Category Archives: David McKean

Black Dog at Tate

Ok so I went to Dave McKean’s performance and discussion of Black Dog at Tate Britain. I’m afraid I ain’t got the time to give it a truly full and gripping report which it deserves as my life is busy, getting busier, so to catch up I am going to bring in some images from that gig and just make short notes. It were wonderful to see the images from the book big up on screen and the light that shines thru makes them even better than on the printed page. I hope D McK don’t have any problem with me putting his images up on my blArt, I do it with the best intention and it will bring the stunning quality of his work to a few more folks.

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This is my portrait of Dave McKean, I have him sitting meditating above a cloud holding the kingfisher’s egg with the big old moon which was in the sky early November.

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Dave showed that he is also a composer as he played the organ in this concert with his incredible coelacanth zeppelin image.

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Matthew Sharp sang a lot of the lyrics in his wonderful baritone (?) voice.

 

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Clare Haythornethwaite played violin and added some high pitched vocals.

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The battle of the Somme began with one almighty explosion which was heard across the channel in London. Dave’s dragon takes a pretty dull thud and makes it both exciting and menacing.

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Nature still continued to appear during the trench warfare and here D McK highlights a robin.

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In his graphic novel he had a hand searching for a kingfisher’s eggs and I added my character Apulhed to the score!

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Butterflies make a welcome break to the shrapnel flying at the entrenched soldiers.

Black Dog is one staggering graphic novel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be my Homeward Dove

‘Lift me like an olive branch

Be my Homeward Dove’

Leonard Cohen

Poet

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Be my Homeward Dove

On Friday night I took part in a series of readings for EducAid in Colchester Sixth form college. The main contribution was my Beuys ‘Sliding thru Eurasia’ poym. However I want to read one of Cohen’s pieces if given the time.

Thanks to Jim Pey for giving me the opportunity to ‘perform’ last night  and my friends Richard & Shelley who joined me and really seemed to enjoy the evening of poems & readings in Colchester on behalf of EducAid. http://www.educaid.org.uk/

This is from my Inside This Clay Jug poems.

Here he comes now over the hill! Sliding … Gliding…

Joseph Beuys with his Celtic roots

Sweeping…and…

Dancing down the backbone of England

Along the Pennine Way

 

Please “Don’t mention the War”

(in which)

He served the Luftwaffe in the air up there

(appropriate bomber diving sounds)

We each of us has a cross to bear

 

He says he piloted a Stuka bomber

Then he all fell down and broke his crown.

He went flying from the cock-pit and cracked his skull

Maybe that was what loosened his slates?

 

So who were these mysterious ‘Tartar Shamans’

Who pulled him from the burning wreck?

They were Siberian nomads

Who wrapped him up in felt and fat

Which later on he used for sculpture, just like that!

 

Swooping… down to Poland on a sled

In his waistcoat with his homburg on his head

He alone put the wrongs of the 3rd Reich to bed

 

‘Join up’ he told Eurasia… ‘Show me your friendly nature’

 

‘Everyone can be an artist’ (don’t you know?)

‘Just let your honey in all directions flow

Draw yourself in to the spiral vor…text

Why don’t you come with me little man On My Magic Blackboard Ride

 

Meet up with Hermann Hesse

Fellow Wanderer on the mountain paths

Dancing down the Backbone of Italy

Along the Appennine Way

 

We are not humans We are dancers

Swirling and whirling

Along the road down Destiny’s Inscrutable Was

It was lovely to see some of the audience smiling as I moved thru mi Beuys ‘poym’ “Explaining Beuys To A Dead Woodpecker”. Funny as you look around when you’re doing summat like that. There’s a nervousness at trying to remember the words and the nuances, yet nowadays I feel can bring in some of the audience with a little look. I try to gauge reaction/interest, altho it’s never a perfect science, I think I am learning to ‘read’ an audience better. That allows me to stay with something that’s ‘working’ and move quickly on if it isn’t.

