The ‘performance’ art I’m doing in my new piece at Colchester Art Centre on Sun12Sept2021 is based on the content of my self-published books with some poetic license. It has many bits of music cut (with thanks to all the songsters!) from songs which were popular back in the day and as I’m only speaking very sparsely the words of each song actually tell the story. So listen well.
“We are a music-making species — always have been, always will be — and music’s capacity to explore, express and address what it is to be human remains one of our greatest communal gifts… We evolved by coming together around the fire* every night, singing songs and telling stories — invariably, telling stories through singing songs. That’s what our ancestors did; that’s how they made sense of the world and each other; that’s how they learned how to be. It is an impulse that is still fundamental to who we are.” Clemency Burton-Hill *there’s no actual fire in my piece.
I woke at four am today 25th August 2021 and came up with some answers to things which were bugging me both short term and longer. Seems I was lucid at that time of day. Short term was solving some of the challenges* I need to resolve for my show on 12th September. *(Lennon sang ‘There is no problem only solutions’ or summat like that)
I was reading about how Michael Parkinson thought so much about Alan Whicker who he said “Played the pauses better than anyone else”. I see how important that is as I prepare for my September 12th gig in which there’s a series of transferences and instinct (or simply inexperience) makes me want to fill every space but it’s probably better to leave pause time in. The silence, no movement no sound maybe a shift of lighting, will then frame the activity.
I’m may spend some of the time just sitting on my small cane chair rather than attempting to ‘dance’ my way through the whole piece. So I’ll be like that story teller on Jackanory. Early on in the piece I have a paper fish placed on my back which recalls the time as an eleven year old it happened to me in France and now I’m going to keep it on my back as I move through any of the autobiographic parts because being the fool or rather playing the Fool was part of my adopted character trait. And it adds continuity and meaning to the piece. The fool turned, like that worm which I also carried about as a character trait, in my second year at college when I realised I wasn’t playing a fool I was in danger of being a fool. A shrewd decision to stem my foolish behaviours which is probably the advent of the Shrewd-ness in PK.
I used to be an artist but I’m alright noooOW, I did oil painting but after about thirty years I gave up flogging a dead horse because my studio was full of unsold pictures everyone loved but nobody ever bought. I hang my ‘painting’ on the portal whilst I whip it then destroy it during Sandy Denny’s No End song. I’m also wearing the red beret which mysteriously appears on my return from Paris just in time for the whip it-like-John Cleese scene. I will separate the Fool (on the hill) bit from the Kazuo Ono part and maybe use Jeff Beck’s instrumental Suspension for Kazuo and also really try to make a simple Kazuo papier-mâché mask notwithstanding the sparsity of time. I don’t think I’ll complete the new Squidgeratkin mask but I’m going to embellish the original latex one with feathers and flame.
On the long term issues it came to me why I was so upset by that JFK murder it’s because subconsciously at the time he was incremental in avoiding a nuclear war with Russian leaders. There’s been so much prevarication ever since but I’m convinced he was a man marked to die and not by Lee Harvey Oswald who was a scapegoat but by forces within America’s Establishment and the bullet that actually blew his brain out was fired from behind by a security guard; accidentally or by design. American politics just then began a downhill spiral which ended up with a LOUD Trump. The jury’s still out on the Biden administration but America is so damaged there’s probably no way to recovery. I think Lennon was murdered by a hit man too. Lennon is my Working Class Hero, the words of most of the songs are pertinent to the story
Another hero is Dudley D Watkins who created characters for Beano one was called Jimmy and he had a Magic patch on his bum which enabled him to travel through time. I’ll be sporting a similar patch on me bum.
I used to be an artist but I’m alright noooOW, I did oil painting but after about thirty years I gave up flogging a dead horse because my studio was full of unsold pictures everyone loved but nobody ever bought.
So this bloke attacked me with his puny belt but like Crocodile Dundee I got a bigger one than him but I don’t use it as a rule.
There’s a John Cleese reference too.
The Belt piece is there because it’s in my Shrewd Idiot book you’ll need to buy one to find the context.
By the way the red hardback Shrewd Idiot cost me £100 each and you can buy one today for what it cost me. R J printers in Maldon print most of my books and came to my rescue when The Trilogy was not up to standard.
