December at Firstsite.

What an end to the year and an era at Firstsite gallery in Colchester!

j an g in dk 2 shere’s Jamie and Gordon sitting regaining energy in the wonderful space.

Jamie Dodds Exhibition

Jamie’s show is a lovely compact collection of his paintings, prints and books which suits the gallery in its Essex home with Jamie’s subjects being mostly sailing craft.

a shado 2 sJamie seen showing G. some boat thing in one of his prints.

I was lucky to be able to chat with Jamie as we walked around the show with Gordon Wright, an old friend who used to work with him at Cook’s boatyard in Maldon back in the 1970’s. I’ll let the images tell the story.

It was a lovely re-union. Jamie’s catalogue designed by his wife with photos by his daughter is on sale at the most reasonable price of £6. Have I told you my joke about that sick squid?

Scottee

a foled banana

Scottee is a self-proclaimed ‘Fat Gay Queen’ who does Performance Art and cabaret who put on a tremendous show for two nights in Firstsite.See this wonderful vid of him trying to fit into a box-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBshGTTApTY

3 ladies s

His two ‘assistants’ (who proclaim their hatred for him in a hash tag, #wehatehim) kept deadpan disinterested faces all night.

Newcy gel 2

Scottee introduced several other mostly gay acts, all of which were very entertaining. I didn’t remember their names but I’ll let images I took tell their tales. Top left was a talented singer who sang Adele better than Adele, but with rather changed words. The sailor is a wonderful take off of Kenneth Williams. The ‘woman’ in the yellow coat was a hinnie frae newcastle. And finally Scottee is seen swallowing a big balloon.

In my next blog I’ll be looking back on my experiences in 2015. Also I shall be completely re-doing my ‘About’ so it’s just about the last year in my art and my links with some gallery spaces. I shall post it just after New Year’s Day, so enjoy the parties and don’t overdo it!

 

 

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I tried to change the world

Now I can listen & hear what three wise men,  Krishnamurti, Roy Fraser & the Dalai Lama, have told me, I don’t know why but there it IS, maybe cos am old?a ceramic buddhaithis was Roy Fraser’s little ceramic Buddhai what I drew…

OM MADI PADME HUMMMmm

Like many others of the Sixties generation I tried to change the world these past 50 years. But, like the US forces going into Saddam’s Iraq, I never had a contingency for what to put in the old world’s place. I found out that nobody changes the world cos the world just carries on in it’s own bittersweet way, forever. The world in which we live, or should I say Universe, has been going on for millions of years and will continue with or without us ubeings. In fact if we blow the Earth to smithereens the universe just keeps rolling along with what’s left of the Earth and all who dwelt there re-constituted. We are in fact always re-constituting, part of you and me was in the BIG BANG what made the existence we became aware of. When we die our bodies will re-constitute once more and help make up other things. If we have a spirit or a soul that carries on somehow.

a penned mystic sm

This is my spirit guide

‘This mug is a combination of particles, atoms, quarks [like the old man in the sketch above which is for me maybe the best thing I have ever created. I very rarely draw things from my mind without any visual prompt but this old guy just arrived from my pencil. Like Lennon used to say he didn’t ‘write’ his songs, he was a conduit thru which they came, same with this old guy]. But each particle is not ‘mug’. The same can be said of everything, including yourself. The mug, ‘me’, are merely labels, something we use to describe everyday reality. The mug, me, came into existence because of a complex web of causes and conditions. They do not exist independently [our] existence is dependent on an infinite, intricately linked series of events, people, causes and conditions.’ Dalai Lama in The Wisdom Of Compassion.

One of the Dalai Lama’s teachers was Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and I found a beautiful film about him here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQPmnGTUHYU at about 25 mins in it gets very good, seems we are taken into a Shangrila! I even see them printing off pages of a pothi, one of their bookforms. It’s amazing to me how similar looking Khyentse was to one of my mentors in life, an old friend who I painted awhile ago called Roy Fraser. Roy was also into spiritual searching and I had lots of interesting chats late into the night with him alongside a ‘spirit in a bottle’ called Glenn Fiddich.

Roy F as rinpoche smRoy Frasera kheyntse detaleDilgo Khyentse

If you have a couple of hours to spare, take a look at this Buddhist woman and her take on Compassion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=datWeGjthJU&feature=youtu.be

Both Tai Chi and Ashtanga Yoga help body and mind to gain good health and equilibrium. I won’t bother to explain that here, just believe me.

