As I approach my next, much anticipated, books fair ( clik the link- https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=cfd5b16764&view=att&th=1629b285999316e9&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw ) I rediscovered this old blArt and I thought my oh my did I write that? It is a very good intro/explainor of my modus operandi in some of my werkx. It kind of contextualises some of watti do, gives some history to the way I became the rebel riter wat i becaymed.
My Shrewd Idiotbook(s) give more intro to my writins and tinkins but in them it’s by osmosis, you get the picture by looking at my art and reedin ma ritin…gerrit? So, am reblArtin ma blog. Here’s lookin forard t’Baltic buk SPAM
The best think that ever happened to me was being top boy in the class in the final term of my year 6 (junior school) in 1961. Two girls beat me; Ann Whittaker and Susan I can’t recall her name but her dad was a headmaster… Mr Brown I tink. There were 45 in our class, a big class in about the biggest primary school in the town. So, when it came to moving ‘up’ to the all boys gwamma school you’d think I’d be placed amongst the top pupils? But No. I wer placed in the bottom intake class, 1C, with that dunce Bilkinton, who was always bottom boy, usually above the bottom two girls. The rebel was created. I knew summat wer rong and it wernt ma spellin! I never found the reason or cause for my being mis-placed. It may just have been something to…
Can a Idiot ever be Shrewd? I believe he can. Of course I’m biased as I was that Idiot if ever there was one.
One publisher’s (Oliver Caldecott) Reader, who read an early chapter of the book in the late 70’s, said that, “Kennedy could not have written this if he had not [become wiser with age]”, or words to that effect. He also likened it to the effect Catcher In The Rye had on the 50’s University generation but as I was the Idiot I was always late and it took until 2017 before a young student woman in Amsterdam likened the book to Salinger. Well, at last. Someone else, back in 1975, a PhD student called Alun Butler whose study was on Rilke, the year I self-published (warran Idjet] Apul-One, the prequel (or follow up as the text postdates that of A1) to The Shrewd Idiot (Apul-Two), likened it to Robert Walser. In some respects these folk were seeing the Shrewd side of the Idiet. In fact his alter ego Apulhed is Shrewd, he’s the Wise One.
The idiotic side of the Shrewd Idiot used to (and still do sometimes) spell wrongly (aka Altered Spelling) or delibritli uses wrong sentince struckture and all sorts of other means of putting the reader off.
Back to my original question, ‘Can a Idiot ever be Shrewd?’ Caldecott’s Reader hit the nail on the head because the idyet left his job knowing it was the right thing to do, to write the book. It only took 40 years to get it out but out it is now! And it never was meant to be such a feature of my bookart & Performance Art and blArts (I call my blog my blArt cos it’s me ‘blatherin on’ like a BlaggArt…ist , that’s it- I’m not a Drag Artist I am a Blag Artis Bloke!
Each part of the The Shrewd Idiot Performance Art gig relates a section from the book of the same name.
Image 1. Shows the idiot aged about 20 dancing & reminiscing his old love, Rose of Exeter who is one of what have become known as the Idiot’s ‘3 Graces’, three women he knew and lost in the book. He is holding a red dress with which he dances. That is not only a going back in time thing it’s also a reference to Trajal Harrell’s dancing which the old Idiot saw last year performing his Hoochie Coochie set at the Barbican in London. In the first song the old Idiot dances to Mick Jagger makes veiled reference to Hoochie Coochie dancing when he mentions “…your mama was a tent show queen…” in Brown Sugar.
Image 2. Aged about 67 the old Idiot dances like a king for Camellia to Iggy Pop’s song ‘Shades’.
Image 3. Apulhed, the idiot’s alter ego appears for real and does his cosmic dance once he overcomes his fear of the humans in the audience.
Image 4. Shows the Idiot at about 18 years old dancing for Bluebell, the first Grace (aka Gertrude) from his late teenage times. If you get to Substance you’ll have the opportunity to see all these parts of the Idiot’s persona in a 20 minute piece.
AND you’ll have the chance to view the A4 & A3 Shrewd Idiot Books at Pete’s table alongside his other books.
IF you go to the Society of Bookbinder’s book event in London on the 17th March you may get a chance to see the Idiot strutting his stuff with Iggy, warming up for Substance.
