Category Archives: artists books

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name, Everything & Nothing?

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.

apulscreem 2017 cover sm
‘Apulhed Sees’ is on sale at Bookartbookshop.

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?

Artists’ Books?

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.

Which brings me to the work of Tim Hopkins and his subject Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. Tim  has a day job, but when he gets home he must work thru the night on his little Adana press. http://britishletterpress.co.uk/presses/small-presses/adana/

Tim has produced a wonderful box of prints, which may be called an artistsbook of The Book of Disquiet. https://twitter.com/halfpintpress a bk o disquietLaunched 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.

a Pessoa

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…’

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7816.Fernando_Pessoa

and well done Tanya for arranging the show!

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,…’

 

 

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Moonbeams on my pillow

Final prep for Society o’ Bukbindas (SoB).

In a recent interview Yan Martell said he thought that art can bring about changed perceptions by altering your perspective, “to posit a different reality” [to that/those with which you’re familiar].

All my life in art this is what I have tried to achieve. I always looked for a difference. Now in my Performance Art [PA] I have discovered a way to animate my vision. What on earth is this PA some of you may say and how come you are doing it? RoseLee Goldberg, in Performance Art. From Futurism to the Present, says

‘…the very presence of the ‘performance artist’ in real time ‘stopping time’, that gives the medium its central position. In the first decade of the 21st century PA is at last being folded into the history of art, moving from the margins to the centre…PA continues to be a highly reflexive, volatile form- one that artists use to articulate and respond to change. It continues to defy definition and remains as unpredictable and provocative as it ever was.’

As I said I always looked for a ‘difference’ and PA gives me the opportunity to make a difference, as well as making books and all my other ‘art’ stuff. I got into it back in 1973 when a friend called Chris Leonard asked me to do an Apulhed Mask Show in the drama theatre at college. I tend to do a piece of PA at the start of each of my 25 or more exhibitions but now I have caught the bug and my PA is as important a part of my output as anything I ever created. It panders to the actor in me, the show-off, exhibitionist and all that stuff we usually hide. I feel I can achieve the impossible in PA. The impossible not something like flying or walking on water but things I would not do as a rule. Recite poems, dance, mime, wear a dress, wear a Tibetan Monk’s yellow hat, all crazy things I’d avoid normally cos deep inside this shallow disguise is a normal man, I’ve yet to find him though.

RoseLee Goldberg’s book entitled ‘From Futurism to the Present’ gives clues as to how long PA has been around. For me it began with Alfred Jarry and in a way his work has never met its equal. Everyone after that was re-framing what he did but don’t misunderstand me, there’s been and still are some really wonderful PA creators. And she is correct in saying that it has gradually entered into the thoughts if not building of the gallery. PA isn’t exactly easy to sell. So Saatchi for one may have had difficulty harnessing it for his collection. That’s one of the great appeals of PA, it hasn’t been strangled by the gallery, yet. I am in a lucky position. I am now an OAP, I’m retired from my day job and I don’t have to ‘do’ anything. But I choose to make books and PA cos I feel I have something, garnered from my 50 years trying to ‘make it’ as an artist bloke, which I can bring to the PA place. What’s that? Well it seems you can do PA almost anywhere. This week (ending 27Feb2016) I did a small part of my new piece in the foyer of my sports club cos someone asked me to ‘Do it here for me, right now’, so I did. And that broke a duck. I hadn’t dared do it like that but as I was asked, I did. And a link in the shackles dropped off (Ta Lara Ann!).

We all know about books.

Many of us make beautiful books. But do we all remember the way the word was first turned from an oral thing into a physical thing?

At first it was inscribed in clay then a variety of different grounds were tried. We are now embarked on the digital age and who can dream of where that will take the book? I look at different book forms and try to create them and their makers, using my body and some props and specially composed music.

 

The bark mask?

1 treeking sm

The bark mask is typical of my creative process. I conceived the idea of using tree related stuff to create a mask because we make books from trees and I began to make it using materials which I had saved from my work in my garden. As I moved through its making I allowed the mask to dictate to me some of its form hence some rather unusual asymmetrical results with the elements of surprise and a degree of shock. Purportedly the Tree Sprit brings with him a warning about the need to be Eco-Friendly. But as with all symbols and signifiers there’s a lot more to it than that.

