Luke Walker spent a month preparing this incredible 14 minute long video about my work and recent books. He’s done an astounding job.
THANK YOU so much Luke, it’s incredible and people are loving it already.
Luke Walker spent a month preparing this incredible 14 minute long video about my work and recent books. He’s done an astounding job.
THANK YOU so much Luke, it’s incredible and people are loving it already.
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.
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:
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
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!
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!
Watch this GREAT dance by Christopher Walken https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6ta5Y3xAhk
“I tink OI’ll do dat dance misen.”
And here’s me old mate Duncan Walker mimicking him.
Twinkle Toes Walker does a Walken.
Then advises me,
“Nah then lad, tha’s gottu git thar olde buk owt.”
So we all experience self-doubt and of course as I work thru the final prep of the final version for print of the SI sometimes I wonder if it’s worth continuing? My old pal IEPWoolard says, “Yes, you have to Pete”. Another friend, whose opinion I take very highly, talks of the ‘yes to carry on’ but also the need to make sure that when copies are ‘thesis-bound’ that there is also some stitching along the bound end to preserve it for not just 20 years but for 100 years plus when, ‘It’ll be of even more interest (because of its context)’. That’s not to say he’s saying my ‘writing’ is of a great importance, no, it’s the statement/evidence that the work brings with it of a time, a time in the early 1970’s. Now, that time is already gone, it’s history and my ‘book’ is (further evidence) of life then.
I had a nice little fillip today when a member of the staff at Firstsite said of my Outlaw Pete gig, ‘It was an out of body experience.’ She had not watched my whole gig. Said what she saw was very strange. I retorted, ‘That’s good cos I never want to be perceived as ‘normal’.’
20th April 2016
I just laid page 70 into my Quark* layout for my ‘Shrewd Idiot’ (SI) buk. It happens to be 3 drawings I done back in 1971 (December) of the character I had realised that I had just ‘invented/created’ AppleHeadedMan aka Apulhed. Well in fact two of ‘him’ and one of PearHeadedWoman. The sketches fit nicely over the two pages of the SI manuscript which lay over one page of the new version. There’s lots of different links there, including the visual link of the two intersecting on the page. In fact I never again drew Pearheadgirl, never ever even to today, which is fascinating, cos Applehead could have had a constant ‘fruity’ companion thru the past 40 years. In fact in the notes on that same page I am forlornly saying that my then erstwhile girl-friend was not replying to my letters and that when we were to meet up again, as planned around my 21st birthday, it would only be ‘as friends (not lovers)’. In fact we never were to meet up again, not so far anyway. Maybe the slipping away of Pearheadgirl is a living analogy of that aspect or sequence of things which happened then did not happen in my life? [An analogy is ‘a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects’.] The disappearance of Pearheadgirl is synonymous with the non-re-appearance of ‘Rose’ in ma life.
Quark* is one of the two big packages which offer design strategies for print layout. Although I found them difficult to make contact with I went up to their address in London and did find a human being who was very helpful. So much so I have decided to stay with them and move to their new ‘2016’ version despite the fact that my printman’s company uses a rival design package, which will cause some difficulties because one system is not compatible with the other. I am relatively unschooled in ‘graphic-design’ and have a lot to learn but I always did find ‘learning on the job’ my preferred route to skills and knowledge. Creating this new version of my SI buk is arduous, mostly because I insist on using scans of typed script from the 1980’s manuscript when re-typing it into a modern digi-form would be much much easier. All my life I tended to do things the hard way, as my SI buk still shows. Its form & content show an idiot (idjet) at work but he end result he knows will be, well let’s just say, very different. And ‘all me own original werk’.
The Way You Do The Things You Do.
My (vast?) knowledge of ‘art’ became (apparently) irrelevant overnite becos they (purportedly) moved the goalposts when I must have had my eyes off the ball (or maybe the Jasper Johns/Pop Art target?) by their declaring ‘post’-Modernism’ which supposedly super ceded the Modernism & Classicism that I had studied and played a part of between 1968 and when the pMT (post-Modernis Tings) began (date unsure, a bit hazy and for me irrelevant).
I don’t believe ‘post’-Modernism’, it’s a crap idea which seeped down from architecture into some folk’s view of art. Whatever it’s purported to be (a shift, a change, a re-direct) it isn’t because the history (of art) is a continuation. As part of the continuity we have learned that the media we can utilise is not just the old fields of oil paint, water colour, bronze and wood altho I have loved working in all of them. Nowadays it’s ok to use ANY material to create art and all sorts of differing environments. Latterly I learned that as I manipulate the words as words and image on my computer design package that’s just as relevant in making (my) art as was once my manipulation of oil with turps on a canvas.
