D’Arcy Bussel, the beautiful ex-dancer with the longest legs, said, ‘The true artist will never be satisfied.’ Which I have found to be true, then she adds, ‘But you know when you come close to perfection,’ myself, I don’t know about that. Well actually I do, am just not saying nowt.
In my last (Moanie Lisa) blArt I were moaning about my never making hay from my crop o’ crap done over 47 tears. Well, the new year has brought a new insight. I don’t need to ‘make it’, a fact I knew instinctively over the years, just look at the debris left by many of those who did get fame & fortune. If you don’t got nuttin yerse got nuttin to live up to. Don’t ya? To add to D’Arcy’s view (Hey I live near D’Arcy, Tolleshunt D’Arcy, I wonder if they’re related?) I was reading a book by one Duncan Regehr who says he’s an artist too, as well as an actor and a poet, but I like this what he ses, ‘I am more aware of art-making as a constant state of becoming- a way of life where the growing up never ends’, like him, I’m still growing up. On reading Duncan Regehr I realise that my never having sold hardly ought in 47 years stands for nothing, or very little really. Obviously my pride and my pockets have suffered by the void, altho my pockets have been less worn, but I still own 90 odd per cent of my output so in a sense I am well off. even if every one of em is only worth a £ or a yankee dollar or a yen then. More importantly I have my vision(s) and my accumulated skills that I’ve acquired to render them in various media. I’m still growing up, I am unsure if I’ve even come of age yet. My work has passed thru several phases and, as in yoga or Tai Chi, there’s still a lot to learn left. Maybe my most creative and productive was my Nonogon phase which was heralded in Colchester but elsewhere few have seen it. Few have seen my work from any period and am using this blArt to get some out to places like Argentina and Vietnam, I know someone in those countries has been in and viewed my blog of late. I heard someone in the Hermitage documentary say that art is more important than property or money. I tend to agree, but when you are ‘groing up’ thru life, when you have a rent to pay a wife and some kids to support and all it don’t seem that way. Most of us, even Richard Hamilton and Albert Irwin and L S Lowry had to hold down a day job too. So we all had two jobs. No wonder I look tired.
my very own Lowry
Just to finish, that old curmudgeon Samuel Beckett was writng about his gravestone when he said:
In ‘First Love’ Sam writes:
“Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards, I take the air there willingly, perhaps more willingly than elsewhere, when take the air I must…Yes, as a place for an outing, when out I must, leave me my graveyards and keep—you—to your public parks and beauty-spots. M[y tomb epitaph] I composed long since and am still pleased with it, tolerably pleased. My other writings are no sooner dry than they revolt me, but my epitaph still meets with my approval. There is little chance unfortunately of its ever being reared above the skull that conceived it, unless the State takes up the matter. But to be unearthed I must first be found, and I greatly fear those gentle¬men will have as much trouble finding me dead as alive. So I hasten to record it here and now, while there is yet time:
Hereunder lies the above who up
So hourly died that he lived on till
The second and last or rather latter line limps a little perhaps, but that is no great matter, I’ll be forgiven more than that when I’m forgotten.”
Some artists are harder to please then others. The nice ting is we artists are always creating new stuff. So below are some nonogon nomads and a new creature in wood what I made, it’s be nice to make it in bronze, or even in lead, or maybe in chocolate like me old German mate Diter Rot.
My old mate DW who has been watching my arts grow up since 1961 sent a comment in today about my new blArt. You must remember that wee come from the same northern toon, we seen the same stuff over the years (except I wer a bit quieter and more controlled then im). So, when he mentions the Lone Ranger, he’s talking about the one we saw in the mid 1950s on B&W tv. His observations are very informed as he has been to many of my shows over the past 30 years. Also, he has supported my development, my growing up, in many ways, more than most any of my old mates frae that Northern Town. Ta feller. He said:
“But, I as a viewer of your art, Pete, am very satisfied. What a great exhibition on your blart, today, they are lovely works.
I love the Dragonhat, it has an energy in the pen strokes and is as striking as a Dürer soldier, but more alive. Knewt Hoboken is fearsome. Lite Eye I look at again in detail and I wonder are the pipes in the face, pan pipes; Is the halo and rotating bank of stage lights; Is the mask like the lone ranger; is his top of head a revolving whirly top you got in lucky bags. The Nonogon Master has all the mystery of a shamen and it’s dark colour reminds me of a dark etching a bit like your Hopi indian drawings. Ernst log must be triggered by Max Ernst texture paintings.