“Dance Me To The End Of Love” Len Cohen

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone

Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon

Show me slowly what I only know the limits of

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on

Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long

We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born

Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn

Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in

Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove

Dance me to the end of love

I did my take on reading the above song as a poem  and I thought it wonderful how a couple of the other participants recounted their Len Cohen experiences reflected against my story of not seeing the man, whereas they had! It was not so much a mourning as a real delight in what he stood for and emanated with a panache and quite grace. I agree with the last speaker who said that he, on having the opportunity to meet and speak with LC, said thru a post event party-champagne haze, that Len was good no matter what others may think. It still applies. I loved when he did Glastonbury and gained thousands of new fans. Here he sings ‘Anthem’- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJSlpEb_jFk

There’s a poignant story about the girl in his song Marianne which is told in the Telegraph Obituary on 19.8.2016 about Cohen’s erstwhile love Marianne Ihlen who “spent her time since 1979 working in the personnel department of an oil company, painting and exploring Tibetan Buddhism.She remained in touch with Cohen, though when he performed in Oslo in 2010, she attended the concert without going backstage. But she sensed that he knew she was there.

When Cohen heard that Marianne was dying of leukaemia, he wrote to her: “Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

Now he can join her again without hurting anyone as we are all destined to travel down the inscrutable road of destiny, one day.

I was lucky to get tickets to see Dave McKean at the Tate Brit on Sunday 13th doing his Black Dog gig and talk . I am hoping to be able to get some more live images of him. Here’s one of the results from last time I saw him.

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St Dave

Leonard Cohen, I have been a fan since someone compared my artworks to his sad songs in a derogatory way in about 1976. I love his use of words. The way he counterbalanced beauty and high note with the beast and his low tones.

 

During my previous incarnation as a teacher I managed to ‘sing’ his ‘Dance me to the end of love’ to an entrapped audience of other teachers (they deserved it!). Luckily my assistant was a young Canadian who could sing well. Half way thru the ‘performance’ the Head of Science stole the show by dancing into the centre of the stage dressed in a tutu. I think Leonard would have smiled benignly!

Which he’s doing now, looking back at the human pace.

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Len Cohen drawn in 2008

Shalom & Namaste! 

 

LC was born a Jew and later adopted Buddhist monk Sasaki Roshi as his mentor.

https://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zenord.html

all images ©pete kennedy 2016

D. McKean is D. Best!

In the past two weeks I have been to the Imperial War Museum and the House of Illustration in London to watch Simon Armitage then David McKean talk about and show their respective works on WW1 respectively. Armitage in his poem referenced Virgil’s use of the bees and it made me think, ‘Yes, tings like bees would continue to try to survive despite human folly’.

McKean was altogether more comprehensive in his use of insects and birds in his INCREDIBLE graphic-novel-BOOK called Black Dog inspired by the First ‘World’ War and work of Paul Nash. I shall dedicate a full blArt on DMcK later when I have had time to digest all he said and created in the book alongside some great photos of his face and limbs moving thru the discussion of his work.

I must offer that Black Dog by Dave McKean is, for me, the best! It’s such a powerful piece, incorporating such hugh delicacy, that I feel as if I am in the company of a giant in his field who makes the BFG seem tiny. I have had long-standing admiration for the Underground comic art of Rick Griffin since the 1970s but this Black Dog has stolen his place at the top of my thinking. Here’s my rendition of D Mc in a drawing I did of him then played with in PShop.

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So, here’s me playing with a drawing I done of DMcK at the House of Illustriousness

I am busy working the photos I took into a series of ‘portraits’ which I shall add words I wrote taken from what ‘Dave’ was saying and hope it gives a graphic story of the evening worth looking at. Here’s another image I have worked up. At some time I shall print them off and work into them with other media like pen and paint, but meanwhile this is done in photoshop where I still haven’t worked out how to draw with the natural flair which comes with my years of crafting my turn of hand.

