Category Archives: british library

Kentish Town PA

I drove 120 miles

And got lotsa smiles

Yesterday at the Society of Bookbinders Book Art day in Kentish Town.

After Sarah Bodman had mentioned the 5th of March as the anniversary of the car bomb in the Al Mutanabbi street in Baghdad ( ) I asked the following question but didn’t find the chance to give my reply so here it is:

What are these 3 countries famous for? Iraq? The Sennacherib Prism, cuneiform hexagonal prism with a story on six sides in the British Museum.

Afghanistan? Gandharan scrolls of birch bark in pots.


Syria? First alphabet- Ugarit ( The golden age of Ugarit. The most prosperous and the best-documented age in Ugarit’s history dated from about 1450 to about 1200 bce and included periods of domination by the Egyptians (c. 1400–1350 bce) and the Hittites (c. 1350–1200 bce). That age produced great royal palaces and temples and shrines, with a high priests’ library and other libraries on the acropolis. After the discovery of the temple library, which revealed a hitherto unknown cuneiform alphabetic script as well as an entirely new mythological and religious literature.

The art of Ugarit in its golden age is best illustrated by a golden cup and patera (bowl) ornamented with incised Ugaritic scenes; by carved stone stelae and bronze statuettes and ceremonial axes; by carved ivory panels depicting royal activities; and by other fine-carved ivories. Despite Egyptian influence, Ugaritic art exhibits a Syrian style of its own.

The excavators of the site were fortunate in the number and variety of finds of ancient records in cuneiform script. The excavations continue, and each season throws some new and often unexpected light on the ancient north Canaanite civilization. The texts are written on clay tablets either in the Babylonian cuneiform script or in the special alphabetic cuneiform script invented in Ugarit. Several copies of this alphabet, with its 30 signs, were found in 1949 and later. A shorter alphabet, with 25, or even 22, signs, seems to have been used by 13th-century traders.

Scribes used four languages: Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, and Hurrian, and seven different scripts were used in Ugarit in this period: Egyptian and Hittite hieroglyphic and Cypro-Minoan, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, and Ugaritic cuneiform. These show clearly the cosmopolitan character of the city.)from

I felt privileged to be first speaker out of the blocks and did a rapid show of the several books that I have made following Joanna Drucker’s introduction to the history of the written word  in her Alphabetic Labyrinth which really inspired me to make books of many different historical types and ultimately to do this PA piece (  Since I started the project it has taken on a life of its own and led me to much new knowledge.

The PA took place at 3pm and I did give a short intro to what some of the moves meant.When I referred to the fact that there’d probably have been copies of the Kabir poem, which I use as inspiration for my project, in the shops that got blown up I felt myself starting to cry unintentionally. Doing PA does touch a chord.

a pete + treeking at SoB black
here’s me about to start my PA piece on 5th March 2016 in Kentish Town. Photo taken and provided by Sonia Serrao.

Happily my Performance Art piece went down well [‘Thankyou Pete for an awesome performance’], even converting several folk who had been sceptical about its fitness for purpose. The attention to detail is quite startling. Whilst watching my PA I realised in the mime about making letterpress print I had forgotten to ink up the  ‘chase’ so I went back and did it (in my mime) and sure enough one lady said afterwards that at the time she thought, ‘He’s not inked it up’, which shows the concentration of the audience. Apparently you could hear a pin drop, probably when I mimed holding the needle to sew the book sections together?

Some members made pleasant remarks about my little new binding of David Jury’s prints of my 6 poems in the Vessel. Well, not so little cos it’s about  20” x 18” and some were amazed at how I had managed to keep such a big surface area from bending. Actually so am I and I told them, ‘It’s beginner’s luck, follows me everywhere.’

In fact it is the result of many years of only sporadically making traditionally bound books, partly because I like ‘alternative’ but partly cos I was always frightened of being judged incompetent. The confluence of my increasing self-reliance and a perceived need to bring David’s beautiful rendition of my words made me so determined to overcome my personal weaknesses and get the darn thing done and done well. The book took a few weeks of research, seeking advice from DJ and ace bookbinders Mike Sullivan & Son (Robert), doing trials and buying the right materials. And taking lots of time and consummate care! So when I finally released the book from under heavy boards last week this was my reaction, “I have just taken the new ‘Vessels’ book out from under the weights and in my eyes it is dang near ‘perfec’. [However, remember the compere in ‘Cabaret’ who sang ‘If you could see her thru my eyes’, whilst looking at a gorilla!]I am over the beautiful waning moon I can see out my window this morgan. Wow. It’s taken several days of tears & sweat but I am glad to say it is good (enough for me, and that’s ‘good’.” Here’s an image of it.

a vessels bound sm
This is the ‘Vessels’ series of letterpress print made by David Jury from my words in 2014 which I have now made into a codex book.

