Oxford town Oxford town am going down to Oxford town

My words letterpressed by David Jury adorned one wall of the gallery upstairs at Whitechapel just like Mel Bochner’s did a couple of years ago the differences being his were mundane and mine profound, his were a blaze of colour mine were just black & white, with shades of grey. And mine were free to view. OK so the next book fair I am going to is Wayzgoose next weekend in Oxford. http://www.oxfordguildofprinters.com/  ‘Wayzgoose’ means ‘an annual printing house works outing’ altho the Oxford Guild of Printers holds their big wayzgoose bi-annually.

I shall be taking David’s prints to see the reaction of the letterpress folks to his efforts. Then I don’t intend to participate in any more fairs until BABE, Bristol in 2015. So, I shall be able to start working on some backlog books. These are queueing up to be designed and printed from existing material; writing, images and bookforms. I intend to do at least one new one before BABE based on my weird drawings what I have done since the late 1960’s. So below I want to introduce you to ideas on why folk might be interested in the work of this nearly unknown artisbloke.

I had a thought as I was moving wood and compost around ‘You know, I never wish for nor expect any reward for working in my garden, apart from whatever I achieve and the joy of doing it and being there with nature, no ‘reward’, no prize, no pay etc’. Then I thought, ‘I do my art, have done so for 45+ years now. I enjoy doing it, mostly. I often create the idea, the challenge etc.

I ask myself why not develop the one with the helmet, why not add big wings? Either, painted, printed or crafted like those Robert Allsop.’ The very idea to add wings to my BIG images of Michael McKel bare from the waist up with some sort of helmet on his head (it was to represent my ‘character, Knewt Orion, Knut as some would see him, Warrior knight of the Nonomads) is a real shift in my creative thinking.

knewt winged

Not many folk would know or care about that, I do, cos I have watched my progress over the last 63 years 11 months and some days and I know how far I have come. I couldn’t draw fer toffee aged 16, never had an idea in my head aged 17 and now am full of em. I do it cos I cannot stop myself, so why should I expect to be ‘recognized’, given a prize etc for the art I create.

Just creating it is for me a blessed ting.

So then what is my work about? Why do what I do? It’s partly to get you to think outside your box. We all get into ‘deep-rut thinking (see Guy Claxton), its natural cos we have to learn to cope with life from our parents; how to eat, clean, maintain, progress etc and LEARN. Ironically schools begin the formal learn process AND cap it by putting stops on the extents of learning merely by limiting the ‘languages’ they introduce (for example, in some ideologies the language of ‘art’, or the arts,  is not considered a real ‘subject’ like Maths & Science. This is a misconception which I find ludicrously ignorant but it prevails amongst the politicians from public schools who ‘run’ Britain, they have had limited coaching in the depths of insight and knowledge art brings, the ability to ‘see’ from differing angles and to tink outside the challenge to come up with solutions and choose to ferget how much money the arts brings in to the GNP http://www.museumsassociation.org/museums-journal/news/07052013-arts-and-culture-make-up-0-4-per-cent-gdp ). And for a more detailed view see http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/pdf/CEBR_economic_report_web_version_0513.pdf

Education, to be thorough, needs to be well rounded with a good grounding across the whole range of human endeavour and ‘subject’ are so interlocked it is moronic to try to rate one as more meritable than another.

See the most watched talk ever on Ted, http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity?language=en#t-910593 watched by 28,823,325+1 people. And his follow up http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution Ken talks from the hip, doesn’t plan every bit of his speech, talks from his own knowledge base. He is only saying what folks like myself, my wife and many others from our generation say about education. We were ‘educated’ to educate the individual. And later on in my career I came across the ideas of Carl Rogers who was the mind behind teachers as ‘enablers’. We create the conditions in which the learners flourish!

The art of illustration permeates the veins of every ‘subject’, indeed diagrams in geometry have led to beautiful results in art and language which are encapsulated in M C Escher’s work inspired by Moorish design http://euler.slu.edu/escher/index.php/The_Alhambra_and_The_Alcazar_(Spain) in the Al Hambra.

enea sign

Symbols are also another form of ‘art’ which permeate through society, by roadsides, in computer technology and in graphic design signs and symbols are valuable. The ability to write words on the page is use of drawing skill. The form of the letters we use whether by hand or by keyboard has been designed. The letters of all alphabets were designed over many years and new fonts move the designs on every day.

