things are there, as they are, and we will be happier if we act as observers rather than change agents. So, we can look at the world around and say that starving person or animal is the way it is, I observe, I see, I experience but I cannot effect, intervene etc. WHAT? Well, if I see something ‘wrong’ or that I feel as ‘wrong’, then do I intervene, try to influence/change? So, like if I am doing a course and the course is ill-equipped, do I try to ‘change’ that? Get more and better resources? Is that a public favour or an ego driven desire for my own selfish needs? Or do I say, that is the way it IS, get on with it, find your own resources etc.




Call yourself an artis?

But you are always being turned down even by turning pages! Yes I applied to be accepted…list….most all on em said, ‘I hear yu nockin but yer can’t cum in’, some dint even say that, some dint even hear my footsteppes dancing and whirling, swirling around like a crazy cranky oirisht  dervitch O’Ceinedgh, others just ignored my call and cry from this wilderness. Poor ole tootless Blarty-no-mates me. No I’m not feeling sorry fer mi’sen! I bin around longenuf to be long in da last toof in fact I no longer got no teef, I got a set of falsies. But am not ere to kowtow, to beg nor to bow. I WAS THERE in the early70’s (1970) at the Bath festival. I was there speaking to Oz magazine. I admit I missed the Stones in 1966 at nelson Imp cos me mummy sed not to go they may contaminate me, but I caught them 5 times at Earl’s Caught in 76.  I was in Brainstorm 2. I was in Sennet before it went bust some tink it went bust becos I wer in it.I bin in Cantab too, have you? I did over 22 solo shows. Now I retract. I hanker no more, no longer hope or simper nor wimper. I reject the galleries and the media too cos I jump before I’m pulled in therefore I yam free. I am RA Doubtless without doubt now. I just am the man what makes my art & tings. I use the blog-ting as my book. I still make artisbuks for me own delight, buy one if you might.


Van sang ‘It Ain’t Why It Just Is’. Knopfler another poet sang ‘Why worry? There should be laughter after pain. There should be sunshine after rain.’ And D T Suzuki said, ‘The philosophy of clothes…the apparent world where everybody dresses for everybody else to make himself appear other than himself…when this goes too far one loses one’s originality, makes oneself ridiculous and turns into a monkey’. I am of course like all of us a little monkey with a monkey mind meditating to try to move on. So, call yourself a monkey.

Now I have learnt that you don’t have to aks to be accepted, you either are or you aren’t and there’s nothing you can do about it. Some folks are ‘in’ others are ‘out’. NOW I don’t care no more cos I know I Am accepted, Out There. Where? There on the fat chair, thanks Herr Beuys. My art (& my ideas) are not like that of anybody it just is. It is what it is, that’s what it is. Nothing changes, everything is as it always is. Yet I wer reading this Suzuki man, not DT but SHUNRYU, (that’s Shun Ryu, not we shun yu, I know his mate well, Eye Byn Shund) and he says in zen we must, ‘accept difficulty as pleasure, become honest enough, or straight forward enough, to accept the truth of transiency (everything always changes), it is not so difficult to accept this truth, (altho that too may change, get it? transiency). But nevernot  don’t fergit, one man’s boot is anudda man’s missing toot. Shut it Blarty Monkey Pants.

How do we ecscape the monkey mind? Find that quiet place then Meditate. Then go back, go back to do what you do, do your work your passion your obsession. Just do it, with love, tolerance and equanimity. Have faith and hope.

I been meditating on the one hands clap conundrum and I tink I ‘got’ it, the sound of one hand. It’s not the achievement, the winning nor gaining, it’s the being, the seeing that counts. Counting every millisecond, seeing every petal- experience all the pain & joy of life. It is real, that is IT. I believe I have discovered the secret to life, it is life itself- live life! Really!Gurdjeff says it, Buddha says it. Life is really really real and I should live mine. I mean real-ly ‘live’ each and every millisecondmoment. Appreciate life for what it is, Real-ly a series of miracles ad infinitum. This pen this book this hand this jumper this rug, they are all part of the miracle.

‘Pete, In your article, you do some good and honest mulling around of your dichotomy with the establishment.

I reckon that a lot to do with this common position of outsider creatives is about the lack of power. Because you have no power in the established artworld, which translates into influence, status and remuneration, it leaves you bitter and resentful. You are a classic angry outsider, aye Tha Bin Shund.