It would be interesting to give a short synopsis of each subject matter, who the characters are and why, how and when.
I like what Duncan Regehr says ‘I am more aware of art-making as a constant state of becoming- a way of life where the growing up never ends’. I have used the phrase ‘creative process’ instead of art-making to best describe the driving force in my life, it applies to all my passioned activity through my career and life. I am attracted to that aspect of artists like yourself, I can sense it very easily, it is the spark that drives the art making in some.
Keep showing your works Pete, they are fantastic.”
It would be interetsing to hear from some more of youse out thur, maybe you from Argentina? or one of the other many places where my ‘views’ and occasional ‘likes’ come from.
No. 1 in a series of the work of pete kennedy, artistwriter bloke, b.1950
Painting by Pete Kennedy
With notes by PK & DW
So, I am starting the offering up of my images from 1968 to now for y’all to see. I shan’t be so mundane as to put them in chronological order. There’s so many of them and the quality is not dependent on age, neither mine nor the works. Some of my best work was done in the first few years of my life after I made a conscious decision that making my art in my own way, or so I thought. My output was often then and still is now really effected by my circumstances. So, the availability or lack of availability of resources would temper my technique. Time has been a big element in my output, for all the reasons you may imagine. (If you click on the images they will pop up bigger so you can peruse them better.)
This portrait was created at the height of my ability, it is undoubtedly one of the best. The sitter, Duncan Walker, I had known since we were thrown together in the first team in the first week at our secondary school. We had drifted in and out of each others lives. This was me deliberately creating something which held all my values and skills in one image. It’s a triple portrait. A photo which I took and developed and printed, an oil in my style which had taken several years to reach and a ‘squidgerat’, one of my weird creations which were often an insight into a sitter’s deep essence. There is also an appropriation of a Dali egg cos I knew DW had in one stage of his development really loved Dali’s work but more importantly it signified the crack in the cosmic egg, something which we would have discussed during our alcohol filled ‘discussions’. That search for meaning behind life’s charade had been going on for both of us in separate ways and this was a coming together.
The figure on the left is Duncan in intense meditation, looking inward, considering and knowing the other stages in his life. (I sometimes see light hitting my images and adding more to them than I had put in to them in the first place. One day I shall incorporate light into finished works physically.
The figure in the middle is Duncan enjoying worldly delights, with a mischievous, knowing smile about his inner self. (Note the notes in handwriting collaged onto the image!)
The figure on the right is Duncan’s inner self, achieving a crack in the cosmic egg of worldly reality, at the point when his spirit is flying out at the top of his head from a lifeless shell.
This is the story of releasing the spirit through a dual life of the meditative inner self and the electric worldly extravaganza of his outer being.
And about the same time as I did that portrait I wrote and published my little book, The Dull Jodrell. This was an account of some of the writers who had impressed me like Gurdjeff and Hesse. It had quite a bit about ken Campbell in too and accounts of my stays with DW in his ‘London’ house. The cover is a remake of my illystration of Hopi peoples dressed in their kachina outfits standing on the rock dwellings at Mesa Verde. In the book I talk a lot about the ideas of the pre-colombian populations of the Americas. The character in the centre at front of the cover is ‘Lighteyes’
(this is the original sketch)
one of my squidgerats who I drew before I came across the Hopis who in fact have a character in their kachinas with almost identical stance to my man, uncanny! The Hopi kachina which is so similar to my Lite-Eyes was a human gifted with god-like characteristics whose previous human status is represented by him having cross-legs. The round thing on the Hopi character’s head is repeated almost identically in the round thing on the head of my Liteyes. I drew him prior to seeing any Hopi images, ever. It is truly uncanny to me. The strange head gear, which again, was drawn with no reference to Hopi, I had not yet heard of them, also bears a remarkable resemblance to some other Hopi headresses.
The book also had some squidgerats drawings in as well as some I did of Ken Campbell.
This book and the image of Duncan show how my progress thru life has been accompanied by my ‘researches’ into real life characters and thru readings of books on Hopis and Gurdjeff which still continues today and indeed my recent work with the Jug poems is only a different way of trying to present my discoveries to a wider audience. Below is my new image of Duncansquidgespirit zooming across the lake next to a slow swan.