And there’s more to PA than finding difference and exhibiting one’s prowess in becoming the book! PA is a forum for protest and complaint too. I have a gripe about the men, it’s almost always men, purportedly to be ‘world leaders’. My gripe goes back past world war one and forward to present day when these jerks ‘lead’ [from the back of course, in safe bunkers] the country to war.

 

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/the-worlds-wound-or-the-worlds-wound-up/ In this blog (above) on 25th Jan 2015 I spoke about Putin taking Russia down an unfortunate old path which the Tsars & Stalin used many times in the history of that country, I said:

 

“Putin needs to be given an out, a chance to climb down, to admit a mistake and a chance to heal the damage, before it escalates into a catastrophe. The ‘world ‘leaders’ are complicit. They are in danger of engaging in a 3rd ‘World War’. STOP. See the comparison between Ukraine 2014 and Serbia 1914. Be very careful.”

Since then I have met a Ukrainian who reminded me of the terrible incursion Russia has made into that independent country killing some of the person’s friends AND RUSSIA IS STILL THERE. Putin is also involving in Syria supporting Assad and bombing groups of Syrians who are combatting his (Assad) regime’s heinous measures against Syrians, 11 million of whom have fled. Stop the killing now your madnesses. lennon an bombs 2 snowflakes smmy image of my Uncle John making snowflakes out of bombs (so they shot him 5 times)

I hope that this peace brokered with John Kerry and Russia is the ‘chance to climb down’ I mentioned above cos the war-path is a bad trail to follow. I won’t say ‘ask Blair & Bush Jnr’ now cos that’d be too obvious.

So, back to my PA at S-o-B this coming Saturday, a lot happened overnight! I awoke having decided in my sleep to actually make this PA easier to comprehend for the S-o-B visitor. A lot of PA uses few if any words. The artist just does the piece, no words nor explanations, it its purest terms. I have decided to give an ‘in’ to my actions. I shall talk thru the first couple of stages, explaining where (I think) I’m coming from.

Finally I had a wonderful experience as I awoke at 05.10 hrs today. I looked down the bed and saw a stream of light along the length of my body. A bit like the white line down the middle of the road illuminated by those old cat’s eyes. I knew I was in bed not on the road. I looked up and saw the curtains had a slight opening in them and the halfmoon was peeping thru the gap sending a beam of light over my body. As I stood up it was down my bed and up over my pillow. I love synchronicity, Jung is one of me six ‘wise’ men in the poems in my Clay Jug. Let’s hear the Captain sing one of his most beautiful songs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjazg_lTfJA See you on the end of the rainbow in Kentish town on Saturday 5th March.

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/dec/18/captain-beefheart-don-van-liet-obituary 

Bless

My German ‘gHosts’.

All of a sudden my life is beginning to happen. ‘It’s almost as if the stars are tangled in a ghostly spider’s web. The whole network is beginning to glow, to pulse with light, exactly as if it were alive…’ (p. 166, Tom Wolfe in Cool Aid Acid Test).

I spent 65 years ‘trying’ to ‘get there’ and suddenly somehow I arrive! Like Clementine, I’m on tea & croissants. On Friday night last when I turned on the Mercury prize I discovered a man/voice which was as big a revelation to me as hearing Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks on vinyl way back in 1968 on an old Dancette record player exactly like this one.a dancette

Benjamin Clementine was chosen as the top album (?) and what a phenomenon!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a68KJWe_Tfk

Although I am not a phenomenon I did surprise a few folk at the IPA fortnight (http://www.ipapress.i-pa.org/official-news/ipa-autumn-2015-official-news/great-blog-from-pete-kennedy-about-ipa-autumn-2015/  recently but I been a long time gestating. During the time of my ‘working life’ I never ‘made it’, that’s for sure, partly cos I were too busy working for a living. But I never gave up my pursuit of the goal which was to make a mark on the consciousness of the era in which I have lived.

