October 27th 2015, on my 65th birthday, shortly after doing the IPA [International Performance Association] fortnight, I become an OAP (Old Age Pensioner) and realize that I am an also an OPA (Opsimath Performance Artist). For those what don’t know (like I didn’t before I accidentally discovered the word whilst checking the meaning of ‘opulent’) an ‘opsimath’ is ‘a person who learns late in life’ and I certainly realised my love of Performance Art (PArt) late in my 50 years as a artisbloke.
A new stage name, ‘DANI OOPAPA’ or ‘OMI OOPAPA’ maybe?
It may be an idea if you read this blog about my work watti dun in 2013, it’ll let you know where am coming from:
The rest of this is about the last year (2015) & my ‘links’ (not) with some gallery spaces and it will soon go into my ‘about’ in my wordpress site. The knowledge, skills & experience I have accumulated did not come easily, it came as the result of determined effort and my desire to learn then apply my abilities. Colchester has been my cultural centre since 1975 and I have exhibited there several times; one man shows in Trinity Street gallery (1994), the main Library gallery (2000) and the Red Lion Bookshop (2014) and participation in several group shows in particular at the Minories as the Final show of my MA qualification (2013) followed by a solo ‘performance’ there.
Jan 26th 2015
On the basis of my thinking that it may be better to fill the walls with my work^, than close the gallery with the walls effectively empty I make an offer to Firstsite Gallery Colchester.
(^ work which has seen 25 solo shows in Essex since 1978 and has been loved by many of those who came into the shows who indicated their feelings in the visitors’ books),
‘Dear curators,[the head curator (MC, see below) had quit the gallery for a plum job in a big gallery in Germany leaving deputies i/c]
I was in firstsite on Saturday 17th January and I noticed the gallery is almost empty at the moment and one of the assistants told me it is not scheduled to have a new show until March- I feel impelled to ask you to give me the freedom of your walls and spaces and I’ll mount a big show based of the work I have produced in the past 48 years.
Thank you for your email and for sending your proposal for an exhibition at Firstsite.
I’m afraid that we are unable to host an exhibition of your work in the coming weeks. The galleries are committed to other activities during this period, including essential maintenance and a 5-week long residency by Maria Loboda, during which time she will fabricate a new work in situ. Furthermore, as I’m sure you are aware, our exhibitions are originated and developed over much longer periods of time and through extended conversations with the artist.
31 Jan 2015’
Shortly after sending me that short note she quit the gallery.
Here’s some links to the blArts (my word to combine my Blatherings on Art) I did about firstsite:
About Bruce McLean- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/bruce-mclean-not-trendy-but-twitchy/
Bruce McLean said- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/this-is-the-best-exhibition-of-my-work-ever/
Two part report on firstsite symposium- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/so-we-live-in-a-digital-cage-part-2/
Krzysztof Fijalkowski, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Norwich University of the Arts gives a talk about Henri Chopin- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/henri-chopin-and-others-who-got-forgot/
The Man from New York talk- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/andrew-roths-talk-at-first-site-last-saturday/
Ann Stephen from Australia’s talk- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/first-site-talk-success-but/
Feb 2015– The ‘free community place for arts’ in Colchester called Slack Space did a lovely ‘artists book’ show:
Also in February the Art Council withdrew the funding from Firstsite gallery and I did a blog about making an offer to help the crestfallen director who on his appointment had said on being announced as Firstsite’s new director in November 2012, “The positioning of Firstsite within the local community is essential to my new role. I hope to extend Firstsite’s mission in bringing excellent art to everyone, supporting artists from the region to develop their careers and demonstrating the value that contemporary visual art brings to society.”
“To Matthew Rowe
I would like to meet you and discuss some of the issues that abide with you and the wonderful firstsite gallery along with its inherited problems and its legacy. I once had a long chat with Michelle Cotton (MC) which she began reluctantly but gradually warmed to and eventually said, ‘You should meet the new director Pete’
I also had a small article in Venue which flagged up the wonderful work of Bruce McLean and how well it looked in the space. I had tried to get Michelle to inform me about which show would follow McLean so I could prepare a longer article for Venue.
I would like to help you to move the gallery forward, why because I have lived in Essex since 1973 and taught art for many years and I see the need for such a big and potentially great space for art(s). At present it is nowhere near reaching its potential and that for many reasons, many of which you know some you may not be aware of.
So, if you would like to meet so we can talk and see if there are ways I can help please respond.
Pete Kennedy MA, DMS, Adv Dip, etc (I didn’t inc. an honor bestowed on me c.2008 RA Doubtful!) 14.2.15”.
MR never bothered to answer my offer yet the local MP and the rep of the Art Council had answered me, somewhat condescendingly I’ll have you know, the MP was ousted at the next election.