Thank you DW for instigating this first of many(?) reports on my images & artefacts, and tanks fer the fotos of the work.
Footnote:My previous blArt aboot Oxferd toon got SIX ‘likes’, unprecedented in the history of this blaggArt! It sure signals up that some folks are getting someting frae the werds & images of this clown. Also you know if you press ‘follow’ you’ll get notified (not certified) of all my future blArty bits. Tread carefully won’t you. It appears 34 folks out there follow this heap o’ thorts. Tank yez all, makes me feel good too. Makes me feel that all the effort what goes into doing this weekly blarting is getting thru, at least to 34 folks in this wide wonderous werld.
And finally, nobody, yet no-one, ever ‘comments’. I can only assume that everyone agrees with all I say OR, more likely, all who dip into the blArty Bloke unexpectingly are numbed into a somnambulant state and then wake up several hours later wondering what hit them?
OK, so you’re a guinea pig, or a monkey, anything that indicates experiment. This is a trial run. I am not waving I’m drowning said Stevie Smith in her wonderful poem. So, I’m not typing I’m writing! I often spend too long at the keyboard typing up, (tie pin) my notes. Yes I do prepare this drivel. I hand write it foist den toype it up. (Up what I cannot imagine) Anyway today I thort, just scan the notes cos you can. So here goes, it’s in the can. Hope you can read it, this is an experiment, and am not calling you a ginee pig nor a mankee, just making an analoogie.
ps I’ve had several regular readers contact me today and say they find my hand-writing rather difficult to decipher. It’s bad enough for them, and you maybe, but iI got to live with that inarticulate hand! I have to read it, you choose to try. OK, so, I am going to type it up, but not tonite. I shall do it during the week. So, maybe come back Wednesday for a deciphermentationally better reading. Sadly, it’ll be the same old stuff, but legible. Before that i have to type up some notes about my new two ‘artist book’ projects as I’d like folk to know a bit more about what they are about before the Whitechaple book fair, what I dint gerra table at, but i know someone what did.
So, below. Below is/was the new style ‘blArty bits’ in my own inimitable hand. Don’t despair if you can only see small ‘pages’, just move yer cursor over the page you wish to read and clik, it’ll open up as a full, readable (except where my hand has made a poor definition of the word!) petes o prosidy (pitzaprozidy). In fact I am trying out this method in prep for a future, not too distant I ‘opes, artisbuk wattam werkin on (which am going to have to re-think now).
I did a little drawing in my notes. That’s what I done since 1969. That’s where i developed the first Apulhed drawings. They were always lodged into my written thoughts.
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.
INSIDE THIS EARTHEN VESSEL
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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDt26gJYVB4
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
C.arl Gustav Jung
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
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.
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. http://williamblakeprints.co.uk/making_the_plates.html
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.
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 http://www.sculptgallery.com/item/single/2282/stephanie_wright_compot 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.
As we embark on our ‘careers’ there are no guarantees, especially in ‘art’, a term Bruce dislikes. He prefers ‘sculpture’ or ‘painting’ which he taught at the Slade for 20 yearns. And our Bruce has balls. Lots of them, Scottish balls at that, like mine. The cheeky chappie type Rod Stewart always hankered after. Bruce had a better grounding than most having spent most Saturdays in the Glasgow School of Art when he were a laddie. Rather than choose the obvious easy route to become one of the Glasgi Boys he took the long road to London, partly cos he never did like following the expected way. He was lucky to arrive in London in the middle of the 60’s revolution with his teachers the likes of Caro already breaking the mould.
On page 146 in his ‘Acid Test’ book Tom Wolfe talks about (time)’lag’s: There are historical & social lags, where people are living by what their ancestors perceived, maybe 25, 50 years or centuries behind, and nobody can be creative without overcoming those lags first of all.’
I (Apulhed) see it as my mission to leave behind those lags and break new ground, all my days I have tried to do that. I found however the danger is that you leave others behind, they cannot catch up, you run too fast. A lot of my life I been slowing myself down. Only now 39 years after I compiled Apul-One are people catching up. Bruce McKlean is such an artist. He was lucky to be in the groups who broke free from the lag. The sixties spawned lots of folk kicking against the lag. I was a late-comer. My work started in about 1968 when I wer 17. A lot of (now) famous folk like Bruce, and David Bailey, Jagger, Lennon had kicked off the traces long before I started. That’s one of the reasons it’s so good to have Bruce in Colchester. He was an innovator, and still is pumping against the lag.
