No. 1 in a series of the work of pete kennedy, artistwriter bloke, b.1950
Painting by Pete Kennedy
With notes by PK & DW
So, I am starting the offering up of my images from 1968 to now for y’all to see. I shan’t be so mundane as to put them in chronological order. There’s so many of them and the quality is not dependent on age, neither mine nor the works. Some of my best work was done in the first few years of my life after I made a conscious decision that making my art in my own way, or so I thought. My output was often then and still is now really effected by my circumstances. So, the availability or lack of availability of resources would temper my technique. Time has been a big element in my output, for all the reasons you may imagine. (If you click on the images they will pop up bigger so you can peruse them better.)
This portrait was created at the height of my ability, it is undoubtedly one of the best. The sitter, Duncan Walker, I had known since we were thrown together in the first team in the first week at our secondary school. We had drifted in and out of each others lives. This was me deliberately creating something which held all my values and skills in one image. It’s a triple portrait. A photo which I took and developed and printed, an oil in my style which had taken several years to reach and a ‘squidgerat’, one of my weird creations which were often an insight into a sitter’s deep essence. There is also an appropriation of a Dali egg cos I knew DW had in one stage of his development really loved Dali’s work but more importantly it signified the crack in the cosmic egg, something which we would have discussed during our alcohol filled ‘discussions’. That search for meaning behind life’s charade had been going on for both of us in separate ways and this was a coming together.
The figure on the left is Duncan in intense meditation, looking inward, considering and knowing the other stages in his life. (I sometimes see light hitting my images and adding more to them than I had put in to them in the first place. One day I shall incorporate light into finished works physically.
The figure in the middle is Duncan enjoying worldly delights, with a mischievous, knowing smile about his inner self. (Note the notes in handwriting collaged onto the image!)
The figure on the right is Duncan’s inner self, achieving a crack in the cosmic egg of worldly reality, at the point when his spirit is flying out at the top of his head from a lifeless shell.
This is the story of releasing the spirit through a dual life of the meditative inner self and the electric worldly extravaganza of his outer being.
And about the same time as I did that portrait I wrote and published my little book, The Dull Jodrell. This was an account of some of the writers who had impressed me like Gurdjeff and Hesse. It had quite a bit about ken Campbell in too and accounts of my stays with DW in his ‘London’ house. The cover is a remake of my illystration of Hopi peoples dressed in their kachina outfits standing on the rock dwellings at Mesa Verde. In the book I talk a lot about the ideas of the pre-colombian populations of the Americas. The character in the centre at front of the cover is ‘Lighteyes’
(this is the original sketch)
one of my squidgerats who I drew before I came across the Hopis who in fact have a character in their kachinas with almost identical stance to my man, uncanny! The Hopi kachina which is so similar to my Lite-Eyes was a human gifted with god-like characteristics whose previous human status is represented by him having cross-legs. The round thing on the Hopi character’s head is repeated almost identically in the round thing on the head of my Liteyes. I drew him prior to seeing any Hopi images, ever. It is truly uncanny to me. The strange head gear, which again, was drawn with no reference to Hopi, I had not yet heard of them, also bears a remarkable resemblance to some other Hopi headresses.
The book also had some squidgerats drawings in as well as some I did of Ken Campbell.
This book and the image of Duncan show how my progress thru life has been accompanied by my ‘researches’ into real life characters and thru readings of books on Hopis and Gurdjeff which still continues today and indeed my recent work with the Jug poems is only a different way of trying to present my discoveries to a wider audience. Below is my new image of Duncansquidgespirit zooming across the lake next to a slow swan.
Thank you DW for instigating this first of many(?) reports on my images & artefacts, and tanks fer the fotos of the work.
Footnote:My previous blArt aboot Oxferd toon got SIX ‘likes’, unprecedented in the history of this blaggArt! It sure signals up that some folks are getting someting frae the werds & images of this clown. Also you know if you press ‘follow’ you’ll get notified (not certified) of all my future blArty bits. Tread carefully won’t you. It appears 34 folks out there follow this heap o’ thorts. Tank yez all, makes me feel good too. Makes me feel that all the effort what goes into doing this weekly blarting is getting thru, at least to 34 folks in this wide wonderous werld.
