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.
*You see what I mean is, a Ubeen connotes that you have had a life, you been there and done it etc. a Ubeing is a you being alive Now! You being here, you being around and about. You being a witness etc.
There’s another dream repeats itself where am walking on country paths around a town which can sometimes be seen down below, sometimes the path gets clogged up, so much so it’s impassable. A feeling of lostness, permanently searching apparently fruitlessly, or with little hope of ‘finding’ the undeclared object of my search. And isn’t that a lot like life itself?
Life is like a dream anyway isn’t it?
I have almost completed the A4 version of my Shrewd Idiot book, completed the refreshed layout and final edit and additional little bits that crop up, “Oh yeh, it’d be nice to include/exclude that this time”. It’s a story about someone who went to spend 4 years at college in Exeter between 1969-73, but the person in the book isn’t me, he does lots of things I would never dream of doing! There’s little additional comments added to the 1970’s text which may be me, the 66 years old fella, but the 19-23 year old in the story isn’t me. He had hair for one thing (or millions of things if you care to count them). He was rather footloose and fancy free and certainly not steady in his relationships, well that’s not me, is it!
The back cover has some words from inside the book, shows me in all my uncertainty, prone to the wafting winds. BUT. The book chronicles my ‘growing up’ from a just left school 6th former to a qualified teacher with a honors degree. I know that sounds like the story of millions but believe me mine is not quite the same as all the rest. The book is not a reminiscences thing, no, it were written at the time, several times. I handwrote the first recording of my experiences between 1969-73 (tho not many are actually retold) in exercise books and scraps o paper. It’s NOT blow by blow accounts of day to day happening, the writing was heavily influenced by the likes of Sartre (Nausea), Henry Miller (NOT Artur!) and not his Tropics so much as his later more reflective philosophical writing, Joyce (I did read, if that’s what you can call going thru Fin Er Gain’s Waits and it DID have a massive effect on me. All of my altered spellin probli began with Fint Eee Gaga Awoke), Robert Walser and Albert Camus (Myth of Sysyphus).
The story is not crafted in the way a normal novel might be. The storyline is mostly chronological with occasional flashbacks. The whole book is propelled by copious images of many different sizes. In some ways the images are the ‘Shrewd’ part although one of the characters that I ‘invented’ may take the biscuit for the shrewdest of em all. The (anti-rather-chauvinistic) hero shows himself up to be rather less shrewd. Even to the extent that once he belatedly began to work his trade he didn’t realise that even labouring away 18 hours 24 seven wouldn’t get him his objective, his reputation had gone before him so in the end there could only be sadness. But he never even realised that as he ploughed on thru his days. And thru his various manuscripts of this book.
In 1976 he left his teaching job to be a artisbloke. Disaster. He did write longhand The Shrewd Iriot and took it to be typed by Jill (poor girl, it must have been hell). Then he tried various publishers with some degree of success which is chronicled in the Appendicitis at the bach. Then he hid it away pulled it out in the 80’s and added some hand-notes and re-put it away til in 2015 he decided to spend 3 months making it into a book. 2 ¼ years later, now, it’s complete and ready to be bound. On sale at £45 per copy on July 1st 2017, that’s when as kids our holiday began in Burnley. I should be able to retire on the proceeds of the sales, NOT, as am only printing 50 copies.
Below is a page from the book, it’s published like a typescript manuscript, cos that’s what it is. Am still looking for a big publisher, d’ya know of any?
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:
Now I think I should have entitled it “The Shrewd Idiot Works” with ‘works’ having 3 meanings
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]?
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.
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?
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.
Tim has produced a wonderful box of prints, which may be called an artistsbook of The Book of Disquiet. https://twitter.com/halfpintpress Launched 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.
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…’
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,…’
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.
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?
First I shewed ma 3 new books (quickly as I was told this gig should last just 15 minutes).
Then I read from Christine’s handout.
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.
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.
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.
Once again after the moon enter Apulhed-man.
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!”
To find the truth you got to look inside.
Meditation helps you to do that.
I 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.
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.
Let me explain some of the characters who will play a part in my Live Art gig The Shrewd Idiot & The Three Graces with guest star Appleheadman at the Arnolfini on Saturday 1st April at 5pm in the Dark Studio on level2 during the bi-annual meet of The Bristol Artists’ Book Event (BABE) 2017.
First let me explain why I do such things which keep keeping me far out of my comfort zone as every one that I do gives me lots of challenge. This time I am doing it to bring my new book series to life, literally! I have just finished creating 3 new books which centre on the life I was put through from 1969-73 between three beautiful places in England; my home town Burnley, my college town Exeter and my summer vacation town Bournemouth. The subject of the books is threefold; growing up, becoming a fully-fledged creator and my ‘affairs’ with three beautiful women. My books ram 4 years into 125 @ A3 sheets, my PerformanceArtPiece (PAP) rams 4 years into 15 minutes! Easy-Peasy.
I love making books, by which I mean the whole process from concept thru writing, image adding, layout, control of print, bind and materials. I love doing the PAPs. I been doing books & PAPs since 1972 and hope to go on a long time cos I have a big back catalogue of material awaiting production.
That’s me in the batter hat with Jamie Burr in a wig during a gig at IPA 2015 photo by Jurgen Fritz
It is useless doing beautiful books if nobody gets to hear about them nor ‘gets’ what has gone into them so I have upped my Live Art side by exposing myself to a 10 days PA session with IPA in 2015. That gave me insight into what folk are doing and where my limited skills fitted in. It also unharnessed my latent penchant for making a fool of myself.
Which brings me to the main character in my new PAP, The Shrewd Idiot (Th’S.I.). Some folk may have the mistaken notion that it’s me but it can’t be cos am not that shrewd! Th’S.I. thinks he can mime, dance, do poems, dress up and no doubt he’ll turn up next Saturday.
The Three Graces were 3 unsuspecting women who thought the guy they met at the disco was not just a great dancer but also kind & considerate. By the end of the book they all have seen the mistake they made and slung their hooks (at the SI!).
Appleheadman, an ‘alien type’ [never said what dimension he or it’s from, actually it emanates of course from my sub-conscious but I believe that store taps into other things which we don’t really understand], who was shocked at some ‘human’ behaviours when he first saw them. Then as he studied humans he saw they also had good habits too like Rock music, Beano comics Football. These areas are some that I covered with illustrations that I created to place inside some screenprinted heads of Appleheadman back in 1972, the prints were all individual at about A1 size and formed into a concertina book. Until recently print cost would have been astronomical so I never did a smaller version for public consumption but now colour print has become a reachable price and I have made 50 copies at c. A5 size which are ‘perfect bound’ with a little embossed stamp on the cover and a mirror inside.
I hope to find time & space to show my books to those of you interested in ma books at BABE. I’m bringing a ‘view copy’ of The SI book and the only copy of PK 1968-73 along with lots of copies of Appleheadman Sees hot off the press last Tursday.
I hope you can make it.
If you like this blArty bit there’s 2 more o ma blogs yez needs to peruse about ma new buks and the next gig: