My (vast?) knowledge of ‘art’ became (apparently) irrelevant overnite becos they (purportedly) moved the goalposts when I must have had my eyes off the ball (or maybe the Jasper Johns/Pop Art target?) by their declaring ‘post’-Modernism’ which supposedly super ceded the Modernism & Classicism that I had studied and played a part of between 1968 and when the pMT (post-Modernis Tings) began (date unsure, a bit hazy and for me irrelevant).
I don’t believe ‘post’-Modernism’, it’s a crap idea which seeped down from architecture into some folk’s view of art. Whatever it’s purported to be (a shift, a change, a re-direct) it isn’t because the history (of art) is a continuation. As part of the continuity we have learned that the media we can utilise is not just the old fields of oil paint, water colour, bronze and wood altho I have loved working in all of them. Nowadays it’s ok to use ANY material to create art and all sorts of differing environments. Latterly I learned that as I manipulate the words as words and image on my computer design package that’s just as relevant in making (my) art as was once my manipulation of oil with turps on a canvas.
So. My books are art and always have been. I used to feel an odd sensation when I looked at say a photo I had done or a presentation with masks and feel…t that they weren’t ‘proper’ art. My ‘pop’ art drawings/comix with Apulhedman were just as relevant as my oils of my wife. So, all my activities which I used to put into a number of pigeon holes have now become my ‘art’. They are all one. They manifest from my observation, imagination and skill.
They represent me. They re-present the ‘me’ what lives and breathes in ways and materials, some of which will outlive the entity I call ‘me’ by many centuries…
The book I am working on or ‘compiling’ at present, The Shrewd Idiot (SI), has a LONG history. I left my teaching post in 1976 to format it from notes I had written, drawn and photo’d in various journals and sketchbooks since 1969. I had done my first self-published book, Apul-One (1975), from the same sources and SI was to be a more ‘normally’ spelt version of same. Its initial version was completed by 1978 and then I started sending it to publishers, two of whom (Wildwood House, then Calder), considered it for publication but eventually both dropped it. I have re-approached it several times in the intervening years and the newest version will have evidence of interventions from different times. It was never a ‘literary’ work. It was always a collection of some thoughts, observations, hopes, fears and images of one individual.
Now the words I created years ago have become images. Most of the book is made up of images of thetypescript typed up mostly by Jill (nee) Williams and boy was she tolerant of my stupid words. Drawings and other forms of image-making are a vital part of the book and that was the rub in the 70’s and 80’s when print was difficult concerning the placement of word & image in a book. Nowadays the two can sit well together and gone are the days when publishers considered it impure to set image and word together. In a way the world is ready for my arrangement of the material now but is it ready for the content? It matters not really cos am doing it anyway. But I am only going to make about 10 copies initially, mostly to give to some friends who moved thru the period it covers. The content will either fascinate or bore potential observers, I say observers cos it’s not (just) for readers in fact it may not be important to read it at all, I wish you wouldn’t cos it’s embarrassing in its revelations. It is not even state of the art in layout & presentation when you think of the beauty which David McKean brings to the page. I am deliberately not using digital layout packages, except for part of the book, becos am determined that Jill’s typing is the image of the main body of the words I wish to convey. There is a ‘story’ or ‘narrative’ which in fact continues thru all my life cos it’s uncompromisingly about the person that was me at the time (1969-1973). Altho in fact it’s like looking in a mirror cos the artist or writer sees themselves on the page as they see themselves in a mirror, unreally. (In my case somewhat unruly too) I can never see the me that you see, I only see the me that lives inside me and he hides a lot of his real self, even from me. In fact this book reveals some parts or thought of that self which maybe should be left in the archives but in the name of honest ‘journalism’ I include most of them even tho some are excruciating in their pomposity and vanity. In some ways it’s a personal writing plus images, in other ways it’s universal cos it is about one man’s efforts to come to terms with his world and find roads to explore with newly acquired abilities to add to what he brings with him to the time of the notes.
It’s all to do with The Way You Do The Things You Do, or as one old comedian used to say in a thick Oirisht drawl, “It’s the way ah tell ‘em”.
Here’s Jerry Garcia’s band doing the Temptations song The Way You Do The Things You Do.