And for those interested here’s my work towards the day:

Visions of Joanna The Ideas behind and Script for S o B.

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 I have discovered a way to animate my vision.

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 aural thing into a physical thing? At first it was inscribed in clay then a variety of different grounds were tried. We are 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 is typical of my creative process. I conceived the idea and began to make it using materials 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.

Part 1

I am standing still, wearing black vest & suit (no shoes), hold up the bark mask, looking at the audience. “I am the book”

“We are all aware that paper is made from trees. But in Gandhara they made scrolls from birch bark and buried them in pots. These are the oldest surviving Buddhist texts ever discovered. (pick from the pot show my scrolls and place as start of the ‘sculpture’ which will be feature of the Part 2.)

As my tribute to those early pots I made my own pot with words around the neck and scrolls hold my words and images. I need to mention Jackie Leven here. He sang a wonderful version of a poem by Kabir which I shall recite as I cannot sing”.

I use music specially written and played by Luke Walker for my Clay Jug.

“Inside This Clay Jug there are canyons…”


“I am doing my piece in 2 parts of 15 minutes each.

This first part I shall introduce a series of books to you and tell the background which is really the history of the book through my own book-making. Then in part two there’ll be no explanations just enactment.

I have produced a book, G BATCH, which explains the project and contains the first version of six poems that I wrote feature which throughout the series.

Whilst doing my Masters I was amazed by Joanna Drucker’s Alphabet Labyrinth book which goes into the way the first words were put onto a surface, the first writing. This was on clay tablets, which I made but not using cuneiform, just English. (Show my yellow one & place in sculpture)

I also made a clay poti, (show and add to sculpture) which is a book form used in the East. Tibetan monks like the Dalai Lama still read from daphne paper potis.

I shall be referring to my Leaf Books here. Which are in codex form. (show and add to sculpture) Later the letterpress was invented and books became more available. I did a collaboration with David Jury with my Earthen Vessel books.

 Part 2

The instructions

Wear black vest & black ‘dance’ pants. Also I shall be using a shawl to add the ‘outfits’. For each part first pick up relevant ‘book’.

(with this movement in between each book:

Foot forward, back, move left, hands up

Move right hand out to right and back

Move left hand out to left and back

Foot forward, back, move right, hands up

Pull hand over hand to left to signify pulling back time)

The PA piece:I was going to recite this but I forgot:

‘Have a care

Beware, it’s best to be wise

If you go down to the woods today

You’ll never believe your eyes

Be careful what you do to the trees

The guardian is in his guise.’


Everyone knows paper comes from trees but did you know that in ancient Gandhara  they created scrolls from birch bark? These were found hidden in pots and are the oldest records of the life if Buddha.

The Tree-King is slightly scarey and gives warning that we should care for and treasure the tree.

Performance Art has an unsettling aspect here shown by the Tree-king who sets the tone of the scene. Using an invisible cord I connect with past times and I trawl through different book forms from the past 3 thousand years; clay tablets, scrolls, pothis, manuscripts, letterpress and eventually codex. I attempt to create various historical book forms and their makers using my body, mime & movement with music created by Luke Edward Walker and mark Newby Robson. I shall exhibit and refer to several of my own books influenced by; clay tablets from Ur, pothis from Tibet, scrolls from Gandhara, illuminated manuscripts, letterpress pages and codex. Watch me become the book-makers and the books. Meet the scribes, calligraphers, printers and book-makers from bygone ages.  


bark-mask the bark-mask covers most of my face, stand tree like to start. unmask

begin Luke Walker music

‘bow’ to Pot from which I take

Move thru the books-

clay tablet- use one of the clay tablets from poti or the yellow one shawl becomes ‘kilt’, sit upright like the scribes from ancient Ur. Become a clay tablet

 scroll- Take a Scroll from the pot and unravel it, ravel it, unravel it– shawl becomes Tibet style robe, sit cross-legged. become a scroll

 codex- show one of the Leaf Books shawl becomes ‘hood/cowl’. Sitting at a desk become the medieval monks who created illuminated manuscripts. Be a codex book. Here I lay down and ‘turn’ like a book then stand and do it standing, foot out front, to side, out front, down.