But…. looking at it a different way, you have not been in their field, but have ploughed your own furrow, and isn’t that what money can’t buy….a creative freedom? You should be paying them!

Your musings of what IS and whether you should fight it, makes me think of a way I prefer to to look at this.  I think we function at two levels of being,

1) The operational level, where we just do or enact things according to habit, practice logic, experience, principle or reflex reaction. We are following a script.

2) The reflective level, where we abstract up from the operational level to see it has a series of patterns of action, goals, events, outcomes, players etc., a kind of model of our behaviour. We reflect on this and adjust it to achieve different outcomes and behaviours for different reasons. A creator is adept and feels at home in this level, but it is the operational level where the results of its work are manifested. The creator has power in his reflective world, because he defines his own model, but the power in the operational world comes with currying favour with the gatekeepers of the artworld. So it isn’t either or, its both levels at full belt

You cheeky monkey!

postit mr postie

P. Shakey ManKey

came from Lankey sure

and danced with a rosette

pinned into his chest’


ps- see my next blArt for a biggie about the new McKlean exhibition at the landmark gallery of Essex, Firstsite. Their best show so far, times ten!

So we live in a Digital Cage? (part 2)

Back to the digicage symposia-um at firstsite Colchester*. OK it was indeed a fascinating syncosie-um with about 40 attendees. I was pleased to talk to Elli who said she regularly pops down from London town to the gallery, ‘It’s just like another part of London on the train (but you’ve got the lovely countryside on the way)’. I really hope she is a pioneer, a scout. Once Londoners and Liverpudlians and Mancunians and all points of the compass hear that the Romans have been ousted, maybe they will beeline for firstsite Colchester. It needs to be frequented. It is a wonderful occurrence. A gallery like that is a boon to the whole nation, I kid you not, you can count galleries like that on, maybe, two hands, there’s not that many. It is akin to a Tate or a Hayward. But they do need a public face-lift. The connect is dis-connected. Unlike tate mod it didn’t hit the ground running and still suffers in the local press and community, it is not a trend place to go yet, I say yet cos am really hopeful this changes and the forthcoming Bruce McLean may help ease the gallery into a better space. Actually if it had been built on a hill or somewhere folk can see the damn thing it may have caught the imagination more quickerly.

This syntoesinium was another daring display of forward thinking by people there in the gallery’s innards who tap into the pulse of what is happening in the world out there away from firstsite Colchester, but also IN every area, digitally. firstsite Colchester brought Kim Dotcom (watch this face) to ‘us’ in this phase of its development by Simon Denny and the Gallery of Modern art Vienna http://www.mumok.at/ , who I believe own the stuff. Is it art? Yes it is (not?), well it is alright, cos you see in the 1970s even receipts became ‘art’ and DimDot Bom has received a few unwelcome guests in his time, many from that quiet little colony across the Pacific from his New Zealand home in the good ole boys drinkin wiski and rye land the USof A FBI with machine guns and all the other stuff thay used to corner Bin Larder. The Fedbis were a bit annoyed wit Dimboy cos he wer pirating movies and making millions of, dollars. He lived in a mansion complex similar to the dictatoe wat got ousted in Ukraine and they say that nice man in Russia (wat our Bonnie Prince don’t tink much of) also has a Brimdotbomb stately home too too. Funny how they all want what Dimbo has got. In fact I tink I shall settle on Dimbo as it has a resonance with a flying elephant and I like that. So Dimboy’s fortune, which is in the exhibition in piles or heaps like Carl Andre bricks in the Tate, is REAL, it’s physical dollar bills, now confiscated and now returned to him as his lawyers battle it out in America. The model he used to make film and music available on its release for free (ish) is now adopted by some of the companies which own the copyrites, he showed them how to market in the Digicage.

Then James Bridle stood up and talked about Wikipedia (did you know , Jimmy Wales said, a wiki is a website that anyone can edit (whitch can be changed), and wiki-leeks is nuttin to do wit wiki-pedias) and drone spyplane-bombers which he had drawn out with tape in various places. He also makes abstract art designs in books from the ‘maps’ all your smart phones create as you journey around and they connect with all the other users in any area you pass. This was a fascinating day in which many of my blindnesses, failures to ‘connect’ or stay in touch and oversights were adjusted. Two women even tried persuading me that Traced Ear Hermin is not as bad as she seems. Well one woe-man’s sealink can be anudda man’s flaw.