He jumped right on in posing as Henry Moore’s Fallen Warrior wearing a tin hat he’d bought in a second hand shop on the way. ‘George from Gilbert & George reminded me I used to do impersonations of Moore’s sculptures in the dining room at Central. So we did them.’ Or as Elvis in Jailhouse Rock as part of a gang of 4 or 6 or maybe 8 now and then, the first, maybe the last, pose band, Nice Style. He still does a good pose, posing like Forsythe his namesake at the drop of a het. ‘This is ‘it’ poses hands up. ‘Johnnie Ray created a myth. I’m still trying to do it…Failed miserably!’
Inspired like Brucie by Frankie’s Rat Pack too. Impressed like Elvis by Johnnie Ray’s screaming and crying about Bruce told us his mother took him to see rock and roll’s first wild man Johnnie Ray falling over in Glasgow, ‘First conceptual singer (he couldn’t sing) first action singer.’ He also had a bad experience in the company of Eddie Cochran, but I shall let him tell you abart that.
He’s made a massive impression on all the staff at Firstsite, they all grown to love him with his quick wit, charm and considerate ways. Despite feeling a bit ‘twitchy’ with pre-match nerves before he appeared in front of probably the biggest audience ever at firstsite (hooray at last, maybe they all thort johnnie ray would come and cry all over them?) he even went out of his way and consented to come meet Rachel mcGivern who’d spent all day showing little kids how to make their own mcLean sculptures. She were made up girl, well pleased, star stricken too.
John Woods had flown in from Leeds (ain’t not got no football team never) after getting to know BMc during a show JW had curated at the Henry Moorish centre up there. He was the master of ceremonies questioneer cos Bruce Forsythe could not be there to say ‘Nice to see ya, Bruce from Olde Brucie’, art as pose.
Now am gonna just type up me notes, all 10 page on em, cos they say all that BM said yesterday:
An image of the London ‘pose’ event High up on a Baroque palazzo goes up on the screen and JW says it has some resemblance to the scaffold in Jailhouse Rock, this prompts BM to say, ‘The work was the set BEFORE the action, nobody saw that’ meaning the set was constructed and photographed before any audience arrived and those photos were the piece, ‘I’m a Minimalist’. Referring to his relationship with the then prevalent ideas of Minimalism where it was often the idea, the record (usually in writings) the concept which were deemed the real nub of the work. Language art. Art’s the problem. People identify what they do as ‘art’ when really, it’s painting or sculpture.’ (It seems most everything is sculpture for BMc). ‘Performance art, that’s a term of the Arts Council. A 40 page form to get 30 quid. “‘Art’ is something Saatchi deals (with). I think I’ll be a merchant banker. I wanted to be an architect. My dad (who was an architect) said you’re too small to be an architect. Artist, tap dancer etc, you’re ok for that. I tried to join the Ballet Rambert at 21, big turbans & red lips, they said, you can be with the Modern contemporary Dance lot but not here. ”
BMc realises the audience may fall asleep when minimalism is mentioned and asks, ‘Are you finding this interesting…or not?’ and frowns. Audience giggles, he’s got them. ‘We had dress suits (& bow-ties) on, with padded shoulders. Bump. They allowed us to go BUMP into the wall or scaffold’. ‘How about that?’ he motions, Bump. JW had arranged a re-enactment in 2012 and one of the posers hadn’t been able to come., ‘Paul Richards said it’s such a bad idea, let’s do it. Robin Fletcher had a bad leg and didn’t turn up to the re-union.’
Image of Victor Mature. ‘Victor Mature is a hero, 1st conceptual actor in 150 films.’ Then he starts talking about Mussolini as a waiter in one of the pieces they did and Hitler as a house painter. ‘A nod and a wink can change the world’.
‘Slade was influential early on. The pop group I mean (not the art school). We supported the Kinks at Maidstone college. We used mirrors on the audience, blinded them, creating johnnie ray hysteria’.
