My Fear Of Failure…I Don’t Do Fear Of Failure.

Someone had been looking at this blArt during this week so I thought I would kind of ‘update’ it and make it available again.

apulhed tinking

first ever prizeWay back in 1960 when I wer 10 I won my first prize, maybe my last too, in a flower show. I came 4th in a scone cooking competition. Above is an image of my tercificate. About 50 years ahead of the game what with all these celebrity chef tings going on nowaday. I never won nowt since, but I may still win sumting, never give up hope do ya?

Sometimes I do ‘get lucky’ and today I found out Red Lion Bookshop have extended the exhibition of my work until next Saturday. (see flyer below) And another ting, I had my first visitor to my blart from Russia today. Welcome comrad.

It wer all downhill after such heady heights, I just knew it would be because like Seasick Steve, I can’t lose what I never had! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3Iam7JELDM

Failure is a familiar friend, but not too familiar please.

‘don’t…

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MY VINDICATION Springs to Life.

 

'crash canvas' cover + title sm
This is the top half of the A3 book with its ‘crash canvas’ bookcloth cover. And the raffia rim which actually covers over the stitches top and bottom. There’s 37 images within on Zanders translucent.

There’s a spring in ma steps now and I am certain I know why that is the case.

It’s because when I got on with creating the final layouts of my book(s) The Shrewd Idiot, I often wondered why I was doing this ‘labour of love’? I knew I was driven by something inside. Now I understand why it drove me. Doing the book(s) up to publication helped me ‘square the circle’. Now I feel complete.

The three books which make up the deluxe version are all now ready to go out to anyone interested in making a purchase. The latest, the last, (the late one), the A4 ‘perfect bound’ edition is in the ‘print to bind’ stage and should be ‘on the shelves’ ready for buyers in the next couple of weeks, it’s designed & ready.

This has been a project which has drawn out over the past 48 years but it’s been well worth the weight. And weight is the correct word as it conveys so much about the book. Wait is what I did to find the time and skills to complete it and it is a heavy tome(s). There are burdens within it too, it’s not all pretty and sweet as sugar candy. Some of it is decidedly sour. And ugly. But it’s a pretty true reflection of a part of a life of an early 20 year old idiot who was embarking to become shrewd and his errors are manifest as he trudges and bludgeons and blunders and bluffs his not always so merry ways. Often you see him travelling the length and breadth of England, from Lancashire to Devon and back again and again on his thumb, hitchhiking lifts in sometime dubious company. The end is not neatly wrapped and ‘happy’, the end is the beginning. And without doubt the book is honest, some may think to the detriment of this writer, not I. I reveal myself back then, warts and all, because we all live in the illusions of our lives that we create in order to cope with the illusion of life. By cutting thru the cord of my illusion by revealing ALL of my self, even the bits I would most definitely edit out now as a clickerty clix year old shrewd cookie, I break some of my self-delusion. Many of you who knew me may have seen thru my vain attempts to hide the real me back then, some may have not.

“Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.” Neil Gaiman in in his foreword to All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown. He continues … “the gulf that exists between us as people is that … we can’t see, the stories…once we hear each other’s stories we realize that the things we see as dividing us are… illusions, falsehoods…”

The book(s) is the start of more books to follow which follow the idiot (shrewd or not so shrewd, it takes a long time to prove) from an 18 years old just left school so proud of how he came from nowhere in Art to gain the top prize at the end of his time there and the books are peopled by some of his works from the pre-college era.

But don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of beauty in the book even if it’s just the incredible binding done by The Sullivan Bindery. The book is not a bind, it is in fact a release, a realize, my ‘real eyes’ are opened during its pages and the life as this artibloke is truly embarked. They do say I was embarking mad don’t they.

 

The book taught me many things about my life and myself, not to mention my indebtedness to many (many) folk out there, bless ‘em all, the long and the short and the Tall. Wherever they may be. We are indebted to each other all ways.

I shall say no more than the fact that NOW, I FEEL VINDICATED the books vindicate me, especially for the time conveyed in the book when boy did I need vindication. At the time I were looking for acceptance and acknowledgement, I was even looking for love but I would never have admitted that cos even when I found it I hardly accepted it.