And finally, nobody, yet no-one, ever ‘comments’. I can only assume that everyone agrees with all I say OR, more likely, all who dip into the blArty Bloke unexpectingly are numbed into a somnambulant state and then wake up several hours later wondering what hit them?
I am about to do a seires of blArts about the ‘Earthen Jug Project’ I have been working through for the past couple of years. This first one is from old writings about how the project began and some early outcomes. The next couple of blArts I have planned a revelation of the new ‘artist’s books’ which have come out this month, September. So, watch this space man.
A mock interview on my Earthen Vessels Project.
You made an incredible discovery?
During semester three of my MA in Art & the Book I made an incredible discovery – a book about the Karoshi scripts in pots at Ghandara. It introduced me to the pots which inspired the final look painted onto this one. And increased my knowledge manifold. Toward the end of semester four I made another astounding discovery which I shall share with you at the end of this film. Finding it beggars my belief.
How did you come about making your clay pot?
So to begin, I had had a long time interest in the Dead Sea scrolls which were found at Qumran. This was re-ignited by my hearing about a library found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945, the existence of which is not often mentioned, and I wished to know why.
A close friend of mine (DW) sent me a copy of an album by someone I remembered meeting at college in Exeter in the early 70’s. John St. Field. He had since changed his name to Jackie Leven and the song I liked best was called Inside This Clay Jug after a poem written by Kabir an Indian poet in 1450, 500 years before my birth. The poem as read by Robert Bly struck a chord within me. Recite from memory the clay jug and maybe Tagore’s version. (I could add his worm thinks it a bit odd that humans don’t eat books)
The words flagged up my interest in the way ancient cultures would store treasured documents in pots and hide them away. I saw potential there for a project around which to hang my work for the second year of my MA. I did not realise how much wonder I was about to enter.
The writing was to be gleaned from the work of 6 men who had pushed the boundaries in human thinking; Gurdzhiev, Beuys, Angeli Scheffler, Tenzin Gyatso, C. G. Jung and Hesse. I took the title G BATCH from their names
What is the significance of the number ‘six’?
I decided to base my project around the idea of a six sided shape, the hexagon. You can see my pot has a hexagonal base. And two of my ‘heroes’, Gurdzhiev and Beuys, had bees in their personal cosmologies. Gurdzhiev’s bee was from ancient Armenian legend as the carrier of ‘knowledge’ from one generation to the next, Beuys often used analogies about honey and the spread of ideas. For these reasons I had built in the hexagon as a motif. Martin Bridges, my advisor on the pottery side, told me it is the strongest building block in the universe.
How did you choose the form of your pot?
I began to look at pots. I found myself in Vienna where I met hundreds of pots from many old cultures and new ones too. My favourite was one which was a little lob-sided and dark coloured with images inscribed in it. It turned out to be an Etruscan urn. I found more about the Etruscans who indeed were a mysterious bunch who had a big influence on Roman culture. They introduced the alphabet to Rome and their sages were much respected in Rome, in fact the most famous soothsayer ever was Etruscan, he warned Julius Caesar of the Ides of March. Also, their script remains un-deciphered. In fact a lot of things from the Mediterranean and the Middle East are still a mystery, or at least not widely known in the west. But I digress.
Did you discover anything new about the cultures you looked at?
The urn invited me into their culture and I became fascinated and familiar with more scripts like Linear A which is also un-deciphered. In fact I began to look into how writing began. I must thank Joanna Drucker for that book on the alphabet, it’s a tour de force. http://marjorieperloff.com/reviews/druckwerks/
The Phoenicians were a group of people, called Caananites in the bible, who moved around the Med as influential traders. In fact they built Carthage. They hailed from modern day Syria and it was they who created the first alphabet at Ugarit. They would have helped the spread of the written word because of their movement around the Med. They would have come in contact with two islands which held the most power, known to us as Crete and Thera. Thera was destroyed in a massive eruption and the tsunami from it would have been more powerful than that at Pompeii. It destroyed the power base of the Minoans and gave rise to the advance of Mycaenan Greece. This is of great importance for many reasons because yet another script remains un-deciphered, Linear A, from the Minoans. I believe that is more important than even the destruction of Pompeii because if we can ever decipher it it would tell us a mass about the ancient world which remains hidden.
So what did you decide to use as a ground for your words and images?