It’s all to do with the way you do the things you do. He plays his guitar in this like Jimi did, and the Temptations were trying to emulate Jimi when they brought the guitar solo in.
Jimi had a long history as a band man round America before he cut loose as a solo artis. He even cut some music with Arthur Lee’s band Love.
Jimi and Janis Joplin died aged 27 only a few weeks apart. I watched a great documentary on Janis on Beeb 4 and it wer great the way she picked up influence from seeing the best like Otis Redding perform. She took his repeated word phrasing and made it hers. And how. How does a little lady from Port Arthur, Texas do that ting?! It’s to do with letting go into the…mystic, or whatever we call that energy level which seems unreachable to us mortals. https://www.nytimes.com/books/99/05/02/specials/joplin-obit.html
They said it when I was about to leave college in Exeter where I had developed various formats of Appleheadman/Apulhed (I actually invented the character in Bournemouth) and he’d become a bit of a cult figure in the local student population thru the graphic-strip I did in Reflex, the student newspaper in Exeter. The they said it when I self-published my buk (short-named or ‘sub-titled’) Apul-One* in 1975 when not many were selfpublishing with its personal-phonetic spellin when not many were doing shortened spellins. To be ‘famous’ didn’t serve much attraction to me even then. I wasn’t striving for fame, apart from the potential freedom it might bring with an alleviation of my financial needs and maybe some call for my work. As we all knew then cos the beatles told us so, money can’t buy you love, and I had lots of that, even if I didn’t always reciprocate fully nor appreciate it. Indeed I had a built in mechanism to flee from it at all suspicions that it was looming about. It took decades for me to learn how to accept praise and appreciation even tho I werked so hard to gain it. One of the tings I love about PA is they clap you when you finish. Maybe that’s cos they’re glad the thing is done? Only jokin. I think.
* I been working on the follow up, The Shrewd Idiot for forty years and it should be ready to launch sometime soon!
Sometimes some folks says I sometimes writes well sometimes and that sometime soon enough I may make it big as a writer. Well I cannot await sometime to happen. I did wait sometime. I started writing sometime ago (1969). It’s taken some time to get this bad. I guess I got sometime left, or right, write. But I not got some ting to prove cos I done all that some time back.
I saw this great couple o folks there and aksed if I can use their image in ma blog and they say ok dokay
There was so much to do I had to wend ma way back again on the Wednesday to go see the exhibition preview at Marsden Woo gallery where they had some beautiful readings to give the launch a real whumpf.
“An evening of performance, poetry and text works curated and lead by SJ Fowler in response to our current show, Alida Sayer’s Lexicon,
took place last night at Marsden Woo Gallery. It was a fantastic event, with new work by diverse and talented poets being seen and heard for the first time. Many thanks to all involved!”
I also visited the Rebecca Horn section in Tate Modern because I had seen those wonderful feather head-dresses she did and wanted to find out more. RH was and is one of the world’s great performance artists. Her work hinges, literally sometimes, around the ‘props’ she manufactures. I learned a lot looking at them, very inspiring.
As I was searching the net for stuff about RH I happened upon some incredible work by Helen Chadwick which in terms of old style virtues in art blew RH into a feathered hat. HC was a very earl exponent of woman in art and I love what I found.
On Friday night I went to the launch of Colchester firstsite’s new Warhol show which was peppered with females making great stuff. Camille Walala has done some wonderful abstract images on a wall which I never even dreamed of filling and made it look great.
Hattie Stewart, ex-student at Sheepen Road college has a wonderfull show wherein her work, which takes inspiration from the likes of Disney, Keith Haring and Rick Griffin’s walking eyes, really lights up the gallery. http://hattiestewart.com/
And finally there was little Georgie who did these wonderful spirals in the mock ‘Factory’ which firstsite has set up for folks to do prints in during the Warhol show.
Aside- David Bailey: “Visually, Picasso was definitely the most important person in my life. When I discovered him I realised there were no rules. I didn’t go to art school, I didn’t even know what art school was, but the teachers who taught drawing always said, ‘Oh, you can’t put a line around things,’ and I thought, ‘Well, Picasso does, stained glass windows do, so I don’t see your point.’ Obviously, they were wrong.” I didn’t go to art skewel eether David.
