It was not just a Book Launch, it was my 67th Birthday Celebration at Colchester Arts Centre (CAC) on Sunday altho’ my birthday is 27 Oct we had decided that Nov5 is an easier date to remember remember. As it turned out we forgot to celebrate ma birtdae, altho’ my wife did send a cake to CAC which my guests enjoyed. I was too busy clearing up the stage area so the next act could set up..
Anthony Roberts gave me the invite to Launch on seeing a copy of my The Shrewd Idiot book and he also gave me a beautifully phrased introduction yesterday which made me feel real good!
Richard Spencer did two songs beautifully to help me tell the shrewd idiot’s tale (of woe & glad tiding)
The Performance Art gig I did just grew and grew in the weeks (nay months) of prep as I got more excited on its approach. The idea which underpins my PA gigs is to bring my static 2D, 3D and BookArt forms to life, to have them walking and talking and most of all DANCING to celebrate life, theirs and mine!
CAC gave me the best facilities I have ever had access to and I am very very grateful for that. Neil Thorp (the man detailed out by Mark Senior Techie who left the country on seeing my scrip) to do the Techie work was very helpful and patient with this first timer. He accommodated my script and its being crammed with different ‘tracks’ of music (which I had edited down in Audacity to give my story a running musical accompaniment appropriate to the story line and of course with a dance beat I could move to in what one of those present has kindly called ‘dad dancing’) and different ‘slide changes’ on a powerpoint I never had intended to use but it was apparently the best way to coordinate the sound, vision and lighting schedules. Ben Howard it was who organised the provision for my gig and gave me encouraging words in the weeks before. Anyway the outcome was tremendous as I looked at the stage before the crowd was allowed in.
Although I had a poster printed on yellow paper (A3,4 & 5!) and got it distributed around Colchester, even at the Town Hall, there was something lacking in my promotion of the gig as all those who turned up already owned copies of my Beautiful Shrewd Idiot book. I did mention it (hundreds of times) in my blArt, posted a tweet about it and the lovely Daphne Sandham at Colchester Art Society put up a mention of it in her weekly newsletter to members and she retweeted my tweet. They came to see if the man in the book was for real. Well, in the book he was 18-23 years old between 1969-73, in the process of becoming an artist & teacher whilst being tamed by 3 lovely women in those years. Yes he does exist but a bit older now and not necessarily as good a dancer altho’ he did attempt to disprove that fallacious, rather libellous, definitely deleterious theory to cries of ‘dad dancing’ called in mock humour.
He also exhibited some salacious stories about his former self(s). Some of his creations ‘came to life too’ well one did, Apulhed, whose appearance was indeed the highlight, an opinion unanimously acclaimed by the audience.
Here’s some images of the author dad-dancing and not caring about the consequences (in fact some of his moves were perfec Zumba).
Here’s the Emperor Rosegon Dance Competition in full swing. The judge was a bit biased! I admit now I should have come 3rd not 1st, but whose birthday and whose gig were it any road up!
One of the best things which arose from the gig was a beautiful informed review written by Gary Malkin of the Artist’s Book Archive at Baltic, Gatesheed. I’ll ask his permission to post it next time as he gave great insight into my books, particularly The Shrewd Idiot, Christine Dixon created two beautiful handouts for the gig which I wish I had used in the advance publicity. She also came up on stage to grace the floor with her dancing skills as I reminisced about my chat up lines from the 1970s! Thank you Christine. Thanks also to Dave Doughty who acted as the Taxi Driver and the film maker. I hope to post the results of his efforts in the not too distant so you can enjoy ma gig at CAC.
I am doing a very quick blArt this week as I am hard on rehearsing and preparing for my book launching gig at Colchester Arts Centre this coming Sunday 5th November at 2pm.
Am also doing a reading of Bukowski’s Poem For Dante at Firstsite in Colchester on Friday 3rd at 7.30 when the Educaid trust will be having another of their wonderful group readings in aid of Sierra Leone. No time even for yoga classes this week.
I am trying to pull together all my recent inspirations to attract interest in my series of books concerning The Shrewd Idiot.
If you have a spare hour Sunday afternoon the main activity is from 2-3 pm.
You may like to buy one of my books at a really good price too.
Here’s a couple of images I took at today’s practice. [Don’t forget to bring your camera! You can flash away til yer heart’s content cos I got no ban on cameras. That’s not to do with vanity, it’s freedom of speech, a pic tells a 1000 words.] Oh and can some of you let me know if you are coming, then I’ll get my beautiful wife to make more birthday cakes. At present there’s no way of knowing numbers cos we said no entry fee. That means no bookings so we cannot estimate numbers. But like Sophia saw at Red Lion, I’d perform (my art) even if nobody came, but I do know some folk will be there.
Some of the Idiot’s garb.
