Category Archives: Alastair MacLennan

Rainbows

Rainbows

Real & Imaginary Rainbows in MY life.

a-rainbow-from-oor-chimbley-161016

This one is a few days old when I photo’d it emanating from ma chimbley early one morning.

a-rainbow-1949

This was about the year I got borned, it was released c.Dec 1949, I wer popped oot Oct1950.

I love old comic books. Tiger Tim was great but my personal fave was Toby Twirl. The illustrators were the first great artists I was ever aware of. I was lucky as my parents could not afford to buy me them so I yearned so much to have them that nowadays, when I see them in various shops, I try to buy them. I keep on forlornly hoping that the skills will rub off on me, am still waiting. Of course I’d never do a ‘comic’ comic like they were but I do intend to re-visit my 1976 ‘graphic-novel’ Applehead Lives during 2017 and re-do it using the skills and technologies am still picking up along my merry way.

 

Performance Art Life Changer a year ago now:

 

Today I want to take you back a year to 2015 from 12 to 24th of October when I was on a lifetime best experience in any form of art that I have ever involved with.

Workshops run by Jurgen Fritz (‘JFr’) alongside others by Vest & Page (‘VanP’), which ran simultaneously, changed my approach to my Performance Art (PA). I doubt I shall ever come across such good quality inspiration again in this life. JFr and VanP were great team leaders and their respective teams were packed with people from around the world, many of whom had considerably good PA to bring to the 12 days of intensive workshops and actual PA gigs around Bristol; market, harbour and art gallery. I was privileged to both witness and participate in it and what I learned there fed into my PA part in Firstsite’s PA Day in November 2015.

The sessions gave me confidence to pick up my PA from where it had arrived and lift it to new height. It’s not for me to say how good or bad my output is, that I’ll leave for you & others to decide, but my 3 mentors gave me a will to carry on and carry out my PA with a renewed determination to be original, different and also to pay tribute to others who have gone before inspiring my work.

So today I am going to talk and show about some of the performance art I saw there done by some of my fellow participants. Altho’ I love all three of them I’m not going to talk about JFr and V&P cos you can find their work by just googling em. See- http://www.veniceperformanceart.org/index.php?page=255&lang=en

I’d like to go into some detail on Anna Kosarewska, Jamie Burr & Carol Montealegre, (I’ll get round to doing a blArt on Debbie Guinan and Robert Hardaker a little further in the future. )

All the photos were taken by and © Jurgen Fritz 2015 unless otherwise stated.

 

Anna Kosarewska,

Anna did some real beautiful PA during our time doing the course. Her best piece brought us all to tears as she commemorated several friends who had been killed during the invasion of her home country recently. PA can be a most powerful way of bringing issues into the public domain. Everything she did she did with consummate grace and care often covering her face with cloth or some other material.

anna-graspin

I loved the piece she did in the harbour on the rail track in which she used little toy soldiers. At one time her presence nearly caused some of the local workmen to have heart attacks when she refused to move from the track and a train was approaching albeit at a very slow pace, but it didn’t seem ready to halt, and she was lifted to safety by two of IPA’s organisers Eva & Fay.

anna-close-up

On Saturday evening she did some acts balancing glasses filled with water and walking dreamlike around the stairs.

Jamie Burr,

Jamie did some very moving pieces. His gig with bales of hay and a pitchfork on the harbour was gripping but best of all was his one done in the garden at Dunden where he covered himself in sloshy mud and threw water on himself from glass jars. I know that sounds stupid but it was quite incredible. Reality was suspended and I became one with a strange world Jamie established between the field and a willow den. He had set up about seven jars filled with water. About 200 metres from the den he had buckets with mud paste in them which he applied liberally to his naked body. Then he ran, followed by the whole lot of PA participants and leaders, to the den.

jamie-in-buket

He entered it and sat inside a few minutes, then picked up one jar, walked out of the den and doused himself and walked back in and sat again and did it again and again until the jars were empty and steam was rising from his limbs when he ran into the building to shower and dress himself again.