So. My books are art and always have been. I used to feel an odd sensation when I looked at say a photo I had done or a presentation with masks and feel…t that they weren’t ‘proper’ art. My ‘pop’ art drawings/comix with Apulhedman were just as relevant as my oils of my wife. So, all my activities which I used to put into a number of pigeon holes have now become my ‘art’. They are all one. They manifest from my observation, imagination and skill.
They represent me. They re-present the ‘me’ what lives and breathes in ways and materials, some of which will outlive the entity I call ‘me’ by many centuries…
The book I am working on or ‘compiling’ at present, The Shrewd Idiot (SI), has a LONG history. I left my teaching post in 1976 to format it from notes I had written, drawn and photo’d in various journals and sketchbooks since 1969. I had done my first self-published book, Apul-One (1975), from the same sources and SI was to be a more ‘normally’ spelt version of same. Its initial version was completed by 1978 and then I started sending it to publishers, two of whom (Wildwood House, then Calder), considered it for publication but eventually both dropped it. I have re-approached it several times in the intervening years and the newest version will have evidence of interventions from different times. It was never a ‘literary’ work. It was always a collection of some thoughts, observations, hopes, fears and images of one individual.
Now the words I created years ago have become images. Most of the book is made up of images of the typescript typed up mostly by Jill (nee) Williams and boy was she tolerant of my stupid words. Drawings and other forms of image-making are a vital part of the book and that was the rub in the 70’s and 80’s when print was difficult concerning the placement of word & image in a book. Nowadays the two can sit well together and gone are the days when publishers considered it impure to set image and word together. In a way the world is ready for my arrangement of the material now but is it ready for the content? It matters not really cos am doing it anyway. But I am only going to make about 10 copies initially, mostly to give to some friends who moved thru the period it covers. The content will either fascinate or bore potential observers, I say observers cos it’s not (just) for readers in fact it may not be important to read it at all, I wish you wouldn’t cos it’s embarrassing in its revelations. It is not even state of the art in layout & presentation when you think of the beauty which David McKean brings to the page. I am deliberately not using digital layout packages, except for part of the book, becos am determined that Jill’s typing is the image of the main body of the words I wish to convey. There is a ‘story’ or ‘narrative’ which in fact continues thru all my life cos it’s uncompromisingly about the person that was me at the time (1969-1973). Altho in fact it’s like looking in a mirror cos the artist or writer sees themselves on the page as they see themselves in a mirror, unreally. (In my case somewhat unruly too) I can never see the me that you see, I only see the me that lives inside me and he hides a lot of his real self, even from me. In fact this book reveals some parts or thought of that self which maybe should be left in the archives but in the name of honest ‘journalism’ I include most of them even tho some are excruciating in their pomposity and vanity. In some ways it’s a personal writing plus images, in other ways it’s universal cos it is about one man’s efforts to come to terms with his world and find roads to explore with newly acquired abilities to add to what he brings with him to the time of the notes.
It’s all to do with The Way You Do The Things You Do, or as one old comedian used to say in a thick Oirisht drawl, “It’s the way ah tell ‘em”.
Here’s Jerry Garcia’s band doing the Temptations song The Way You Do The Things You Do.
It’s all to do with the way you do the things you do. He plays his guitar in this like Jimi did, and the Temptations were trying to emulate Jimi when they brought the guitar solo in.
Jimi had a long history as a band man round America before he cut loose as a solo artis. He even cut some music with Arthur Lee’s band Love.
Jimi and Janis Joplin died aged 27 only a few weeks apart. I watched a great documentary on Janis on Beeb 4 and it wer great the way she picked up influence from seeing the best like Otis Redding perform. She took his repeated word phrasing and made it hers. And how. How does a little lady from Port Arthur, Texas do that ting?! It’s to do with letting go into the…mystic, or whatever we call that energy level which seems unreachable to us mortals. https://www.nytimes.com/books/99/05/02/specials/joplin-obit.html
And ere’s a littul poym fer yor kerlecshun:
I’ve always bin abit diffrunt.
I was always out of the norm(-an-wisdom).
I meyd sure o dat
An now am sixty fibre
And I steal got no-wur man
Still at th’botham off the heath
Anni dinna care
No matta worri dun
Dint seam to werk
Always told me
That I wer a burke
Never not no gudenuf
To brake doon the gardenia
To redibrek the camel hea
Always keept on nokkin…anni cunt cum in
e e cummons came and wint
I surely did ma stint
I paved me clues
And I never tuched Dora
I wiz der runt
Of za litter azure
Like me ole whaka
(hey thet rymed and thus not allured
D’y meen allowed?