Show Earthen Vessel books


I become the printer using a letterpress method?

The David Jury collaboration prints first.

Show my new bound book of DJ’s prints.

End pose

Return to the pot, go down into child pose.

I think Sonia Serrao who organised the day did a great job and there was a really happy bustle throughout the proceedings. I met and made friends with a whole new bunch of people. My mate Dave Doughty came up with me and his being navigator got us both safely thru the streets of London. Had I been on my own I wouldn’t have reached the show.

I hope to be able to add more images to the one Sonia sent me when anyone who got a good shot sends them to me.

Now that’s over I can shoot back to London, this time on public transport, to see the Auerbach at Tate. And return some books to the Poetry library.

I’d love to go to Zurich to see my friends Vest & Page, but I can’t. If you can you’ll have to go next week:

VestAndPage & Kollektiv Phantomschmerz kindly invite:

vest & page in their latex suits
Enter a caption

Verena & Andrea dressed up in latex. As Vest & Page they are astounding Performance Artists
Fabriktheater Rote Fabrik, Zurich
9 – 10 – 17 – 18 March, 2016, 20:00h

YGGDRASIL, the second production of Kollektiv Phantomschmerz – in collaboration with the Italian-German artist duo VestAndPage and musician Marc Rossier – is the continuation of the search for identity started in their first production Highlight. Following the question “What do you know?”, now they inquire into “What do you believe?”. In a time of spiritual alienation, a journey between conscious and unconscious states ensues through a hybrid of performance art and theatre.
Shows at the Fabriktheater Zurich (Doors open at 19:30)
• March 09, 2016, 20:00 – Premiere
• March 10, 2016, 20:00
• March 17, 2016, 20:00 – Post-Show Q&A
• March 18, 2016, 20:00

Tickets: and 044 485 58 28

My bookart friend sent me this link to her beautiful contribution to the al mutanabbi street project. This is a beautiful piece.

Meet my top ten artis at Comica Fest comic market last Saturday.

The featured image at the top is from my 1976 comic, Applehead Lives which i used to sell on markets and all but had to give up on to tek a ‘day job’ to survive in the rough old werld out thur.

Necessary disclaimer note- I did not have time to gain permissions for the illustrations below that are not mine. Actually I have not included any yet, gonna aks permissions. All mine are of course (c) pete kennedy 2014.  I hope you people I have borrowed them from don’t mind as I am using them to advertise you. IF anyone objects get in touch and I shall take them out.

I felt like Owlsley at Kesey’s place when I was at the British Library Comicon market on Saturday 16th august. Owlsley was a chemist who had made millions of & from LSD tabs in the mid-sixties. When he turned up at the Merry Pranksters, (upon whose escapades in their magic bus and on various hallucinatory drugs the Beatles film Magical Mystery Tour was based), place nobody recognized him. But they soon realised he was the real ting. I felt like he must have felt when he first showed up. Like him I have spent years working in a vacuum creating magic. Now I am back with my work in what is now called ‘artists book’ form. I showed my ApulGold book

bak pages

to a few stall holders and they all seemed to love it. But originally, mid-70’s I wer publishing my own ‘graphic novel’ and comics in the shape of Applehead Lives and Happy Apulhed.

ahed burnley surfer

I stood selling them on Camden market and down Earl’s Court at the Stones’ concerts In 1976. I had faith that by ‘doing my own ting’ I would ‘make it’ but I had to retract for a while (28 yearns) to gerra ‘day job’ to keep the wolf frae th’door.I was a pie on y’ear back in the day when not a lotta people were doing that. Now there’s hundreds on ‘em. And they’re doing fine, on cloud nine. Next year I shall start bringing out my new set of ‘books’ based on my working titles, ‘Don’t Give Up The Day Job’ and next month am bringing out my new publication, Six Earthen Vessels. I must try set up a shop here so yez can perchance purchase them.
The standard of art and quality of publications now is incredible altho like Peter Stanbury said to me there’s something really nice about the old comics we did on cheap paper which was all we could afford. Nowadays with modern print we can have our work printed at a fraction of what it cost me to produce Applehead Lives in 76.

kachinas on cliffHopi kachinas

black&white images were all we could afford back in the 70’s!