The Dress piece is about Love and Loss, from ecstasy to forlorn and back again. Good Vibration is not about celebrating it was on the radio that night my first love gave me the bum’s rush.
Kazuo Ohno was an amazing Japanese performance artist I tagged a tribute to him at the end.
Those of you who follow ma blArt will know that on 26 Jan 2018 at bookartbookshop we added a commemoration of my dad’s centenary birthdate, he would have been 100 this year on that date. It was Tanya who kindly suggested that I do something about him that day. As he was born in Welsh Wales I had to sing a bit of Tom Jones because my dad was in the Burnley Welsh Voice Choir awhile. My dad was not a wimpero like what I is, he were a big strong bloke and a steeplejack, they called him Big Taff at the working men’s club he went to for many years. So I had to sing (well I call it singing, many wouldn’t!) it in a deep Welsh voice, which was ‘ard for a wimp-ero with a normally squeaky voix. I also read some of Annie Lennox’s words pertinent to his final days, again in a deep(ish) Welsh voice (kind of).
I won’t be doing the reading as the spot am doing is just 20 minutes but Annie & Apulhed will join me to remember him in a beautiful little song & dance. It is a very spiritual moment as Apulhed takes us through her song The Gift (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjMBPR5H9x4 ). The song is so pertinent to my dad for a number of reasons. In the movement Apulhed mimes the words, so many of which could apply to Taffy. He worked most of his life out in the rain, it always rains in Burnley dunnit? He carried baggage from his younger days of making mistakes and in the song he hands over a ‘gilded cage’ and an ‘overcoat of guilt’, which “never did belong to him”, well some of them did but you need to ‘let go’. There’s a ‘perfect gift’ he gets from me and Camellia, those who come see the gig will maybe work out what it was. He falls from his chair and has to take a serious look at himself and he finally tumbles from his tree. For a moment he lays in the throes of death until he re-awakens to the sound of rain and he cannot resist rising up and going out in the rain again, just like he said he always would! He goes down to the water’s edge to cast away all doubts and let go. I can see him now up there with his friends supping a pint and singing songs in that lovely Welsh timbre. God Bless you dad.
It fits beautifully into the rest of my gig which is all about The Shrewd Idiot’s antics, mostly from the book of the same name which’ll be on show in two versions (A4 + A3) at my table where you’ll find me willing to answer any questions about my work unless I am wandering round with ma ApulhedMask on. Yes am afraid it’s a mask, the real Apulhed is off round the Cosmos except when he zooms into my costume to transform me during his dance! [Apulhed can travel thru time in the blink of a eye, no distance is too great, no barrier can prevent him]
There’ll be several ‘costume’ changes which I hope to do seamlessly ‘on stage’. The most obvious one is when I become Apulhed-Man, I don’t have a telephone box to change in like what SuperMan did and I need to do it with a degree of speed. I’ll be using Acker Bilk’s Stranger On the Shore during that shift and there’s a story to why that music. When I were a lad we couldn’t afford a record player. Acker Bilk sat at No.1 and we were in Morpeth during Burnley Fair Summer Hols and me and dad loved the music, so buying it was an act of rebellion. We couldn’t listen to it at home, we could hold the single vinyl and hum it tho’. That music is very dear to me.
By the way, please feel free to take photos. I am totally disenchanted with those places which ban photography and galleries which forbid you to touch the sculpture. Feel free to flash away but don’t ya toucha ma tutu!
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..
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Here’s some images of the author dad-dancing and not caring about the consequences (in fact some of his moves were perfec Zumba).
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.
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.
Some of the Idiot’s garb.
This is just a dummy Apulhed Mask (real one is a secret to be revealed on the day)
A former self
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.
(für Google-Übersetzung ins Deutsche siehe unten englisches SkriptJ)
First I embarked to Germany to learn more about Performance Art (PA) skill then I went to see some key practitioners in the world of books in London, my feet hardly touched the ground even tho’ my mind and body were deeply rooted to the earth during the PA workshops- 8 hours a day for 4 days.
Somnambulant Rogue AllowsAmbient Sound To Seep Thru His Very Soul.