At first it was my intention to put the scrolls inside the pot inside a hexagonal box. I investigated the way scrolls were made, from Torahs to Kerouac’s On The Road in the British Library. On my way to see if there were any Buddhist scrolls that had been found in pots I became aware of the pothi form of book, which I saw on ‘Buddha Of Suburbia’ documentary on a monk who lived in England but went to search for missing potis in Mongolia. I saw stacks of shelved potis wrapped in cloth. I did find evidence of scrolls in pots in the Dunhuang project with thousands of them having been found in caves in China but I never pursued that link yet.
What did you learn from the project about making?
Ok so back to the pot. I asked Martin Bridges how I could best make it with my limited experience as a potter? He said Pete, it’ll have to be a coil pot. So it is. It took weeks to make it as I could only do about 10cms a day owing to the weight and downward pressure of wet clay over a wide span, it would mis-shape if I loaded too much on. I used letter tools from Martin’s alphabet sets to impress the words from Kabir’s poem around the neck of my pot. So the word became ‘real’ if only in a negative form. I wanted the lovely colours and burnt look created in a raku firing but Martin advised against it, one firing at 1000 degrees was risk enough. Now I had my monster pot on which I left the ‘scratch’ marks used to bind the clay surface, which I had intended to smooth off but folk kept saying they loved it and some said it resembled a bee-hive and that suited my incorporation of the bee as a motif.
Why did you decide to make clay tablets?
I was aware that the Sumerians had written early texts in cuneiform on clay tablets so I decided to create a poti in clay thus amalgamating two early forms of recording words. I condensed words for each ‘mystic’ from hundreds of pages of notes from my readings on them down to about 40 words on each. I based the layout on a Tibetan woodblock I possess. I used the same letter tools as on the pot. Once they had been fired I painted them in a colour code for each mystic. I made a wooden top and base on a band saw with Richard’s help. I wrapped it in a cloth Buddhist style. These I handed in with my pot onto which I had painted several hexagons but that was not well received by the markers at the half way stage so I would have to re-consider my design. By chance, which Jung calls synchronicity, I discovered the book about the Buddhist community at Ghandara who hid pots in caves with Karoshti scripts in them, in which there are several astounding, and so well rounded, pots with delicate shades of yellow ochre and pink on them which I decided to use as my pot re-decoration. Some debate had opened up about whether my first hand in constituted a ‘book’. Did it have ‘bookness’? This caused me to investigate how bookness is being defined in the present artist’s bookworld. My ideas had been fed by Joanna Drucker’s formidable work in the USA but now I began to look at what is happening in the UK. I had visited the Oxford book fair during year one and seen wonderful books like the Barbarian Press. Since 1973 I was aware of the work of Dieter Roth as I had visited his subversive seminal show at the newly opened Hayward Gallery. A major exhibition of his collections of rubbish and films made during the final days of his life showing him sitting making books and prints was on at Edinburgh so I made sure I went up there to take part in the symposium about him attended by curators from big British galleries and some university scholars. This is all documented in my ‘notes’ for semester 3. Roth created ‘books’ on authors who offended him by boiling their books to a pulp and squeezing them into sausage skins as an obvious metaphor for waste products. I wrote an article which is to be published in the September 2013 ABYB putting my case forward that my pot and poti constitute a book. Sarah Bodman liked it and it has joined the debate raging around what Les Bicknell refers to as ‘bookness’.It seems that books take on as many forms as paintings do.
I see you went to the biggest artist’s book fair in the country, did you go for any specific reason?
At BABE Nancy Campbell had advised me on the layout for my scroll pages; an etching set to the left from which your eye could drift across right and find the words. Much better than an etching at the top and writing under it. I decided to do my drawings as brown etchings to signify old ink and the words would be chine colle of elephant font to match those words impressed on the pot in style, only this time I would be able to add lower case letters. These would be printed black with some key words picked out in red. The paper I used for the words was fine Japanese which gave problems when it came to trying to do them under the press with the etchings and I abandoned that idea as impossible. I then blind embossed a space in which I would later stick the words down with bookmaker’s glue. There are two copies of each scroll but every print has a different feel. I also did one set on half width Somerset paper which was to form the basis of the display book which visitors would be able to peruse on a lectern. This ‘book’ I have bound inside a cover with leaves on it. I kept the pages unstitched as a set of prints but in a set sequence for purposes of telling the story.