It was a long hard battle. I wrote, I painted, I did graphics (‘comic’, caricature and stuff) and I drew. I drew cos I could. I actually draw because of the battle I had to fight to acquire the ability to draw. It wasn’t easy cos as a 16 year old I was cack-handed (kakˈhandɪd; ‘clumsy, awkward or inept way of doing something; originally meaning left handed’, in other words I couldn’t draw for toffee but now I’m ambidextrous and am proud of that. Although I perform across a number of media it was the ability to draw which I chased hard until I achieved a certain skill which allowed me to draw the likes of Feliks Topolski, Miriam Patchen and more recently Vest & Page.

When Richard Morphet, the then Keeper of the Modern Collection at Tate, said to me in c. 1994, ‘Your work has a very German feel’, I think he was referring to the new breed from Germany like ‘upside down man’ Baselitz, yes there was a similarity but it stemmed from our all having the same influences in art history. Here’s one of my portraits (of Michael McKell actually) showing the similarity in technique. This is one of the illustrations which are reproduced beautifully in my article in JAB38 but here I am showing it in colour, it needs colour as does much of my oeuvre.

Michael McKell lino cut, black & brown

When Brad Freeman gave the go ahead on my article for the Journal of Artists Books (JAB http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/) and I pondered on being asked to feature my own work, mainly in book and print but also in paint, and those who had inspired, directed and influenced it. It soon became apparent that many of them were of German origin. My father and his father’s generation had been embroiled in war with Germany yet I was inspired by so many German artists and writers. Significantly many of my influences had been on the Nazi regime’s list of ‘degenerate art’. The writer, artist and mountain walker Hermann Hesse, significantly, even stood up against the First World War. Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys all had to cope in their various ways with having been born in Germany and the aftermath stigma of the Third Reich.

a The scale is the result of the dance

my portrait of Anselm Kiefer

Luckily my embroilment has been with the positive creative side of the German spirit. The list is long and the work they did will give insight into my own output, about which the article will further inform you. Beneath German military imperialism lays a deeper current, German humanism as manifested in the work of writers like Hesse, Walser and Klee, each has had a profound effect on my work/output which I shall be linking to the work of the following artists showing how they have had an impact on my thinking:

Expressionists; Shmidt-Rotluf, Franz Marc (Post Card To Prince Jussuf), Kokoshka with his very literature base and liberal brush.

Dada etc; Max Ernst Collage books (La Femme 100 tetes) and his Livres d’artists,

Bauhaus; Klee, Schlemmer

Post war; Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys

Add to these Munch and Soutine, both of whom have a similar ‘feel’ and indeed the former certainly influenced the Expressionists. https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=expressionist+painters

*Kokoshka was born in Austria but was associated with German Expressionism and dada.

Wikipedia says that Kokoschka (who became involved with Performance Art) was a master of ‘innovative oil painting techniques anchored in earlier traditions’ which resonates with my lifelong observation  about ‘art’ or rather  ‘the creative process’ passing down a (transcendent) chain or  down a line/ lineage.

I see my portraits as descendent from the work of Rembrandt or El Greco, then Van Gogh and Soutine yet it never lamely mimics any of them. They set the example but I always looked to move it on. I was born into a generation which experimented with and pushed the barriers, sometimes too far, too quickly. I have always looked over my shoulder or down to see my feet standing on the shoulders of giants. I fought hard with my own inadequacies to overcome my incompetence in various media. I did find my way to doing some oil paintings which had considerable skill. All of the time I heard Max Ernst whispering in my ear that ‘painting is dead’, yet I refused to allow that to happen, I love the push of the wet gooey brush across the dry canvas surface and my attempts to make a difference. I was aware that so many great artists had (before I began) created a great legacy of amazing works which I could hardly hope to match, so I would push off in another direction. To find that direction I would look intensively into the history of ‘art’ and into the practice which was going on around me from the time of my first successful paintings and prints until today.

In the early 1970’s I was lucky to see the work of Soutine, de Kooning, Barnet Newman and Dieter Roth all of whom did what I considered to be ground-breaking work which itself was keeping to the lineage of the greats that went before them. I wanted to create new and original work which proved ever so difficult when the art market only really wanted to have the work of established masters or people who were following in their footsteps. They wouldn’t look at my work because I was not in the canon or established or I didn’t have the right track record or had not been vetted by the right colleges. And who can blame them when so many artists were being produced, choosing who to back and add to the canon must have been difficult. But I carried on making my art regardless, for 48 years now. Now it can be seen that I have created a large oeuvre which has a wide variety of differing styles and ways of working, yet another taboo in the ‘art-world’ where they like it if you concentrate on a small area then you can be boxed up and sold.