And colour is no longer astronomical. So, I may soon make some of my earlier work available in ‘full colour’ as colour was always my ting and I could never afford to produce my stuff in colour. So when I flood the market with my work from the past, blame Paul Gravett for inviting me up to see Comics Unmasked! Thanks for your kind hospitality Paul, the show were gud.

I know you shouldn’t have ‘favourites*’ but I am choosing ten from so many I saw and met and squawked to at the Comicon market on Saturday. Cos I couldn’t possibly cover all of em.

In reverse order (but that’s not a value judgement folks) here is my most favouritest folks what I met Saturday:

10. Gareth Brookes the Black project . Gareth is a man and woman after my own heart. The man in him does lino cuts and his female side does embroidery. His startling combis of the two old fashioned methods has led to quite a magnum opus.
9. Vincent Hunt (Red Mask). Here is a young man after my own interests, extra-terrestrial possibilities. His red mask is an alien what lives on his main characters face. My aliens were just visiting, not living on my face. Altho I did transmogrify into a Squidgerat in my First Squidgerat Show at Brentwood Theatre in the mid 90’s where I wore a mask, but it didn’t live on my face.
squidgerat kin smkb
8. Christian Jelen does stuff close to my art with a lovely little book about the thoughts of the Dalai Lama which was picked up by DL’s team and printed in India fer dissemination to all of his fans. He also does lovely characters what are sitting in lotus positions, reminiscent of Robert Crumple’s Mr Natural in a moment of meditation. I luv all that and I too do yoga and tai chi and all them tings too.
7. Seeing Poetry twas lovely to see Louise Crosby’s work much of which seemed to be in answer to the poetry of Clare Shaw. Good collaborations here. Then I found that Louise comes from near Hebden Bridge, one of my most favourite-est haunts in the whole of England.
6. Yi-Miao Shih I liked Yi Miao’s rather quaint drawings and in the link above she even draws an apple like what I first drew the apple what became Apulhed! And in fact if you look at her work in her tumblr site it is as if she has stolen hundreds of my drawings from the 70’s and put her own slant on them. We must have been sawn from the same block(head?)
5. Geeked Mag Just shows how silly I am. I really loved the magazine and chatted up the ladies what runs it giving them all the patter about my being a real good artist and writer and all o that saying why don’t they ask me to contribute and they played along with this old fella and said maybe they might and then I see their website and see it’s a feminist ting? Can I still play if I bring my feminine side girls?
4. iella Iella does wonderful stuff. She shows me how I can bring together all my differing sides because that’s what she has done with stunning effect. Love the murals. Love the mixing of say pencil sketch with acrylics.
3. Amber Hsu what an astounding and unassuming woman! Such phenomenal talent and it says on her site- Amber Hsu is a Chinese-born, US-raised, UK-based writer and artist. She is a graduate of Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design. She also has a degree in Biophysics, a minor in Classical Studies and a Masters in Comparative Literature. I would love to have just some of that talent and track record! And she thanks me for the postcard swop, wow. I wouldn’t have dared suggest a swop if I had known how good she was.

ambr hsu pdf copyThank you Amber!

2. Atlantic Press do some of the best artist books I have seen by any publisher. They have a keen eye for originality and give the artists’ work beautiful presentation in lots of differing ways.

I tried to send a link to this to Philidda but it failed. Tell her I told DJ about her quoting him and he were happy about that.

1. Andy Barron is making simple but beautiful little books called ‘om’. I see them a link to the profoundly wonderful work of rick Griffin in the 70’s. He has put loads of ‘comics’ up on the net foe all to see. It seems that is the way to go nowadays.

andy barron om frm pdf

this is Andy’s lovely screen printed cover

Thank; I must thank Qeurstret for all her advice on setting up shop, one day I shall do it.
And all the lovely folks I met, including Dr Martin the inventor for all their observations and suggestions. Oil Bee Bach!
*In teaching we all learned not to have favorites, treat em all the same they said at St. Lukes, and I did try all my teaching life to do that though usually it wer kids at the two ends of the ability range I (secwetly) favoured; the best and the least best, particularly if they were trying their best. My next blArt is not so much abArt art as about bad teachers a kind of part 2 to my blArt before this and it’s got some negative stuff in it, so don’t look at it if you believe evriting should have a positive take. That’s just a warning.