Attempting to separate ‘learning’ into subjects is a simplistic nay moronic way to go as knowledge and human development combine such a vast range of skills incorporating movement, mental stimulation and the ability to remember although nowadays, with access to the www we have the possibility to acquire information that once eluded us. The need for rote learning is nullified nowadays, that’s not to say there is no need to develop the skill of ‘memorising’ ideas, groups of facts etc but I know from experience that these skills are better encouraged by creating in the person a love for the things they are studying rather than a fear of being reprimanded if they do not learn a list. So, by example, I learned more French by living with a French family for two weeks than I did in a year in ‘French’ classes. Mental dexterity, the ability to take things in, analyse their relative importance, compute how they may fit into present understandings and how that may change for a new and potentially better state of being are skills to be encouraged. Love of learning and enabling that to happen are, for me, the stanchions which underpin progress. Maths and science are wonderful especially if introduced by enthusiastic and open minds. They are each a universe of interest, neither are set in stone, particularly science. All too often I see these areas introduced with so much baggage that ‘learners’ are scared off. Look at the writings of Feynman on science or if you were lucky to see Shirley Stewart in action teaching teachers how to teach maths in the 1980s and you’ll get examples of experts who know how to make learning interesting. Shirley was Advisor for Maths in Essex and I was uninterested in maths until I heard her speak about giving kids concrete examples to introduce maths. So I became fascinated with things like plastic building blocks & Cuisenaire rods and how they enabled us to compute number lines.  By giving a real understanding of the concepts like adding, subtracting etc we give children a firm basis on which to build maths knowledge and a love of numbers and all that maths relates to. I won’t go on, there are people out there much better equipped to tell you about maths which is much more than learning ‘times tables’ off rote.

So, moving away from systems which cap learning, box it into closed spaces, batter it into accepted shape or norms or canons, moving on, using my experiences. My work has (nearly) always been about questioning the canon & extending the form; the production, the way I do it, the subjects I approach, the mix, the taboos, the unusual, the difference. So quite quickly, like Picasso in the 1900-1910 period, I was looking at ‘other cultures’ (mine were Hopi, koko gn an yelloQuero & Tairona/Kogi).

So my ‘researches’ took me to folk like Gurdjeff, Hermann Hesse, Carl Gustav Jung who extended my own think as well as exemplarising ways of approaching ‘learning & investigation’. These guys may not have been ‘fashionable’ but fashion never overtly dictates to me.

 

And once on the path of learning the search for knowledge began to open up into new halls of knowledge, new paths to expression (although I avoided drug-propelled investigation, rightly or wrongly, for better or worser). Pretty quickly after leaving the known factors of my home/home town in 1969, (where I was always known as ‘Taffy’s son’), to live in Exeter in a college where I began to write and pursue ideas and practice in art and philosophy and teaching, I soon realised my researches were taking me apart from my previous friends & contemporaries. Part of me always wished to share back my discoveries and part wanted to present my findings in new and ironically, sometimes nearly incomprehensible ways (like in Apulone 1975 http://www.amazon.com/Apul-one-Standin-Bannista-Contemplatin-Farting/dp/0950426709 ) which subconsciously/deliberately created barriers to be clambered over thus making it difficult for even those who wished to see what I was getting at, and by corollary making my path more difficult.

 

My new books (Inside This Clay Jug series) are an attempt to re-connect or at least throw a rope to pull folk over the threshold of my now 45 years of searching and finding. Hey, my dad was in air sea rescue, get it, search and find! So communication becomes a feature, how to communicate effectively without being condescending nor belittling my own efforts. A compromise but also a skill. Most of us don’t know what the secret of getting thru or connecting is. Some have it others don’t. It seems my blog is doing it fer some, but not for others.

Latterly I decided to place much of my work into ‘books’. In my future there will follow many books within which shall be the images and ideas am attempting to share, or convey. My bottom line is, we are here on Earth together for a while. Life is a miracle, let’s attempt to share it amicably. Let’s ponder on the joys of life. Wonder at the coincidences of synchronicities. I wish to celebrate more with my books, some being unique one-offs, some limited editions, some may become ebooks and all sorts. But meantime continuing the search and finding more. I want to go to Sarajevo to see the books saved from the war recently. And to see the Nag Hammadi horde wherever that is and the Qumran lot and acrosst th’Atlantic to see the codices of the Mayans and back to wherever I can peruse the Sufi writers of old. Busy boy from Burnley travels like Walt Whitman who never left his leaves of grass.

a walt whitman as apulhed

Finally I shan’t mention the channel 4 newsreader 6.10.2014 what was grovelling round the feet of the infamous ‘professeuse de sketcheeng’ at the RA who cannot draw fer toffee in her new show because it’s beneath my Buddhist dignity to mock the afflicted. Sorry Sogyal!

 

The walls of my ears

Art filled wid tears

When my eyes see

Her sketches

Embroidered

By someone else

Of course

 

Watching her oo…oozin

On channel 4 news in

And him floozin

Around her feet

Made my sore eyes bleet

 

Ooh bitchy! Never mind, Rudyard telt me not to try to change tings what you cannot change, Ghengis can’t said only fools fight a battle they cannot win so let’s just listen to Millie (the woman with balls) Jackson on cheatin’. Don’t watch this if you are easily offended, she’s raunchy and she tells it like it …might be, I don’t know. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjzny7SZY9U

 

See you down in Oxferd town, oxferd town , couldn’t get in cos (bob Dylan said it wer the color of his skin, http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/oxford-town

I tink it wer cos) he wer too dim.

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