Please bear with me here in this blog cos I’ve not taken to or ’got’ religion, no, but I have gotten humanity or spirituality.
Spirit is in all of us. It’s what makes us live. We are the body which the spirit inhabits. Spirit is bigger than us, it is all of us, it transcends all boundaries physical and conceptual. Spirit is above all these conflicts, it yearns for peace amongst the races of planet Earth. Like the Dalai Lama says we all wish to be happy and contented.
Some are willing to fight wars, to kill and maim in the name of their peace. Hence the crusades and the jihads. I am not of that leaning or school of thought, I would prefer to cherish all living beings. [Although as a meat eater I must bear some responsibility for the demise of some of the world’s stock of beef, sheep, fish and all but I spoke with a man who was raised on a farm and they ‘get’ that you give the livestock a good living time then it becomes food on the plate. We need protein but I draw the line. Some animals were reared from time immemorial to serve humankind; cows, pigs, horses, camels salmon and so on. The indigenous folks of the Americas had the right idea when they would co-exist with the buffalo and when they killed one would use every part in some way, the buffalo was their brother.
In my last blog I mentioned 3 countries whose recent history has been strife-ridden; Afghanistan, Iraq & Syria. In fact their strife goes back as much as 5,000 years despite their being the cradle of civilisation. That area has almost always been at war, as have many other areas of this globe. That’s mostly because the human race [my name for the human race is non-gender, ubeings I spose that can be shortened some more to Ubees? Or even Usbees cos we are all in it together, Usbeez I may say Usbeez] are family-protective and territorially jealous whilst also being covetous and greedy. To put it another way, Usbeez are tribal.
My interest in the ancient history of this planet began when I was young and forced to listen to stories in church from the old & new testaments. Ironically Christians broke away from Judaism to set up a different view of life & death yet the powers that ruled GB chose to re-adapt the Old Testament. The powers that ruled GB were from the so called ‘upper class’; the rich, the landed, they decided somewhere along the line that Greece and Rome were the pinnacle of the ancient world and that Greek & Latin were the languages with most importance. That must have seemed obvious as many words in the ‘English’ language hail from Roman Latin and the idea of democracy is supposed to have hailed from Greece altho their democracy was nowhere near all inclusive.
However, the world of what has come to be known as the Semitic-speaking peoples which includes what was Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Phoenicia etc, now known as Iraq & Syria etc, was vitally important in the development of the later Greeks & Romans. Without the Semitic-speaking peoples there would have been no writing. The Phoenicians were Semitic and the Greeks adopted their alphabet. The Phoenicians built Carthage and (I believe) eventually settled in Etruria. http://www.britannica.com/place/Etruria-ancient-country-Italy
The people of Crete and Thera were the Minoan civilisation, maybe they were what Socrates and Plato referred to as Atlantis. At the time of the massive natural disaster in 1450 BC which destroyed the Minoan culture the people of Crete and Thera had the most advanced society in the region, possibly on the planet. It pre-dated the rise of the Mycenaean Greeks who indeed took advantage of the wreckage left by volcanic eruptions and tsunamis to over-run and overcome a group of people who had held them at bay for a long time. I believe that 1450 BC is a pivotal moment of earth’s history and it is hard for us to comprehend how big the changes brought about by that disastrous time were. Everything in the ancient world changed.
There are some thinkers who believe that there were also some cataclysmic occurrences in the sky, possibly outside the Earth’s atmosphere, something like a comet coming very close to colliding with the planet. There is evidence in all the records of peoples who at that time were capable of keeping records of huge displays of bright lights and explosions in the skies. I believe that a lot of myths about dragons and the gods fighting come from these events. But, whereas that’s some incredible stories from Scandinavia to China, it’s not the focus of this blart.
The focus is on installing the peoples of Assyria and Babylon into their place above the tiny enclave around ancient Judea which has taken on such a big over-important position because the west adopted a form of Christianity which was already a watered down version of the Christ story by the time of the Nicene Creed in 325 A.D. (http://www.theopedia.com/nicene-creed )
I say watered down because the literature adopted at the Nicene Creed deliberately cut out, exiled, many writings which the creed’s creators didn’t see fit for their purpose.
