Category Archives: Books Artists Make BAM

i Am driven to write. Part 1.

As I approach my next, much anticipated, books fair ( clik the link- https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=cfd5b16764&view=att&th=1629b285999316e9&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw ) I rediscovered this old blArt and I thought my oh my did I write that? It is a very good intro/explainor of my modus operandi in some of my werkx. It kind of contextualises some of watti do, gives some history to the way I became the rebel riter wat i becaymed.
My Shrewd Idiot book(s) give more intro to my writins and tinkins but in them it’s by osmosis, you get the picture by looking at my art and reedin ma ritin…gerrit? So, am reblArtin ma blog. Here’s lookin forard t’Baltic buk SPAM

apulhed tinking

The best think that ever happened to me was being top boy in the class in the final term of my year 6 (junior school) in 1961. Two girls beat me; Ann Whittaker and Susan I can’t recall her name but her dad was a headmaster… Mr Brown I tink. There were 45 in our class, a big class in about the biggest primary school in the town. So, when it came to moving ‘up’ to the all boys gwamma school you’d think I’d be placed amongst the top pupils? But No. I wer placed in the bottom intake class, 1C, with that dunce Bilkinton, who was always bottom boy, usually above the bottom two girls. The rebel was created. I knew summat wer rong and it wernt ma spellin!     I never found the reason or cause for my being mis-placed. It may just have been something to…

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Shrewd Idiot’s Book Launch at CAC

Book Launch + Birthday Celebration

It was not just a Book Launch, it was my 67th Birthday Celebration at Colchester Arts Centre (CAC) on Sunday altho’ my birthday is 27 Oct we had decided that Nov5 is an easier date to remember remember. As it turned out we forgot to celebrate ma birtdae, altho’ my wife did send a cake to CAC which my guests enjoyed. I was too busy clearing up the stage area so the next act could set up..

AR dances for his pencil
Ant competing with aplomb with the Shrewd Idiot for dad dancer of the year.

Anthony Roberts gave me the invite to Launch on seeing a copy of my The Shrewd Idiot book and he also gave me a beautifully phrased introduction yesterday which made me feel real good!

A Rich dancing for pencil
Richard Spencer who did a beautiful rendition of Neil Young’s After the Goldrush.

Richard Spencer did two songs beautifully to help me tell the shrewd idiot’s tale (of woe & glad tiding)

The Performance Art gig I did just grew and grew in the weeks (nay months) of prep as I got more excited on its approach. The idea which underpins my PA gigs is to bring my static 2D, 3D and BookArt forms to life, to have them walking and talking and most of all DANCING to celebrate life, theirs and mine!

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stage set with 3 of my 1968-70 self portrasits which each became a mask in the gig. I have not used those easels in a while now.

CAC gave me the best facilities I have ever had access to and I am very very grateful for that. Neil Thorp (the man detailed out by Mark Senior Techie who left the country on seeing my scrip) to do the Techie work was very helpful and patient with this first timer. He accommodated my script and its being crammed with different ‘tracks’ of music (which I had edited down in Audacity to give my story a running musical accompaniment appropriate to the story line and of course with a dance beat I could move to in what one of those present has kindly called ‘dad dancing’) and different ‘slide changes’ on a powerpoint I never had intended to use but it was apparently the best way to coordinate the sound, vision and lighting schedules. Ben Howard it was who organised the provision for my gig and gave me encouraging words in the weeks before. Anyway the outcome was tremendous as I looked at the stage before the crowd was allowed in.

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Although I had a poster printed on yellow paper (A3,4 & 5!) and got it distributed around Colchester, even at the Town Hall, there was something lacking in my promotion of the gig as all those who turned up already owned copies of my Beautiful Shrewd Idiot book. I did mention it (hundreds of times) in my blArt, posted a tweet about it and the lovely Daphne Sandham at Colchester Art Society put up a mention of it in her weekly newsletter to members and she retweeted my tweet. They came to see if the man in the book was for real. Well, in the book he was 18-23 years old between 1969-73, in the process of becoming an artist & teacher whilst being tamed by 3 lovely women in those years. Yes he does exist but a bit older now and not necessarily as good a dancer altho’ he did attempt to disprove that fallacious, rather libellous, definitely deleterious theory to cries of ‘dad dancing’ called in mock humour.