I was lucky enough to be able to start doing Tai Chi and Ashtanga Yoga with Gareth Chandler http://www.garethchandler.com/links.htm out of Chelmsford about 5 years ago. Like lots of people I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I discover that what I let myself into was an incredible asset for (my) life (and yours too if you want to try it!). I have moved on to learn Tai Chi with Master Ch’ng Lay Seng in Witham. http://clstaichichuan.co.uk/

master Ch'n Lay SengMaster Ch’ng Lay Seng

Both forms do incredible benefits for the body and mind. These couple and inter-relate with my interest in Tibetan Buddhist ideas, zen and meditation. The more I do it the more I learn how much they are so interconnected. All of them have had a profound effect on all that I do.

I read a book ‘Finding Balance in the Midst of Chaos’ by a ‘Peter Strong PhD’ which is strong medicine, in fact it’s too difficult to read without making notes and having a dictionary of sanscrit/pali words handy but I would like to share a passage where he talks about our body & mind’s ability to maintain ‘homeostasis’ or ‘same state’ balance in our life. Our body is regulated by responses designed to maintain physiological & psychological equilibrium by adapting to ‘instability created by external or internal stress’.

The Dalai Lama also says ‘…karma means cause & effect. Suffering (dukkha) is unavoidable [it is a ‘given’ in human- ubeing- life, ed.] it is something we have to deal with. Accepting the situation decreases anxiety. Acceptance gives peace of mind’.

Psychological equilibrium comes when ‘there is freedom from conflict and suffering. This state is called dukkha-nirodha, ‘dukkha’ being ‘suffering’ and ‘nirodha’ meaning extinction. [think of suffrin-eroder, to erode suffering maybe] Before I befuddle you more with Strong’s words I must say that if you look at the writing of B S Iyengar you’ll find the benefits the different yoga moves/positions (asanas) manifest on us ‘yogis’ [a ‘yogi’ is just anyone who does yoga].

Also when Krishnamurti revealed his secret to life he said, “Don’t mind what happens”. This gives us a clue as to how to reach a place where we find our own equilibrium but it’s very hard. His choice of words as always is very clever. He doesn’t advocate not being interested nor taking initiatives, he just says “Don’t mind what happens”, which to me means, don’t ‘attach’ to what happens, don’t cling to memories, things, ideas etc., we all have our experiences and sometimes we get embroiled, we can’t detach and that can lead to all sorts of issues.

[a spurious aside- Like I can’t, or couldn’t detach from the idea that my art was worthy and the world did me a dis-service by not attaching to it and giving me loads a money and praise and love and attachment. Then I look see what those results brought for the likes of Michael Jackson, John Lennon & Elvis the Pelvis and I can see I don’t want loads a money and praise and love and attachment. I am now more ready to give up my forlorn attempts to be up there with the famous ones, or the special one Mourn-inho! I think myself lucky that I never made it. I no longer ‘mind’, even if I did in the past and that’s really an ‘if’. I have had moments, I’ve had positive feedback which has gone into the burner and helped energise me as did criticisms cos often I’d not take them laying down, I’d up and at ‘em. I’d make my next ting beat better. All the time I wanted to improve. Which is funny when you’re running in the wrong direction with all the prizes under your arms, and then they begin to melt or even worse, rot. I had an instinctive feeling when Mourn-inho returned to Chelsea he would regret it, and now he does. Then again, I wouldn’t put it past Mourninho to have manipulated the situation so that he became persona non grata at Chelsea FC just as it was becoming obvious that Van Gaal had underestimated the task at Man U FC and is proving a little short of the required level to sort that old monster out quickly enough for the expectations in a league where measure has become greatly distorted by vast amounts of money?]

Not ‘attaching’ gives us the opportunity to establish and maintain equilibrium so that if we need to assess some situation we can be non-judgemental. Thereby, having no side to take our reactivity is lessened, maybe to nil. We become observers. His mind, in Strong’s words, is “free to respond in the best way possible to resolve suffering (known as dukkha) and restore stability. Strong cites the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which he states states that all systems seek a state of maximum (thermos) stability and will change (dynamic) if given freedom to change. It’s a battle between habitual reactivity (habits formed thru conditioning & experience) and the natural intelligence which innate (existent but usually dormant within us) in our psyche. Habits so often overrule the intuitive wisdom. Krishnamurti leapfrogs this conundrum by a conviction not to be bothered by what occurs (Am Oi Bovvad?!). I am going to make it my New Year’s resolution to try not to ‘attach’ to trial, tribulation and triumph!

 

Let’s dance

Let’s dance with Pina’s lot.

Thanks to Jurgen Fritz for the image de moi in the header! And for the 2,000+ photos he took of all us PA folk at IPA in  the earth spirit centre (http://www.earthspirit-centre.co.uk/) “Just five miles from Glastonbury, on the edge of Compton Dundon village in Somerset, EarthSpirit lies within the ‘temenos’ (sacred enclosure) of Avalon.”