The time for my launch of my new (set of) book(s) on the theme of The Shrewd Idiot looms ever closer. Anyone who can get to the Colchester Arts Centre[It’s in the street behind The Mercury Theatre, you can park across the road at St Mary’s Car Park.] would be welcome at 2pm Sunday November 5th. entry is free I’ll be talking about my books and doing some zany Performance Art (PA) pieces which emanate from the pages of the books.
The Shrewd Idiot book isn’t entirely chronological, there’s flashbacks in it and altho I wrote it in the 70’s, I completed it in 2016 adding a final layer of comments from this man in his mid-sixties to the younger self. In this PA I have a dialogue with my younger selves too. Some of the exchanges may cause ripples of smiles because the young Idiot involves in activities the old Idiot would never admit to, would he?
Back in the early 70’s Neil Young was flagging up the issue of ‘Mother Nature on the run’ and his song After The Gold Rush depicts his dream about contact with other life forms which fits well with my work from around that time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKM5dIANXE8 so I’m featuring a rendition of his song performed by my friend Richard Spencer.
I shall talk, mime (badly), dance (not quite so badly) through the hand-made books’ content and have a Q&A session at th’end.
As is the ‘won’t’ of many a big gallery they wouldn’t allow photos so I drew them! [altho’ you’ll see I couldn’t remember Geumhyung Jeong’s name as I sat drawing illicitly on the floor of Tate Mod.
That’s the trouble wit big galleries, they’re buying into PA but they have no idea what the drift of PA is! PA is an open field in which anything goes. Please bring yer camras and click away madly at my gigs.
I also have Richard Spencer to sing a little at the beginning Bless his cotton socks.
Other artists who help my script are Lady Gaga, Van the Man, Iggy Pop and Bruno Mars.
The Shrewd Idiot book will be on sale in different forms; ‘The A3 deluxe version’, ‘The A4 Perfect Boundversion’, The Appleheadman Sees book (A5) and the ‘A3 deluxe PK 1968-73’ which is 27 picture I did tween 1968-73.
I created Apulhed (aka Appleheadman) in 1971 and he has had many many different looks in different media like comics, children’s drama (I did a big show with 14 Children playing my characters when I was the first artist of the new millennium to have an exhibition in Colchester Library), books like my Apul-One 1975.
Here’s a cover with newly done colours of the 1979 Happy Apulhed ‘comic’.
In this gig Apulhed will make a special appearance in a beautiful guise created especially for this gig and that I have never before used, I think it will cause quite a stir. Doors open 13.30 hrs, PA starts at 2pm (14.00 hrs) ends at c. 3pm. Then there’s 30 minutes in which I shall be around to sign any copies of the books you buys and answer any questions about my works.
Now I’d like to reveal my new ‘book-box’ with various parts of the Inside This Clay Jug project on display in it.
[I do not expect it to sell in fact on the contrary it is my own personal gallery space in which I can house an important show about a vital phase in my output.
I have had many ‘shows’ of my output since leaving college in Exeter in July 1973. The leaving of college, like the leaving of school is an important juncture. Leaving school was for me as being born (again) when I dropped the manacles which had gripped me since first entering school aged 4.
The first hint or ‘show’ of my output was my buk Apul-One which said (to my school) “You no longer manacle me, I’m free as can be. I no longer had to acquiesce to the norm”, I could do it my way and I did, for example with the personalised phonetic (fonetic) spellins. As it happened in 1975 I couldn’t exhibit (in my ‘gallery’, which Apul-One was) the beautiful use of colour which my ‘art’ employed as that was too costly but I was able to use my B&W works. Those colours are now available in my ‘Shrewd Idiot Series’ of books recently self-published (2017).
The Inside This Clay Jug project is vastly different to the content of Apul-One & the ‘Shrewd Idiot Series’ which both appear to reflect my own journey through the early 1970s. Inside This Clay Jug exhibits and reflects upon my acquisition of knowledge in, what may be best referred to as, the realm of spiritual contemplation, my thoughts on the deeper aspects of my existence and my investigations into ideas and concepts a little deeper than the surface level at which most of us conduct our daily journey.]