So you decided to write a poem to relate their ideas?
I dug into my knowledge base about the six mystics when I went to the BABE show at Bristol’s Arnolfini organised by Sarah Bodman and began to write a poem which was supposed to have the same beat as the clay jug poem. Altho I moved off that beat I did come up with a typical Kennedy ‘poym’.Typing them up was the first stage of editing. I sent the ‘poem’ off to 4 friends who all found it too dense so I knew I had to re-gig it so that folk had roads into my thinking and ideas. Karen Harrison liked the reference to dance and said it reminded her of Keats’ ‘Ode to a Grecean Urn.’ Which must be good as it is about a pot. She talked of my interesting use of repetition. So I did a big re-write. Sent it back and this time it was deemed much better. I had my printer print off some words on Somerset paper with a Hesse illustration but it proved inadequate on his inkjet. I showed the result to Jayne Knowles who liked the width of it and likened it to holding a broadsheet newspaper. I liked her idea of placing something on each side for you to hold and experimented using bay twigs but decided there is a tremendous beauty in simply leaving the scrolls as rolled loose self-standing simple curled papers.
And how do you intend to exhibit all this stuff?
Returning to the focal point of my final show I had Lyn Clarke make me two hexagonal table bases on which I would place the clay tablets emanating from the pot like the spokes on a Buddhist wheel of life. These would be placed between the ‘spokes’ around the pot and would be echoed in the garden by six logs carved with the names of the visionaries. A symbolic light source would be suspended above the pot made into an Archimedean shape, I hope, that is a combination of hexagons and squares.
Do you intend to produce any outcomes which may be saleable?
I asked my printer to produce four new ‘publications’ from the work In my project: a cardboard facsimile of the clay poti which doubles up as a concertina book. An introductory book called G. BATCH telling newcomers to the project about some of the ideas that drove it. A Dieter Roth style ‘copy book’ called Enbuk in tribute to the first recorded story in history about Enlil in the Epic of Gilgamesh. A series of banners using the words of each mystic in large capitals in clashing colours similar to the thesaurus paintings by Mel Bochner. My article in ABYB follows in the footsteps of other artists like Smithson and Weiner who also wrote in periodicals like ‘October’ as part of their contribution both as artworks and critique. Originally I intended to make the banners in a pseudo Japanese style but then thought it would be good to have some really modern images. I did a talk in which I used masks and music to create a performance in which the audience will be sculptural parts and the whole will be filmed as another art statement.
When did that happen?
On Saturday August 3rd 2013 at 4pm in the Minories. And your questions will also be art.
You started by mentioning the incredible discovery you made last weekend?
And I have not forgotten. What was it? I was perusing ‘Scribes, Scripts & Books’ by Leila Avrin where I saw an hexagonal prism named after Sennacherib as it was made in his reign in Nineveh about 3000 years ago. It has cuneiform writing on each of its six sides. I could not believe it. This discovery had come to me BEFORE hand in. So I journeyed up to see if I could find it in room 55 of the British Museum. And there it was.
About 45 cms tall. Now I know what I am going to make next, but AFTER my course is completed. I also saw a small section from a clay tablet ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ story in cuneiform. I shall do six more mystics on Peter’s Hexagonal Prism next. In fact it may be simpler to make an hexagonal prism ‘lamp’ to hang above the pot? I found heaven, whereabouts ARE known, here at home. Inside this old mug.
Since that talk I have done two ‘readings’ from new simpler versions of the poems. Then I simplified them some more and did a book called Inside this earthen vessel, launch date September 2014. Also David Jury and I have collaborated on a letterpress version where DJ prints the poems with an extra sub-text from my other poems. More about that in a blArt soon.
OK so I drove over to the second Hadleigh artist book show because Wendy Allen was doing a table and I wanted to catch up with some friends I have made over there in the last couple of years. I was going to make a whistle stop visit and out and back ‘ome so I could go to a new show at Sculpt gallery.
But I got hooked again and stayed all day talking with old friends, well not so old I only met most of em in the last 2 years.
First person I set eyes on was Chris Ruston. I really love the work she does it’s fantabulous. She does these books full of exquisite monoprints. To say that in no way can do justice to their beauty. She uses very thin paper and I would call it decalcomania plus frottage, both techniques introduced by Maxt Ernst when he declared easel painting with brushes to be dead. What Chris does beggars belief. Some of the best Artist’s Book work I have so far seen, and I seen quite a lot now. Funny ting is she was pegged back to 3rd place by two book-makers from the same Hadleigh stable in a national competition!