I felt a bit of a Rogue abandoning all my responsibilities at home to embark on a 4 day workshop in a foreign country (Germany) with the wonderful duo VestAndPage
(VAndP ) but I decided to Allow myself to venture to Dusseldorf because I love what they bring to Performance Art so much, they create a beautiful Ambient backcloth in which the participants feel comfortable and adventurous, all getting drawn in, so much so they fully engage in the Somnambulant atmosphere with vigour and apparent ease.
In one exercise we were asked to write about our experience so far, then to choose a small number of words which we would consequently make ‘actions’ for. So, the challenge was to enact ‘Somnambulant’, not such an easy task but I mind-set myself to walk like a zombie in a film. VestAndPage don’t make ongoing judgements on your choice of actions, they let you ‘do what you do’ but you do it with some enthusiasm as you know the whole group will be watching when you are to take the floor solo and enact your moves. Rogue, Allow & Ambient presented me with slightly harder visualizations, but I found some moves which I shall be exhibiting during my ‘gig’ on 5th November at Colchester Arts Centre along with pieces I had planned before I went to Dusseldorf.
In Wuppertal I made a pilgrimage to see the place where Pina Bausch used to lead her dancers. I had sweet & sour feeling as I looked at the apparently abandoned building as “the company is on tour in USA. Kind regards. Ursula”. But I was able to visit book binder Roger Green who kindly showed me many of his book projects and if I ever have the wherewithal I shall go back to attend one of his workshops, altho’ I won’t go by train again as the journey takes up to 12 hours each way, even with the 3 hour wait at Stansted a flight would be less time consuming. Trying to ascertain the train connection times for my homeward journey proved nigh impossible at the information desks in Dusseldorf and before that even with the Eurostar phoneline ‘help’ people. In the end it was Patrick at Hostelworld who said in his matter of fact way, “What’s the problem? Just get on a train (to Koln) then onto the next one to Bruxelles”, which is exactly what I did and I had 4 lovely sunny hours in Bruxelles where highlights were the Tintin shop and Montana, a graffiti shop where I saw – Mater Museum: by Vincent Glowinski (Author), Agnès Debizet (Author) and Joe Sorrenby Gingko Press. I sat in the sunny square eating a scone bought in Koln, drinking a coffee I bought with my last 2€ coin and listened to a woman playing beautiful oboe.
I would stay again at the Hostelworld as their place was comfortable and breakfast was good. I must remember however to ensure that I stamp my ticket BEFORE boarding the train, I forgot on the journey back from Wuppertal to Dusseldorf (altho’ I was tired and a bit cold) and as sod’s law would have it that was the only time the guards boarded my train in 12 local journeys! There’s a 60€ fine if they decide to apply it but they can make allowances for dim foreigners (Brit-victims of the Brexit fiasco) who cannot read the instructions on every ticket!
I learned so much from my meeting with book artist Sam Winston, we are partners in crime with words! We both undermine the canon. We each play wit werds in our individual ways. It’s so re-invigourating to see a kindred-spirit’s ‘play’ with the written hand-scribed word (often in pencil). He suggested maybe I do more with existing (manu-scrips) and less with future texts; whereas I had (gladly) signed off from all the versions I wrote in the 70’s of The Shrewd Idiot (SI buk) he hinted maybe not, maybe do more buks from those scrips. And as for my future tomes, lessen the content, be selective so they’re more discreet, which would be a lovli idea, especially for the viewer.
Sam does in fact do a lot of ‘Performance Art’ and he is well aware of that but does not utilise is in the remit of his output, it is merely a means to an end. For me Performance Art (PA) has become an integral part of my remit along with and inside of my books. Doing PA in fact makes it harder as I have to learn how to do it better but that’s not really a problem cos PA opens up the side of me which loves to flaunt around, the dancer in me, the exhibitionist, the dare in me, the chance-taker, adventurer but it also helps put my books’ contents out there by inviting folk to look at the books and also see some of my physical interpretations on what I think is important in them.
It’s great to have my A4 version of The Shrewd Idiot on sale at the wonder-full bookartbookshop @Bookartbookshop à Londres! Am set to do a gig thur on Jan 26th 2018. Tanya has suggested it be a celebration on the centenary of my father’s birth, which is a wonderful idea and I shall prepare a PA to remember him with, incorporating mentions I made about him in The SI buk.