The second A3 book, PK The First 5 Years [Art Work] which accompanies the A3 Shrewd Idiot is now also completed as a bound deluxe edition of 10, but unlike the Shrewd Idiot there’ll be no A4 version. Sullivan & Son once again have bound it beautifully to my requests. I’ll let it speak for itself:

open at black board block burgundy sm
This image shows the lovely black ‘board blocking’ & the title page.

Now I think I should have entitled it “The Shrewd Idiot Works” with ‘works’ having 3 meanings

  • The Works
  • He works
  • It worked.

To celebrate this new outcrop of my publishing arm here’s some lovely Snaps Of Spring Blossom and I hope their beauty seeps in to the pages of my publications by some magical osmosikal method…[methodological osmosis]?

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name, Everything & Nothing?

Naming things also means everything & nothing like the famous conundrum about a doctor:

A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies instantly, and the son is taken to the nearest hospital. The doctor comes in and exclaims “I can’t operate on this boy.”

“Why not?” the nurse asks.

“Because he’s my son,” the doctor responds.

How is this possible?

The answer is in the ingrained assumption that the word ‘doctor’ denoted a male practitioner which in the ‘old days’ it usually did. The assumption was ingrained over centuries of the ‘male-dominated’ world which allegedly no longer dominates the ‘norm’ but in the collective mind it seems the natural assumption falls to the male interpretation. Now this is not an article about doctors nor prejudices, I am merely pointing out that altho a name is important it often misleads our perception, even when there is no intent so to do.

I mention this because I have been involved in making art & books all my adult life which is (on paper) 50 years, in fact 56 when you take into account I made my first book as a ten year old (of course I weren’t a adult then tho) as an end of summer term project at Tod Road Junior School and my first comic, Big ‘Ead was in that book which had old wallpaper as a cover. In my first year at Gwamma Skewel (as an ex pupil of the old grammar school system I firmly believe that they are a relic of a past (male dominated) culture, so no don’t bring them back, but you’ll ignore me anyway, won’t you Tess?) I made more sophisticated books with bookcloth spines and all. In my 6th form I made my own sketch books, had to cos I couldn’t afford to buy one. At (teachers’ training) college I made several books for projects and did my first concertina book with 6 screenprints in which I have just ‘published’ in an A5-ish book.

apulscreem 2017 cover sm
‘Apulhed Sees’ is on sale at Bookartbookshop.

Then I taught how to make books to the kids in my classes but didn’t make my own again til I embarked on my MA course in my sixties after retiring hurt from my role as a ‘teacher’. You may ask, “What’s he on about?” well my answer is I’ve always been making the contents of books and sometimes the books themselves book I am not a bookbinder per se. Many of my ‘books’ tease and stretch the definition of ‘book’ which takes me back to my point at the head of this piece, What’s in a name?

Artists’ Books?

There’s a term ‘Artists’ Books’ which is quite popular nowadays denoting an infinite variety of ways to make and stretch the curve in what a book can be. There are a growing number of Artists’ Books Fairs or markets etc. I’ve frequented a few but my work doesn’t sell in droves so I cannot really afford to have a stall unless I wish to make some new (networking?) links thru meeting new folks and advertise my wares, basically I have to tell myself, “This is like a holiday Pete. You’re running a table during the day then ‘after hours’ you can take a look at a place you wouldn’t necessarily visit, like say Oxford, Newcastle or even Edinburgh. Recently I was able to walk around the Bristol Artist Book Event (BABE) [wearing my new Apulhed mask] and witness the wonderful atmosphere and the way so many folk of like mind share a big space and fill it with beautiful artistic output. I spoke with a couple from Kent but have forgotten their details, so if you’re out there I’d love to connect up and discuss making 3D masks! The people who make the books are very talented and ‘artist’s books’ are a wonderful vehicle for all manner of ideas and projects and many of them are beautiful objects. Some of my work falls under the category too but I prefer the term ‘Books Artists Make’ (BAM) for my works.