The book-box is circa A2 in size & about 25mm in depth.
There’s a copy of each of the books; G BATCH, Inside This Great Pot, Inside This Earthen Vessel (PK version), Inside This Earthen Vessel (DJ letterpress version) and the full set of 6 etchings from the G Batch master drawings plus the original poems printed on Japanese paper AND the tiny version of DJ’s ISEV.
Here you can see the Jung & the Silesi etchings which are printed in sepia colour and have a tilted diamond shape.
here is the PK version of ISEV resting on the DJ one, with a colour photo of one of his chases.
a closer view of David’s chase for the Silesi letterpress print
the other photo (we only recorded two) of the Beuys’ print chase. All six chases were dissed on completion of the set of prints.
All wrapped in ribbon with DJ’s folder full of letterpress prints at the back
Possibly most beautiful of all?
A simulation of my two Leaf Books inside the book-box!
This juxtaposition may never occur, or I may make a book-box specifically to hold them together altho’ of course they must be sold separately because they are very expensive.
The 2 leaf books each contain six etchings from the G BATCH master series along with the six early poems about the ‘wise men*’ on Japanese paper.
Well it were a toss up between that and The Wise Fool. Shrewd- astute, penetrating, artful and crafty- (I tink) shrewd entails ‘wise’ altho that in fact in the definition relates to money… The Shrewd Idiot aka Pete Kennedy is (or was) that- an Idiot in a lot of his habits BUT he always knew there was a wise part in the mix because he had conversed with it on occasion; in lucid moments. “From early on I knew that ‘life’ was a serious game but I soon learned to make light of it. I frequently played the fool. Apart from rock music and sport my great loves in life have been art & humour [altho’ this tome is not (deliberately) funny], my great heroes include Groucho & Harpo Marx, Spike Milligan & Tommy Cooper.”
Another title could have been A Lucid Tosser or Lucid Idjet…L I, or Li bringing in a zen feel to it.
There’s also another possibility in David Pierce’s book, Reading Joyce where on p. 316 he says, “[the surname] Glue is in fact from Old English gleaw, meaning wise or prudent.” So The Gleaw Idiot? Maybe not. Altho’ I was born in Glesgaw…The Glesgaw Idjet… The Glasgae Idiot?
Anyway all this is too late, the books are named.
So the ‘hero’ of the buk reveals his self, warts & all. There’s big honesty, an honesty which may seem unpalatable to some but it’s part of his idiotic nature- he cannot tell a lie or be clever for the sake of deceiving.
Gail Cher wrote in ‘One Continuous Mistake’, “Fleeting thoughts … quietly shock our being. You think one, sometimes you don’t even realise it’s there…it has been…your mind contains the memory…your consciousness is no longer the same….you keep track of your philosophical thoughts, your spiritual thoughts, your pecuniary thoughts, thoughts of your loved ones…”.) Gail Cher might have written those words for the doltie/dorky hero which is my because those are the kinda thoughts he notes down throughout the book(s) named after him!
Apul-One (original cover A5)
My old Burnley secondary school friend John Walton told me after he had read in 1976, ‘Pete, you write the thoughts we all have and think we’ll write them down but never do…’ Writing was his trade and I took that as a gentle compliment.
The Shrewd Idiot (cover A4 version) Portrait of the Idiot As A Young Man
So it is not a normal book. It’s written in the first person and is purportedly about the first four years of my life after I left school nearly 19 years old.
It’s not an autobiography because it doesn’t outline my successes in life, rather the opposite, it settles on my many doubts and failings (like frequent self-abuse). It features my anguishes rather than my triumphs, not the stuff of autobios. In my life I had many and regular successes and achievements, most of which don’t make it into this rather voluminous moan-ologue. But the fleeting moments do and I believe it’s those fleeting moments that mould the person, that’s why they’re featured. It’s the challenges, the overcoming the doubts and deficiencies that maketh (wo)man. I hope I’m correct cos if am not then this is 300 pages of unadulterated drivel, but don’t worry, be happy that I wouldn’t do that to you. Over 40 years since I first set my pen to paper writing this tome long-hand from the journals I kept tween 1969-73 and after spending months doing final edits and the layout for the book before I published it I am sure there is a story there, in fact several stories within the main momentum which follows me from a green horny youth through days of satisfaction and later of loss. The book shows many relationships beginning and moving on and some ending (prematurely) with some continuing way past the book’s end.