JW- you met Eddie Cochrane didn’t you? ‘I ran away’ laughs. ‘No really I was scared. I was taken in to his dressing room and he stood there screaming, ‘Bring me horse!!!!’ Well, you know heroin is horse. I thought what the hell? He was actually calling for whores, I ran’. Reflects. ‘Wish I’d stayed in the room.’ ‘saw Gene Vincent play to 15 people in Putney, the great rock & roller, then we went over to the Spotty Dog and got pissed.’ ‘I never saw Barnet Newman (best Abstract Expressionist) singing in Glasgow, saw Liberace tho. I have this idea for an opera, Liberace meets Barnet Newman. Elvis turns up and pushes him off the stage.’
Image of poster for Midnight Cowboy starring John Voight & Dustin Hoffman goes up. ‘We became John Voight & Dustin Hoffman for a week.’
He goes on to talk about his dislike of dishonesty. With BMc what you see is what you get. This reflects in his work. There are no cover ups, no second goes, he draws it and it stays drawn, there’s a spontaneity in his pieces. He can’t understand why in Hollwood they used stands in for ugly people or in Mario Lanza’s case he was replaced by the non-singing unknown Edward Purdum who mimed to Lanza’s singing. Same with the use of the tall Jose Ferrer who knelt down while taking the part of the tiny Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Huston’s Moulin Rouge. ‘great film…for a six year old’ (when his ma took him.) BMc made films which often take the mick out of existing iconic films. This prompted one of the audience to say he was a good film maker. ‘Film is more interesting cos it’s cheaper to make. You can switch the camera on and off.’
He loves Tony Hancock’s film the Rebel, says ‘it’s still like that at the RCA schools, nothing’s changed in 60 years, still sitting in black suits talking bullshit.’
His film Urban Turban was dissed. It’s a parable of the D’Offay gallery, based on the Rebel only artist wants to become banker.
A shot of a BMC posing as the Moore Fallen Warrior in 1969 goes on screen. ‘Hey, what about if he misses the plinth? Falling Warrior misses plinth. How come they always fall spot in the centre of the plinth? I once went to Much Hadham to seek work with Moore. He came out to see us, ‘Turned out nice again’ he said. I expected this guy to say something profound not ‘Turned out nice again’, offered us four shillings an hour, half what Bill Turnbull was paying I got back on the bus. Bit tight! I come frae glasgi and I know what tight is’. Bill Turnbull made me think this whole (art) activity is fraudulent.
Image of Irina Moore standing by a construction Moore had erected around a big sculpture to protect it as he fabricated it. Did that influence your constructions? ‘Yes well, I liked his constructions, they were good but a lot of his sculptures were sloppy when he put them out for others to do them. I liked the ones he did himself.’
Image (apparently) photo of a sculpture in a plate of soup goes up. ‘That was a collage, the sculpture was a photo, not real, which I filmed. ‘Waiter waiter there’s a sculpture in my soup.’
Art history should be taught backwards. I’m trying to do the sculpture that I didn’t get done. I’m a Minimalist. (I don’t want to make things accessible, too much of this bums on seats. Let’s keep everybody out. Went to the Tate’s Matisse cut outs, you could smell the sweat from all those people, I had to get out for some air. I like making invisible sculpture. I found one I lost. I couldn’t actually find it. Audience titters. It’s there. It’s gone. Is that a sculpture? It might be. Where is it? Does it exist. It’s gone. (BMc is on a roll here) Am using old stuff, but am not re-making it. Look, photocopies of (his old late mate) Flanagan’s Hare –cheap to make.
He mentions Walter de Maria (that shows how far out I been, never ever heared of him.And he seems important, how did I live this long sans eering abart him?) .
I offered him a drawing i dun back in 1994 at Tate. He graciously accepted one. then he posed wid it with some blArty bloke what had a rod (stewart?) thru his neck.
foto (c) CC (ta dancer)
A plug for his return in conversation with 4 of his ex students on Sept 17th then One of BMc’s ex-students suggests artists have become the bankers now. Says, yes the egg stain in the trousers is now considered art. And if you are looking for a good shadow- Hank Marvin. On that note I am posting this.