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The Idiot dancer from 1970, don’t be fooled by the mask he’s still in there!

He also exhibited some salacious stories about his former self(s). Some of his creations ‘came to life too’ well one did, Apulhed, whose appearance was indeed the highlight, an opinion unanimously acclaimed by the audience.

apulhed at the lectern
Apulhed in all his glory  speaking to humanity asking them to mend their ways.

Here’s some images of the author dad-dancing and not caring about the consequences (in fact some of his moves were perfec Zumba).

SONY DSC
The 3 dad dancers taken by Christine Dixon

Here’s the Emperor Rosegon Dance Competition in full swing. The judge was a bit biased! I admit now I should have come 3rd not 1st, but whose birthday and whose gig were it any road up!

One of the best things which arose from the gig was a beautiful informed review written by Gary Malkin of the Artist’s Book Archive at Baltic, Gatesheed. I’ll ask his permission to post it next time as he gave great insight into my books, particularly The Shrewd Idiot, Christine Dixon created two beautiful handouts for the gig which I wish I had used in the advance publicity. She also came up on stage to grace the floor with her dancing skills as I reminisced about my chat up lines from the 1970s! Thank you Christine. Thanks also to Dave Doughty who acted as the Taxi Driver and the film maker. I hope to post the results of his efforts in the not too distant so you can enjoy ma gig at CAC.

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Christine putting up with my 1970s chat up.

Namaste

 

 

 

Two gigs this weekend

I am doing a very quick blArt this week as I am hard on rehearsing and preparing for my book launching gig at Colchester Arts Centre this coming Sunday 5th November at 2pm.

Am also doing a reading of Bukowski’s Poem For Dante at Firstsite in Colchester on Friday 3rd at 7.30 when the Educaid trust will be having another of their wonderful group readings in aid of Sierra Leone. No time even for yoga classes this week.

I am trying to pull together all my recent inspirations to attract interest in my series of books concerning The Shrewd Idiot.

If you have a spare hour Sunday afternoon the main activity is from 2-3 pm.

You may like to buy one of my books at a really good price too.

Here’s a couple of images I took at today’s practice. [Don’t forget to bring your camera! You can flash away til yer heart’s content cos I got no ban on cameras. That’s not to do with vanity, it’s freedom of speech, a pic tells a 1000 words.] Oh and can some of you let me know if you are coming, then I’ll get my beautiful wife to make more birthday cakes. At present there’s no way of knowing numbers cos we said no entry fee. That means no bookings so we cannot estimate numbers. But like Sophia saw at Red Lion, I’d perform (my art) even if nobody came, but I do know some folk will be there.

 

 

I don’t want to give too much away but I shall be in dialogue with my former selves and my character Apulhed will make a surprise appearance. That’s as long as he can make it from whatever part of the cosmos he’s visiting now. He’s never let me down before. Looks like he’s in Japan!

Or he may be further afield. I wake about 4am and look out my window and there above the trees I have a great view of Orion’s Belt with Sirius lurking below it.

The Shrewd Idiot books launch

a smsi cova words

The time for my launch of my new (set of) book(s) on the theme of The Shrewd Idiot looms ever closer. Anyone who can get to the Colchester Arts Centre [It’s in the street behind The Mercury Theatre, you can park across the road at St Mary’s Car Park.] would be welcome at 2pm Sunday November 5th. entry is free I’ll be talking about my books and doing some zany Performance Art (PA) pieces which emanate from the pages of the books.

The Shrewd Idiot book isn’t entirely chronological, there’s flashbacks in it and altho I wrote it in the 70’s, I completed it in 2016 adding a final layer of comments from this man in his mid-sixties to the younger self. In this PA I have a dialogue with my younger selves too. Some of the exchanges may cause ripples of smiles because the young Idiot involves in activities the old Idiot would never admit to, would he?

Back in the early 70’s Neil Young was flagging up the issue of ‘Mother Nature on the run’ and his song After The Gold Rush depicts his dream about contact with other life forms which fits well with my work from around that time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKM5dIANXE8 so I’m featuring a rendition of his song performed by my friend Richard Spencer.