Amalgamations and Collaborations

A week in the life of Blarty O’Dork

My Six Vessels Artists Book’s progress.
My new artist’s book, Inside This Earthen Vessel which is a re-write of the poem in my earlier book, G Batch about six men I call mystics, is nearly ready to go to press. I have set the ‘poems’ in Quark in the shape of pots or ‘vessels’ which makes them like concrete (or rather, ceramic) poems. I think I shall call them my ceramic poems. Concrete poems started by the likes of Apollinaire and Alfred Jarry are set on the page in various shapes rather than the traditional set in normal typographic layout. A friend of mine who has been big into typo for ages liked them so much that he suggested we do a collaborative publication in letterpress later on using the poems. I shall keep you posted on that progress. My version is all but completed ready for my printer to run off 50 copies, which is a mixed blessing cos I am going to be doing all the trimming and folding and that’s no easy task. Here is the first one.
Destination Dust
Dhona the Brahmin was a mendicant
monk….. Who asked Siddhartha (Gautama
Shakyamuni, Tathāgata) “Are you human, one
from Gandharva?……… Are you a god or maybe a
Yaksa?” “Brahmin everything that’s created passes.
Strive diligently into your transition, go peacefully to
ward your destination. Escape from the Spinning Wheel
of Samsara.” During dispute when Guatama passed away
Brahmin Dhona, intervening, did say….“The message of the
Blessed Buddha Is still peace & forbearance today.” Thereby
the Malla chieftans of Kusinara….. On whose soil Shakyamuni
had died. Reluctantly released the relics to be divided into eight
domains….. Thereby each claimant built a monument……Which
every time turned to rust Confirming Siddhartha’s message that
Every… thing… passes… to… ashes… and……………. dust
Up on the road near Montagnola… A Wandering Writer named
Hesse heard the tale from a Mendicant Monk…………….Then he
recounted the story to you and to me In a book which he called
Tathāgata shewed how to escape the Swamps of Samsara and
Suffering. Tathāgata said “Namaste. The Light
in me Greets the Light in thee. I Am a Buddha Brahmin,
I Am a Buddha Now.”

The ‘a’s with the little ting on top just happened, so I have left them as I really like them.
Copies of the book should be available before the end of August. In time for the Oxford ‘Wayzegoose’ book fair where I have gotten a table near my birthday in October. “ Will you still need me. Will you still feed me. When I’m sixty four? Ba bum boom, les Beatells.”
The new book has several mentions of key belief systems but it’s not any way a religious book. It’s about looking at the wonders of existence on this little globe using the insights of some men who spent their lives dedicated to trying to help human beings see more clearly, the six ‘thinkers’ (or maybe better called ‘tinkers’?) in it being:

G.iorgi Ivanovitch Gurdzhiev

B.euys Joseph
A.ngeli Silesii
T.enzin Gyatso
C.arl Gustav Jung
H.ermann Hesse

The first letters of each name give the title of my Introduction to the project in an earlier artist’s book, G Batch.I could have included others like William Blake, but my time was limited to one year to complete that project and I had to be selective. The nice ting is this new book and my collaboration both grew easily from all the work I did at the time. There is even a wider scope book in there but Thames & Hudson’s reader in ‘Spiritual’ etc books couldn’t imagine that anyone out there would buy it in big enough numbers. I believe they would, it’s just that the publishing world has little imagination, like the art world- galleries etc. I approached the Museum Of Modern Art NY with my image called variously Venus at the Stairs or Venus Stares because they own two of the images which inspired me to do that image, Schlemmer & Lichtensteins, but they send a rather rude and ignominious reply to anyone who has the temerity to approach them:
Sirs and mesdames,
at the end of April 2014 i send a package with my image of my picture to see if I could galvanise an interest on your part to buy one. I sent it by air mail to: The Museum of Modern Art
The Department of Painting and Sculpture
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
In the light of not having gotten a reply by today, 16July 2014 should i take it that your gallery has no interest?
Thank you for contacting The Museum of Modern Art.
Please note that the Department of Painting and Sculpture’s acquisition and exhibition programs are developed from within the Museum. Due to the large number of unsolicited submissions we receive, we can only respond to those which the curators express an interesting in pursuing.
The Museum of Modern Art