No am never a loud
Ex hippie-pete, ‘It’s the way ah tell ‘em’.
This blog is ©pete kennedy 2016 (Nobody else would admit to creating the tripe on it any old how!)
I am pleased to share that Alice Springs News online in, Australia, ran a beautiful article (most of which I compiled) about an old friend of mine Ken Perry who died recently titled, “Jindalee Pioneer Ken Perry dies”. (December 5, 2015) http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2015/12/05/jindalee-pioneer-ken-perry-dies/
The opening paragraph helped me understand even more the essence of Ken’s achievement. The editor, Erwin Chlanda, was a pilot who had flown over Ken’s radar installation on many occasions so he has a good knowledge of the terrain. “Intruding aircraft can fly just a few feet above the sea, below the cover of microwave defence radars: In order to track this threat, with his expertise in microwave, Ken Perry oversaw the development and production of high frequency surface wave “over-the-horizon” (OTH) radar, with a huge antenna spread for a kilometer or so on the ground off the Yuendumu Road, north-west of Alice Springs and a second similar facility is north of the Plenty River Road.” Getting some recognition and spreading the news about Ken’s accomplishments is not my main aim in life but it arose out of my admiration for the way he ran his life and his great modesty and generosity of spirit. Ken was alive with intelligence and was always thinking of his family and how he might help them progress. All of his daughters became graduates and his grandchildren seem to be trumping their achievements with first class honours at some big universities in a wide range of subjects. Ken never emphasised how clever he was, he would just rally round them all when they were growing up and help them to understand maths and science in particular. He lived his interests and shared his abilities.
I think that is a good way to go about my life too. Of course my main area has been in Art and ken was not au fe with ‘art’ so he would ask searching questions about my latest zany idea until he got a better grasp of what I was saying or hinting at.
My aim has been fairly constant over the years, to bring a lively enquiry into the field of creative art and to create ‘original’ works. Over the years it became clear to me that nothing is ever purely ‘original’ cos everything has precursors and all of us are inspired by or detest earlier example and we either pick it up and run with it (appropriation?) or attempt to do the opposite. On 1.12.2004 I was looking back on my Nonogon Show in Colchester library in 2000
and planning an assault on Tate Modern with it which as you know didn’t happen yet. More importantly, when I make these dastardly plans I often reflect on where I been and wur am goin. I wrote these now very prophetic words, “My public personae would be like a mix of Joseph Beuys, Ken Campbell and Keith Haring.” Well, in fact, I drew like Haring before Haring did, so there’s no surprise there. I was already looking into Beuys and was very intrigued by Beuy’s antics, I was drawn to ‘performance art’ before I had a real idea of what it was about. I watched Ken Campbell perform at Brentwood theatre where he would often prep his stuff ready for his London shows. I remember walking into one and being bowled over by his strange props. It struck a bell in my head which is still resounding, or is that what they call tinnitus? I think that my projection about my future persona is still playing out.
*Deepak Chopra said via Carla McKay, “we all tend to see our bodies as ‘frozen sculptures’- solid, fixed, material objects- when in thruth, thye are more like rivers, constantly flowing patterns of intelligence…”
All of a sudden my life is beginning to happen. ‘It’s almost as if the stars are tangled in a ghostly spider’s web. The whole network is beginning to glow, to pulse with light, exactly as if it were alive…’ (p. 166, Tom Wolfe in Cool Aid Acid Test).
I spent 65 years ‘trying’ to ‘get there’ and suddenly somehow I arrive! Like Clementine, I’m on tea & croissants. On Friday night last when I turned on the Mercury prize I discovered a man/voice which was as big a revelation to me as hearing Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks on vinyl way back in 1968 on an old Dancette record player exactly like this one.
Benjamin Clementine was chosen as the top album (?) and what a phenomenon! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a68KJWe_Tfk
Although I am not a phenomenon I did surprise a few folk at the IPA fortnight (http://www.ipapress.i-pa.org/official-news/ipa-autumn-2015-official-news/great-blog-from-pete-kennedy-about-ipa-autumn-2015/ recently but I been a long time gestating. During the time of my ‘working life’ I never ‘made it’, that’s for sure, partly cos I were too busy working for a living. But I never gave up my pursuit of the goal which was to make a mark on the consciousness of the era in which I have lived.
It was a long hard battle. I wrote, I painted, I did graphics (‘comic’, caricature and stuff) and I drew. I drew cos I could. I actually draw because of the battle I had to fight to acquire the ability to draw. It wasn’t easy cos as a 16 year old I was cack-handed (kakˈhandɪd; ‘clumsy, awkward or inept way of doing something; originally meaning left handed’, in other words I couldn’t draw for toffee but now I’m ambidextrous and am proud of that. Although I perform across a number of media it was the ability to draw which I chased hard until I achieved a certain skill which allowed me to draw the likes of Feliks Topolski, Miriam Patchen and more recently Vest & Page.