This is just a dummy Apulhed Mask (real one is a secret to be revealed on the day)
A former self
I don’t want to give too much away but I shall be in dialogue with my former selves and my character Apulhed will make a surprise appearance. That’s as long as he can make it from whatever part of the cosmos he’s visiting now. He’s never let me down before. Looks like he’s in Japan!
Or he may be further afield. I wake about 4am and look out my window and there above the trees I have a great view of Orion’s Belt with Sirius lurking below it.
The time for my launch of my new (set of) book(s) on the theme of The Shrewd Idiot looms ever closer. Anyone who can get to the Colchester Arts Centre[It’s in the street behind The Mercury Theatre, you can park across the road at St Mary’s Car Park.] would be welcome at 2pm Sunday November 5th. entry is free I’ll be talking about my books and doing some zany Performance Art (PA) pieces which emanate from the pages of the books.
The Shrewd Idiot book isn’t entirely chronological, there’s flashbacks in it and altho I wrote it in the 70’s, I completed it in 2016 adding a final layer of comments from this man in his mid-sixties to the younger self. In this PA I have a dialogue with my younger selves too. Some of the exchanges may cause ripples of smiles because the young Idiot involves in activities the old Idiot would never admit to, would he?
Back in the early 70’s Neil Young was flagging up the issue of ‘Mother Nature on the run’ and his song After The Gold Rush depicts his dream about contact with other life forms which fits well with my work from around that time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKM5dIANXE8 so I’m featuring a rendition of his song performed by my friend Richard Spencer.
I shall talk, mime (badly), dance (not quite so badly) through the hand-made books’ content and have a Q&A session at th’end.
As is the ‘won’t’ of many a big gallery they wouldn’t allow photos so I drew them! [altho’ you’ll see I couldn’t remember Geumhyung Jeong’s name as I sat drawing illicitly on the floor of Tate Mod.
That’s the trouble wit big galleries, they’re buying into PA but they have no idea what the drift of PA is! PA is an open field in which anything goes. Please bring yer camras and click away madly at my gigs.
I also have Richard Spencer to sing a little at the beginning Bless his cotton socks.
Other artists who help my script are Lady Gaga, Van the Man, Iggy Pop and Bruno Mars.
The Shrewd Idiot book will be on sale in different forms; ‘The A3 deluxe version’, ‘The A4 Perfect Boundversion’, The Appleheadman Sees book (A5) and the ‘A3 deluxe PK 1968-73’ which is 27 picture I did tween 1968-73.
I created Apulhed (aka Appleheadman) in 1971 and he has had many many different looks in different media like comics, children’s drama (I did a big show with 14 Children playing my characters when I was the first artist of the new millennium to have an exhibition in Colchester Library), books like my Apul-One 1975.
Here’s a cover with newly done colours of the 1979 Happy Apulhed ‘comic’.
In this gig Apulhed will make a special appearance in a beautiful guise created especially for this gig and that I have never before used, I think it will cause quite a stir. Doors open 13.30 hrs, PA starts at 2pm (14.00 hrs) ends at c. 3pm. Then there’s 30 minutes in which I shall be around to sign any copies of the books you buys and answer any questions about my works.
(für Google-Übersetzung ins Deutsche siehe unten englisches SkriptJ)
First I embarked to Germany to learn more about Performance Art (PA) skill then I went to see some key practitioners in the world of books in London, my feet hardly touched the ground even tho’ my mind and body were deeply rooted to the earth during the PA workshops- 8 hours a day for 4 days.
Somnambulant Rogue AllowsAmbient Sound To Seep Thru His Very Soul.
I felt a bit of a Rogue abandoning all my responsibilities at home to embark on a 4 day workshop in a foreign country (Germany) with the wonderful duo VestAndPage
(VAndP ) but I decided to Allow myself to venture to Dusseldorf because I love what they bring to Performance Art so much, they create a beautiful Ambient backcloth in which the participants feel comfortable and adventurous, all getting drawn in, so much so they fully engage in the Somnambulant atmosphere with vigour and apparent ease.
In one exercise we were asked to write about our experience so far, then to choose a small number of words which we would consequently make ‘actions’ for. So, the challenge was to enact ‘Somnambulant’, not such an easy task but I mind-set myself to walk like a zombie in a film. VestAndPage don’t make ongoing judgements on your choice of actions, they let you ‘do what you do’ but you do it with some enthusiasm as you know the whole group will be watching when you are to take the floor solo and enact your moves. Rogue, Allow & Ambient presented me with slightly harder visualizations, but I found some moves which I shall be exhibiting during my ‘gig’ on 5th November at Colchester Arts Centre along with pieces I had planned before I went to Dusseldorf.