And from a gallery in Germany which happens to be having a Schlemmer show right now, a fact I was as usual blissfully unaware of when I suggested they buy my pic:
Dear Mr. Kennedy,
Thank you for this information on your work inspired by Schlemmer. However: as you may presume, our exhbition is already fully set and it is a retrospective on the artist Oskar Schlemmer only.
I.Conzen Kuratorin für Klassische Moderne
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

I remember back in the early 80’s on their first(?) album Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits mentioned a friend who had made it, ‘In the Gallery’. At the time I was an ‘artist-bloke’ making and teaching art and related skills and I recall thinking well am not ‘In the Gallery’ yet, maybe one day? That never happened. I’m flagging up my chagrin cos it’s no good me saying in 20 yearns time ‘Why did you not let me in?’ and you telling me you didn’t know I wanted to be considered. In fact, my old mate IEPW has reminded me that ‘galleries’ are commercial enterprises, they are never going to let anyone in who isn’t ‘recognised’ and/or in one way or another, famed. So, I am barking up the wrong tree again. They are never going to let me in, in fact my biggest claim to fame is my ‘originality’ and that my friends is exactly what they do not want. They want the things which have been tried and tested, vetted and decided upon by key decision makers like Saatchi, the money, the last ting they want is someone who is always changing tack, always searching for the new.

There are those who tell me that being in the gallery is not all it’s cracked up to be (whatever that is; being ‘seen’, bought, considered, added to the list etc). Like Lucy Lippard who started, after gaining a degree in curating (?), at Momany and spent much of her life advocating being ‘outside the gallery’, I heard her say it in a talk a year or two ago, albeit from the stage in one of London’s ‘important’ galleries.

VIP I have to correct the mistake above. Lucy has gently informed me that she got ‘just an MA in art history’ rather than curating. I had carelessly assumed her degree to be in curating from her early role at MOMA. (As you will suspect I am trying to avoid digging a deeper hole here when I say) I have only respect for Lucy and her long standing relationship within and without the world of art. I first came across her writing in relation to Eva Hesse, an artist whose work I love and of whom Lucy was a friend and advocate, I think…be careful now…take nothing for granted Pete. Since then I have studied, slightly, her work in relation to the likes of Robert Smithson and her Numbers Shows. I was lucky to listen to and draw her at the Whitechapel gallery a couple of years ago. When I say I drew her it was without her knowledge or consent as I draw folk when the institution dis-allows photography so I have a visual record of a person at an event. As you may guess visual memory is important to me.

lucy for blog 29714 smkb

I’m a sad bastad me. Sad cos I tried so hard to break through into the world ofart, I mean you gotta be sad to even try, why not get a proper job?

What’s interesting is how tings move on. I never used to see my ‘writing’ as part of my ‘art’ but recently I have learned to understand they are one. In the same way, for many years I saw my ‘comic’ or graphic drawings (of Apulhed and Friends) as separate from my oil paintings and now I understand they are one. I used to wonder how I could amalgamate one skill or form in with another across a wide range, then I realised they are not separate, they are one. In my last blog I did a newstyle ‘comic’ in which I began to incorporate the photo-image with the drawn image. Expect to see more amalgamations, and collaborations, as the stopper is out of the champagne bottle.

A Blake workshop
On Saturday I went to a workshop by a Blake scholar whose prints from his own re-makes of Blake’s copper plates are in every important Blake collection all over the woild. The workshop ‘Printing in the Infernal Method’, led by Professor Michael Phillips, took place on Saturday 26 July 2014, at Morley College. Michael explained the mystery behind Blake’s method of creating the prints for his books. He dispelled myths about Blake’s techniques. Fundamentally Blake could mirror write on the tiny plates (c.70×112 mm) from his youth. Michael carries his own little bottles of pigment, limited to the exact colours Blake used, and linseed oil. He mixed the ink to its optimum mix. He then applied the ink to the small copper plates which he explained were created from a number of sources close to the original plates all of which are lost. He told us of a little boy who Blake taught how to make a plate.

michael phillips daubing

Michael the master Blake printer daubing delicately.