My blog abart it:
In April Matthew Rowe Director left:
my blog about it, ignore the title, that was not intended to rejoice, I felt sad about MR and MC and all them what tried to bring advanced art ideas to Colchester but their intent altho well-meant was not so well based on the needs of the local community which yes would benefit from ‘education’ into 20th century+ art but it’s ‘the way you tell ‘em’ which counts. BE WARNED there’s a lot about my work in this and all ma blogs:
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th April
I attend the BABE book art fair at the Arnolfini where I share a table with David Jury. On the Sunday I do my reading and dance about my poems which are featured in my two books called ‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’. It was performed in a room they call the lecture room but it had no atmosphere at all. Chris Leonard a friend of over 40 years who lives near Bristol turned up, my mate Dave Doughty came down from Essex to film it and two other folk came plus the gallery helper who had to be there. It was really hard mustering any enthusiasm in such circumstances but those who came all seemed to enjoy it (?). It was invaluable doing it with so little an audience because it brought home the maxim, “The Show must go on” and taught me by experience how to lift myself up when the chips seemed to be down. It was good practice too.
Ere’s ma blog on BABE.
4pm Pete Kennedy ‘readings’- Inspired by Kabir’s poem ‘Inside This Clay Jug’ (transformed from Rabindranath Tagore’s translation by Robert Bly and recited by Pete) Also, various renditions from the original book on Six Mystics- G Batch (G…iorgi Ivanovitch Gurdzhiev. B…euys Joseph. A…ngeli Silesii. T…enzin Gyatso. C…arl Gustav Jung & H…ermann Hesse.), Inside This Clay Jug and Inside This Great Jug.
April 2015, Interim Director Anthony Roberts takes over for a year, my blArt:
I join a guided tour led by the new Director, blog:
July- I go to the BALTIC gallery Gateshead book fair and do my Outlaw Pete Intervention, everything begins to fall into place:
Baltic Artists Book Market 2015
After my gig at BALTIC I realise I am only skirting around the edges of Performance Art these past 40 years so decide to join the IPA http://www.ipapress.i-pa.org/ in October which leads to possibly one of the most momentous shifts in my thinking and doing in my whole life as a artisbloke:
Then another blog, yes it HAS started:
So, I start to try to get ‘out there’ into the PA community. I have to say sadly my initial tentative approach to LADA has been a damp squib and my attempt to contact the organisers of SPILL fest also hit the rocks. Here’s some blogs:
My links to IPA have proved much more warm and rewarding. During the ‘pop up performances’ with IPA I return to the Arnolfini and do some much more well received performance art and we use the ‘lecture room’ as a base in which to change our clothes. I did an impromptu engagement with two little boys in a puddle outside the gallery thinking nobody was watching and I got these lovely words from two of our course leaders (Vest & Page) who happened to be in the café looking on proceedings as I splashed with the kids.
“Thanks for your warmth and smiles during the IPA days – we will always remember you jumping with the kid in the little water pond on the streets in front of Arnolfini.
Keep being magic and shining, V&A
And I shall never forget their wonderful performance at Arnolfini! I was touched & inspired bigtime and I learned masses from observing them.
November I take part in the day of Performance Art at Firstsite gallery.
Next in November I had a table at the Hadleigh books fair:
And here’s a blog about my first ever article in an American Journal (JAB):
December– Interim Director Anthony Roberts leaves Firstsite before a year is up (with my artist’s math I make it 9 months, just long enuf for a babe to gestate?) BUT he managed to get over £2 million support from Art Council before he goes. Thanks Ant yer dun a great job cos you turned the old tanker around, now it’s headed in the right direction, let’s hope it don’t come aground again. What an end to the year and an era at Firstsite gallery in Colchester, these two events are the final things which Anthony Roberts oversaw as ‘interim’ Director before taking his leave! He left the space in a much better place than he had found it in.
The future at Firstsite.
Now their work begins and they’ve a lot of work to do. The gallery is nowhere near a fully functioning gallery and socially inviting/accepted place. The budge that AR gave it is just that, a budge. It requires a mammoth transformation in its view of the world, local, national & international. Maybe more importantly the local council needs to sort out the locality, that in immediate proximity to the gallery as well as the whole town which over the past 10 years has sunk. It needs imagination and creativity, just as does the gallery. The roads around the gallery, especially the closing of entry into Queen St from the High St., need urgent attention vis a vis right to drive without impunity. The parking access near the gallery needs making available and accessible. The access to and from the car park in Priory St. needs sorting as does the total access and right to use the field outside the gallery. Visitors to the gallery should enjoy complete 360 degree access to the ground around the gallery.
Postscript- 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! I think myself lucky that I never made it. I no longer ‘mind’, even if I did in the past. I have had my 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. That’s why I find myself an opsimath, a ‘person who learns late in life’, or should that be an Opzzie-Mouth in praise of Ozzie Ozbourne?)
So you see my links to galleries in the past 50 yearns has been rather limited, you could say galleries are my limited company; Pete Kennedy Galleries Ltd. However, onwards and now I’m an Opsimath! My next blog will be about relationships, according to TED they make your life last much longer if they’re good! Here’s my final blog for this lot:
ta to Zelda Chappel fer this image via @Steve_Perfect, ta 2 yu 2 blue
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