I shall talk, mime (badly), dance (not quite so badly) through the hand-made books’ content and have a Q&A session at th’end.

I also bring in devices & influences from performances I have seen recently in London, like Trajal Harrell https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/jul/23/trajal-harrell-hoochie-koochie-barbican-observer-review  and Kazuo Ohno (who was born in Hakodate City, Hokkaido, on my birthdate October 27 but in 1906 http://www.kazuoohnodancestudio.com/english/kazuo/ ), Geumhyung Jeong, Rocio Molina and Michael Clark.

As is the ‘won’t’ of many a big gallery they wouldn’t allow photos so I drew them! [altho’ you’ll see I couldn’t remember Geumhyung Jeong’s name as I sat drawing illicitly on the floor of Tate Mod.

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Geumhyung Jeong’s gig in my shorthand

That’s the trouble wit big galleries, they’re buying into PA but they have no idea what the drift of PA is! PA is an open field in which anything goes. Please bring yer camras and click away madly at my gigs.

ahed maskin
Apulhed during my 1st ever PA in Exeter in 1973

There’s only one extant photo of Apulhed and that was taken in 1973! But there are more now, some taken in 2017 at my Arnolfini gig of course. Thanks Tanya, thanks Hannah! See https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/an-idjet-suckseeds/

I also have Richard Spencer to sing a little at the beginning Bless his cotton socks.

Other artists who help my script are Lady Gaga, Van the Man, Iggy Pop and Bruno Mars.

The Shrewd Idiot book will be on sale in different forms; ‘The A3 deluxe version’, ‘The A4 Perfect Bound version’, The Appleheadman Sees book (A5) and the ‘A3 deluxe PK 1968-73’ which is 27 picture I did tween 1968-73.

I created Apulhed (aka Appleheadman) in 1971 and he has had many many different looks in different media like comics, children’s drama (I did a big show with 14 Children playing my characters when I was the first artist of the new millennium to have an exhibition in Colchester Library), books like my Apul-One 1975.

apul001
The face in the Applehead is Camellia!

Here’s a cover with newly done colours of the 1979 Happy Apulhed ‘comic’.

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the original Happy Apulhed is B&W only

In this gig Apulhed will make a special appearance in a beautiful guise created especially for this gig and that I have never before used, I think it will cause quite a stir. Doors open 13.30 hrs, PA starts at 2pm (14.00 hrs) ends at c. 3pm. Then there’s 30 minutes in which I shall be around to sign any copies of the books you buys and answer any questions about my works.

a colarts nov5 poster

rare as hens teet
As rare as hen’s teeth comments be!

 

My Fear Of Failure…I Don’t Do Fear Of Failure.

Someone had been looking at this blArt during this week so I thought I would kind of ‘update’ it and make it available again.

apulhed tinking

first ever prizeWay back in 1960 when I wer 10 I won my first prize, maybe my last too, in a flower show. I came 4th in a scone cooking competition. Above is an image of my tercificate. About 50 years ahead of the game what with all these celebrity chef tings going on nowaday. I never won nowt since, but I may still win sumting, never give up hope do ya?

Sometimes I do ‘get lucky’ and today I found out Red Lion Bookshop have extended the exhibition of my work until next Saturday. (see flyer below) And another ting, I had my first visitor to my blart from Russia today. Welcome comrad.

It wer all downhill after such heady heights, I just knew it would be because like Seasick Steve, I can’t lose what I never had! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3Iam7JELDM

Failure is a familiar friend, but not too familiar please.

‘don’t…

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MY VINDICATION Springs to Life.

 

'crash canvas' cover + title sm
This is the top half of the A3 book with its ‘crash canvas’ bookcloth cover. And the raffia rim which actually covers over the stitches top and bottom. There’s 37 images within on Zanders translucent.

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:

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This image shows the lovely black ‘board blocking’ & the title page.

Now I think I should have entitled it “The Shrewd Idiot Works” with ‘works’ having 3 meanings

  • The Works
  • He works
  • It worked.

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]?

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.

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‘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,…’