I was inspired by Ernst. I saw Roth as an oasis on my starving journey. And later I saw Beuys and Keifer doing things I had done as a result of pursuing my own star only they did them more than I ever could with my limited time and resources.

‘Beuys never made a painting on canvas; he explicitly rejected this traditional artistic production.’ P68 JB-A Colourful World, pubr. Schellmann Art, Munich 2011. Here is a difference because I did do paintings and other things onto canvas, I wouldn’t stop because Beuys did not choose this medium, but I would be able to consider many materials for use in my own work having been given permission so to do by Beuys having used them either before I did or without my knowing that he had and my later finding out he had used materials I had chosen, except before me. What Beuys, Ernst and Roth did was encourage my daring when it came to which materials could be used to make my work with. Had I stuck to the limited media which my educators and many British artists before the sixties had stuck to my output would have been severely limited. Even today many of my pieces are frowned upon by people from all walks of life because many have little idea as to the way art and its use or abuse of materials has moved for better or worse in the past 50 years.

On 23.7.14 I got a note from David Jury about our collaboration for an artists book Inside This Clay Vessel http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780950426716/BATCH-Introduction-Thoughts-Clay-Jug-0950426717/plp :

‘I did a lot of work on Vessel page 2 (V2) today but had to make quite a few changes from yesterday’s efforts. I expect to get a printed result tomorrow. It was Braunschweig University that I visited, but they have no link to Beuys. The permanent exhibition of Beuys I mentioned is kept at a fantastic gallery in Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof. They have a couple of fabulous Keifer pieces too, but they are not always on display.’

I had been asking him about his visit to Braunschweig and the artists that he’d told me about with a view to me going there one day(?). In 2015 I produced a book about the making of my picture called Venus Stairs which was inspired by Schlemmer’s Bauhaus Staircase. The more I see of Schlemmer’s oeuvre the more I love it, especially the stuff he did related to performance, especially now that I am so involved with Performance Art.

Two weeks ago I recited my Beuys poem at firstsite Gallery in Colchester. The poem pokes fun at Beuys and his ways but it’s also an homage to him. When I spent 2 weeks in the company of Performance Artist Jurgen Fritz I was aware that I am still a novice in the field of Performance Art but Jurgen said encouraging things about my efforts. I have been eating, sleeping & dreaming up Performance Art pieces since then and my next blog will be about the IPA fortnight.

making the point

Here’s me reciting my Beuys poem. He had gold on his face, I couldn’t afford gold so I used black.

 

Life begins at 65, Now!

23.55hrs 14.11.15

pk table

my table at HOFS book event

I achieved a lot in my first 65 years but NOW iBEGIN. Those 65 years were just preparation for Now. I’m 18 again today, 65 years 18 days and am coming of Age. My age is no barrier. Inside I still feel like the child I was, like the youth I was, the 21 year old, the 30, 40, 50, 60 year old, actually not the 60 year old cos I were recovering from a bad condition then, (rh.ar.) nevertheless that recovery brought me to the here is now, so I feel Lucky).

When I was a child any 21 year old was ‘old’. Now am 65 any 65 year old is young(ish). And I am Lucky, Lucky is my middle name, I have survived and now am thriving.

15.11.15 I like that.

pk table jab

Yesterday I took my copy of the Journal of Artists Books (JAB) to Hadleigh Old Fire Station (HOFS) to their annual book fair where they show some lovely little books. I met Karen Apps who has promised to make an Apulhed-doll for me.

Ahed in long coat B&W stencil

Maybe summat like this, my favorite image of the Apulman! I drew it back in 1976 and it casts a nod in the direction of the little girl hero in Spirit of the Beehive (a beautiful film) who wore big boots and a long coat.Here’s one of K A’s dolls:

matildas mse

Karen Apps does beautiful books and tings like carving a baby face into soap then washing it until it ‘melts’ and eventually looks like a torso, rather like the Venus of Willendorf I told her.

soap venus

Karen Dennison was there with her lovely little ekphrastic chain picture-poetry-picture-poetry collection, blueshift, in which I done a picture. Chris Ruston couldn’t attend but she had some of her wonderful Ammonite books on display.

ammonite Chris rus

It was great re-acquainting on that rainy day.

