Category Archives: ancient history

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 their faces and to see what both organisers, (Dave Kirby at SuB & Sonia Serrao at SoB said was so lovely) the audience- attention and silence at certain points. Neither audience knew what to expect although my handout (beautifully printed at rjprinters 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 YSI seated. It shows the attention given by the audience and the 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 by Sonia on Saturday which you can watch on Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/p/BgeD8TMjM2L/?taken-by=palaverdesigns ) . Some even remembered when I did ‘The History of Books’ 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) buk. 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 & Sonia Serrao 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!)

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Team of trophies.

 

Real Madrid have eleven European Cups in their trophy cabinet now. (Liverpool have 5, Notts Forest won it twice & Man U av 2.)

That makes Real Madrid (Ray-Al some say) historically the greatest club in Europe, by far. Even back in 1961 when I was ten years old and playing for Tod Road Junior team in the Hartley Cup Final Ray-Al had already won the Cup 5 times, in fact every year since its inception in 1955 and we all fought to be Di Stefano, Puskas or Ghento in kickabouts in Burnley’s backstreets. I go to two finals as a 10 year old and we were joint winners of both. That’s the closest I ever came to winning a cup. Where does that place me in the ‘greats’ of football? About the same place as I am in amongst the greats in everything else- Nowhere Man.

But Don’t Give Up I hear Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush & the Dalai Lama sing. I may never have won a cup but I scored many wonderful goals and had some great achievements. Oh be Thankful!

sennacheribs prism BM image

The Sennacherib Prism 691 BC rests in the British museum for all of us to fascinate over. Their comment is:

‘Hexagonal clay prism, foundation record lists campaigns of (Assyrian king) Sennacherib until the start of his final war against Babylon, and includes a description of the tribute received from Hezekiah, King of Judah in 701 BC’. See this fascinating (despite having subtle leanings toward a biblical bias) article about the prism et al:

http://www.bible-history.com/empires/prism.html

 

I discovered it (The Sennacherib Prism) was there (at the BM) in the final week of my MA in ‘Art & the Book’. I had just about completed a major project in which I had used six men of ideas as the focus for my idea of placing ‘knowledge’ in clay pots. The project pivots around the concept of ‘six’, which in fact was a pragmatic reduction on Gurdjeff’s use of nine, nine would have increased my workload by another 50% and I had enough with six. Luckily six sided shapes tessellate as any bee will tell ya and bees also feature in the ideas of two of my ‘heroes’, Gurdjeff & Beuys.

 

For me the ancient hexagonal prism was and is tantamount to a book and at the time vowed to make a book(s) influenced by it. I love it. I cannot read cuneiform so must rely on the experts to tell me what it records. It seems to me that the view of history which we received in schools was so jaundiced against Assyria & Babylon, for reasons I shall not try to mention nor explain here, suffice to say that the region in which it was made has been at war with itself and others for millennia.  Assyria & Babylon and Persia for that matter had truly great civilisations for their time and those people arose out of a cauldron of activity in which their cultural and technological skills grew exponentially. I just love this prism. For me it represents (not in its words which are about wars and conquests but in its skills of the art of writing and making) a great human achievement. Compare it to an ipad. If in 2,000 years time a being stumbles upon an ipad & this prism I think it will be the prism which would communicate more once that being deciphers the content into its own language. The ipad will communicate little because the waves (of the internet?) which inform it will no longer be around, so it’ll be just a piece of plastic with a few words like ‘ipad’ marked on it.

My first real opportunity to make a book(s) influenced by the prism came recently when I saw an ad in Sarah Bodman’s BAN p49  http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/pdf/newspdfs/103.pdf

‘Call for artists’ books: The Great Silk Road International Artist’s Book project Organiser: International Association “Artist’s Book” Curators: Vasily Vlasov, Mikhail Pogarsky Project theme: Artists’ Books unite the world! The art of communication The international art project “The Great Silk Road” is aimed at the development of communication and cooperation between countries and peoples. Two thousand years ago, the Silk Road united the Far East and Europe and has been the main channel for the exchange of goods, technologies and knowledge. Today we offer to renew the exchange on a new level of art’s message, ideas and images through the artist’s book. The Great Silk Road is primarily a metaphor. We do not limit artists in the methods of the interpretation of this theme. We are open to any bright images and ideas aimed at communication between East and West, North and South, art and society; on building productive dialogue between countries and peoples. If politicians cannot find a common language for each other, they will have the help of the international language of art.’

BANG off I go again. I don’t have time to create any artisbuk right now, but anyroadup am gonna! And I did and I sent it to Moscow and I shall shew it to yez when I get a message from Russia saying they gorrit and they’ll have it in the show. Why did I bother to do it when am so busy working on other books like my long awaited (by at least half a dozen long term suffering friends + one or two masochists) New Shrewd Idiot? Well.

I may win a trophy like Ray-yall Madrid did? [Idjet! there’s no trophies to be won. The real trophy is being able to participate, innit?]

 

The Silk Road is what I DO! It features loud in much of my work since my MA studies in 2013. The Silk Road was much frequented and writ about by my old mate Gurdjeff (Gurdjieff or Gurdzhiev if you like) who talked of the Remarkable wise men he found tucked away in places like Bokhara and Samarkand on the old Silk Road. So I just cracked on and did it.

silk rd buk 2 sm

The result is my first hexagonal prism book. Using binds and words and artefacts together to indicate my fascinations which my bookbinding mentor Mike Sullivan kindly said, ‘…they look very exciting…’.

Everyone who sees them seems to like them. I have made 3 slightly differing versions each of which can be shown in different placements, all of which are reminiscent of ancient stupas built by various peoples moving out of India onto the Old Silk Road trail to China taking one of the most valuable of human commodities with them, ideas. And creative, beneficial, positive notions are, for me, the best.

What else happened this week?

Well I turned up at Firstsite for another impromptu lesson in break-dance from ‘Isaac’. He runs classes there as part of the YAK youth project. He’s so tolerant and patient and I have now nearly ‘got’ the first six steps in the basic break-dance form.

Blu Bella sm

I have installed the Quark2016 package and am working thru some teething issues with one of their engineers. Well I think I am, I hope she didn’t get back over the weekend cos they don’t work over (British) bank hols in India, not cos she’s given up on me as a dead loss. Hopefully once solved I shall rapidly (I hope) put my 1970’s illustrations into the New Shrewd Idiot. I got to get it finished and finally out. I have a new idea for the wrap-over cover. I have a self portrait what I done just before I left my home town for college days.

a self P 1969 v sm

I may use that with three flower picture above it representing three young women who play important parts in the book; a bluebell, a rose and a camellia. It’s wonderful where an unshackled mind takes you innit?

and in tribute to those who drowned at The Battle of Jutland, both sides.

a first poppy 2016 sm

 

1450 BC is a pivotal moment

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 Phoenicians were the big power that moved around the Mediterranean and they traded with the people of Crete and Thera (modern day Santorini, look at the map in this link and you’ll see it is like a polo mint shape, that’s because it was blown asunder in 1450BC (https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=santorini).

thers

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.

http://www.explorecrete.com/archaeology/minoan-civilization-destruction.html

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.

he went right back
some words taken from David Jury’s letterpress version of my scroll poem about Johannes Scheffler, medieval author of the poem ‘Cherubinic Wanderer’ which is about making contact with the source of all things, inside yourself.

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 ).

 

tumultus disc by Pol sm
Tumultous disc in stained glass by MLK

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.

Give Peace a Chance!