jamie-steamin

Carol Montealegre,

carol-blak
Thursday 22nd October 14:00-16:00, Castle Park Artists Alba Murcia (Spain) Nicole Murmann (Switzerland) Oozing Gloop Ye Olde (UK) Taz Burns (UK) Bojana Videkanic (Canada) Pete Kennedy (UK) Andrea Greenwood (UK) Jolanda Jansen (Netherlands) Carol Andrea Montealegre Pinzón (Colombia)

Carol at Castle Park

Carol comes from Colombia, she brought some exquisitely lovely PA ideas with her. She had these ideas like using twigs which I have seen being used by some of the big names but Carol had a special touch of her own. I loved her use of black face paint, lace on garments, leather so much so that I began to use it myself- face paint that is and my first use happened to be black (it would have been gold if I’d not first painted a Zorro mask on!) in my Zorro & Beuys+Dead Woodpecker-poem PA at Firstsite last November.

a-pete-electric-eyes

This photo were taken by Priscila Buschinelli (look at the eyes!)

a-carol-cleaning-2Photo by Pete Kennedy

But I didn’t look as good as Carol, no way. I loved the piece she did one evening as it turned dark where she blacked up and that made her teeth and eyes really stand out. She used black balloons too

(like Alastair MacLennan did, see

http://www.veniceperformanceart.org/index.php?page=186&lang=en )

but with much more beauty. Carol had brought along small props which she would drop into each of her pieces with aplomb.carol-an-jamiewriting in Arnolfini lift

 Influencers of my own work.

Alfred Jarry, G I Gurdjieff, e e cummings, Kenneth Patchen, Ken Campbell are some of my biggest influences, if I can call them that. Then there’s dances by Michael Stipe of REM and Tim Booth of James, plus Samuel T Herring of Future Islands, all of which I love.

I love the way Picasso, Topolski and Japanese Zen Masters draw in front of folk.

Masks from other cultures and my own creations in the past. These are a few of my favourite tings which you’ll see pop up in ma new PA gigs. I have been told I can do 10 minutes at the next BABE book fair in Bristol’s Arnolfini gallery in April 2017 so watch this space for development.

I shall be:entering with attitude, dancing like an Idiot wearing a Tea Cosy, drawing on the zen master’s, wearing a new Shrewd Apulhed mask and costume and, if yez aks him nice & kindly he, may do a gentle, meditative dance and do an Apul-zen* drawing himself. I am going to ask some of my friends at Benton Hall to help with the choreography.

I like the possibilities! I have also gotten a new take on my old frend Apulhed. Someone in Ghana has ‘borrowed’ the idea of Apulhed and produced lots of T shirts and tings thus illegally tampering with my copyrights. I created Apulhed way back and reserve the right to call it mine. Similarly I am now creating new ideas to play with in my ‘Apul’zone, so leaf them alone.

APULZeD

&

APULRah to Yah

©pete kennedy 2016

 Finally I saw more rainbows on my horizons:

  1. I received a (for this blArty Space) very rare ‘comment’ – see below.
  2. My previous blArty bit was my 200th.
  3. wordpress kindly informed me I have now had 200 ‘likes’, that, even with my simple math brain, is an average of one per blArt! I have always loved coincidence & synchronistic occurence and the conjunction of the fact that I had posted 200 and had exactly 200 likes is just too much.
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A lifelong friend

A lifelong friend, Trevor C., said (3.1.16) ‘Happy New Year Pete. Even though I just about made it passed the first line [of your latest blog]! All the best to you and hope that your family are all well.’

He was referring to his lack of comprehension of my blog, but I had given him an in to his comment by saying ‘many folk may fall asleep after the first line’ in it.

The two working class boys shopping for their mum could be me and Trev but we weren’t born when this photo was taken in Glasgow (where I was in fact born two years later! Trev were born in Burnley where I settled in 1954).

gorbal boys by hardy

(image Bert Hardy 1948).

http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2013/mar/24/bert-hardy-photographs-in-pictures

pete, an mates tod rd trio

Pete, Roy & Trev (capt.) drawn from a photo of Tod Road Juniors taken by Roy’s dad when we were about to play in the Centenary Cup Final as one of the top two primary school teams in Burnley in 1961.

 This blog is about relationships.