I was lucky to visit Small Publishers Fair on 6th Nov where I re-acquainting with Jacqueline T., Nancy C., Sarah B., Mandy B., Mette A., Mike N. and also met Jan Voss an ex-student of the great artis-bokman Dieter Roth and he gave me insight into DR.

I played Nancy Campbell’s Tombola with Icelandic words and mine was isserssorpoq which translates as “‘uses the eyes’; ‘speaks with the eyes’; ‘flirts’”, but I wouldn’t know ought abArt that now would I?

Whilst in London town I bought some kryolan face paint which I had watched Carol Montealegre from South America apply beautifully during my stay at IPA. My own application of it at Firstsite last weekend was less adept and it had a life of its own which showed when I got hotter ‘dancing’ on the plate glass and it ran down my chest to ma belly button. 1stsite dusting the broomsm

dusting my broom (which fell apart)

That’s where the Performance Art began as you could also see my breath as the moisture condensed onto the surface of the cold cold glass. Nicole Murmann kindly sent about 80 photos of me doing the Jug ‘dance’ outside Arnolfini gallery in Bristol and a wonderful sight they are. I never realised so many folk witnessed my movements in the rain but here are some of her images drips and all onto ma face, thank you Nicole.

arnolfini jug sequence7

getting wet for my Performance Art outside the Arnolfini, Bristolarnolfini jug red passerby

the two images above (c) Nicole Murmann 2015

During the week JAB38 arrived in the post and I feel privileged to have an article in it. The journal is beautifully produced in B&W http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/ My only reservation, and this not to criticise the wonderful production quality, is that my work often needs colour and loses a lot in B&W. I shall do an blog about jab38 soon.

1 poppy tower

We are all spiralling energy.

ALL WE ARE IS SPIRALLING ENERGY

. Part 2

y a twerp

I find meditating rather difficult, at least, I find sitting still to meditate almost impossible even tho I have attempted it in many different scenarios since 1987 when I went into this meditation group in Cambridge and they all seemed to know what they were doing and I felt so unknowing.  I can’t sit in a lotus position any old how. I find sitting cross-legged a bit uncomfortable. I find sitting upright in a chair hard. So I rarely get to the state  of sitting on my ownee-o watching my breath etc.

I do my meditation when I am in Tai Chi. I only have to start the warm up exercises and I feel myself go into a different place. I start swinging my arms and lo & behold I see things in the room which have been there long time but I missed them, I ‘see’ things. My attention is heightened. S’funny. Meditation seems to creep up on me when it is unlikely. I do lay on a reclining chair and watch the leaves and grass blown about, the occasional bird, the breeze on the trees and wonder at the miracle of nature. Then I realise I am the luckiest energy alive in the Universe. Right Now. Now I Am. Right.This moment is my Nirvana. Every moment is nirvana. Heaven is realisation that the moment is All that there IS.

The moment before this is memory. The next moment is yet to come. It does not yet exist (to me). But it is Eternity. Eternity is Infinite. We meet in the here and now, this Eternity. Well come.

Carry on spinning with me whilst we can around on planet Earth around its axis around the sun around the Universe.

Life is like a pack of cards, life is like a box o chocolate and you need to suck it for all it’s worth. Life is bitter sweet so suck it like a juicy lemon. Sweet & sour, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the one without t’other. Altho’ sweet may seem more attractive bitter sting adds the tang, like yin complements yang.

Sometimes it may seem so hard when things don’t appear to go to plan, learn to stick in there, be parient, keep up the good work and eventuallythe dividends will become evident.

In the 60s 70s and 80s 90s and noughties I wanted to be a artis of note. In the national & international picture book I seemed to make a mark about as noticeable as a drip from the fag end onto Jackson Pollock’s whirls and swhirls of colour (Max Ernst painted from the can first). Nevertheless later this month The Journal Of Artist’s Book (JAB) based at Colombia University in Chicago is publishing an art-ticle what I wrote abArt several German artists that have impacted on my own thinking and output. Watch this space.