For google Translation into German below:
Übersetzung ins Deutsche:
Was für eine anstrengende Woche hatte ich!
14-21 Sept. 2017
Zuerst habe ich nach Deutschland begonnen, um mehr über Performance Art (PA) Geschick zu erfahren, dann ging ich zu einigen Schlüsselpraktikern in der Welt der Bücher in London zu sehen, meine Füße berührten kaum den Boden, auch wenn mein Geist und Körper tief auf die Erde verwurzelt waren während der PA-Workshops – 8 Stunden am Tag für 4 Tage.
Somnambulant Rogue Erlaubt Ambient Sound, um seine Seele zu sehen.
Ich fühlte mich ein bisschen ein Rogue, der alle meine Aufgaben zu Hause aufgab, um einen 4-tägigen Workshop in einem fremden Land (Deutschland) mit dem wundervollen Duo VestAndPage zu beginnen, aber ich habe mich Erlaubt, nach Düsseldorf zu gehen, weil ich liebe was sie zur Performance Art bringen, so schaffen sie einen wunderschönen Ambient-Backcloth, in dem sich die Teilnehmer wohlfühlen und abenteuerlich fühlen, alle werden eingezogen, so dass sie sich in der somnambulanten Atmosphäre mit kräftiger und scheinbarer Leichtigkeit engagieren.
In einer Übung wurden wir gebeten, über unsere bisherigen Erfahrungen zu schreiben, dann wählen wir eine kleine Anzahl von Wörtern, die wir folglich “Aktionen” machen würden. Also, die Herausforderung war, “Somnambulant” zu verabschieden, nicht so eine leichte Aufgabe, aber ich habe mich in die Lage versetzt, wie ein Zombie in einem Film zu gehen. VestAndPage machen keine laufenden Urteile über Ihre Wahl der Handlungen, sie lassen Sie ‘tun, was Sie tun’, aber Sie tun es mit einiger Begeisterung, wie Sie wissen, die ganze Gruppe wird beobachten, wenn Sie das Wort Solo nehmen und Ihre Bewegungen zu tun . Rogue, Allow (Erlaubt ?) & Ambient präsentierte mir etwas härtere Visualisierungen, aber ich fand einige Züge, die ich während meines “Gigs” am 5. November im COLCHESTER ARTS CENTER ausstellen würde, zusammen mit Stücken, die ich geplant hatte, bevor ich nach Düsseldorf gehe.
In Wuppertal machte ich eine Pilgerfahrt, um dort zu sehen, wo Pina Bausch ihre Tänzer führte. Ich hatte süßes und saures Gefühl, als ich das scheinbar aufgegebene Gebäude ansah, als “das Unternehmen auf Tournee in den USA ist. Mit freundlichen Grüßen. Ursula “. Aber ich konnte die Buchbinder Roger Green besuchen, die mir freundlich viele seiner Buchprojekte gezeigt hat und wenn ich jemals das Wohlergehen habe, werde ich zurückkehren, um an einem seiner Workshops teilzunehmen, auch wenn ich nicht mehr mit dem Zug fahren werde dauert bis zu 12 Stunden pro Strecke, auch mit der 3-stündigen Wartezeit bei Stansted wäre ein Flug weniger zeitaufwendig. Der Versuch, die Zugverbindungszeiten für meine Heimreise zu ermitteln, erwies sich an den Informationstafeln in Düsseldorf und davor sogar bei der Eurostar-Phoneline “Hilfe”. Am Ende war es Patrick bei Hostelworld, der in seiner Sache eigentlich sagte: “Was ist das Problem? Fahren Sie einfach in den Zug (nach Koln) und dann auf den nächsten zu Bruxelles “, was genau das war, was ich tat und ich hatte 4 schöne sonnige Stunden in Bruxelles, wo Highlights waren die Tintin Shop und Montana, ein Graffiti-Shop, wo ich sah – Mater Museum: von Vincent Glowinski (Autor), Agnès Debizet (Autor) und Joe Sorren von Gingko Press. Ich saß auf dem sonnigen Platz und aß einen in Koln gekauften Scone, trink einen Kaffee, den ich mit meiner letzten 2€ Münze gekauft hatte und hörte eine Frau, die schöne Oboe spielte.