It was wonderful to find that Gwen Simpson was adjudged First place after the trouble she encountered on an MA course which has really upset her. To see her given such credence is wonderful. Second place went to Karen Apps (?), I tink. All 3 did wonderful work which thoroughly deserved acclamation but I wonder about all the others who entered the competition, they must have cried ‘FIX’, altho, of course, it weren’t! you can see their work at their site http://www.artbookart.com/book-art-events.html
Windy’s bream beaver buk
But that’s not the only reason I loved it. As I toured the tables I kept seeing such high standards. It’s not my intent to cover every exhibitor, this is just a flashing blart, not one of my long drawn out incredibly deep ones.
Wendy Allen had bravely decided to go on her own when all of her fellow book-makers from the Colchester based group Gambit, still recoiling from being turned over by a turned page lot, all weepy, decided not to go to Hadleigh so Wendy was left high noon and dry, the nasty bandits, I can say that cos I was one of them, the one with the mask on the horse called Hopalot. Sorry Wendy. In fact it was a plan to give you the opportunity to shine which your work surely did. I even bought one of the bream-catcher (that’s dream-catcher actually) books Wendy did.
She does these lovely little tings, in small editions, very understated calm and full of thought. She said she had had a great day meeting folk, talking about her work to visitors and learning.
So, learning. The best ting about NOT exhibiting was that I could walk around at will and just meet folk. I looked at a book made to mimic a wallpaper samples book by Barbara Brown. She had screen-printed images of her family from grandparents to grandchilders using repeat images. Then, at the foot of each page she had placed a strip of repeat images generated on photoshop of individual members of her clan. We had a discussion about one particular image which worked well and had become the visitors’ favourite. We said it is often not predictable which of our works will become popular and the ones that do are often a surprise to us.
Next table was Sandie ‘Artysan’ Cottee with her able help Pauline Davidson who allowed me to make a little book. Sandie uses rubber stamps and photos in her books and has two machines which enable her to pierce holes to ring spiral bind her books, a skill I shall investigate as some of my work uses ring binds. She also puts lots of insertions into her spines and maybe some bits of beads and other dangles. Simply by adding accoutrements to your book you are altering the concept of what is book, changing the notion of a book from a penguin paperback to ‘something else’. At hadleigh several artists use the altered book idea extremely well and I overheard Gwen Simpson mention Tom Phillip’s Hummemento (I specialise in altered werds as yu gnow!). Phillips has a great track record in artist’s books and I feel sure one of his inspirators is also one of mine since I saw his books in the Hayward show of 1973, Dieter Roth.
Rot inspired me in 1973 when I saw his screenprints at the Hayward which were my main interest as I wer doing screenprints at the time in my art course. I have always believed it best to change your prints with each pull, I never ever wished to create a whole series/edition with identical prints as is the ‘norm’. Rot did this too so in him I thought I had found a soul mate, which indeed I had and he wer much closer to me than I thought , this becoming apparent 40 years later. I had seen his self-published books at the show and on seeing them, a couple o ears later, I thought, well he did his own ting so will I and I brought out Apul-One. Now apulone has changed spellings in it as I wer writing in shorthand (mine) for speed of gerrin werds down and also cos I cum frae Lancashire born in Scotland so my spelling reflected those roots. What I never realised, cos as a student I couldn’t afford to buy his buks and I still cannot buy those 70’s ones as they are astronomical now, he also used changed spelling when he wrote in Engerlisht, not cos he wer german but cos he chose to. So we were twins and I dint kno. Also, he wer a good looking guy in his 20’s and he became a ugly bloke, which is summat I have found we all have to put up with. But seriously, he did have real trouble coming to terms with those changes, booze helped him cope, the main difference is, I don’t any longer do booze, and my good looks are returning (not). Also, as brad Freeman pointed out, neither Roth nor Ruscha were the first to do artist books, altho I would argue the former was the biggest influence on altered books, and prints, in the modern era. An obvious pre-cedent was Willaim Blake who not only printed some of his books as one offs, to order, he would colour them differently, or at least his wife did. F H Haagensen is another printer who often changed his images as he worked an edition. And then there is me.