Namaste

BAM Books Artists Make

In my previous blArt I piped on about B..B..BAM – Beautiful Books By Artist Makers.

a beau bks bam sm

go to https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/b-bam-b-bam/ if you wanna see the last blArt?

I realise that is a bit of a mouthful so let’s refine it.

I have played with the term AB (Artists Books). But BAM seems to ring a bell with me most- Books Artists Make- BAM.

bam clean sm

Then there was BA (BookArt) which also allows in all those beautiful commercial books like they do on the ground floor at Whitechapel’s Books Market. The art of designing the book is a great skill that artists like Eric Gill and David Jury espoused, along with William Morris, Kurt Schwitters, Guillaume Apollinaire, Jan Tschichold http://www.designishistory.com/1920/jan-tschichold/  to name but a few. Thames and Hudson (Hiroshege’s A Shoal of Fishes), Taschen (Hiroshege’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo) and many more have produced commercial quantity books with beautiful feel and design. There are beautiful small press and individual publishers who create editions of gorgeous books. And of course artist/writers who create one-off-unique items which can be seen in exhibitions world-wide. I recently posted a blog about artists books, the gap between their beauty and the public’s not ‘getting’ or not understanding what they are. Even the definition & outcome of the artist’s play or experiment with the form and ingredients of what a book can be are unpredictable!

book art smBa Ba Black Cat have you any…book?

VIP please note – I don’t expect or anticipate the ‘B..B..BAM’ . BAM . BA logo ideas should overtake the term ‘artists book’, it’s the concept that I’d like to promote. The idea is meant to attract people not familiar with artists books and book art into the exhibition, show, fairs and markets in which the wares are being displayed.  I believe there is a need for a good rallying call, like an invigorating ‘quality’ hallmark or symbol to use on publicity material. The ‘pop-art’ similarity is about that stimulating bounce that comes with the onomatopoeia. My logos go back beyond pop art to the world of comic with Herriman, D D Watkins, Bestall and all. My designs are merely suggestions. I wouldn’t wish for them to be adopted but they flag up possibilities. I think the use of BAM or BA would be good on publicity but designed how local people or each book fair/event wants them to be from ‘normal’ typo to Rick Griffin illegible logo. For those of you unfamiliar with Griffin’s work take a look at this http://www.myraltis.co.uk/rickgriffin/galleries_sleeves.htm

Some of the interesting aspects of ‘bookness’:

Artists book’ is a good term (AB)Book Arts’ may be better (BA)

But

Neither spells out

Nor indicates

Nor defines

Nor limits

The variety

The differences

The various

The qualities

In the making of ‘book

With all the differing components

That comprise

That conspire

Together

To make books!

Babylon used clay tablets

Egypt used papyrus

Tibet used daphne

Magna Carta used vellum

Moses used stone

Kerouac used scroll in On The Road

Medieval monks used parchment

Gandharvans used birch bark

Nowadays we use plastic and vinyl too

The list goes on BAM BAM

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_scrolls it’s good.

©Pete Kennedy July 2015

B..Bam B..BAM!

VIP please noteI don’t mean the ‘B..B..BAM’ logo to overtake the word ‘artists book’, I think it’d be a good rallying call, like an invigorating ‘quality’ hallmark symbol to use on any publicity material. The ‘pop-art’ similarity is about that stimulating bounce that comes with the onomatopoeia. Pete

I do not wish to ruffle any feathers but I feel the term ‘Artist’s Books’ is a bit misleading. I believe that to attract a wider spectrum of people in to Artists’ Books markets with a view to buy the books  we make, rather than merely view them, there is a need for a more catchy symbol on publicity material, a signifier which is less bewildering, more informative and more inviting, more exciting, maybe:

a b b bam

I believe the term ‘Artist’s books’ can be misunderstood by anyone who is unaware of the beauty that lies within (the field). I’m not being silly nor am I joking. Some people I know who happen to be very bright-intelligent and who get about a bit have been fascinated to see what ‘artist’s books’ are composed of/can be. But, just think of the first timer who comes across a poster which talks about “An Artists’ Book” event. Those uninitiated might be put off, believing that this event is only for ‘artists’ and they are not that, it can be intimidating. I believe after my recent participation at English Artists’ Books Markets in Oxford, Bristol and now Gateshead there is a lot of (simple) work to be done to increase members of the public willing & eager to put their feet over the threshold into the ‘market-place’.