It is my feeling that a lot of valuable information was therefore lost to the next 1620 years until in the 1940s various excavations and discoveries found out the content of some of the damned documents in places like Nag Hamadi (http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html ).
This has not got to do with ‘religion’ it’s to do with truth, honesty and fairness. These vital traits were absent from the Nicene Creed’s outlook which was aimed to push a certain view of the world which was already alien to the ideas of the revolutionary group that surrounded a man with great ideas and example, known to the west as Jesus Christ. Joshua ben Gennesareth may have been his title in reality. If you want to research this further see this set of links https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=Joshua+ben+Gennesareth
When I mention Christ (which indeed was a title for ‘messiah or anointed one’ see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christos_(given_name)) I do so in the group of extraordinary thinkers who lived in this order; Buddha, Christ and Mohammed, I say let’s give these three guys equal billing as none of them would have been into pecking orders and all of whom had a message which was essentially the same- “Walk away from previous bad actions, forgive the perpetrators (including yourself if it were you what dunnit) and build a new future with trust, mutual acceptance and love for all beings.”
The reason I mention this is because all 3 were well aware of the penchant of mankind to take revenge and how that always leads to its corollary (its natural consequence), more violence, more revenge. So these three genii were and still do advocating a revolution against the natural consequence.
I am not ‘religious’ but I believe in the spiritual aspect of existence and I believe these three men were spot on!
I was reading about the (ancient) Hittites, the Babylonians and the Persian (all of whom had incredible advances in their societys, sciences and arts) and the books tell us that each of those countries fought continuously amongst themselves and I don’t think it takes a brilliant mind to say those battles still continue today. The Middle East is riven with strife over the past 5,000 years where men have continued to administer the natural consequences and the wars which began 5,000 years back still continue today. That’s a fact.
Surprisingly there has been a miracle in Ireland where the tribes did kill one another for hundreds of years and that miracle was what is called the Good Friday Agreement (10 April 1998). I hope that they can come to such an agreement in Syria soon enough. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Syria? First alphabet- Ugarit ( The golden age of Ugarit. The most prosperous and the best-documented age in Ugarit’s history dated from about 1450 to about 1200 bce and included periods of domination by the Egyptians (c. 1400–1350 bce) and the Hittites (c. 1350–1200 bce). That age produced great royal palaces and temples and shrines, with a high priests’ library and other libraries on the acropolis. After the discovery of the temple library, which revealed a hitherto unknown cuneiform alphabetic script as well as an entirely new mythological and religious literature.
The art of Ugarit in its golden age is best illustrated by a golden cup and patera (bowl) ornamented with incised Ugaritic scenes; by carved stone stelae and bronze statuettes and ceremonial axes; by carved ivory panels depicting royal activities; and by other fine-carved ivories. Despite Egyptian influence, Ugaritic art exhibits a Syrian style of its own.
The excavators of the site were fortunate in the number and variety of finds of ancient records in cuneiform script. The excavations continue, and each season throws some new and often unexpected light on the ancient north Canaanite civilization. The texts are written on clay tablets either in the Babylonian cuneiform script or in the special alphabetic cuneiform script invented in Ugarit. Several copies of this alphabet, with its 30 signs, were found in 1949 and later. A shorter alphabet, with 25, or even 22, signs, seems to have been used by 13th-century traders.
Scribes used four languages: Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, and Hurrian, and seven different scripts were used in Ugarit in this period: Egyptian and Hittite hieroglyphic and Cypro-Minoan, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, and Ugaritic cuneiform. These show clearly the cosmopolitan character of the city.)from– http://www.britannica.com/place/Ugarit
I felt privileged to be first speaker out of the blocks and did a rapid show of the several books that I have made following Joanna Drucker’s introduction to the history of the written word in her Alphabetic Labyrinth which really inspired me to make books of many different historical types and ultimately to do this PA piece (https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=alphabetic%20labyrinth) Since I started the project it has taken on a life of its own and led me to much new knowledge.
