At last I did ma Shrewd Idiot & The Three Graces gig in front of an audience (of 22+ cos some came in came out as you’re allured to do in Live Art pieces, altho one or two walked out before I began!) and I finally discovered with a little ‘elp from ma frend (see below) why I do it. At the Arnifini in Brissole in their wonderful Dark Studio. It had been suggested that nobody would have the energy nor drive to wend their way up there at 5pm on an afternoon but beautifully every available seat was filled and the witnesses seemed quite attentive, nay near mesmerised.
Much to my delight, as I had practised the ting and planned it over so many weeks without knowing if I’d be talking to myself alone on the day. I wantu thank my friend Dave who was first to say how much work it needed just six days before the event. Then my friends Max, Linda, Christine & Tom who said it really needed some big changes just five days before the event. I applied their advices. Christine did a lovely print & fold job on some words for me to hand out as folk arrived from which I read my ‘intro’ before I began the real ting.
Three old college mates came and it was wonderful to see them. Each of them features in ma big new deluxe book The Shrewd Idiot based on my thoughts & activities at St Luke’s College Exeter between 1969-73. My mate Gus was joined by his daughter Hannah who also does Performance Art and wasn’t even born in the time the books are about!
Tanya came to see what my fuss was all about. I’d like to thank them all for coming as well as all the other folks who came along. The gathered presence really inspired me to rise out of my fears and let the whole ting ting along well and it seems they all enjoyed it, especially the ones I mentioned above.
So what happened?
First I shewed ma 3 new books (quickly as I was told this gig should last just 15 minutes).
Then I read from Christine’s handout.
Then I got into character for the first few movements. The mask was taken from a painting I did back in 1968 which was exhibited in Burnley Artists Annual summer show that year. It was a face which represented the 17-18 year old me-myself-I, which is what the books appear to be about. It is also the first page of the Shrewd Idiot book printed on Zander’s Translucent paper so you see the title page beyond it as a sort of palimpsest. There’s 10 images on Zander’s Translucent in the deluxe A3 version each of which brings a palimpsest quality. For me it is a metaphor which signifies that life is not just what we can see and touch, there’s lots of other ‘stuff’ behind the veil. The painted face becomes another form of veil too, my mask. I always work on hunches in most all of my creative endeavours. I had a hunch these masks would be powerful, and they were, or should I say, ARE. I hope to have many opportunities to use them again and in fact I hope to make some 3D wraparound masks for future appearances as Apulhed & The Shrewd Idjit.
I did a couple of crazy dances meant to show what a ‘wild one’ I was when I left ma home toon to find ma way in th’world. The ting got serious when I told them I’d found a new girlfriend (Rose) but (rather carelessly) lost her at the bus stop. Van D. Man brought me a Beautiful Vision of her. After I lost her Lady Gaga had me howling at the moon in my doldrums.
Suddenly, out of No-where, came a Stranger with an apple-shaped head and he seemed to want to help me. But he was a new arrival on this plane and he was somewhat perplexed by the sad things mankind does to humankind. He almost set off back to whence he came without giving me (and you) the benefit of his shrewd wisdom. When I did my first ever Performance Art gig using his visage on masks in Exeter in 1973 he seemed to see a shaft o’light thru the haze and so he stays but he said, ‘Man must mend his ways, starting with YOU!’
Then Van sang Warm Love bringing back memories of the time we had together, a memory I chased and tried to cling on to. But I returned to my old wild ways, by now I was making a Cry For Love, aided by Iggy & Bowie’s song and ma new mask.
I’d almost given up hope when this beautiful woman (Camellia) arrived and gave me a present I didn’t really deserve which Iggy Pop told the story of.
Camellia also brought her highly intelligent rational skills with her which I celebrate with The Waterboy’s song Whole of the Moon. Sadly I couldn’t keep hold of Camellia at the time and I was on the road again alone and missing her.
Once again after the moon enter Apulhed-man.
This time lifting me up onto a higher plane where I was again joined by Van. He sings about being a Dweller on the Threshold, I tip toe across the burning ground and kneel down by the water where the lovely song about spirit leads me away, to delve into the mystic. “I looked at the swim and I dived right in!”
To find the truth you got to look inside.
Meditation helps you to do that.
I actually had picked up the wrong mask for my final fling so my Apul-Swallow mask insisted he be photographed outside of the Arnolfini as a goodbye gesture.
And all my friends came too…
The feedback has been good too. One friend said he remembered that I always liked to dance, another said she thought I danced beautifully which came as a pleasant surprise. My old mate from Enfield said ma gig was ‘…very moving and affecting…’
This was also what ‘James the tech’ in the Dark Studio said, ‘I was strangely moved by it.’ I am so pleased that it came over that way.
The Enfield Man (EMan) later wrote me saying, “…we had a chat afterwards about your performance and books and we reckoned that, based on what we saw, your books together with the performance was the best thing that we saw at the event. What you did, in my opinion, was to say, “look artists’ books are really different“…they are not just books with the limited and specialist vernacular that goes with the production of a “book” for a literary audience …artists’ books are a completely separate art form. Your performance really adds to your books as works of art. ” Also- “…The Shrewd Idiot book has a wonderful feel and special value attached to it just from a “laying on of hands” point of view…”
That’s exactly what I hoped I would achieve in my works, altho’ it has not been easypeasy. Sometimes I have wondered whether I been forever Barking up the wrong trees, ‘Am a long way from home (my comfort zone). How did I get here?’ It is so gratifying that am getting such lovely reinforcing comments.
ps I am working on a smaller version A4-ish) of The Shrewd Idiot which should have much of the ‘feel & look’ of the bigger (A3-ish) deluxe version but will be a tiny proportion of its cost.
Talking about ‘the feel & special value’ of real books my downunder friend Fiona Dempster did a blog – https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15b43ee869fd87b2 on th’smell of the buk.
This coincided with my friend (who I met at BABE four years ago!) Susan at Bound’s tweet: https://twitter.com/boundbyhand/status/850335549034561537
An Incredible Coincidence
Ma next blArt will be about the poet Pessoa and my being caught between Bookartbookshop & The Poetry School on Thursday 6th April.