It’s not going to help any of us to say I’m not joining in or I won’t be effected cos you’re already in it. Everything has a digital input, from the design of this pen (yep I prep mi blart wit a pen) to the news on your screen (I wer on Anglia news once fer abart 2 minute minutes, my andy Wahol minit o fame). Being a late-Luddite who is still wonderous as to how these aeroplanes can stay up ,in th’air, I find it astounding how in some cases a photo can be taken in papua new guinea then it can be on my breakfast table in say, the Guardian (if I could afford it) within hours or on my tv (?) within minutes. For me, who used to go to, say, Earls Court to see and photo the Stones (1976) on a Nikon F film camera, come home, develop the film, go into my darkroom & print it in B&W then try to sell it and mostly not succeed,

stone 76 earls crt

in fact always not suck seed, to see everyone now can clik their favourite pop band tonite, send it up to the cloud within seconds where someone in papua new guinea fowl can can pick it up on their mobile digiting and print it as a paper copy if they want to be bothered, why bother (thanks Mark Knopfler) why bother when you can view it at will on an ipad then skim on to , say, a new Hockney tree thingi or a film released by Warners after they learned from Dimcombo-Notso-Dim-as-he-looked.

And then you get to tinkin abart values. What’s a ting worth? That dress that Marilyn Monroe wore is worth more than the same design worn by my Auntie Rosie. Jo Beuys suet is Wirther Haftmann more than mien. That provenance ting! One day this pen will be wert more then your pen yawort? (don’t call yer vreedas warts, it’ll put them orf- get lost Blarty Wartman- sorry, am having troble wit my altered eagle) STOP


Dis could be heaven

Or this can be hell

Like old Leadbelly once said

It’ll make yu wonder

It’ll make ya worry

Abart tings to come

But don’t go do wat he did

Unless you’re running aways

Form that old digicaged werld?

Cos he had a greet notion

Ter jemp in th’a river and


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEMqHLcICUs (listen at 40 seconds in)


The nice ting is I real eyesed we’re in it (digicage) am no longa bovvad (concerned consternated) cos I know it dusn’t matta. There is no matter (for this mad hatter). There is no real money (Dimboi gorrit all) It’s gone digi. So as long as I can afferd a loaf & a cuppa, I need no more.

It, th’obsession, becomes extreme. Why am I sitting here blArting at 4 am? Becos you becom obsessed. You are drawn in. in to that digital world which is co-habited by Tron & Bruce Willis (Fifth Elepants) And why do we still use the old language? Based in Latin wot those roman aliens brought is it not?) wi (fi) (fo) hum hmmmmm do we yewse dat ole langwich? No, I wont, I wont yewse it no more, no moor, no mare no mur.. I re-fews. I (am) refuse, I meen ref-use I mene thet’s rub-isht. The old ones ar da beast STOP, stop agen. St-art. It’s art. It’s a blArt.

pete shaded

But when yu try to brake…free from the auld langitch, it’s ard. There’s formal ties. Form all he tees. For all its tease. You see the auld langwitch has its uses, its youses, its you ses, you sed, you say to bed we go, to bog on off. I extemp-poor-eyse. I bleev there will there will be a move away from the old constrictions of the auld lang signs. After all was it Bartays or that other bloke who said language is power, yep it werim, he said langage is powwow. And by spellin crectli yu ar in a power-clutch. So this is my revolution. My revolt shun. But be careful, revoltin leeds to exploding. Witness most evri revolution exploding; French, Russian, Egyptian and so on.

I play wit werds yu know (altho yu may not av noticed?) I was pleying wit wirds for this blArt and beeb 4 did a doc on Dylan Thomas. He played wit werds too tout two or tree or henry moore. I know his play was so much better nay greater than minah berd words I hold mi hand up to that. Give us a big hand. I do. I don’t know much about poetry (altho yu may av noticed?) BUT I recognised Under milk wood as Dylan’s masterwork. Look out for Under Milk Wood on iplayer. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01x5k4n/under-milk-wood


And I gave up once before in the 60’s I thought I would leave the music ‘form’ alone cos nobody would better Lennon and Zimmerman and all so I chose 2b an artisbloke…the rest is His Story (not mine). But this time I’m not for stopping chasing my dreams and skeems to be the big blArty poet too

Toot toot to you

And the same wit nobs on

To you too toot.