back to Hadleigh with the beautiful porcelain books of Margaret Cooter. I didn’t see her wonderful ‘book’ on a banner on the wall behind her until I had spoken long time with her and accepted her invitation to handle the light pottery ‘books’ she has made. One had some spirals on and some strange marks which I likened to bookworm and she seemed very pleased with my reference to the holy ones. She has a blog at margarte-cooter.blogspot.com which I must admit I’ve yet to visit but look forward to. When my eyes alighted on her banner ting I loved it. She has taken cutting from mostly the Grundiag in long strips folded over so they are stronger then stitched on a backing sheet to make this long wall hanging which I loved.
Finally, cos am in a hurry to see the last days of the ‘Beyond El Dorado’ at BM, I came to the table of the mother & daughter team called Swains. Lola’s workis a lovely form of prints of tings like lapwings to accompany words from her husband’s poems. I loved her marblellous covers on her small sketch books. Louise, the youngest of the clan on show, has re-typed a story by Poe and highlighted certain words then bound it in traditional style, rather well. She also does collage type images with cut and pasted werds, lovely stuff. Bye for noo.
My new exhibition opens at Red Lion Bookshop, Colchester on Monday 3.2.14.
As I prepared for it I sent Peter Donaldson, the joint owner with his wife Sarah, some information which he may be able to use on his own social network to advertise a show in his gallery. My idea was to scan thru the pages of past observations made by professionals and public on my various exploits in Colchester over the past 20 years. I knew I had had two big shows, 1994 and 2000, but had forgotten some of the stunning remarks that have been made. I don’t know what Peter chose to use yet, but I decided to put them on my blarrt, so my readers, who are not that many to make it a ‘public’ domain, (believe me at present you are a pretty [well at least not ugly] select group). That being the case I have taken the liberty to use one or two comments which were shared to me in reaction to various recent works. I do hope that none of the people who made those (wonderful) comments mind me putting them out there? I just wanted to show anyone who looks at my work and feels, somehow, they find it to be good that they are not as alone as they may think. They are in good company. And that is a source of great joy to me because those who know me well understand that the flourish and flair that you see in my output did not come easily. It was 90% effort and 10% innate talent. (My grade at GCE art in 1966 was level 6, just a scrape of a pass. It was my worst result except in maths. So, being an awkward son of a bitch, and not having a chance as a mathsmatritionist, I chose to pursue a career in art, fool that I was, when really I could have been a geologist as I got level 4 in that. I never made it easy did I?
So below are the words for my poster/flyer, followed by some comments.
Word & Spirit, an Exhibition of Books
(and related stuff) by Pete Kennedy from
Monday 3rd February to Saturday 23rd 2014 in Red Lion Bookshop, 125 High St, Colchester, Essex co1 1sz phone: 01206 578584 open hours: Monday thru Saturday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. Also at 3pm on Saturday the 8th February Pete is doing a small performance of new versions of the poem ‘six mystics and one self’ from his new book ‘g batch’ An Introduction To The Clay Jug Project (on sale in the shop).
Six ‘words about the mystics’ vinyl banners in mind blowing colours hang on display alongside Pete’s clay pot with words embedded around the neck from an ancient Indian poem by mystic poet Kabir with six scrolls inside (a reference to the ancient tradition of keeping knowledge safe by hiding valuable manuscripts in pots). Six etchings of six mystics will be on display on the wall.
The unique pothi ‘book’ on clay tablets will be on display (but not for sale) with a cardboard- concertina book of the words from the clay pothi (available to buy).
Pete’s year-long notes and sketches for the unique handmade book ‘Inside This Clay Jug’ (nfs) will make up the boxed ‘Enbuk’ (for sale) comprised of six comb-bound A4 books in the style of Dieter Roth.