I have now been able to watch Bruce’s film on the three screens in full. It’s a fun ting and it refers back to many of McLean’s moments of creativity in his oeuvre. He throws in some gratuitous nudity, art has always had the attraction of nude models. In 1969 when I attended a all boys gwamma I was attracted to ‘art’ night classes becos there was a lady sitting naked as a jay bird posing for us to aspire to be little leonardos. I had never seen a woman naked and althoshe looked more like Edna Everidge than Kate Moss I was trapped into ‘art’ for the rest of my days! The bait has reeled me in, once an artist (an incredibly poor one at first, some say that never changed) always an artist. Anyway, there’s a nice young woman in bruce’s film with all her kit off except her cowboy hat. The music by Dave Stewart is strong, bit like a second rate Philip Glass, gets a bit mesmeric and a bit tedious to. But I like the overall effect of the film with all of its references to the corruption in the world of art. The very best bit for me is the bit where three men dance but you can only see their legs. It is wonderful. Not cos of the legs, (am no gay) no it’s just wonderfully irreverent. I like the woman in the tall hat, well the hat at least. And Bruce’s drawings on the wall and in the little £5 book about its planning. Good that.
Also Venue done a little but very positive mention of the show:
Did you hear the joke, ‘Once I was a werewolf, but I’m alright No…oooow!’? Well once, only once, I wanted to be an artis but I’m all write No…oooow! In fact my art is my right, I have a write to be an artis. OK, back to the real.
Eva Hesse was an artist and groundbreaker of considerable skill but one day she woke up and realised something rather strange, that she didn’t HAVE TO make art, that life continues even when you do not make art.
On Originality. I want to mention Maria Popova’s stuff, she writes well, I could do an analysis or commentary but that would take ages I have not got and my fingers would wear out typing it in, so, you can take a look at her stuff here:
She quotes Twain, “Substantially all ideas are second-hand,” Mark Twain observed, “consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them.” And she often refers to this ting called,
‘The power of the synthesizing mind and the building blocks of combinatorial creativity.’ See her article in:
Synthesizing and being combinatorial are, it seems to me, top requirements of creative process. When we used to assess kids doing ‘O’ level, or any other level for that matter, they got into top grades when you could see evidence of synthesizing. Interesting. Over the past 45 years of me being ‘creative’ I did two tings; I looked at the creativity of others and I stayed in touch thru mags like Studio International, Graphis and the Museum of Mankind, then again I ignored the work of others and tried to cocoon mysel in a hole in the ground so as not to be ‘influenced’ and I refused to watch what was prevalent at the time. I skrtled between the twain. But, in the end whatever you do has its progenitors. One of my heroes Popova mentioned was henry miller, not so much his Tropics more his humanist writings. I wer told by john Atkins, over 20 years after the event that the reason Calder did NOT publish my tome called ‘The Shrewd Idiot’ was cos me writings were reminiscent of Miller and Miller wer going out o fashion and punk was coming in. So me, the post-hippieman, what had given up his daily job in 1976 to consecrate on his art & writing, I wer too dated, out dated. Such is the elusivity of fame & four tunes. Have you heard the one about the fork ‘andles? Maybe I got lucky not getting published as there is a shortage of paper in the world or at least the tree that makes the paper. And my tome was a BIG tome which I did cut by half like Calder aksed me to, but really, for all our sakes it would be better if I produce it misen as an artisbuk, with some of it in the original handpen, some in the JilLittly typed-up version and some set in a computer type. In fact I move tward a new ‘style’ of crazed words and non-sense writings after Flan O’Brien and Louis Carrott wat rote ‘Alice’ fer Jeffersen Airplane. Vatch dis spade.
My recent work has been to do with mysticism. As I investigated the phenomena I found out aboyut whole cultural groups (civilisations) which ‘we’ (in the west) never heard of. The Gandharan community, a Buddhist group who lived over 2000 yearns ago whose influence is vast but most of us never heard of and they are not the only ones. http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Buddhist-Scrolls-Gandhara-Gandharan/dp/0295977698
So why is a cutting edge artis like misen looking at ancient stuff and mystics be blowed? Well, one because it’s all been done before and we need to get informed and two, becos nodoby elsa is it doing indeed. But seriously folks (said Spike Milligan again) nobody in the ‘art world’ is doing mystics right now so I am original, not really (cos everything has bin dun afore asn’tit). In fact I have a lovely buk called ‘Time machine’ http://www.jamesputnam.org.uk/inv_publication_03.html
In which several artists do work with an eye to Ancient Egypt. I wer doing that back in the 70’s. Am glad thur catching up wit me.