BUT, apart from the overt stories, there’s the covert revelations. It reveals my initiations, realisations, and most of all my growth from a punchy teenager to a more reflective early 20 year old who has no idea what his future holds but knows he’s at least prepared with his accumulated skills and learnings to face most of what life normally throws at a person and from experience knows that he can cope with some of the extraordinary things that crop up now & then.
The ‘punchy teenager’ taming was begun by the first of 3 women (The Three Graces) who had a major impact on him in those 4 years. Her name in the book was Bluebell, in real life it was Cath. She was the first woman I ‘went out with’ after I left school and in effect she saved my life. She gave me hope for the future and I still received her Christmas cards until a year or two ago… they seem to have petered out now despite my writing to her Australian address to tell her I’d like to send her a copy of the SI(A4). The second grace, Rose, real life- Jane, drifted rapidly then slowly out of my life but she taught me to value patience, although it’s taken 40 years for the lesson to kick my ass. The third grace, Camellia, whose real name I cannot reveal cos she’ll bat me, is still teaching me how to behave. She’s still got a lot of work to do. So as a result of those 3 gracious ladies I became less punchy, despite for a while taking on karate (I’m yellow!), I now learn Tai Chi with Master Ch’n Lay Seng, and the last thing you do in Tai Chi is get punchy!
The other revelation is of course the art that I produced. Much of my best work from 1968-73 is displayed in the book(s). One of my greatest thrills is to have found an outlet for the imagery which otherwise would have remained in my drawer until after my death* when it’d be taken out and revealed as the work of a wonderful undiscovered talent and then sold for millions of dollars, yen, euros but not £s cos an artist is never really recognised in his home town, are they? But I no longer care that for the past 40 odd years I was unable to find a market for the works I turned out with never ending enthusiasm. Most all of them end up in my big plans-chest or a hut in ma garden and remain unseen, so the SI buks are, for me, a comprehensive solo exhibition of those works. In the A4 version you get 25 images on translucent paper (tracing paper for want of a better word) which gives what I refer to as ‘palimpsest’ views through the parts of the paper which contain no image.
*Spike Milligan said, “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”.
buks have been my vindication and I am so proud to present them to the world. The A4 version of The Shrewd Idiot can be bought (£45 rrp) at the Whitechapel Gallery bookshop in London. The British Library will receive one copy but the other national libraries won’t as I only made 50 copies and at that price I cannot afford to give em away.
I have now firmed up the date with Antony Roberts at Colchester Arts Centre to do a ‘launch cum celebration’ event around books. The date is Sunday afternoon at 2pm on 5th November 2017, just 9 days after ma 67th boithday. So there should be cakes and drinks and maybe me doing a couple of the performance art pieces (paps) about the books, inc The Three Graces). I must say, I’ve waited almost 40 years to do something there, I first approached the centre in c.1976 shortly after its formation, the then Principal of Colchester Art College (Atkinson?) and Tim Holden interviewed me, the former saying he thought was good but the rest o ma work didn’t strike a chord with him. They laughed at me when I said I wanted to do a show there, they’re not laughing now!
Congratulations to Sally Shaw and all at Firstsite for getting that BIG arts council grant. The gallery has moved a long way since its near demise a couple of years ago.
It was great to see Firstsite humming with at least 3 simultaneous activities last Friday night when I was lucky to be invited once again by Jim Pey at Educaid to read one of my pieces. I did a 2017 poym inspired by my 1972 set of screenprints ‘Appleheadman Sees’ which I shall read again on the 5th of November with a little brushing up. In fact I’d love to do my PA version of the song called ‘Brush’ by Colin Lloyd Tucker too too.
WOW! Burnley Ballerina gerl Sophie Hitchen gets a Bronze as the first ever Brit Hammer medallist! Whilst Burnley Football Club had two FIRSTS at the weekend; their first game back in the Prem and their first defeat in 2016. If they’d have been given the penalty they should have got then maybe they’d have drawn to continue their 8 month unbeaten run?