When Richard Morphet, the then Keeper of the Modern Collection at Tate, said to me in c. 1994, ‘Your work has a very German feel’, I think he was referring to the new breed from Germany like ‘upside down man’ Baselitz, yes there was a similarity but it stemmed from our all having the same influences in art history. Here’s one of my portraits (of Michael McKell actually) showing the similarity in technique. This is one of the illustrations which are reproduced beautifully in my article in JAB38 but here I am showing it in colour, it needs colour as does much of my oeuvre.
When Brad Freeman gave the go ahead on my article for the Journal of Artists Books (JAB http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/) and I pondered on being asked to feature my own work, mainly in book and print but also in paint, and those who had inspired, directed and influenced it. It soon became apparent that many of them were of German origin. My father and his father’s generation had been embroiled in war with Germany yet I was inspired by so many German artists and writers. Significantly many of my influences had been on the Nazi regime’s list of ‘degenerate art’. The writer, artist and mountain walker Hermann Hesse, significantly, even stood up against the First World War. Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys all had to cope in their various ways with having been born in Germany and the aftermath stigma of the Third Reich.
my portrait of Anselm Kiefer
Luckily my embroilment has been with the positive creative side of the German spirit. The list is long and the work they did will give insight into my own output, about which the article will further inform you. Beneath German military imperialism lays a deeper current, German humanism as manifested in the work of writers like Hesse, Walser and Klee, each has had a profound effect on my work/output which I shall be linking to the work of the following artists showing how they have had an impact on my thinking:
Expressionists; Shmidt-Rotluf, Franz Marc (Post Card To Prince Jussuf), Kokoshka with his very literature base and liberal brush.
Dada etc; Max Ernst Collage books (La Femme 100 tetes) and his Livres d’artists,
Bauhaus; Klee, Schlemmer
Post war; Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys
Add to these Munch and Soutine, both of whom have a similar ‘feel’ and indeed the former certainly influenced the Expressionists. https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=expressionist+painters
*Kokoshka was born in Austria but was associated with German Expressionism and dada.
Wikipedia says that Kokoschka (who became involved with Performance Art) was a master of ‘innovative oil painting techniques anchored in earlier traditions’ which resonates with my lifelong observation about ‘art’ or rather ‘the creative process’ passing down a (transcendent) chain or down a line/ lineage.
I see my portraits as descendent from the work of Rembrandt or El Greco, then Van Gogh and Soutine yet it never lamely mimics any of them. They set the example but I always looked to move it on. I was born into a generation which experimented with and pushed the barriers, sometimes too far, too quickly. I have always looked over my shoulder or down to see my feet standing on the shoulders of giants. I fought hard with my own inadequacies to overcome my incompetence in various media. I did find my way to doing some oil paintings which had considerable skill. All of the time I heard Max Ernst whispering in my ear that ‘painting is dead’, yet I refused to allow that to happen, I love the push of the wet gooey brush across the dry canvas surface and my attempts to make a difference. I was aware that so many great artists had (before I began) created a great legacy of amazing works which I could hardly hope to match, so I would push off in another direction. To find that direction I would look intensively into the history of ‘art’ and into the practice which was going on around me from the time of my first successful paintings and prints until today.
In the early 1970’s I was lucky to see the work of Soutine, de Kooning, Barnet Newman and Dieter Roth all of whom did what I considered to be ground-breaking work which itself was keeping to the lineage of the greats that went before them. I wanted to create new and original work which proved ever so difficult when the art market only really wanted to have the work of established masters or people who were following in their footsteps. They wouldn’t look at my work because I was not in the canon or established or I didn’t have the right track record or had not been vetted by the right colleges. And who can blame them when so many artists were being produced, choosing who to back and add to the canon must have been difficult. But I carried on making my art regardless, for 48 years now. Now it can be seen that I have created a large oeuvre which has a wide variety of differing styles and ways of working, yet another taboo in the ‘art-world’ where they like it if you concentrate on a small area then you can be boxed up and sold.
I was inspired by Ernst. I saw Roth as an oasis on my starving journey. And later I saw Beuys and Keifer doing things I had done as a result of pursuing my own star only they did them more than I ever could with my limited time and resources.