The PA took place at 3pm and I did give a short intro to what some of the moves meant.When I referred to the fact that there’d probably have been copies of the Kabir poem, which I use as inspiration for my project, in the shops that got blown up I felt myself starting to cry unintentionally. Doing PA does touch a chord.
Happily my Performance Art piece went down well [‘Thankyou Pete for an awesome performance’], even converting several folk who had been sceptical about its fitness for purpose. The attention to detail is quite startling. Whilst watching my PA I realised in the mime about making letterpress print I had forgotten to ink up the ‘chase’ so I went back and did it (in my mime) and sure enough one lady said afterwards that at the time she thought, ‘He’s not inked it up’, which shows the concentration of the audience. Apparently you could hear a pin drop, probably when I mimed holding the needle to sew the book sections together?
Some members made pleasant remarks about my little new binding of David Jury’s prints of my 6 poems in the Vessel. Well, not so little cos it’s about 20” x 18” and some were amazed at how I had managed to keep such a big surface area from bending. Actually so am I and I told them, ‘It’s beginner’s luck, follows me everywhere.’
In fact it is the result of many years of only sporadically making traditionally bound books, partly because I like ‘alternative’ but partly cos I was always frightened of being judged incompetent. The confluence of my increasing self-reliance and a perceived need to bring David’s beautiful rendition of my words made me so determined to overcome my personal weaknesses and get the darn thing done and done well. The book took a few weeks of research, seeking advice from DJ and ace bookbinders Mike Sullivan & Son (Robert), doing trials and buying the right materials. And taking lots of time and consummate care! So when I finally released the book from under heavy boards last week this was my reaction, “I have just taken the new ‘Vessels’ book out from under the weights and in my eyes it is dang near ‘perfec’. [However, remember the compere in ‘Cabaret’ who sang ‘If you could see her thru my eyes’, whilst looking at a gorilla!]I am over the beautiful waning moon I can see out my window this morgan. Wow. It’s taken several days of tears & sweat but I am glad to say it is good (enough for me, and that’s ‘good’.” Here’s an image of it.
And for those interested here’s my work towards the day:
Visions of Joanna The Ideas behind and Script for S o B.
In a recent interview Yan Martell said he thought that art can bring about changed perceptions by altering your perspective, “to posit a different reality” [to that/those with which you’re familiar]. All my life in art this is what I have tried to achieve. I always looked for a difference. Now in my Performance Art I have discovered a way to animate my vision.
We all know about books. Many of us make beautiful books. But do we all remember the way the word was first turned from an aural thing into a physical thing? At first it was inscribed in clay then a variety of different grounds were tried. We are embarked on the digital age and who can dream of where that will take the book? I look at different book forms and try to create them and their makers using my body and some props and specially composed music. The bark mask is typical of my creative process. I conceived the idea and began to make it using materials I had saved from my work in my garden. As I moved through its making I allowed the mask to dictate to me some of its form hence some rather unusual asymmetrical results with the elements of surprise and a degree of shock.
I am standing still, wearing black vest & suit (no shoes), hold up the bark mask, looking at the audience. “I am the book”
“We are all aware that paper is made from trees. But in Gandhara they made scrolls from birch bark and buried them in pots. These are the oldest surviving Buddhist texts ever discovered. (pick from the pot show my scrolls and place as start of the ‘sculpture’ which will be feature of the Part 2.)
As my tribute to those early pots I made my own pot with words around the neck and scrolls hold my words and images. I need to mention Jackie Leven here. He sang a wonderful version of a poem by Kabir which I shall recite as I cannot sing”.
I use music specially written and played by Luke Walker for my Clay Jug.
“Inside This Clay Jug there are canyons…”
“I am doing my piece in 2 parts of 15 minutes each.
This first part I shall introduce a series of books to you and tell the background which is really the history of the book through my own book-making. Then in part two there’ll be no explanations just enactment.
I have produced a book, G BATCH, which explains the project and contains the first version of six poems that I wrote feature which throughout the series.
Whilst doing my Masters I was amazed by Joanna Drucker’s Alphabet Labyrinth book which goes into the way the first words were put onto a surface, the first writing. This was on clay tablets, which I made but not using cuneiform, just English. (Show my yellow one & place in sculpture)
I also made a clay poti, (show and add to sculpture) which is a book form used in the East. Tibetan monks like the Dalai Lama still read from daphne paper potis.