Contact Pete on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Visit Pete’s weekly blogart at:
Some back stories about Pete, his work and previous Colchester shows:
1994 Ray Rushton, renowned critic in Essex forestalled his retirement and wrote about Pete’s exhibition at Colchester, Trinity Street Studios: ‘Here is a lively set of exhibits with the artist being so linear dedicated that the division between drawing and painting falls into oblivion. It is open black line throughout-whether depicting, in lounging energy, his hero Feliks Topolski (naturally) or members of his family…But perhaps the best oil here, ‘Pol with Cats and Roses’, is also the only true painting in which line and mass are equally spread. The grey cats in particular, are finely modelled …’
1998 June, Miriam Patchen, American poet Kenneth Patchen’s muse & widow wrote, “What superb drawings…(they) are strong proofs of your special quality as a meaningful artist.” Then in August 1998 she wrote, “Apul-One is a marvellous tour de force. Your spelling is a wonderful way of helping people not to slide over words. This is truly delightful slowing the reader so he’ll think a bit. Teaching and writing! How do you manage both?”
2000 Pete was chosen as Colchester Library’s First Millennium Artist Exhibitor with his ‘Nonogon Story’. Opened with a dance featuring music designed by Pete and composed by Mick West & Mark Newby Robson in which 13 children danced the parts as Pete read the story. After that a multi-media exhibition of masks and Nonogon Character art ran for 3 weeks. Inez Bain wrote in the visitor’s book:
‘This would be superb material to take into schools, theatre visual workshops etc! Definitely brings out fun yet could send positive messages to youngsters- to images they would identify with- it’s wasted in library only!
2001- ‘I was impressed with the scope and ambition of the project. You have clearly spent a great deal of time researching and developing the project and there is much that would work well in a television drama. ‘Comment on Pete’s Nonogon Play script from Gemma Few, BBC Drama Serials.
2013. ‘I received your package yesterday, with the beautiful G BATCH. I look forward to reading it at leisure, but the production is wonderful.’ Nancy Campbell, artist book maker and poet.
Burkhard Quessel, Curator, Tibetan Collections at the British Library said about G Batch, ‘I have found and opened it now and must say that it is really quite a beautiful book.’
Ian Walker, an old school friend of Pete’s teenage year’s said recently on receiving a report about the ‘Talk’ given after his MA had finished, “Great photos. It sounds to have been a very interesting event. I would have loved to have been there and to have seen the reactions of the audience. The photo of him sat down with his masks around him took me back to our youth – his “far away face”. His wicked smile. His “sod you I don’t care what you think about my work. I know it’s good.” Pete is Apulhead. Apulhead lives!
The internationally respected artist’s book-art’s exponent David Jury said of the article Pete wrote for the Artist’s Book Year Book 2014-15 (ABYB UWE Bristol) published in October 2013, ‘Your article is a remarkable documentary; lucid and unaffected, despite the fact that it records, in some detail, an impressively intellectual endeavour.’
lucy on my mobile
Finally, last but not least, Lucy Lippard, much renowned USA critic, commenting on a new article Pete has had accepted for The Blue Notebook Spring Edition 2014 wrote, ‘I just got the article which I found lots of fun. Look forward to seeing your books in the flesh at some point.’
Last night (26.1.14) I was watching the Review show and what was being talked about stirred me up, emotionally. Forty years of being rebuffed ignored condescended deflected by the ‘art world’ came soaring up to the surface and I got straight onto my blog and blarted. I must remember not to do that in the future, i must try to put some space between my viewing things and my reaction, to calm the vituperance which has gestated in me over the past 45 years. I recall Seamus Heaney saying that we need a job and poetry is the thing we do, if we are lucky, as a blessing. In my life, it was teaching that I did plus a number of other jobs which kept the wolf from the door and then I did my ‘arts’. I do believe you need to get out there and do things in the real world to gain insights into it and learn how to communicate with real people. Anyway, that is all behind me now. I can and do concentrate all of the time I am not doing yoga, tai chi, zumba, light gym and sawing wood for our fire on ‘art’. I do think however if I had had some work ‘accepted’ or ‘bought’ over the past 45 years it would have helped to generate more. Like now for example, I cannot really afford to go do ‘print’ or even make books to the spec I set myself. Maybe that’s good as as always i have to be ‘creative’ in working ways to be creative.