I must tank DMcK fer allowin me to tek snaps and do ma skitches too whilst he tried to consecrate on his words & tings. Here he is troyin to concentrated milk:

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The chance to carve imagery out of the great image carver was amazing for me

Now for someting com-peterly diffrunt:

Latest update on my Shrewd Idiot book:

I have now completed the layouts of my Shrewd Idiot book and in the good feeling that has dawned as a result of the culmination of what amounts to 40 years work I have been self-reflecting. My printman says he can give it his attention come august 22nd which gives me a bit of time to dig out about 40-50 images I am going to add to it in colour, the bulk of it is B&W wid justa modicum of red, on drafting film which wiil add both the images and a palimpsest [The noun palimpsest originally described a document, such as a page from a manuscript written on parchment, that had been rubbed smooth so it could be used again, with traces of the original writing showing through. The word still carries that meaning, but ancient manuscripts are rare these days, so you’re more likely to hear palimpsest used to describe something that has traces of early stages showing through…Vocabulary.com, which seems appropriate for my SI pages in which I am re-using (scans of) typed pages from my 1978 manuscript along with handwritten additions and alterations and a few comments from the older me what is now. In fact only a Stupid Idiot like what I am would bother to ‘publish’ the work in the way I have laid it out. It has indeed been a very arduous process in which I scanned the typing, then cleaned up every page so the cut & paste line didn’t show and dropped in copies of the drawings I used to do in my ‘notes’. It would have been infinitely easier to have had the whole of the words re-typed digitally and then worked into a new layout but I had to suffer for my art! Trouble is it’ll also make the potential reader/buyer suffer too and many will be put off by its form. I have chosen to ignore all those considerations, I’ve always been stubborn with an inbuilt determination to make things hard for myself, in the name of ‘authenticity’. I should really heed the words of Walter Matthieu (born Matuchanskayasky on October 1, 1920, in New York City to impoverished Russian-Jewish immigrants) in one of his final films, Kotch(er) 1971, where he says that sometimes it’s best not to be so honest and that honesty can be and is sometimes too brutal, but, I never learn do I?….Do I ? On the contrary, I am learning all the time; I take things into consideration then eject them for my better plan, which more often than not seems foolhardy, hence the Shrewd Idiot! I am hoping that the beautiful presentation of the book will invite scores of punters to pirchase it, yes that’s pirchase as in pirspire (try doing that without wordcheck killing it!). One of my heroes, Brian Clough, before the demon drink took his judgement, used the same strategy as me when he said he would

  1. listen to his player(s)’ points of view, then
  2. carry on and do what he intended to do before they expressed their differences of opinion.

Hero! He won the Euro-Cup twice with a load of  players most of whom had passed their sell by dates and a few greenhorns at Notts Forest. That was no fluke, Forest never did anything worthwhile after his demise.

So buy my buk you pirfec puntas cos I knows warramonabArt!

Postscript:

Choreographer Rosemary Butcher, who has died recently aged 69, once commented: “I’m not particularly interested in accessibility. Staying easy isn’t going to move anything.”

In 1965 the liberal arts college at Dartington, in Devon, launched a new theatre and dance studies course and she enrolled as its first dance student.

In 1968 she travelled to the US on a two-year scholarship and, studying at the schools of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, received a thorough immersion in the mainstream of American modern dance. But it was when she returned to New York and began working with members of the radical dance collective Judson Church that she found the aesthetic that inspired her own dance-making.

The Judson philosophy was encapsulated in the opening line of its manifesto “NO to spectacle, no to virtuosity … magic and make believe”. But, just as important to Butcher, the Judson choreographers were closely involved in the experimental strategies of new music, film and visual art, and it was within this crossover culture that she saw her own career taking shape, rather than in the world of pure dance. (Guardian 20 July 2016).

I was fortunate enough to attend a number of classes in the Martha Graham technique run by Molly Penn when I was looking for something to substitute for football at St Luke’s college in Exeter in the summer months of 1972. Molly accepted me in altho I was pretty damned useless. It did lead to her asking me to design the dance production of her take on Catulli Carmina wherein she used the same structure as the Black Mountain college had with 3 people doing the production; a artisbloke (me) a dance person Molly, and a music person whose name I forgits nah (Peter O’Brien you goofball). cf Rauschenburg/Merce Cunningham/John Cage. This event is chronicled in ma Shrewd Idiot buk and this will be one of the big images in it, innit!

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my design for the poster created and screen-printed par moi in 1972