‘Beuys never made a painting on canvas; he explicitly rejected this traditional artistic production.’ P68 JB-A Colourful World, pubr. Schellmann Art, Munich 2011. Here is a difference because I did do paintings and other things onto canvas, I wouldn’t stop because Beuys did not choose this medium, but I would be able to consider many materials for use in my own work having been given permission so to do by Beuys having used them either before I did or without my knowing that he had and my later finding out he had used materials I had chosen, except before me. What Beuys, Ernst and Roth did was encourage my daring when it came to which materials could be used to make my work with. Had I stuck to the limited media which my educators and many British artists before the sixties had stuck to my output would have been severely limited. Even today many of my pieces are frowned upon by people from all walks of life because many have little idea as to the way art and its use or abuse of materials has moved for better or worse in the past 50 years.
On 23.7.14 I got a note from David Jury about our collaboration for an artists book Inside This Clay Vessel http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780950426716/BATCH-Introduction-Thoughts-Clay-Jug-0950426717/plp :
‘I did a lot of work on Vessel page 2 (V2) today but had to make quite a few changes from yesterday’s efforts. I expect to get a printed result tomorrow. It was Braunschweig University that I visited, but they have no link to Beuys. The permanent exhibition of Beuys I mentioned is kept at a fantastic gallery in Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof. They have a couple of fabulous Keifer pieces too, but they are not always on display.’
I had been asking him about his visit to Braunschweig and the artists that he’d told me about with a view to me going there one day(?). In 2015 I produced a book about the making of my picture called Venus Stairs which was inspired by Schlemmer’s Bauhaus Staircase. The more I see of Schlemmer’s oeuvre the more I love it, especially the stuff he did related to performance, especially now that I am so involved with Performance Art.
Two weeks ago I recited my Beuys poem at firstsite Gallery in Colchester. The poem pokes fun at Beuys and his ways but it’s also an homage to him. When I spent 2 weeks in the company of Performance Artist Jurgen Fritz I was aware that I am still a novice in the field of Performance Art but Jurgen said encouraging things about my efforts. I have been eating, sleeping & dreaming up Performance Art pieces since then and my next blog will be about the IPA fortnight.
Here’s me reciting my Beuys poem. He had gold on his face, I couldn’t afford gold so I used black.
To Celebrate 40 years of Apul One
I just realised it is almost exactly 40 years since I created my first artist’s book Apul One in 1975 so there must be cause for some celebration. I was talking to a late friend’s son on Friday and he said that he had taken Apul One to university had read it several times and it had been a bit of a cult ting there. Wish I had known at the time I would have gone there and done a talk etc. Strangely it’s not the first time the book has had ‘cult’ status. Lucien Nunes once told me he had done the same at the Haberdasher’s school. Those of you who know it will know it’s a bit of a strange book. It’s not at all like what a book should be. But it’s me, or it was me, then. I produced it as a kind of scream in the wilderness after working my balls off at college to gain my degree and then beginning to approach the galleries only to find a blanket total non-interest. I predicted accurately as it turned out that that would continue through my life. So I created my own gallery in the shape of a book, or buk as I called it. It could only have b&w images cos colour were too expensive and even then I spent all my savings on ‘publishing’ it. If you want one I shall be at BABE in April and maybe at Baltic in July and I am tinking of creating the long delayed publication of the follow up The Shrewd Idiot in time for the autumn, or Fall as you acrosst the Atlantic would say. I am going to chat with my printer today as to how he can print my plans for it. It’ll be an artist’s book and probably on semi-transparent paper so the pages show thru each other.
Here’s some images of the making and publicizing of Apul One in 1975-76.
The first cover
The wrap around cover front
The wrap around cover back
The wrap around cover front & back original idea
Sketch for the image of Apulhed on front cover.
Write up for Apul One by Peter Andrews
Underground poster for Apul One
Point of sale poster for Apul One
John St Field aka Jackie Leven 1972
Now funnily enough in one of the ‘comics’ in ApulOne there’s a sketch of Jackie Leven. It’s incredible to think that it was a song by Jackie Leven which triggered all of my recent books about ‘knowledge’ in pots in the last few years. Jackie sang ‘Inside This Clay Jug’ by Kabir
Word Power Books:
and finally here’s the badge, you know the saying ‘got the badge’!
I know some parties who read this will look upon my suggestion as an object fit for only ridicule, I am writing this piece and am asking for a BIG space in a gallery to show my work from the past 48 years. It is going to be a BIG exhibition as I have enough output to fill a gallery… (like First Site* in Colchester for example).
But my aim is not specific to First Site, no I want to be shown at BIG galleries in major cities too. I don’t mind smaller galleries and I have done about 25 solo exhibitions since 1977. I understand their (the ‘established’ places) problem, it also applies to commercial galleries like those in Cork St., you don’t get a look in unless you and your work tick some boxes, many boxes like; right college, saleability, reputation, articles about you, fame, and you know all the rest. I happen to not tick any boxes and have made it a mission to untick any that were ticked. I am an old fashioned player. Some trendys would say I am a Modernist and the same folk would say this is the Post-Modern era, well listen, it’s not, ask Wil Self who will tell you it’s too soon to change the name.