OAS- Olympic Athletes Supreme- This time round at the Olympics Mo got Gold, Jess took Silver and Greg managed a Bronze on a super Saturday. What a feat by Ennis after having her son and all that entails and there’s no shame being beaten by a youngster who did a personal best in most of the 7 parts of her heptathlon. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/olympics/2016/08/13/jessica-ennis-hill-rio-2016-olympics-heptathlon-live-updates/ In fact Thiam had knackered her arm and only managed ONE javelin hurl and it was again, a personal best. Then on th’Sunday Max got TWO golds in events no Brit had ever gotten any before, Andy fought and gained Gold again against a battling smiling tiring Del Potro who was such a sportsman.
OFF- Olympics Fall Farces –
some sad things at the Olympics too:
The 10.000 m open water swim is so full of stupid pushing and kicking and the end is so stupid! The Greek bloke who won it didn’t hit the board correctly so he was only given second. The Brit was disqualified on the finish yet he had been battered so much on the run in.
The young Irish lad who pasted the Russian boxer in 2 of the 3 rounds only to find the judges gave it to the Russian.
And finally the farce that was the start of the Keirin cycling was better than watching Groucho and his Marx Brothers run riot.
OAP- Old Artis Pete- Has a new logo
And gets born again in Colchester Art Society’s beautiful Exhibition in Colchester’s Minories gallery! It appears that the old school has taken a deliberate step into a much more adventurous future and I think they have mounted a tremendous show, good for them.
PK takes (his own) Bronze in the shape of Lorryhead which you’ll see in the glass case as you turn right into the first room.
[You don’t see Lorryhead like this cos he’s sitting in a lotus position (what I cannot do, yet) in the glass case.]
The opening was good with Robert Blythe (of Akenfield fame) giving an inspired speech.
Jamie Dodds got the inaugural medal for his contribution to CAS. And I had the pleasure of meeting Volker from Dusseldorf who likened my painting of Ken & John to his German great artist Max Beckmann, that’s a first.
I thank Paul who took some great snaps of me in front of my pic with the dog licking me.
I thank Liz for making the music so well on her sax. It was lovely when she played Moondance after I had been ranting on about Van! Later she played Procul Harem’s great tune Whiter Shade of Pale.
I also learned that 3 copies of my 1975 artist’s buk Apul-One have sold in the Firstsite Gallery down the alleyway from the Minories, they never informed me though (we know that communication has never been their great forte) but thanks to a front of house girl named Alice I found out because she bothered to investigate. THANK YOU Alice.
And that would be Poet Pete has just watched this speech by Len Cohen, it made me cry, like Len does. But I think it’s beautiful, it says it all.
and here’s another bit of Len which reveals more about the way we win & lose in life’s lessons. Like Dylan sang, ‘I once had her in the palm of my hand’, I think Len is singing of his old love, a love that never dies and the need to treasure things whilst we have them because everything is fleeting and eventually everything returns to the source.
So, if you love someone, tell them, tell them right now. That reminds me it’s my 37th wedding anniversary on the 18th August. I remember all those folks who travelled from the length and breadth of this old country to honour me & Polly with their presence. As it happens you think it’ll go on forever, that all of them will be there so you can see them again and again but life goes on and off and many of our dear friends are no longer padding on this terrain. I loved you all and thank you for all you brought to our wedding way back then. And, you can be assured, I am still trying!
My (vast?) knowledge of ‘art’ became (apparently) irrelevant overnite becos they (purportedly) moved the goalposts when I must have had my eyes off the ball (or maybe the Jasper Johns/Pop Art target?) by their declaring ‘post’-Modernism’ which supposedly super ceded the Modernism & Classicism that I had studied and played a part of between 1968 and when the pMT (post-Modernis Tings) began (date unsure, a bit hazy and for me irrelevant).
I don’t believe ‘post’-Modernism’, it’s a crap idea which seeped down from architecture into some folk’s view of art. Whatever it’s purported to be (a shift, a change, a re-direct) it isn’t because the history (of art) is a continuation. As part of the continuity we have learned that the media we can utilise is not just the old fields of oil paint, water colour, bronze and wood altho I have loved working in all of them. Nowadays it’s ok to use ANY material to create art and all sorts of differing environments. Latterly I learned that as I manipulate the words as words and image on my computer design package that’s just as relevant in making (my) art as was once my manipulation of oil with turps on a canvas.