Ich würde wieder in der Hostelworld als ihr Platz war komfortabel und das Frühstück war gut. Ich muss mich aber daran erinnern, dass ich mein Ticket vor dem Einsteigen in den Zug stempeln kann, ich habe auf der Rückfahrt von Wuppertal nach Düsseldorf vergessen (altho ‘war ich müde und ein bisschen kalt) und wie das Gesetz des Gesetzes das hätte Wächter bestiegen meinen Zug in 12 Lokalreisen! Es gibt eine 60 € Geldbuße, wenn sie sich dafür entscheiden, sie anzuwenden, aber sie können für Ausländer (Brit-Opfer des Brexit-Fiaskos), die die Anweisungen auf jedem Ticket nicht lesen können,
Ich habe so viel von meinem Treffen mit Buchkünstler Sam Winston gelernt, wir sind Partner in Verbrechen mit Worten! Wir beide untergraben den Kanon. Wir alle spielen wit werds in unseren individuellen Weisen. Es ist so re-invigourating zu sehen, ein Verwandter-Geist ‘Spiel’ mit dem geschriebenen Hand-geschriebenen Wort (oft in Bleistift). Er schlug vor, vielleicht mache ich mehr mit vorhandenen (manu-scrips) und weniger mit zukünftigen Texten; in der Erwägung, dass ich von allen Versionen, die ich in den 70er Jahren von The Shrewd Idiot (SI buk) schrieb, abgesehen hatte, hat er vielleicht nicht angemerkt, vielleicht noch mehr buks aus diesen Scripts. Und wie für meine zukünftigen tomes, vermindern die Inhalte, selektiv, so dass sie mehr diskret, was wäre eine lovli Idee, vor allem für den Betrachter.
Sam macht in der Tat eine Menge ‘Performance Art’ und er ist sich dessen bewusst, aber nicht nutzen ist in der Aufgabe seiner Ausgabe, es ist nur ein Mittel zum Zweck. Für mich ist Performance Art (PA) zu einem integralen Bestandteil meiner Aufgabe zusammen mit und innerhalb meiner Bücher geworden. Das macht PA in der Tat macht es härter, wie ich lernen muss, wie es besser geht, aber das ist nicht wirklich ein Problem cos PA öffnet sich die Seite von mir, die liebt zu flaunt herum, die Tänzerin in mir, der Exhibitionist, die Wagen in mir, der Chance-Taker, der Abenteurer, aber es hilft auch, den Inhalt meiner Bücher da draußen einzuladen, indem er die Leute einlädt, die Bücher zu betrachten und auch einige meiner physikalischen Interpretationen zu sehen, was ich in ihnen wichtig finde.
Es ist toll, meine A4-Version von The Shrewd Idiot auf den Verkauf an der Wunder-full bookartbookshop @Bookartbookshop à Londres! Am 26. Januar 2018 soll ich einen Gig thur machen. Tanya hat vorgeschlagen, dass es eine Feier zum Hundertjahrfeier der Geburt meines Vaters ist, was eine wunderbare Idee ist, und ich werde eine PA vorbereiten, um mich daran zu erinnern, indem ich die Erwähnungen einbeziehe, die ich über ihn gemacht habe Die SI buk.
At last I did ma Shrewd Idiot & The Three Graces gig in front of an audience (of 22+ cos some came in came out as you’re allured to do in Live Art pieces, altho one or two walked out before I began!) and I finally discovered with a little ‘elp from ma frend (see below) why I do it. At the Arnifini in Brissole in their wonderful Dark Studio. It had been suggested that nobody would have the energy nor drive to wend their way up there at 5pm on an afternoon but beautifully every available seat was filled and the witnesses seemed quite attentive, nay near mesmerised.
Much to my delight, as I had practised the ting and planned it over so many weeks without knowing if I’d be talking to myself alone on the day. I wantu thank my friend Dave who was first to say how much work it needed just six days before the event. Then my friends Max, Linda, Christine & Tom who said it really needed some big changes just five days before the event. I applied their advices. Christine did a lovely print & fold job on some words for me to hand out as folk arrived from which I read my ‘intro’ before I began the real ting.