I watched this Wim Wenders’ tribute about Pina Bausch, WOW! It’s one of the best things I have ever seen!

a wim wender on pina bausch sm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06ryjfl/pina-legend-of-dance

I am sure that some of my friends who attended the IPA Bristol fortnight in October must have seen it. There are bits in it that I am sure influenced some movements I saw there. There’s a lovely bit where a woman is walking with a tree on her back which is reminiscent of McLennan’s work. It’s just an incredible programme about somebody who must have been an inspirational leader.

They’re coming to Sadler’s Wells in February. I never go there but this is one time I shall be there.

http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2016/tanztheater-wuppertal-pina-bausch-como-el-musguito-en-la-piedra/

os I am never going to match all them greats. But, you know me, I can’t stop trying!

baltic cowpokeCowboy Pete at BALTIC ctsy of Gary Malkin

Here is a link to the ‘talk’ I did in July this year at BALTIC in which I do a couple of ‘dances’. I enter dressed as a cowboy and do the first gallery private view ‘dance’ to ‘Outlaw Pete’ which must have been written for me cos it tells a tale so similar to my dragging up in Glasgow. Bruce has just changed the names of places for legal reasons. Then at about 10 mins in for 3 minutes I do my now famous (at least on our street) ‘Killer’s Are We Humans Or Are We Dancers?’ dance:
https://player.vimeo.com/video/133544106 

This is the dance with which I also introduced myself at IPA Bristol. It was great there cos they asked me to repeat it in the evening relaxed session and they all joined in copying my moves which are a bit like me in these drawings.

a shado o'pete dancing sm

I next did ma Outlaw Pete (Jurgen’s Hoss) Dance at firstsite in November. A friend filmed it on her iphone but it’s in two parts make 30MB and I need to edit them together and upload them in a smaller form, so you’ll have to wait, cos I don’t yet have the skills to do them tings.

What am doing now in ma blog and ma PA is the culmination of my almost 50 years adult study in ‘art’. a study which has many stages; oils, prints, books, sculptures in many differing idioms. When folk clap my PA I realise that I made ‘art’ for reaction. I love to glean your reaction, your joy, your love, your muse, your amuse…

I think I made art to get noticed. Have you noticed…me?

Every snowflake lands in its own place

I am pleased to share that Alice Springs News online in, Australia, ran a beautiful article (most of which I compiled) about an old friend of mine Ken Perry who died recently titled, “Jindalee Pioneer Ken Perry dies”. (December 5, 2015) http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2015/12/05/jindalee-pioneer-ken-perry-dies/

The opening paragraph helped me understand even more the essence of Ken’s achievement. The editor, Erwin Chlanda, was a pilot who had flown over Ken’s radar installation on many occasions so he has a good knowledge of the terrain. “Intruding aircraft can fly just a few feet above the sea, below the cover of microwave defence radars: In order to track this threat, with his expertise in microwave, Ken Perry oversaw the development and production of high frequency surface wave “over-the-horizon” (OTH) radar, with a huge antenna spread for a kilometer or so on the ground off the Yuendumu Road, north-west of Alice Springs and a second similar facility is north of the Plenty River Road.” Getting some recognition and spreading the news about Ken’s accomplishments is not my main aim in life but it arose out of my admiration for the way he ran his life and his great modesty and generosity of spirit. Ken was alive with intelligence and was always thinking of his family and how he might help them progress. All of his daughters became graduates and his grandchildren seem to be trumping their achievements with first class honours at some big universities in a wide range of subjects. Ken never emphasised how clever he was, he would just rally round them all when they were growing up and help them to understand maths and science in particular. He lived his interests and shared his abilities.

I think that is a good way to go about my life too. Of course my main area has been in Art and ken was not au fe with ‘art’ so he would ask searching questions about my latest zany idea until he got a better grasp of what I was saying or hinting at.

My aim has been fairly constant over the years, to bring a lively enquiry into the field of creative art and to create ‘original’ works. Over the years it became clear to me that nothing is ever purely ‘original’ cos everything has precursors and all of us are inspired by or detest earlier example and we either pick it up and run with it (appropriation?) or attempt to do the opposite. On 1.12.2004 I was looking back on my Nonogon Show in Colchester library in 2000

my poster nonosho 2000 sm

 and planning an assault on Tate Modern with it which as you know didn’t happen yet. More importantly, when I make these dastardly plans I often reflect on where I been and wur am goin. I wrote these now very prophetic words, “My public personae would be like a mix of Joseph Beuys, Ken Campbell and Keith Haring.” Well, in fact, I drew like Haring before Haring did, so there’s no surprise there. I was already looking into Beuys and was very intrigued by Beuy’s antics, I was drawn to ‘performance art’ before I had a real idea of what it was about. I watched Ken Campbell perform at Brentwood theatre where he would often prep his stuff ready for his London shows. I remember walking into one and being bowled over by his strange props. It struck a bell in my head which is still resounding, or is that what they call tinnitus? I think that my projection about my future persona is still playing out.