So. My books are art and always have been. I used to feel an odd sensation when I looked at say a photo I had done or a presentation with masks and feel…t that they weren’t ‘proper’ art. My ‘pop’ art drawings/comix with Apulhedman were just as relevant as my oils of my wife. So, all my activities which I used to put into a number of pigeon holes have now become my ‘art’. They are all one. They manifest from my observation, imagination and skill.
They represent me. They re-present the ‘me’ what lives and breathes in ways and materials, some of which will outlive the entity I call ‘me’ by many centuries…
The book I am working on or ‘compiling’ at present, The Shrewd Idiot (SI), has a LONG history. I left my teaching post in 1976 to format it from notes I had written, drawn and photo’d in various journals and sketchbooks since 1969. I had done my first self-published book, Apul-One (1975), from the same sources and SI was to be a more ‘normally’ spelt version of same. Its initial version was completed by 1978 and then I started sending it to publishers, two of whom (Wildwood House, then Calder), considered it for publication but eventually both dropped it. I have re-approached it several times in the intervening years and the newest version will have evidence of interventions from different times. It was never a ‘literary’ work. It was always a collection of some thoughts, observations, hopes, fears and images of one individual.
Now the words I created years ago have become images. Most of the book is made up of images of thetypescript typed up mostly by Jill (nee) Williams and boy was she tolerant of my stupid words. Drawings and other forms of image-making are a vital part of the book and that was the rub in the 70’s and 80’s when print was difficult concerning the placement of word & image in a book. Nowadays the two can sit well together and gone are the days when publishers considered it impure to set image and word together. In a way the world is ready for my arrangement of the material now but is it ready for the content? It matters not really cos am doing it anyway. But I am only going to make about 10 copies initially, mostly to give to some friends who moved thru the period it covers. The content will either fascinate or bore potential observers, I say observers cos it’s not (just) for readers in fact it may not be important to read it at all, I wish you wouldn’t cos it’s embarrassing in its revelations. It is not even state of the art in layout & presentation when you think of the beauty which David McKean brings to the page. I am deliberately not using digital layout packages, except for part of the book, becos am determined that Jill’s typing is the image of the main body of the words I wish to convey. There is a ‘story’ or ‘narrative’ which in fact continues thru all my life cos it’s uncompromisingly about the person that was me at the time (1969-1973). Altho in fact it’s like looking in a mirror cos the artist or writer sees themselves on the page as they see themselves in a mirror, unreally. (In my case somewhat unruly too) I can never see the me that you see, I only see the me that lives inside me and he hides a lot of his real self, even from me. In fact this book reveals some parts or thought of that self which maybe should be left in the archives but in the name of honest ‘journalism’ I include most of them even tho some are excruciating in their pomposity and vanity. In some ways it’s a personal writing plus images, in other ways it’s universal cos it is about one man’s efforts to come to terms with his world and find roads to explore with newly acquired abilities to add to what he brings with him to the time of the notes.
It’s all to do with The Way You Do The Things You Do, or as one old comedian used to say in a thick Oirisht drawl, “It’s the way ah tell ‘em”.
Here’s Jerry Garcia’s band doing the Temptations song The Way You Do The Things You Do.
It’s all to do with the way you do the things you do. He plays his guitar in this like Jimi did, and the Temptations were trying to emulate Jimi when they brought the guitar solo in.
Jimi had a long history as a band man round America before he cut loose as a solo artis. He even cut some music with Arthur Lee’s band Love.
Jimi and Janis Joplin died aged 27 only a few weeks apart. I watched a great documentary on Janis on Beeb 4 and it wer great the way she picked up influence from seeing the best like Otis Redding perform. She took his repeated word phrasing and made it hers. And how. How does a little lady from Port Arthur, Texas do that ting?! It’s to do with letting go into the…mystic, or whatever we call that energy level which seems unreachable to us mortals. https://www.nytimes.com/books/99/05/02/specials/joplin-obit.html