And to place the word ‘post’ in front of anything is rather lame; Post Impressionist, Post Structuralism, Post Haste, Post Card, it doesn’t change anything, at least they were more imaginative early 20th century; Fauvism, pointillism, Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism but all of them are really part of Modernism as is post modernism and Modernism is the era that followed Classicism, the latter going on for thousands of years.
I believe an artist, with a brush, with a ball, with a voice, etc has to be individual, original and be saying things few if any have already said in ways that others would not imagine to say them in. Well, I tick all those boxes BUT, nobody except people with imagination and independent choosing can see the quality in my work, and there’s not many like that in the gallery world, is there?
Martha Graham, the woman who helped develop ‘modern’ ballet out of the old style ballet, said, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this experience is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost”. I have been aware of that for many of my 64 years and maybe that’s why I have always carried the torch for ‘art’, or rather my particular version of the arts which I developed thru years of study, hard work, experiment, getting out there and showing it, putting it into my books and all. I am happy, like Blake (Wm., always William, only William is worthy of the name!), I know my work is unique, unicorn, one corn, corny, crazy like O’Dorkey. But I’m not your ‘normal’ artist, or anyting for that matta, (Matta is anudda great artis) I am ‘off the wall’ (well maybe that’s why they wouldnie hang you on the wall at all?) My arts never fitted no box no never not at all. even when at school learning my trade I zoomed thru taking on influences, devouring them; Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Soutine, D D Watkins Scarfe.
my fauve sister c. 1968
I had more than one ‘style’, I had the painterly bit after heroes like El Greco, Rembrandt, and Grunewald, then I had the comic pArt after Steve Ditko and e Jeffries
Even when I went ‘full time’ artistbloke tween 1976 – 81 the arts council wallers couldn’t fathom where I wer coming frae nor going to, I even had writing in my locker and that wasn’t allowed in ‘art’. Yet early on my talent was recognised by David Wild, Quentin Bell, Ruskin Spear and the Principal of Birmingham College of art who on assessing my Bachelor’s stuff in June 1973 said I should consider applying there for an MA. AS I wer £80 overdrawn, a lot in those days, I took a job teaching and got drawn in to that gulf. I decided to follow my own canoe down the rapids of my life and never had time to court the galleries and forgot about the MA. Sadly I waited 40 years then chose to do it at a college with issues and without facilities and vision of how to treat ‘adults’. But I met David Jury there and also became acquainted with the world of artists books which in many ways leap frogs the ‘art world/gallery’ fields and as most of my ideas will go into books albeit some will have to be a bit big I can live with that.
I am an original and the trouble is if you are the first to do it ‘this’ or ‘that’ way, few will ‘get’ what you’re on about and most will call you a madman, or woman if you are the other gender. Which brings in the agenda, yes there is and always has been an agenda. The modern ‘art-world-market’ started in a gradual stunted way with a few proprietors trying it out with artists like Gauguin. A crop of gallerists opened in France (Ambroise Vollard , Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler Léopold Zborowski) and they sold works and this spread to other countries and it caught on. Some of the early artists didn’t tick the boxes but the world was young. Gradually some became ‘established’ and one of the boxes had to be you were ‘established’. BUMPH that cuts out the majority of us artists, don’t ya. (Actually, I am established but only in a small field, actually it’s not even a field, it’s a shelf tucked away on the end of Wigan Pier) And how do you get ‘established’? You have to be chosen. Of course this choosing goes further back, back past Josh Reynolds and further back to les Louis the Kings of France (they were all called Louis for a while til that one was topped, then it stopped. So Picasso was chosen by Gertrude Stein. Etcetera. Etcetera Etcetera
You can see a record of what I did (mostly my writing and shows, not my artworks), over the years at:
*First Site is a much maligned landmark gallery with wonderful potential STILL which this county of Essex England needed for decades and now it has been opened the folk of the local area have taken a very poor opinion of it. This is mostly because of the fiasco over its build which should now just be a historical fact rather than a vendetta against the people who run it. I have spoken up about the gallery and the work it has already done. I even applied to be an associate artist but didn’t get selected. I wrote a small article which got published in a magazine about arts from Cambridge called Venue putting a very positive light on the gallery. Yet I know for sure they would never see me as an artist worthy of a major show, or any show for that matter. They have a view that only internationally recognised artists, even if totally obscure to the local population, are worthy of hanging on their walls. And that is very sad especially when there are several colleges within 25 miles with many people involved in art. I, who am steeped in art and who taught it to almost every age from 0-90, have learned a lot from the shows at First Site. They’ve had some great shows and some great talks, but not a lot of people attend them, partly cos many would feel threatened by the attitude that seems to prevail. There’s an aloofness, a separateness, a communication-less-ness. The space has rarely felt welcoming. They are revamping it right now, I hope the revamp leads to a better atmosphere and that it becomes a popular place, like Tate Modern did when it opened, a fact which was by no means guaranteed.
ps I don’t mind if I never get another venue to show at cos it’s quite hard work showing.
pps I forgot, that’s an age thing, no it’s not.
