Good Chats at Bookfairs

After a busy weekend at Society of Bookbinders (SoB) in Kentish Town & Substance (SuB) (PABE Aspex Gallery Portsmouth Harbour) book fairs I was exhausted on getting back home Sunday nicht and much of Monday. As I wasn’t up to doing much (except sawing wood for my multi fuel Stanley cooker), a mindless activity, so I can chill, literally my fingers were like icicles despite gloves & scarf and all. During my wind-down time it occurred to me that the one thing I like more than making books (inc. writing and imaging and designing and getting print off and collating and binding variously) and doing Performance Art (PA) is the crack (as the lucky Irish 6 Nations Champs would say); the chat, the meeting and engaging in conversation about mutual interests with people.

So folk come up to my display of recent books at my table and peruse and maybe ask questions or make comments and I may answer then there’s the repartee + badinage. And I realised ‘that’s the thing which is most important, it’s making contact, touching the minds & consciousness’. Moments to remember. There were plenty of them at both events.

1 YSI + redress on chair detail
This image was taken by The Ladies Of The Press at PABE, thank you ladies!

Particularly during & after my PA bits. People may comment and react to my books but it’s amazing looking from the ‘stage’ into the the audience’ faces and to see both their attention and silence at certain points. Neither audience knew what to expect although my handout (beautifully printed at r j printers in Maldon) did go some way to explain what I was about to do, then did. In both venues the audiences were very patient and forgiving and 4 folk said they really enjoyed it at SuB.

I love the image which The Ladies Of The Press took of Young Shrewd Idiot seated. It shows the attention given by the audience and the hanging Japanese kimono which features a bit later on. They also took a short vid of him ‘dancing’ with The Red Dress which I shall try to post soon (the tech is beyond me, I’ll get my mate Dave to elp me). It’s lovely because the dress was falling from the coat hanger (not part of the plan) and I tenderly readjust it back onto the coat hanger. Much more tenderly than am renowned for!

One woman (Renée O’Drobinak of The Ladies of the Press) who is obviously big into theatre came up after and said it had an Ancient quality, ‘like Greek’. I think she meant the overall drama but also the humour & pathos together in one piece.

The reaction was even stronger at SoB where several (fellow book people) said it (my celebration of my dad’s life using the words of Annie Lennox) was very touching. Here’s a short vid taken on Saturday which you can watch on Instagram- ) . Some even remembered when I did ‘The History of Printing’ in a 20 minute PA two years ago.

a smsi cova words
Shrewd Idiot pushes his mammoth book to the tip say “I need to get this monkey offa ma back!”

I haven’t got any images from either PA gig as it stands becos, obviously, I were doing my ting and cannot be taking snaps. I saw some folks taking them so if any kind soul out thur can send me one I’ll add them to my blArt as they come. Thanks to whoever took the image above! Thanks Dave Kirby for sending it. “The Young Shrewd Idiot sits down with the Red Dress on his lap at Substance gig” is my title for it. The Young Shrewd Idiot is (of course silly old me wearing a mask which is taken from an oil painting that I painted from the mirror when I was at college. The painting is in The Shrewd Idiot (A4 at least) book. I wear 3 simple card masks of my 1968-72 faces watti dun. The 4th mask is a pair of very special ‘shades’ which I don when am doing the Iggy Pop number Shades. The fifth and best mask is my 3D Apulhed mask, the best I ever made thus far, thanks to you Verena giving me the recipe. Am hoping one day to make the 3 self portraits 3D too, altho not totally necessary I’d like to achieve that.

Special thanks to Dave Kirby at SuB & those responsible at SoB for inviting me to take part. I enjoyed both experiences, especially as I did not get caught up in the bad snow what fell on the South West (Southwester than Portsmouth!)

Endnote 2019

I shall have a table at the next Society of Bookbinders fair in Kentish Town on Saturday 6th April 2019. I will do a 15 minute set wearing the beautiful Apulhed Mask.

apulhed latest enhanced sm
Apulhed mask on a silk stand.

4 thoughts on “Good Chats at Bookfairs”

  1. Dear Pete The two performances in Kentish Town and Portsmouth sound like an adrenaline rush of success. I realised that we missed a trick a long time ago in not making a film of you and your relationship with the book in a barrow and performance art. This is especially the case when you put on those masks and stare into the audience….wow. And when you say that there were no photos of your two most recent performances well that really is sad. Still as you say the crack is the thing and so much art is ephemeral anyway isn’t it? My daily performances in this kitchen with pots, pans, jazz and badinage for example….is that art? Dunno…surely it’s not all drudgery? Anyway I was thinking of you today because I’ve just seen a remarkable film called “The Square” (Winner of Palmed’Ore at Cannes). Do try to see it Pete because it has so many parallels with some of the things that you know about in your work (and that Maddies’ too). Try not to read any reviews about it cos they only tell you what you are gonna see…they’re not reviews just spoilers. I think it is on in the Everyman in Chelmsford all this week or you could wait for it to go to video or online. It’s a bit long at 155 minutes and I was pleased to get to the loo but the film flies by on the whole. Plenty to think and talk about afterwards especially if Madeline sees it too. Hope you’ve recovered from your efforts of last week. Best regards Chris

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the mention and for coming all the way to London in the snow by sled it would seem (how do other countries that get regular snow manage every winter? oh yeah they plan for it).
    I for one very much appreciated the support and commitment you and everyone else showed in turning up and doing your thing.
    Your performance was lovely and deeply moving. As you mentioned, I love the ripple of uncomfortable laughter and embarrassment at the beginning which by the middle of the performance turns to silent contemplation as people get into it and begin to reflect on the music and movement. We always get really positive comments and feedback from your performances. Well done and congratulations!
    I videoed most of your performance and posted it to my Instagram @palaverdesigns and its been viewed more than 80 times!! Pretty cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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