Three old college mates came and it was wonderful to see them. Each of them features in ma big new deluxe book The Shrewd Idiot based on my thoughts & activities at St Luke’s College Exeter between 1969-73. My mate Gus was joined by his daughter Hannah who also does Performance Art and wasn’t even born in the time the books are about!
Tanya came to see what my fuss was all about. I’d like to thank them all for coming as well as all the other folks who came along. The gathered presence really inspired me to rise out of my fears and let the whole ting ting along well and it seems they all enjoyed it, especially the ones I mentioned above.
So what happened?
First I shewed ma 3 new books (quickly as I was told this gig should last just 15 minutes).
Then I read from Christine’s handout.
Then I got into character for the first few movements. The mask was taken from a painting I did back in 1968 which was exhibited in Burnley Artists Annual summer show that year. It was a face which represented the 17-18 year old me-myself-I, which is what the books appear to be about. It is also the first page of the Shrewd Idiot book printed on Zander’s Translucent paper so you see the title page beyond it as a sort of palimpsest. There’s 10 images on Zander’s Translucent in the deluxe A3 version each of which brings a palimpsest quality. For me it is a metaphor which signifies that life is not just what we can see and touch, there’s lots of other ‘stuff’ behind the veil. The painted face becomes another form of veil too, my mask. I always work on hunches in most all of my creative endeavours. I had a hunch these masks would be powerful, and they were, or should I say, ARE. I hope to have many opportunities to use them again and in fact I hope to make some 3D wraparound masks for future appearances as Apulhed & The Shrewd Idjit.
I did a couple of crazy dances meant to show what a ‘wild one’ I was when I left ma home toon to find ma way in th’world. The ting got serious when I told them I’d found a new girlfriend (Rose) but (rather carelessly) lost her at the bus stop. Van D. Man brought me a Beautiful Vision of her. After I lost her Lady Gaga had me howling at the moon in my doldrums.
Suddenly, out of No-where, came a Stranger with an apple-shaped head and he seemed to want to help me. But he was a new arrival on this plane and he was somewhat perplexed by the sad things mankind does to humankind. He almost set off back to whence he came without giving me (and you) the benefit of his shrewd wisdom. When I did my first ever Performance Art gig using his visage on masks in Exeter in 1973 he seemed to see a shaft o’light thru the haze and so he stays but he said, ‘Man must mend his ways, starting with YOU!’
Then Van sang Warm Love bringing back memories of the time we had together, a memory I chased and tried to cling on to. But I returned to my old wild ways, by now I was making a Cry For Love, aided by Iggy & Bowie’s song and ma new mask.
I’d almost given up hope when this beautiful woman (Camellia) arrived and gave me a present I didn’t really deserve which Iggy Pop told the story of.
Camellia also brought her highly intelligent rational skills with her which I celebrate with The Waterboy’s song Whole of the Moon. Sadly I couldn’t keep hold of Camellia at the time and I was on the road again alone and missing her.
Once again after the moon enter Apulhed-man.
This time lifting me up onto a higher plane where I was again joined by Van. He sings about being a Dweller on the Threshold, I tip toe across the burning ground and kneel down by the water where the lovely song about spirit leads me away, to delve into the mystic. “I looked at the swim and I dived right in!”
To find the truth you got to look inside.
Meditation helps you to do that.
I actually had picked up the wrong mask for my final fling so my Apul-Swallow mask insisted he be photographed outside of the Arnolfini as a goodbye gesture.
And all my friends came too…
The feedback has been good too. One friend said he remembered that I always liked to dance, another said she thought I danced beautifully which came as a pleasant surprise. My old mate from Enfield said ma gig was ‘…very moving and affecting…’
This was also what ‘James the tech’ in the Dark Studio said, ‘I was strangely moved by it.’ I am so pleased that it came over that way.