I thought you’d like to share my pride in what Krzysztof Fijalkowski said on seeing one of my recent blArts ‘Your blog is certainly a treasure trove of ideas ! I’m impressed with all that work and thinking.’ Krzysztof is Senior Lecturer, Fine Art at Norwich University of the Arts which is rated top Specialist Arts Institution in the UK (National Student Survey 2013). No wonder when its doctors dish out such confidence boosting descriptions!

Also me old mate Duncan has reacted to this blArt, I love how these tings strike chords and energise folk to get up and go,  and he ses i can post his feelings which are:

Sublime bursts of blarty wordplay which project out of your orb like solar flares reaching across space, mostly to be deflected by Earth’s magnetic field, but some get through:



The blarty rearrangement of words just creased me up and my amusement was just an entrée into seeing how an expected word arrangement that habit has frozen, is massaged into an alternative meaning that pokes fun at or questions the frozen form. It is a liberating experience- equivalent to listening to a great comedian’s skewed view of the world, a jester’s jestering……





Traced Ear Hermin

Blarty Wartman

wi fi fo hum hmmmmm


Mangle on, big blArty poet

Other goodnight Irenes Duncan likes, which you’ll have to find in utube cos am unsure how many links am ‘allowed’ to mek here:

Jerry Lee Lewis and Van, Tom Waits, Leon Russell, Ry Cooder, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope,

And Bing Crosby and Judy Garland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfieYEcxMnI


Goodnight Irene

*Not sure why the Roman invaders called colch Camalodinum? Maybe their camels didn’t like the weather there? Maybe they were sent peculiar by Boobicca’s incursions. For that matter I’m not sure where ‘col’ came from? There’s a river Colne, maybe that’s it. But as always I digress.

A lady called Max has answered my blart with som info on how Colchester got its name. She also made some lovely encouraging comment on the blarty ting:

Your mind is amazing Pete. All that knowledge roller coasting in your head and soaring from one thought to another.  I can see how hard it would be to switch off and meditate. I look forward to reading your blogs. The way you play with words and the brilliant humour that shines through.
By the way, the Saxons called Colchester Colneceaster, the Roman fortress of ‘Colonia’. In folk etymology, Colchester was thought of as meaning Cole’s Castle. In the legend, Helena (now the patron saint of Colchester) was the daughter of Cole. She married the Roman senator Constantius Chlorus, who had been sent by Rome as an ambassador and was named as Cole’s successor. Helena’s son became Emperor Constantine.Helena was canonised as Saint Helena of Constantinople and credited with finding the true cross and the remains of the magi.
This is recognised in the emblem of Colchester: a cross and three crowns. Still can’t find out where ‘Col’ came from.
So you see, you’ve got me investigating on my digital device and I really should be reading extracts from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind!
Thank you.


Max said it were difficult to leave a comment so am adding a contac form below-

They mentioned at the symposium about how printing 3D machines can be used to make guns, but, a better future use is they can now make a cervical cancer camera on a digi-printer! That means in remote areas of the world they can ‘print off’ a camera to help detect cervical cancer and treat it early. See click, about 7 mins in!. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0465p7b/click-31052014


So we live in the Digital Cybernetic Age, The D C Age (Digital Cage).

[hey D C Age/Digital Cage, D.Cage is ©pete kennedy 2014!]

We are now living in the digital cybernetic age it’s easy to say but less easy to ’get’, to under-stand, to comp-rehend, to fully appreciate. We are living like the players in The Fifth Element and Tron, altho my wife doesn’t wear a bandage outfit and I am not shooting thru space in a super-fast car. But the D C Age is upon us, like stone age tools and bronze age (BC), iron age, Age of Empires, Steam age, nuclear (AD) age tools were the state of the civilisation for humankind over several thousand years, now it is digi-tools (DC). I am contacting you with a digital post, a blogArt ting-a-ling.