I’ve known Trev since we were 5 year olds. We played football together at Primary and Secondary schools then for NALGO and The Old Boys’ teams after we left school. We used to drink beer and chase girls together during our teens in his Wolseley Hornet, which can be seen in the background of this group photo.

pete bly boys 1971

Pete (sporting his six pack and Lennon-specs), Steve Hezzlewood, Trev
with Stuart in foreground at campsite near Woolacombe.

Steve and Pete in the sea off Polperro, shortly before we rescued Trev who had an attack of cramp. Steve was to die in his early forties from a congenital heart problem.

a wolesley hornet

Five of us were driven back from the great festival at Shepton Mallet in it in 1970!

For many years I always would visit him whenever I returned to my home town (which I hardly ever visit now since both of my parents died). He’s one of a handful of friends I’ve kept touch with since 1955. Those relationships are precious reminders of Burnley where I went to school.

Last week’s TED lecture flagged up the vital part good relationships play in longevity. Mutual support, community, compassion* and camaraderie help support a long healthy life. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#section_query/in%3Ainbox/15203661e1e6c780

* In his chapter called ‘Monks In The Machine’ in The Wisdom Of Compassion Victor Chan reports finding out that Richard Davidson uses an fMRI machine to show activation in parts of the brain to explore brain functions when people think. Davidson discovered that people who have a high register of an electrical signal called ‘gamma’ tend to be in heightened feelings of happiness, joyful & optimistic. He found that one monk who had done over 34 thousand hours of meditation entered a state of euphoria when meditating on Compassion, joy and fulfilment permeated his entire nature. Most of the monks showed large increases in gamma waves in their left pre-frontal cortex- a sign that they were experiencing intense periods of well-being. It may be possible to intentionally cultivate positive traits such as empathy & kindness and use it as an antidote to anxiety & depression. The Dalai Lama’s insight after 80 years of meditation is that altruism is the surest way to bring about genuine life satisfaction.

 

Since the late sixties, when I began taking ‘art’ seriously, my relationship with ‘the gallery’ has been anything but healthy. In fact it’s been heartily non-existent. It’s interesting too that this week I went to talk with an accountant cos HMRC in its wisdom (not) decided I need to do self-assessment returns on the basis that a gallery put me on its wages forms in order to gain some tax allowance on the £100 bursary they gave me. The accountant laughed at my finances which show my outgoings to make my art are easily a hundred times greater than my incomings. Which brings up the question of what a fool believes. I believed for the past 50 years that one day my art would pay back all the time and effort. It hasn’t, not financially anyway. It has in terms of my learning, my extended skill base, my fairly prodigious output (most of which I retain) and of course my job as a teacher of art which kept the wolf from the door.

I’m working on re-viewing my attitudes and expectations in order to move thru my next phase in life. Not expecting ever to sell my art, never being made welcome in the gallery nor being asked to lecture at any higher level institution must be taken as a definite, it’s not what might occur, it happened already. By doing that I am no longer chasing what I call ‘wil o’ the wisps. I can just continue to make what pleases me, which is what I mostly did all along. I intend to complete the masters of several books I am designing most of which I have written and made images for already but I won’t create editions. I am doing them to prove to myself I can. I don’t wish to create more than the master any more, there’s no need, there’s no market. The resounding silence I have received for the 3 articles I wrote for some journals and the quiet noise my books have generated in the past 40 years indicates to me that people are not gagging to see them even less own them or even write columns about them. To those of you (I can count you on my two hands) who have gently expressed your liking for some product I created, thank you, but the remainders of past books and paintings, prints, bronzes etc indicates to me it’s time to retract. I am not sad, but just being realistic. I am changing my focus, I am reading the signs more clearly. I ploughed on regardless for 50 years thinking people would eventually understand, ‘get’ what I am saying and all. Now I am going to clear the clutter in various aspects of my life, stop chasing my dreams and start taking notice of the need to weed my ground, paint my house, cook some of our food and all the things that ‘normal’ folk do which I have neglected whilst chasing the dream.

Performance Artist (PA) Alastair MacLennan once said that ‘a society gets the art it deserves’ and it seems the society I lived in didn’t deserve my work because it didn’t ‘get’ (or receive) it. Individuals, other artists, players, writers all have ‘got’ my work but society at large, especially represented by the gallery, the media and the critics, didn’t ‘get’ it. Ironically the absence of accolade & ‘success’ for my werk aided my own freedom to explore my very own path & produce outcomes untrammelled by the expectations of others.