Luckily for posterity the boy had kept what was a postage stamp sized plate in his box and it passed to descendants. On the back of it was an old Blake image which has given Michael an exact measure of the depth of cut Blake used to incise the image then use two dips into sulphuric acid. 1.125 mm deep is all he did. Michael scotched the rumour that Blake had used rollers to ink up his plates, no because they were not invented whilst he was working. He used a leather dauber. We were allowed to have a go and man is it difficult. I used my most delicate touch and that was too much, I got well told. Then Michael did four prints from each of 5 plates each diminishing in tone until the final pull, which now had 3 mini-blankets on whereas the first pull had one, was almost inkless. I learned so much from Michael and have to thank him for his patience and knowledge.

blake chimney sweep print smkb

The Chimney Sweep.
You can see how kak-handed my daubing was where the grain shows in the ‘white’ areas.

I love the work of Stephanie Wright which i saw in the new summer show at Sculpt gallery near Tiptree in Essex. Her pots cum found objets sculptures are refreshingly original and humour-filled. If you care to go to her website she does quite a range of ceramics but the ones in this gallery are my favourite.

a new style comic by Apulhed-man

I have decided to ‘go the whole hog’ as gurdjeff used to say when you consider doing someting, do it wholeheartedly. This strip is me announcing am back. Back doing graphice stories which is a field i got burned in once or twice before. Altho I know, cos am not so thick as I look, I am not fire-proof, I believe I can make it stick this time.
Public warning:
This is just the first!

To see the ‘comic cuts’ click on the green line below:

robgil comic quarkd sm kb

Robert Crumb & Gilbert Shelton at the British library

All images and words ©pete kennedy 2014.
Trip on a sweltering day to see Robert Crumb & Gilbert Shelton at the British library talk was riddled with little bad trips. They stumbled out onto the platform not young now either of em. My camera couldn’t focus, couldn’t understand why half the shots were foggy until afterwards when I saw that it was focussing on the glasses and drink vessels, should have gone into manual focus, twerp.

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Got my pencil moving and did 3 sketches, one of both on em standing together, then one of each of em. Always try to do sketches at these events. Seems funny drawing these two master comic artists. My drawings are good I think, seems like taking coals to Newcastle. I could have drawn all night but didn’t. I took notes of some of what they said. They have a good repartee. Both lived in france for years where their work is so appreciated, bande desineray they say thur ( I put the ray in th’werd, they put it into their graphic works for 50-60 years). Letter part of evening went into a tribute to Felix Dennis what died recently. He was scheduled to compere this event cos it hinged around the ‘OZ obscenity Trials’ where he and Jim Anderson and Richard Neville were threatened with a long jail term but gorroff. That part of the ceremonies was very educative, but can be reported elsewhere. My interest was in the two olfartmen. I’ll call them rc & gs:

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rc says he had left his first wife in a rush to get to the west coast where all the good stuff was going on, said he had rung her about 3 weeks later to say he was sorry he had left without saying anything
rc it’d be impossible to know how it would have turned out if I’d not taken all that LSD. You may have visions but yor mentally crippled for 25 years.

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gs I was not taking any of those drugs. Pause. We were eating peyote. Really brought the colors out . I saw colour for the first time. Previously red meant stop and green meant go to me. Your drawings had to be better if it was B&W, color made it easier to read.
Asked about influences gs said, In my childhood I liked Scrooge McDuck. And Little Lulu
I was kicked out of art college cos I was doing funny drawings when they were after us doing VERY serious abstract expressionist paintings. (see watti mean young Ben? , in th’old days we were sposed to be seriarse!).
How did you get into doing all those comics about yourself rc?
rc I got tired of doing Mr Natural and my wife wanted to do collaborative works, she could only do autobio stuff so I joined her.
So she’s to blame?
No , not really.
gs I blame woody Guthrie for bob Dylan
you liked the 60’s music didn’t yu Gilbert and you didn’t Robert?
Rc those strobe lights & the noodling guitars sent me to sleep.
Then they discuss the cover of Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills album.
Rc well they, CBS, wanted a cover quick, can u do it and get it to us by tomorrow morning? So I took loads of pills. Got $600 dollars, lotta money then. It sold for $21K. GASPS from crowd. Then it sold at $100,000.
You turned down the Stones cover?
I didn’t like them, (sings) Goodbye Roobie Toosday. So I turned down the album.