  • I read somewhere* this week that we, us Ubeings (that’s my non-gender word fer Umans) are not like we often see ourselves like a standing stone person/personality forever set, we are more like a flowing stream or river that is constantly moving and shifting as we alter with the passing moments the sum total of which make up each of our lives. Or as the Tibetan Buddhists put it, this Bardo of Living we find ourselves in (or don’t for that matter). I love this comment on life from a zen master, “The snow falls, each flake in its appropriate place.” In other words, there is a meaning to every thing that happens even if we don’t understand it to begin with (that reminds me of Tai Chi), turn turn turn you whirling dervish. Or just listen to Judy Collins when she were young https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3kKqfTjsj0

*Deepak Chopra said via Carla McKay, “we all tend to see our bodies as ‘frozen sculptures’- solid, fixed, material objects- when in thruth, thye are more like rivers, constantly flowing patterns of intelligence…”

  • I have just made a lovely shift which combined my desire to meditate along with my gathering ability at yoga. I get so stressed out when I can’t ‘meditate’ and I am pretty incompetent at yoga’s bends & twists. But I sat down on the floor and had Garbarek playing with some musicians from Pakistan going. I thought you should meditate in ‘silence’ not with music? Well no, I’m leaving this music play. OK, so go into a lotus? No I cannot. OK somewhere as close as you can? Yes but that hurts the little protuberances on the outside of my feet. That’s life, suffer! OK, so I sat as long as I could suffer it. Then I said why don’t you move your feet? Place one foot under yer bum, stretch the other out and lean forward like you try to do in Ashtanga? That’s not meditation. Is it not? Actually let go, just do it. So I did and I held it awhile then swopped sides meantime ‘meditating’, well trying to concentrate on my breath and trying to get stuff out of my head that didn’t seem appropriate. Actually I spent some minutes moving into positions I learned in various yoga classes in the past 4 years. Then I thought, hey, I am enjoying this, I’m enjoying doing my yoga and my med, with an emphasis on MY. So for the first time ever, I found myself doing my own adaptation of the things I tried so hard to learn. I can do what the teachers say when am there, but when am here I will continue to experiment, and enjoy!
  • There’s a wonderful 93 minute documentary on Wilko johnson’s acceptance that he had terminal cancer on BBC Imagine series which I find very uplifting. he says, “I am a feather for each wind that blows.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06qqrk9/imagine-autumn-2015-5-the-ecstasy-of-wilko-johnson I was lucky to see Wilko in th’early days of Dr Feelgood when I took my  famous (NOT!) photo of him.wilko hands in waistcoat tiny Wilko holding Apulhed.
  • Finally just a bit more about yoga folks. I am almost finished Carla McKay’s Reluctant Yogi and over the past 4 years I have moved totally away from the gym to concentrate on Tai Chi and Yoga where she says, “unlike pumping weights or running a marathon, yoga gives the body a complete workout increasing endurance, building strength, stretching all the muscle groups (whilst preventing injury), and stimulating organs…” I’d drink to that if I drank! Having given up booze 4 years now I realise it was the inner soul preparing me for my journey down Yoga Way turning into Tai Chi twists. McKay also says that K. Pattabhi Jois who developed Ashtanga yoga out of Hatha yoga by adding a dynamic flow called vinyasa lived until he was 93, that’ll do for me, I have 28 years left, should give me time to get known on the Performance Art circuit. I contacted Live Art in London very near to where  I live. I was hoping to pop in to chat with some real players but got told to wait til next summer and then join them in their workshops, “Please do sign up for our newsletter where you’ll receive useful information about our work and other Live art opportunities and keep your eye out for calls for next year’s DIY programme – artist-led workshops.” I was hoping to do some performance art stuff before that, otherwise what i learned at IPA may disappear into my mists of time. Krishnamurti says we got to just go with the flow, like the river does. He revealed his secret to life, “Don’t mind what happens” he said. Or doesn’t maybe? (cf Wilko’s feather blowing in the wind.)
  • listen to snowflakes dancing
    Here’s Debussy’s beautiful original version
  • and Tomita’s electronic take on it at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM7X4mHEmPw

Namaste