Now that impacts on all we do but most of us are blissfully, sadly to an extent, unaware of the possibilities open to us, others are overwhelmed by them and slaves to social media and the lucky ones (?), like good Buddhists, stay in the middle track, using D C Tools and still swimming in the rivers and walking thru the woods. I went to a ‘symposium’ at firstsite in Colchester this Saturday and it was really good. BUT. Part of the amazement was a tiny inkling of how much we live in the D C Age (Digital Cage?). It’s hard to get a handle on it all. Like the size of the universes. Like the vastness of the Information out there and in there in this computer’s accesss to the ‘cloud’.

One shift, and we can’t make shifts if we have not prepared and are unready for a shift, as in my ‘art’. In fact I been going thru shifts since I began to make art*, I have shifted, now I use digital means to create , or rather re-create/rework/revisit/reappraise/reprise, re-PRIZE, prise my art out of it’s hiding or its rut or its anon etc. One of which is to have my images printed on an inkjet printer then either leave it alone or get stuck into it onto it, enhance refine it mess it up destroy it and make it anew. Now I am starting to talk in MY tongue, like when I change the spelling of words which leads me into some amazing discoveries. So, I am free-ing up. at last. But I still will do lino cuts etc, old school, I insist. [*At first I had a reasonable amount of ‘control’as I went thru my impressionism, fauvism, matisse cut outs, soutine phases, that was all by the early 1970’s. Then I invented apulhed in the 70’s and unbeknown to me I became a pop artis. And I composed my first self-published ‘buk’, apul-one, in 1975

apil-one, my first book, 1975
apil-one, my first book, 1975

and my ‘writing’ joined my images as my ‘art’. Then I went thru 40 years of playing with my ingredients, sometimes like an alchemist, sometimes like a buffoon. I insisted on keeping some ‘old-world’ aspecs to my ‘art’; lino-print, screen-print, oil paint, acrylic, bronze but I slowly introduced tissue paper, chicken wire, old clothes from my wardrobe and Oxfam, then ‘dance’ then ‘reading’ and on. But now I realise most all of them ways of working are the ways of ‘others’. I proved myself as an oil painter, a pen sketcher a writer of correctly spelt words and all those things. Now I see I can and do use very different ways to produce my outputs.]

artist with offering

self portrait in digi-media

D C world has become the world in which we move and have our being, my parents both born 1918 knew little about Alan Turing, many of you probably know little of Alan Turing, come to tink of it I know little of Alan Turing but I do understand he kind of invented computers and his genius was overshadowed by his being gay which in those days was illegal. Anyway, his glory came like so many recipients of the V.C., posthumous. And whether he ‘knows’ he has that glorification, who knows, maybe the Dalai Lama? In 1987 whilst at Cambridge Institute I typed my essays on a bbc computer, nightmare. Only relatively recently has the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak revolution become available to me/you/us. But it’s as if they were alien invaders bringing a vast change to people Earth. Let me cut to the quick.

In ‘art’ we saw Hockney and the whole graphic novel world and pixar began using ipads etc. Many people, most from 10 to 60 years old? use social media now. The G P O is dead.

The symposium at firstsite (http://www.firstsite.uk.net/page/coming-soon-simon-denny-the-personal-effects-of-kim-dotcom )included people who involved in their present shows like Simon Denny, Alexandra Domanovic and then they had various ‘experts’ in related fields like James Bridle and Kieran Long. The fields it related to are to do with copyright/ rite, right! And piracy. Kim Dotcom is a man, a big man, who thought it ok to rip off movies and let you access them free to start with. His idea of immediacy was something which ‘public’ want, immediate access, preferably free. Quick Fix. Anyway, he made billions, some of which was confiscated when the fbi went into his golf club sized mansion complex down in Aussie-land-down-under tootin machine guns and all. (How can the fbi operate in Australia!)