I shall be referring to my Leaf Books here. Which are in codex form. (show and add to sculpture) Later the letterpress was invented and books became more available. I did a collaboration with David Jury with my Earthen Vessel books.
Wear black vest & black ‘dance’ pants. Also I shall be using a shawl to add the ‘outfits’. For each part first pick up relevant ‘book’.
(with this movement in between each book:
Foot forward, back, move left, hands up
Move right hand out to right and back
Move left hand out to left and back
Foot forward, back, move right, hands up
Pull hand over hand to left to signify pulling back time)
The PA piece:I was going to recite this but I forgot:
‘Have a care
Beware, it’s best to be wise
If you go down to the woods today
You’ll never believe your eyes
Be careful what you do to the trees
The guardian is in his guise.’
Everyone knows paper comes from trees but did you know that in ancient Gandhara they created scrolls from birch bark? These were found hidden in pots and are the oldest records of the life if Buddha.
The Tree-King is slightly scarey and gives warning that we should care for and treasure the tree.
Performance Art has an unsettling aspect here shown by the Tree-king who sets the tone of the scene. Using an invisible cord I connect with past times and I trawl through different book forms from the past 3 thousand years; clay tablets, scrolls, pothis, manuscripts, letterpress and eventually codex. I attempt to create various historical book forms and their makers using my body, mime & movement with music created by Luke Edward Walker and mark Newby Robson. I shall exhibit and refer to several of my own books influenced by; clay tablets from Ur, pothis from Tibet, scrolls from Gandhara, illuminated manuscripts, letterpress pages and codex. Watch me become the book-makers and the books. Meet the scribes, calligraphers, printers and book-makers from bygone ages.
bark-mask the bark-mask covers most of my face, stand tree like to start. unmask
begin Luke Walker music
‘bow’ to Pot from which I take
Move thru the books-
clay tablet- use one of the clay tablets from poti or the yellow one shawl becomes ‘kilt’, sit upright like the scribes from ancient Ur. Become a clay tablet
scroll- Take a Scroll from the pot and unravel it, ravel it, unravel it– shawl becomes Tibet style robe, sit cross-legged. become a scroll
codex- show one of the Leaf Books shawl becomes ‘hood/cowl’. Sitting at a desk become the medieval monks who created illuminated manuscripts. Be a codex book. Here I lay down and ‘turn’ like a book then stand and do it standing, foot out front, to side, out front, down.
Show Earthen Vessel books
I become the printer using a letterpress method?
The David Jury collaboration prints first.
Show my new bound book of DJ’s prints.
Return to the pot, go down into child pose.
I think Sonia Serrao who organised the day did a great job and there was a really happy bustle throughout the proceedings. I met and made friends with a whole new bunch of people. My mate Dave Doughty came up with me and his being navigator got us both safely thru the streets of London. Had I been on my own I wouldn’t have reached the show.
I hope to be able to add more images to the one Sonia sent me when anyone who got a good shot sends them to me.
Now that’s over I can shoot back to London, this time on public transport, to see the Auerbach at Tate. And return some books to the Poetry library.
I’d love to go to Zurich to see my friends Vest & Page, but I can’t. If you can you’ll have to go next week:
Verena & Andrea dressed up in latex. As Vest & Page they are astounding Performance Artists
Fabriktheater Rote Fabrik, Zurich
9 – 10 – 17 – 18 March, 2016, 20:00h
YGGDRASIL, the second production of Kollektiv Phantomschmerz – in collaboration with the Italian-German artist duo VestAndPage and musician Marc Rossier – is the continuation of the search for identity started in their first production Highlight. Following the question “What do you know?”, now they inquire into “What do you believe?”. In a time of spiritual alienation, a journey between conscious and unconscious states ensues through a hybrid of performance art and theatre. Shows at the Fabriktheater Zurich (Doors open at 19:30)
• March 09, 2016, 20:00 – Premiere
• March 10, 2016, 20:00
• March 17, 2016, 20:00 – Post-Show Q&A
• March 18, 2016, 20:00