I know that not everyone involved in artists books claims to be a artist but I did before I realised am not a artist, I am a man, I am me! But all my adult life I been involved in ‘art & writing’ but once again, What’s in a name? What does ‘art’ mean? What does ‘writing’ mean? In my case they both often meant under-mining or undermining or under-mine-ing. I would undermine my own stuff, I would often do something real good then undermine it with my next work.

I have this penchant for undermining, reaching under, looking past, looking beyond. I think it came from doing ‘History’ with the late David Clayton at school where we were encouraged to question things and this continued in my Philosophy tutorials with the late Bill Josebury at St Lukes. I hated the art dept at my college so I did everything I could to undermine the tutors. I disliked the politicians in the early 70’s like Thatcher who did her infamous cuts in Education then went on to destroy mining communities so I did scathing cartoons about their lack of consideration or conniving. One of Thatcher’s best buddies was Pinochet and she must have learned a lot from his methods, he, like other dictators smashed the poets, artists and educationists. So when it came to undermining the book, wow, I was in heaven.

Which brings me to the work of Tim Hopkins and his subject Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. Tim  has a day job, but when he gets home he must work thru the night on his little Adana press. http://britishletterpress.co.uk/presses/small-presses/adana/

Tim has produced a wonderful box of prints, which may be called an artistsbook of The Book of Disquiet. https://twitter.com/halfpintpress a bk o disquietLaunched on Thursday 6th April it’s on display in the window at the Bookartbookshop  near Old Street station, London. It’s difficult to describe but it’s very beautiful. Fernando Pessoa wrote his book (never published in his lifetime) during his final days on lots of ephemera and Tim has printed Pessoa’s writings onto many ephemeral objects like beermats, pop bottle labels, stamps, pencils, lolly sticks. This is a labour of love. He did 50 boxes/copies for sale and sold out almost immediately! I bought two packs with for pieces in each and they seem to be beautifully printed but Tim’s attention to the detail of Pessoa’s writings is astonishing.

a Pessoa

Pessoa had a strange view of What’s in a name?, he invented what most of us call alter-egos but he coined the term, ‘heteronyms’ to explain his use of a myriad of ‘characters’ in his writings who spoke with different tongues and names in his work. Fernando Pessoa says ‘my habit of placing myself in the souls of other people makes me see myself as others see or would see me…’

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7816.Fernando_Pessoa

and well done Tanya for arranging the show!

By strange coincidence I had come across Pessoa’s work for the first time ever a couple of weeks before this launch at Bookartbookshop as I was doing a poetry workshop (the same night as the launch!) at the Poetry school in Lambeth led by Saradha Soobrayen:

Session 4 Pessoa Task (for Thursday 6th April): Describe and create heteronyms to unlock hidden parts of your writing…

Pessoa’s on his term ‘heteronyms’. “A pseudonymic work,” he explained in a 1928 article, “is, except for the name with which it is signed, the work of an author writing as himself; a heteronymic work is by an author writing outside his own personality: it is the work of a complete individuality made up by him, just as the utterances of some character would be.”

Now you know my tendency to undermine don’t you? I’ll finish this blArt with my own slight consternation at Pessoa’s notion that a writer can, ‘write outside his own personality’? I tend to agree with this comment from the goodreads link above, that Pessoa wrote from 4 differing aspects of himself. ‘It is sometimes said that the four greatest Portuguese poets of modern times are Fernando Pessoa. The statement is possible since Pessoa, whose name means ‘person’ in Portuguese,…’

 

 

An idjet suckseeds!

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.

at BABE 2017 crowd GREAT sm

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?

a PAPete shows Ahed Sees sm

First I shewed ma 3 new books (quickly as I was told this gig should last just 15 minutes).

a PK reeds da poem

Then I read from Christine’s handout.

a PAPete68 mask BEST sm

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.

apul 73 prays BRILL sm

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.

a PAPete coxie begs sm

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.

apulama implores sm

Once again after the moon enter Apulhed-man.

a PAPete in hat glances sm

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!”1 apulama astoundin electric DARKA sm

To find the truth you got to look inside.

apulama & me contemplates sm

Meditation helps you to do that.

a apulswalo outlineI 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.

a beautiful winners + stars in ma eyes sm

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.