I am trying hard to get out onto a circuit doing my ‘talk’, so watch out art colleges etc, I’m coming at you with my lance and my trusted companion Sancho Panza on my wobbly horse what I stole from the set of Warhorse!
so Don’t read any further if you are of faint heart or dislike whingeing poms! Addition or Postscript:
This evening I watched the review show which I never watch much (wachmutch?) and they were praising up the new martin creed show at Haywerd. They were talking about how he won’t get stuck in a box or a hat, how he keeps his media wide open and turns from one to another etc. And I sat there and I thort, well isn’t that the very thing I done fer farty yearns? Isn’t it exactly that the ‘Arts Crownskill’ criticised about me, the fact I couldn’t be categorised or boxed or madhattered? In the 70’s! and in 1999 I designed my Nonogon show which used so many media, including films created by Field Merrijeff and dance choreographed by that girl who did a scene in bed with Harry Engfild? With music I designated and which was created from my directions by Mark Newby Robson and Mick West. Have not I been thur and gone and done it, many times. But when I ask the tate or any other gallery to consider me as a contributor they say, after long consideration please re-arrange this well known fraser or shaying, “Off ferk.” I’m still not bitter, I’m a budding bud-hist and I don’t imbibe.
Ok, so. The show goes on, tomorrow nicht is the preview. I am glad I set it up yesterday cos the weather has really dipped and you don’t want my books and all getting damaged in the wet and the wind now do you. I had a lovely unexpected meet yesterday at John Doubleday’s studio. My etchings of the six mystics were on the stage awaiting hanging and I was talking to Sue Polten a local artist when a woman came over and said I heard you talking about David Jury’s course, I was on it in its first year. It was Jean Wood. Jean was a folk hero on the course, one of her books had been displayed at the Summer Show at Royal Academy in 2012 and had sold two of the three copies in the edition. That’s the good news. Then she said although she had submitted one this tear it was not displayed. My friend Anna Johnson had submitted hers too and that was highly regarded in the artist book genre, a very beautiful bookartobject which also had been deemed unworthy. In fact Norman Ackroyd and his mate what judged it may be excellent practitioners in their own field, Ackroyd’s etchings are nearly as good as F H Haagensens, more of him later, but they are inept at judging artist books which is a special field. I did email them and suggest they incorporate likes of David Jury and Sarah Bodman to judge books but they couldn’t be arsed to reply. I think it is criminal practice of them to decide, having advertised book as a category , to abandon it and not refund the submitters of what I know were excellent books. But the RA is too big for its boots and feels itself above ethical good practice. Ever since they awarded me RA Doubtful status I have not submitted anything. They said congratulations on your success but I lost nearly £100 in getting my pics up and although they were selected they were not hung by the curators. Pah humbug. Sadly, I have now been informed that Jean’s book is not in the new Codex catalogue designed be David Jury but I saw Ailsa Clarkes in the open page illustration in David’s ABYB article.
My article in the Artist Book Year Book 2014-15 is placed by Sarah Bodman close to an article about creating the Codex catalogue by David Jury, who features strongly in my article and one by Gustavo Montero, librarian at Chelsea School of Art Archive, which mentions Dieter Roth, one of the subjects in mine. Clever Sarah for such placement.
I managed to get abour 80% of my show in place yesterday. I have still got to do a lino-print print from the lino I have prepared of Kane’s poem but I have today to fit that in. It is great to be able to exhibit the books I did for the MA and stuff from before that. I have included some sculpture so that my mates on the MA can see something new to them. Also I include some never exhibited since my final show at St Lukes in 1973 prints. There’s a ‘Melody Maker’ screenprint, all hand cut stencil with the drawing I did of Jimmy Page Jagger Richards and Van Morrison from which I hand painted the screen. Then the highest achievement I have made in screenprinting wherein I compare the opposite ends of the art spectrum; photo realism and pure abstraction. In a way i was doing a Richard Hamilton type print with Albers abstraction on the same plane which was a tribute to Barnet Newman. It is relevant to the show because of the use of words on art surface. So in the ‘Barnet Newman/Henley’ prints I played with his use of the word ‘zip’ which he used to dsecribe the gaps between his fields of colour. I then left one gap empty, like he did, one gap has the word ‘zip’ lino printed repeatedly all the way up its length and one gap has a lino printed representation reminiscent of the zip in Warhol’s cover for the Stones album Sticky Fingers which had just come out. So, even in 1973 I was playing with signs and symbols. i loved the ideas that Newman generated in his interviews and writings. The photo I took at the Henley regatta where I saw this woman all dolled up with a fag in her gob and a pint of beer in hir mit.
The activities of Pete Kennedy, Performance Artist Bloke, Book Creator & retired artist.