I am going to suggest maybe the slant be changed from ‘Artists Books’ to something like, ‘Books by Artist MakersB..BAM! Let’s think about it? Let’s talk about it? Let me know if you think it’s a good idea. We need something to get folks over the threshold, especially in England where the pinch of the recession still bites the majority and is going to worsen in the next five years as government squeeze the less well off. Books by Artist Makers take a lot of thought and a whole lot of making. They are works of art in themselves which often take longer to create than a painting. Indeed some have several ‘prints’ in as part of their beauty. People may buy a framed print for say £50 (I know that’s cheap, but it’s just a figure to play with, to try to make a point), but would the same folks buy Books by Artist Makers with say 3-6 prints in for £50?

Here’s a quickly sketched onomatopoeia for Books by Artist Makers a b b bam

Cowboy Pete, cowboy pete fingers gunsBukman Artist-Maker

(Hooray, total ‘visits’ to my blog since it began tipped over the 7500 mark today).

Below I have added some comments which came in since I posted this blog about artists books (artisbuks) and the gap between their beauty and the public’s not ‘getting’ what they are. Please add your thoughts if you have any which say things not already said by those who added comments.

seems like we are touching a chord, thanks to yez. Here’s some replies already:

“I think that’s a great idea Pete. To me ‘Artist’s Books’ conjures up an image of books containing illustrations of their artwork or writing, with brief notes or explanations. As opposed to a complete work that you would admire as much as a photograph or painting hanging on a wall. I would never expect the book to be hand-made.” (Maxine, a ‘normal’ non-artist person.)

“Pete, I think you’re right a LOT of people do not understand Artist made books, and I do like your idea BUT how to get other people on board ? I know this is something we as a group at ArtBookArt are thinking about when advertising our event how do we get the concept across to those who think our exhibition may be books about rather than made by artists?

Yes the cost of an artist’s book versus a painting or a print, its partly to do with global forces, people can buy a book (any book) much cheaper and most people do not have the awareness of time taken + cost of materials. However in the right place and with the right buyers it is a different story. Perhaps venue and place is an important consideration in the selling and understanding of artist made books, and when trying to reach people who have never heard about them perhaps there has to be a different approach, a more educational one with some work-shops on simple book structures.” Gwen, (Artist’s Book Maker).

“You make a good point there Pete.

BookArt is a confusing term and it also hides a lot of mediocre stuff as well, just to do something in a book theme is not necessarily good art, it attracts all different sorts and some are not artists but craft people.

To me, for it to be good art, the book form has to be relevant to the art work, it has to enhance/emphasise the artistic thrust of the work. For instance your Venus Stairs book is a story of a work being created, over time and thought, into a an artwork.  Also, using the structure of a book and distorting it to jolt or draw out another perspective, such as using folding lead sheets, is another good way. Also, the attraction and power of using literature/poetry/drama/knowledge communicated in words, as another material to incorporate into the artist’s ‘palette’ is very powerful. There could be an interesting search and analysis on how artists have used words/books in their works over time.

So, anything to help explain that these works are art works based on a book form could be useful.

Maybe it could help shake out the different type of players under the ArtistBook banner from fine bookmakers, crafts people, illustrators, printers, poets/writers, to artists. There will be a lot of resistance to change the term from the established ArtistBook fraternity. But from an artist’s point of view I guess there would be a lot of agreement.

I like the pop-art shout. I have another one, WaBiAW!   Words and Books in ArtWorks!

It’s really all about the emphasis and priority, as to what comes first the book or the artwork.” Duncan (Mod from Twisted Wheel 1960’s days.)

“…The name change might work as well and I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, but I don’t think that on it’s own it will make a huge difference. But B.B.Bam is a cool idea and I love the graphic. The battle I think is to change the way people think of artists’ books by having more book markets and making them as accessible and welcoming as possible. Keep making books though Pete, and entertaining us with your wonderful performances.” Gary Malkin, Book Archivist BALTIC