Asked about the Fabulous Furry freak Bros, what influenced him gs said
Marx Bros and 3 Stooges. It was a literary trick to have 3 characters. With my relatively poor drawing skills I had to create 3 characters who you could tell apart. Cicero’s cat was my hero as a kid so Fat Freddie’s cat was influenced by that. [he never hed a name did he].

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Heck no, (gs then recites t s eliot’s cat poem, gets applauded) you never name a cat. I became infatuated with humor at uni. What makes people laugh out loud? I’m still looking for funny stuff.
When asked why they had dropped their high moral stance about being edited by working for the Cleveland American Greetings Card Co. rc went on a bit about needing to survive (which is ironic when people like OZ were stealing their stuff and not paying any royalties and they were skint). Then gs said he weren’t good enough drawer to get a job with them. So rc said, you weren’t good enough? Hell they employed anyone, they paid the lowest wages on the planet.
They are asked why they chose to live in France?
I (gs) used to tell girls I was in the publishing business rather than say I drew comics but in France they appreciate graphic artists. I read French comics to improve my French. The graphic Novel is going on now and the artists are taken more seriously. Mention of Hernandez brothers, they are good they agree
Then rc ses, Comic artists are Nerdy. You sit in your room and draw comics. They did a retrospective of my work in France. Found hundreds of my originals. Hell I did a lot. Had my day. A lot of ink has gone under the bridge. I got arthritis. Enough already. I should retire. Wife calls out ‘Look after the grandchildren’. That’s Aline. I’d be dead without her.

Conversation ends and then the stage turns to the Oz trials.

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Fascinating stuff but I shall leave that to someone else.They had brought in the late Feliks Topolski as expert witness to help define what is ‘art’ which is a word Bruce McLean so disdains anyway, ‘It’s what Saatchi deals in’ he said in a recent conversation. I was lucky to meet and draw Topolski several times, I love his drawings and he quite liked what I do.

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Except a mention another Felix (Dennis, om mani padme hum). I met him several times. Once when I was at college in the 70’s and wanted Oz to post my Apulhed comix but he said they only ripped off American stuff. Sent me thru to a room where Jim Anderson was sitting cross-legged on a carpet. He said they’d like me to write for them. I said, no, no comics no write. Several years later when I were a grown up I returned to see Felix and he let me take this great photo.

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By then he had made a fortune bringing Kung Fu comics from the states and publishing them here in UK. He then went on to do Maxim and Poems.
He kindly told me about the search thru history by artists to find ways to print the range of tones from white thru grey to black. Nice one. I went away and drew my 1976 comic Appleheadman Lives. After that I stopped doing comic and started doing more paintings and photos and writings and all. I was bemoaning my demise, or apologising to bryan Talbot for not producing much more and he so kindly pointed out, ‘But you are busy doing other things Pete’ and I was. Hunt Emerson didn’t like the first 4 pages of Appleheadman Lives but after that he said, “Whooosh, takes off”. But that was me, as a burgeoning comic artist telling the story of a group of travellers going west. A spoof on Hermann Hesse’s astounding novel, Journeyers To the East. One day soon am doing an artists book based on that Appleheadman foray in which I shall use the best of my drawings from then and add lots more I dun since. But, like I say, Felix influenced my tinking there. I tried lots of different mark-making techniques. I knew it would lack cohesivemess. But I didn’t care, I was paying for it. Still got lots left.

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Like Robert said, we comic artists are nerds, I sit in my room going thru every one of the 10,000 copies I got left. I don’t got the Midas touch, everytin I touched terned too cold. Boom Boomp. Worth a fortune wenni pop me clogs.
Anyway, after a difficult start to my day in London I just got lucky. Gilbert & Bob had vacated the building pretty fast without the normal books signing session which comic freaks are used to. I stood around looking at characters who might have been drawn by Gilbert or Bob, some of whom themselves being ‘comic’artists. I looked at my watch it was 9.22 (ta Chuck Berry, another comic artist) so I too quit. Then to my delight just outside in the street were the great Gilbert & Bob hailing a taxi. I put on me paper artsi hat and got a couple of nice shots

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which I fully intend to pull together in a new Kennedy comic (car-tune) about two of the best, who stood the test and all the rest. Watch this blArty ting.