Now onto what I started today’s Blarty Phart for:
Robert Smithson (RS), famous for his ‘Spiral Jetty’ in the lake at Salt Lake City, & Bruce McLean (BM) and their relationships with ‘originality’ .
Bruce McKlean’s work is being shown in a stunning show at firstsite in Colchester thru the summer of 2014, til septembre.
It’s fascinating how ‘art’ so often parallels ‘science’. Whilst science is busy creating new ‘man-made’ elements some of which only exist momentarily, just long enough for scientists to be able to make deductions, artists like McLean in 1967 made ‘Floataway sculptures’ which were ‘predicated on the impermanence of their form’. Gooding goes on to talk about Sjoerd Buisman’s collaborations with nature which he notes have, ‘A keen sense of affinity with scientists…and are in certain crucial ways closely akin to the procedures of scientists.’
BM was photo’d as he carried mirrors into parks etc in 1969 but his action post-dated RM’s use of mirrors. And I thought, ‘Is that why they (rather sadly) call it ‘Post’ Modernism? Precisely cos it repeats, mimics, appropriates*.’ Lucy Lippard has a good take on RM & mirrors (see ‘Lucy Lippard’s Activism and Artists’ Books Activate Me’; Vol 8 No 2, April 2014 http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/bnotebk.htm). RM was using mirrors back in ’64 with The Eliminator and 65 with Enantiomorphic Chambers. The British boys (and girls) were plugging into anything new from USA. (in the late 60’s I refused. I wer stuck in Europe still but that’s anudda storey.)
*Appropriationism is the mode now, Nick it all Nick Na Noo! And folk like Popova are writing tracts about how nothing is ‘original’. Except we, we with Buddhist inclinations, know EVERYTING IS original. It has to Be. Every breath you take is different, new, original if only cos the universe and beyond have never been in that position ever before nor never again. Everything is always on the change, in flux, and we cannot alter that. Copyright, intellectual right etc etc etc are there to protect, property etc but they are not ‘real’. When you read/red/reed say, Brautigan, you steal, you steal the words off the page into your mind what may be ‘high’ like his was wherever that may be or not to be ( I just nicked Shake’s spear!) The more folk what steals yer werk by listening, repeating, passing on etc the more your work is ‘out there’.
From the foothills to the footholds of the art.
So we ascertain that it is ok to be original and it’s ok to be not-original. There are some who would say that everything has been done before. A beautiful example of that I saw in the British Museum’s El Dorado show last month. I saw some gold flat figures about 1-2 inch high that’s 40 – 50 millimetres today folk. They’d been crafted several hundred years back by Colombian pre-Columbian indigenous peoples. The BM made some nice enamel red on stainless steel replicas. I am aware that Keith Haring was influenced by other cultures and I am unsure if he ever saw these figures but the similarity with his ‘cosmic baby’ figures is extraordinary. In my previous blart I shewed a flower of Legers what I did not copy but again the similarity is enormous. In my book that does not make mine any less ‘quality’ or ‘original’, we both ‘copied’ flowers! The accidents which led mine to be so similar are just a happy synchronous occurrence. In fact, the final, well never final as I keep altering it, version has a different flower image in it innit?
I shall harp on about this Venus stares image a lot in the future, so vatch dis splice.
Hey, talk abart appropriationism, Kenneth Patchen stole my Apulhed long before I created him, (he wer clairvoyant!) and also William Blake’s name (see the image ‘hurrah’ below), didn’t he? I don’t mind, I love his work and am borrowing the image below but only to advertise him, I was reading Tom Wolfe this week, ‘electric cool aid acid testes’ and I note how much he took from his hero Kerouac and of course Kerouac had his progenitoir, Patchen! Now, I have found many references in Cool aid acid test to stuff i am working with now, like Jung and synchronicity. As I sit ere in 2014 i can say truly that I had not seen Wolfe’s book previously. Strangely, he mentions Hopis, and other tings what i linger longer on over the years. My work on ‘the other’ hails from the early 70’s. I had a small task called survival to cope with in the years between and became a teacher of art to keep Beuy’s coyotes from my door. So, altho I never gave up making art, my activities and energies were often curtailed. Now am 64 and free of it, i just make art and mess and fuss and waves and wave bye bye for noo to yu.