The Enfield Man (EMan) later wrote me saying, “…we had a chat afterwards about your performance and books and we reckoned that, based on what we saw, your books together with the performance was the best thing that we saw at the event. What you did, in my opinion, was to say, “look artists’ books are really different“…they are not just books with the limited and specialist vernacular that goes with the production of a “book” for a literary audience …artists’ books are a completely separate art form. Your performance really adds to your books as works of art. ” Also- “…The Shrewd Idiot book has a wonderful feel and special value attached to it just from a “laying on of hands” point of view…”
That’s exactly what I hoped I would achieve in my works, altho’ it has not been easypeasy. Sometimes I have wondered whether I been forever Barking up the wrong trees, ‘Am a long way from home (my comfort zone). How did I get here?’ It is so gratifying that am getting such lovely reinforcing comments.
ps I am working on a smaller version A4-ish) of The Shrewd Idiot which should have much of the ‘feel & look’ of the bigger (A3-ish) deluxe version but will be a tiny proportion of its cost.
Wonderful breaking news- I picked up the first copy of my second book in my series about my college days from my binders Sullivan & Son, Colchester and it looks beautiful. I’ll only have one display copy for BABE but it’s a great sidekick to my Shrewd Idiot book. It’s got 37 images on Zanders translucent paper and is bound in an unusual way inspired by a little book that Rauschenberg made about 1954.
After my last blArt about nearly being marmalised by my big book I received several emails from folks out there showing how my stupidity generated lots of mirth, and sympathy, including one from my blogger friend Fiona in Australia.
‘Pete, Not your brightest moment right? Nonetheless I totally understand as I often think my way through things like that – only to realise I have forgotten one important element of the process that could cause my downfall!
The book is looking brilliant – when I first read your email I thought you had made some super stupid mistake with the book for which you were kicking yourself; but in a way I was pleased it was ‘only’ a glancing physical blow… Glad the nose is the only damage done. Fiona.’
Fiona, I love your bit about I maybe ‘had made some super stupid mistake with the book’. Super Stupid is one of my stop off points.
Much of what I ‘appear’ to do is not what it appears to be. So, the Shrewd Idiot (SI) appears to be a story about a budding artistfella but it’s not, it’s about the advent, and continuance thru a lifelong period, of ‘creative consciousness’. Which led to my interest in Dalai Lama & Buddhist stuff including Zen, all of which I have not explored sufficiently yet. But I tink that skirtin alongside it has changed my life, given me more grace and satisfaction that I am on the reight track. (In Burnley where am frum we say reight rather than right!) [But we don’t say reight for write, right].
Finally, if you’re still awake, I am doing a 15 min live art ‘performance’ of the book at Sarah’s BABE and have learned to edit songs on audacity which I’ll use as backing for my piece and as you say…’as I often think my way through things like that – only to realise…’ there’s a beautiful line in a Iggy Pop (Up man) song Shades, “that may be something my mind had not followed through” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehABjBdTq-Y ) and that so applies to me so many ways! As far as the book’s concerned, after 40 years I think I thought of everything. It’s beautiful cover, the texture of the flysheets, and even the colour of the page marker ribbon. It is my masterwork.
About my gig at Arnolfini during BABE on April 1st.
As always I tend to do things which are considered impossible or inconsequential by ordinary folks and agreeing to do a 15 minute ‘Live Art’ enactment of the 4 years I spent at college in Exeter tween 1969-73 may seem to those who don’t know me as rather ambitious. Well representing 4 years in 15 minutes is not as daunting for me as galvanising a crowd seems to be. Those of you who know me well know too well how shy & retarded I can be so advertising myself is not an easy task but it just got harder. During last week I was taking a look at the Arnolfini website and its publicity about what’s going on around the BABE days specifically what’s on at that weekend-
“BABE 2017 includes a mini exhibition, performances, interventions, book making workshops and more! See the series of events happening throughout the weekend.”
So I contact the gallery and say that I find there’s no mention at all there of my gig and that I am getting worried as it’s a great deal of travel and organisation that I am putting into it,
“I am putting many hours into the preparation of the music, movement, masks etc and I find it quite upsetting that my Live Art gig is not mentioned at all.
Please can you flag it up, otherwise… I’ll just be doing it just for a couple of friends.”
I attached two of the 6 masks I have prepared, plus a pretty detailed outline of the piece and that will also show that, although it is only 15 minutes duration, I am putting a great deal of effort into getting it well polished.
My concern elicited a reply which could be taken as rather disheartening although I am sure it was meant with the best will in the world, I am not disheartened, I replied,
“I understand your feeling that ‘it might just not be worth it this time?’ but I am getting a lot out of preparing it which I am sure will come in handy later, for more gigs to do with the books.