Then the legal eagles get to work and most of his stuff has now been returned, apparently, ask me if I care. But it’s all to do with values, worths and provenances. And of course I am interested in that. (Did you know someone in Africa has stolen my name, or one of them, apulhed? The evidence is in google search, take a look duck.) but in a way dotcom’s case is only an analogy, just a kick start for the theme of the symposium, a big theme, so big it is the whole of existence in a way. They were talking about the vastness of information we can access now, about wikepedia  and how that can be a very creative media as used by James Bridle in his (artist? books) http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/09/a-book-made-from-wikipedia-edits-to-the-the-iraq-war-entry/63175/

apulhed akashic tree
apulhed akashic tree

In fact the question as to whether JB is an artis or not is pertinent to the history of art since at least the sixties when art became (also) the writing , the note, the typed page and in Weisner’s case the manhole cover writing. (You can see jimmy wales talking to Andrew Marrs here  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04647bc/the-andrew-marr-show-01062014  at c. 20 mins in)

When I say the whole of persistence I mean art is persi-stance (Percy’s Stance, Perseus dance, shut it blarty boy), but seriously folks (siriuslee Foulkes) in a way the www is an analogy for the, for Everting out there and in here. The Akashic record on the web. The Cosmic Mind is BIGGER than the web, wow, and that’s BIG. Like this blooming bleeding blArt (yes all this typing is making my fingers bleed). Bridle touched on the bigness with his Iraq war book piece, but more so with his maps of the links his iphone made when he was on a trip across England which produced a record, on his phone, of all the folk using their phones as his train passed within a certain distance of them! You can pop and see the books he made using this data here; re James Brindle shorttermmemoryloss.com/portfolio/proj…

Like a Buddhist would say, we can’t know everything that is happening, IF we only knew say 1 per cent of everything our brains would explode, or would they? They are pretty incrediable tings brains. And one of the tings what came out is we so underuse our resources. I deliberately did not take any photos at the symp cos I wanted to make a point to firstsite that they need to get that sorted out, but I shot myself in the foot as now I have no images of the event to use in this blArt. Another ting (annudda twing) was the idea of catalogin or inventoryising which came up when Kieran Long from the V&A got going on how they are collecting tings used everyday-nowaday…s. It also came up in conversation with the visiting London based artist Ellie, who remarked on the contradiction at Edinburgh’s modart gallery where they are trying to inventorise all the tut Paolozzi left to them and are showing his studio in a clean tidy space where it was really a dirty old ting.


Drawn by pete kennedy at Tate 1994.

 So, the d c age lets me sit ere (listen ear) and relay my reactions to the symposium and you can read them in a flash as you access your digital media, you can even react, make contact etc. my blArt is being read in Turkey, (I write in turkey, not really it’s pigeon), Antipodia, USA, Saudi, Morocco, Germany, Italy & Denmark (tanks Mette?) to list a phew. I find that amazing. OK in my case , as a writer performer on the blArtist stage there’s only a handful of you (sorry I called you ‘only’, I don’t mean to demean, I actually glad that you handful do come in) what am saying is the ‘social media’ is being accessed by millions. Bridle mentioned millions in his talk when he pointed out that Shenzhen the city in China where Apple have their paraphernalia made was 30 thousand strong, it is now over 10 million.


So, in China, the d c age is like the industrial age was in Europe, all the mass of people are on the move with the requisite rise in disenchantment etc which comes with such unsteady ill-planned social migrancy. Mass exploitation, by governments, local politicians AND Apple are also leading to disasters in Bangla Desh where they make clothes for the western marketeers. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/26/bangladesh-clothing-factory-safety-agreement-compensation-closures . I mention these cos they are consequences of the thirst for fast knowledge and fast clothing. Ironically as Kieran Long, V&A, pointed out, those workers in Shenzhen whose work trousers, the design of which for each factory is different and they all wear, even when not working as a badge of identity. He has a pair of Primark jeans made in the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh the week it collapsed and the first 3D gun printed on a laser cutter. Both these last items bring up issues, lots, but he mentioned ‘provenance’, the pants being more valuable cos they were made that fateful week. Then the printed gun, it’s maker had one which he had actually fired so Long bought it as its provenance is greater. Made me tink does that mean that the gun which Burroughs shot his wife with has greater ‘provenance’ than…eugh, makes me feel …sad. I thought we had left 1984 in 1984, but obviously NOT. We are now somewhere Orwell and P K Dick never imagined. We are in the d c age (in de cage), and it can be very scary unless you can say stop! Hang on a minute. I want to go walk in the wood, swim in the sea, do Ashtanga Yoga, get my head out of these screens, just sit around a table and talk. I am going to stop here, end of part one. IF you are intrested, see part 2 in a day or two.