Poym of the week
I shud av gon far
Wid my repertoire
In my old car
(Twer a ford Pop-(u)-lar)
Burri got stuk in th’moat
In a ricketi boat
And am barely afloat
Tanks to a singer of note-s
Cos that’s wat he wrote
His name you can’t guess
The the ansa to thes
His name is not Jess
(This poym is a mess)
I’ll let him fini the res-t
The clue’s in the the
Why I say it in jes-t
Will u pass the test
Here’s a couple o dames who nearly gave up, listen in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJUk1UklklE
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.
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.
Happy New Yearns 2015
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.
Careering t’ward th’end of an era for me.
Still straining after all these tears trying to gain a foothill in the crevices of th’Arts and not sucking seeding cos the doors of the glass bead game are firmly closeted. Nobody let me in. How many times did I knock on Cork Street or Burlington house or Millbank or anywhere elsa the lioness? And really I don’t have time for calling and for crawling and for holding my hat and I couldn’t afford a hat to get a head. More often than not I refuse to knock on wood Otis nor Eddie Floyd can make me. and even when I knock on wood doors, or is it wooden skulls? And I say let me in , or gi’e us a show etc, they just laugh in ma face and say, ‘Who, just WHO, do you think you are to come rattling at my door after 47 years of making art etc? Go away and don’t darken this hallowed step no more no more no more no more’ and I say that is rather rude and they say ‘RATHER lather larder dear, shoosh!’
There’s a warning here to all the kids who enter the ‘art college’ DON’T DO IT ! th’bastewards won’t let yez in, there’s no moom in the gym. THINK very very care-fully before embarking on a career in art as ‘making it’ in ‘art’ is nearly as hard as making it in football. You can only do it fer love of the game! I don’t like artball, i loathe it. Hee Hee silly mee.
Most of the time I just made art. But, I knew early on that without outlets it wer like hissing into the wind as Rich Hamilton http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/richard-hamilton-1244 said in his catalog to the 1983 print show, ‘a mass of paper is likely to accumulate which, without an outlet, would soon clog the place up. it couldn’t be produced without an assumed public and an efficient distribution network’. My ‘studio’ and other outbuildings are crammed with my ‘pile amass paper accumulate, papa (hey a new movement, PAPA, with it I shall strip bare dada’s bride!)’ Pete’s PAPA pile of junk assaults th’art werld, fart werld is inundated wit a heap o stuff, fert wold is Annie Hi Elated, it is no more, it is defuncted and it is the ‘late’ artwoild.
Diter Rot said in 1966 decided to ‘stop being an artist’ he turned down an offer from gallerist Bruno Bischofberger of a show because he had ‘given up painting’ and was ‘sitting in a tiny place with a tiny table and am writing’. Of course it was a ruse. As he knew and stated in his bok Mundunculum the eyes have it, the eyes think they see the lamp, or the sign, ‘lamp’ for the lamp we ‘see’ is called lamp cos its tag is ‘lamp’ its sign. But what Roth says is the ‘lamp’ is itself ‘pointing’ the sign, it signifies the sign of ‘lamp’. So we are all artists, those of us who can see visually, even those who cannot ‘see’ with their eyes, because when we look we ‘see’ things; a ruler, a book etc, blind people ‘see’ a concept they have gathered for ‘book’ ‘train’ etc. But what is ‘seen’ is, Roth says, the ‘object’ sending a sign. I suppose that in reality, even Buddhist notions of ‘reality’, the object, is in fact not what it seems, it is in fact just ‘energy’ which manifests in the forms we read the signs for. Rot was well into Wittgenstein when he created Mundunculum, but he was also into satire.
But anyway, like Rot and Ernst before me am stopping being an artist, why, becos
I embarked on my ‘career’ (careering?) as a committed artist 47 years ago and really I got NoWhereerehWoN. I never broke through the barrier into ‘earning, selling, being ‘shown’ or even just bought, except for tiny sales. I am not in any books, except my own. It seems clear to me that I failed. Any ‘success’ in any future would be by proportion to my years of ‘trying’ only piddling, not even fair to middle in! My output failed to assist my progression; it has not paved my way. I started as a poor boy with no money and after 47 years am still poor, yet my output and my certificates are abundant and so are the 20 odd solo shows I have had in Essex since the late 1970s and a big yun in Burnley in 1981.