I was thrilled when Sarah gave me the spot…”
I cannot contemplate backing off now, anyway, many of my costs have already accrued.
I am very committed to this gig and I want it to enhance the weekend, to add another dimension, otherwise I would not have embarked on it. I shall keep in mind the possibility that, as the Dark Studio is such a lovely venue, there will be a few come to see me do it. They can stand up too if they like and one of the things about Performance Art (PA) is folk can come and go as they please, it’s not like a performance where people sit and watch, even endure, to the end, no PA is Live Art and the ‘audience’ can be as much part of it as the PA practitioner.
I know 2 people already who will be attending, another one and ‘three’s a crowd’!
As always, the show must go on. I learned that at the Arnolfini in October 2015 when I did a PA piece outside in the rain.
I thought nobody was interested but I continued doing ma gig and only afterwards found out lots of people were watching and enjoying it. OOZin Gloop liked it as did Paul Hurley’s friend. Nicole Murman a Swiss participant took the image above and about 80 more photos for which I am really grateful. PA is notoriously undocumented as a lot of it happens spontaneously. It’s very ‘in the moment’ and the best stuff often occurs when things appear to be going wrong, that’s when Vest & Page say, ‘It has begun’ or, ‘Now we begin’. Vest & Page happened to see me jumping in puddles with some childers shortly after I had finished the rain dance and Andrea said he thought I made a good clown, Verena said she were just getting her camera ready when the kids stopped bouncing and I bowed out.
However, my PA at BABE 2017 is well planned and I shall be rehearsing the moves over the next 10 days, this is my preferred way to work. Below is a very apt quote from Walliams & Lucas of Little Britain rehearsing:
Mine won’t (‘flow slickly’) I’m sure! And neither will my costume changes, will they?
If you can spare the time and the effort to make your way up to the 2nd floor let’s prove that the Dark Studio can attract people* in for the actions of The Shrewd Idiot and his mates, The Three Graces plus the ‘spirit master’, Appleheadman. Nay, some folk may decide to come on April 1st just to see me make a fool of myself! A Wise Fool hopefully. A bit of a Clown, a Serious Jester etcetera etcetera etcetera…
Don’t be a Square, I’ll see You there. Get it or you’ll Regret it!
(*people who have, already, either been showing their wares all day or folks who came to buy their books)
An announcement on World Book Day (not for children tho’!)
YES ‘THE SHREWD IDIOT’ (deluxe limited edition of 10) IS NOW READY FOR PURCHASE!
As part of the ‘PK College Days Trilogy’*
BUT BE QUICK COS THERE’S ONLY 8 LEFT!
Pete Kennedy will be doing a fifteen minute Live Art Piece (LAP) of his
‘Apulhed & The Three Graces’^
to introduce the book’s content at Bristol’s Arnolfini gallery in the Dark Studio
at 5pm on April 1st 2017.
And that’s no joke.
As they used to say way back when, “Be there or be square”.
PK will ‘perform’ his books’ content with the help of a series of masks, costume changes, specially edited music, mime (?), dance (??) and poetry (???). Please bring your cameras and flash away then, if possible, send PK some of your images for his blArty blog! “I hate it when you go to a gig and they’ve banned the use of photography. Some of the best work in my books was camera assisted.”
*The ‘P.K. – COLLEGE DAYS TRILOGY’ is comprised of two circa A3 books;
‘The Shrewd Idiot’[Out Now- the story of Northern Lad recounting how Three Graces and his ‘creation’ Appleheadman helped him to rise out of the morass (short for His Moron’s Ass?), &
‘Pete Kennedy The First Five Years’[To be released soon- 37 artworks 69-73 printed on translucent paper to complement The Shrewd Idiot], both in a deluxe edition of ten.
& 3.‘Appleheadman Sees’ – which is circa A5, unlimited edition. Out Now
The three books can be bought separately or as a trilogy. Buy one or both of the deluxe editions and get a free copy of ‘Apul-One’.
^ ‘Three Graces’ are three women who partnered our Northern Lad at some time during 1969-73. Each of them came to him at crucial times in his life and each brought new and wonderful loving experiences.
The activities of Pete Kennedy, Performance Artist Bloke, Book Creator & retired artist.