‘In a debate concerning freedom Karel Teige discussed the relationship between society and the production of art which he saw as ironic in a society primarily concerned with profit making’. (Slavka Sverakova, p10 in Alastair MacLennan Is No 1975-1988, 1988.) In 1985 MacLennan had said, ‘Realising the bottom line is never ideological, but human; that art is not in, of, or onto itself. It’s for people.’ (ibid)

Here I want to quote some more from Slavka’s preface because it seems to me to be a perfect manifesto for my own future-work:

‘MacLennan…insists that periphery is the cutting edge of culture’ [My work has always been on the periphery, it’s even on the outside of Outsider Art! I have always stood at the side watching, trying to get in, crying cos am rejected and all those emotions which everyone who ever tried to make art feels in varying degrees. Escher^, seems not to have bothered with the circuit and his stuff has had lasting quality, I must say it’s influenced my work on occasion. One example is my etching below. (^I mention Escher cos his art was all to do with transformation from one state into another, very much like what my PA is about, creating magic moments from seemingly mundane things through interesting juxtapositions

– I PK (or DAN I OOPAPA) said that, sounds profound to me!),]

etched scheffler part

Part of my etching about knowledge

MacLennan…’the art centre is wherever you are’. [compare with Jurgen Fritz, ‘Performance Art is what the Performer declares it to be’]

Plato in Timaeus formulated the idea that ‘human dignity does not depend on a hierarchy of wealth and power. ‘Plato’s Demiurge is not an object of worship he is a builder and maker, he puts things together, joins them, blends them, splits them up, divides them’ (ibid). [Isn’t that what I always do, done, did?]

MacLennan talks of, ‘What we perceive is a certain combination of shifting qualities in a certain place at a certain time.’ [this makes the ‘event’ the art. So many Performance Artists don’t like their work to be recorded. It is what it was at the moment it happened, it cannot be replicated. Beuys said that the event not the notes left on the piano was the art]

MacLennan says he performs, ‘Installed, sited action/ritual, evolving  thru stages of transition for pre-determined durations with content engaging political, social & cultural issues…highly sensual & chaotic…as Heidegger said ’the matter-form-structure content tends to be submerged in the creator’s own participation as the source of the object’s presence’. [There, my permit to place ‘me’, costumed, masked, or in my birthday suit, in my art, my go-ahead to bring my (past*) art & artefacts into my PA! And so it shall Be.]

*’past’, it’s always ‘past’ if you make it, no matter when you make it.

So, the artist who is ‘creative’, one who creates new ideas/product/challenge, has few outlets (if any). In PA, as Jurgen Fritz (JF) and Vest & Page (V&P) said during a discussion at IPA, in order to get paid venue work you have to more or less guarantee your product is of appeal to a potential audience, in other words, reliable in a predictable form. However, one of the excitements of PA is that it seeks out & thrives upon the unexpected. As JF and V&P all indicated, when the going gets difficult/tough/surprising/unpredictable “It has begun”. The very nature of creative art is that it is challenging and it can be (delightfully/scarily) surprising. MacLennan said, “Realising the bottom line is never ideological, but human; that art is not in, of, or onto itself. It is for people.”(Performance Mag 1985 No 37 p11)

Now I understand that when I do more PA I’d need to be able to communicate with or ‘get’ to the public mind, without demeaning my ideas nor intelligence & sensibility of the watchers of course.

I shall develop some of this in ma next blog.

They say The Duke if 70’s Cool died just after his 69th birthday. Respect, The Man Who Fell To Earth has returned to the Ether from whence he came to gift us with his Ziggy songs.

a sunset fer Bowie sm

So, to my tribute to the great innovator David (Jones) Bowie. I went to see him in Boscombe in summer 1972 just as he was developing his Ziggy character on a wing and a prayer. He wore a denim jacket with some fur embellishment on the collar, which style I adopted on my return to college for the jackets worn by the male dancers in St Luke’s College Performance ‘Catulli Carmina’ in the late autumn of that year. I love his China Girl stuff best. He’ll be walking along the beach with his mam again now. Here’s Ashes to Ashes and an unusual instrumental, just watch him dance 2.30 mins in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7KSM5j4-Zg .