“So I have proved it cannot be done. I spent 47 years forlorn hoping I could break the code of silence, break through the boundaries & barriers ‘the art world’ fabricates and defends but I failed to do so. So bollocks to all of those people and institutions that have ignored scorned or overlooked my work. I shall give up trying. They’ve had 47 years to ‘catch on’. So sod it. The life of an artist is not so good I can tell you that for sure because I know because I have lived it. AND now I see the light. The artist is like a cursed spirit that ‘clings on’, it’s part of being an artist. Now I understand that’s not too good. The real trick is to stop clinging, to stop trying to capture image, memory, dreams etc. the trick is to just BE. And that’s what I am going to be, me, just BE. I know I failed as an artist, infinitely more than Van Gogh or William Blake. But as an educator I know I succeeded. And as an observer I did not fail, for the observer can observe without judgement. Observation is but observation, witness, at best. And I have been witness to my lack of progress, the art world and a few other things which I elucidate in my ‘blArt’ which stands for ‘a blog about art and all that stuff’.
So I admit it. I was a failure in my attempt to make a mark in th’art world (thart wouldnie, fart woodna, tart wooargh) altho I created hundreds of images & words in all sincerity, even when I were taking the piss I were sincere. Even my jokes were sincere. Sincerity got me not very far. I don’t mind now. I learned that success isn’t everything and it only breeds more success then you get to worrying about who’s gonna target your expensive car house jewels etc so I never had to worry, about them things. Then if you get famous etc you start to worry about your reputation. Never had to worry about that neither. So I guess I got lucky never ‘making it’. I decided to stop making new images etc but I shall allow myself to manipulate reprise etc my existing bank of images & words. The dream is over like Lennon sang then lived, or rather, died. He had seen thru the illusion. As did George Harrison. I shall present all the books I worked up since 1969. I shall use many of the images I created or ‘took’ with cameras of all types including photocopiers. I still have a lot to do. Just remember to enjoy doing it; like the man walking up the mountain needs to learn to enjoy the trip up, the trip down may be faster than he anticipated.
Oh, I fergot to say- neither walt Disney nor pixar nor bart simpson nor speilberg nor lucas ever needed the ‘art world’ (I shall call it fartwerld frum now on) nor the ‘gallery’(maybe I shall call it the Ghouleree or Goolierie?), did they? Time for me final poems of this year:
I’m rolling down that river
(Starts to the tune of The River by Joni Mitchell.)
I’m looking for the answer
Tho I know I can survive
I been searching thru the questions
Hoping one day I’d arrive
Am rolling down that river
And I’m still alive
I been struggling to get thru
Now for many years and more
I don’t really know why
Because I know the score
Am rolling down that river
And I’m still alive
No matter what you do now/ give her
Offer four and they want five
I been swimming up the river
And am continuing to strive
Am rolling down that river
And I’m still alive
There’s no need to worry
No no need no more
There’s no need for any hurry
No am not knocking on the door
Am rolling down that river
And I’m still alive
Waiting at the tunnel’s end
I been pointing to the light
It’s hiding round the bend
Just watch you may catch a sight
Am rolling along that river
And I’m still alive
and anither y’n
Just cos it rhymes doesn’t mek it a poem, duz it?
Just because it rhymes
It’s not necessarily right
Even then sometimes it may be
Just don’t darken my door
With your doubts
I don’t wish to hear them
I am no longer listening
To doubts and bouts of gouts
That are glistening
(what rhymes wit words?
Dieter Rot would say turds*)
Ta ra diddli um dum doo
Boo boo to you
*(I wouldn’t, too rude)
ps I may look glum but really I am very happy, the glum look is my age, when you get to my age your face just looks glum. Glum’s a good word, I never thought of it before. No, I’m happy cos wanting to shoe in the ‘gallery’ hangs over the head of all artists like a yoke, believe me that’s no joke. Not being ‘shown’ etc seems to be a big failure. But I know my work is popular from the reactions of over 25 solo shows since 1978. I know how people react to my work. It’s just them that organise the galleries don’t, and/or they don’t care anyway, why should they. They got plenty o meat to sell. My gallery is my books. Yet I also challenge the concept of the ‘book’. Mind you so did Roth and keifer and and and, oh shurrup Pete, while you still can.
pps if you turn the image round, upside down, you’ll see an image of Apulhed, screaming.