In Wuppertal I made a pilgrimage to see the place where Pina Bausch used to lead her dancers. I had sweet & sour feeling as I looked at the apparently abandoned building as “the company is on tour in USA. Kind regards. Ursula”. But I was able to visit book binder Roger Green who kindly showed me many of his book projects and if I ever have the wherewithal I shall go back to attend one of his workshops, altho’ I won’t go by train again as the journey takes up to 12 hours each way, even with the 3 hour wait at Stansted a flight would be less time consuming. Trying to ascertain the train connection times for my homeward journey proved nigh impossible at the information desks in Dusseldorf and before that even with the Eurostar phoneline ‘help’ people. In the end it was Patrick at Hostelworld who said in his matter of fact way, “What’s the problem? Just get on a train (to Koln) then onto the next one to Bruxelles”, which is exactly what I did and I had 4 lovely sunny hours in Bruxelles where highlights were the Tintin shop and Montana, a graffiti shop where I saw – Mater Museum: by Vincent Glowinski (Author), Agnès Debizet (Author) and Joe Sorrenby Gingko Press. I sat in the sunny square eating a scone bought in Koln, drinking a coffee I bought with my last 2€ coin and listened to a woman playing beautiful oboe.
I would stay again at the Hostelworld as their place was comfortable and breakfast was good. I must remember however to ensure that I stamp my ticket BEFORE boarding the train, I forgot on the journey back from Wuppertal to Dusseldorf (altho’ I was tired and a bit cold) and as sod’s law would have it that was the only time the guards boarded my train in 12 local journeys! There’s a 60€ fine if they decide to apply it but they can make allowances for dim foreigners (Brit-victims of the Brexit fiasco) who cannot read the instructions on every ticket!
I learned so much from my meeting with book artist Sam Winston, we are partners in crime with words! We both undermine the canon. We each play wit werds in our individual ways. It’s so re-invigourating to see a kindred-spirit’s ‘play’ with the written hand-scribed word (often in pencil). He suggested maybe I do more with existing (manu-scrips) and less with future texts; whereas I had (gladly) signed off from all the versions I wrote in the 70’s of The Shrewd Idiot (SI buk) he hinted maybe not, maybe do more buks from those scrips. And as for my future tomes, lessen the content, be selective so they’re more discreet, which would be a lovli idea, especially for the viewer.
Sam does in fact do a lot of ‘Performance Art’ and he is well aware of that but does not utilise is in the remit of his output, it is merely a means to an end. For me Performance Art (PA) has become an integral part of my remit along with and inside of my books. Doing PA in fact makes it harder as I have to learn how to do it better but that’s not really a problem cos PA opens up the side of me which loves to flaunt around, the dancer in me, the exhibitionist, the dare in me, the chance-taker, adventurer but it also helps put my books’ contents out there by inviting folk to look at the books and also see some of my physical interpretations on what I think is important in them.
It’s great to have my A4 version of The Shrewd Idiot on sale at the wonder-full bookartbookshop @Bookartbookshop à Londres! Am set to do a gig thur on Jan 26th 2018. Tanya has suggested it be a celebration on the centenary of my father’s birth, which is a wonderful idea and I shall prepare a PA to remember him with, incorporating mentions I made about him in The SI buk.
For google Translation into German below:
Übersetzung ins Deutsche:
Was für eine anstrengende Woche hatte ich!
14-21 Sept. 2017
Zuerst habe ich nach Deutschland begonnen, um mehr über Performance Art (PA) Geschick zu erfahren, dann ging ich zu einigen Schlüsselpraktikern in der Welt der Bücher in London zu sehen, meine Füße berührten kaum den Boden, auch wenn mein Geist und Körper tief auf die Erde verwurzelt waren während der PA-Workshops – 8 Stunden am Tag für 4 Tage.
Somnambulant Rogue Erlaubt Ambient Sound, um seine Seele zu sehen.
Ich fühlte mich ein bisschen ein Rogue, der alle meine Aufgaben zu Hause aufgab, um einen 4-tägigen Workshop in einem fremden Land (Deutschland) mit dem wundervollen Duo VestAndPage zu beginnen, aber ich habe mich Erlaubt, nach Düsseldorf zu gehen, weil ich liebe was sie zur Performance Art bringen, so schaffen sie einen wunderschönen Ambient-Backcloth, in dem sich die Teilnehmer wohlfühlen und abenteuerlich fühlen, alle werden eingezogen, so dass sie sich in der somnambulanten Atmosphäre mit kräftiger und scheinbarer Leichtigkeit engagieren.
In einer Übung wurden wir gebeten, über unsere bisherigen Erfahrungen zu schreiben, dann wählen wir eine kleine Anzahl von Wörtern, die wir folglich “Aktionen” machen würden. Also, die Herausforderung war, “Somnambulant” zu verabschieden, nicht so eine leichte Aufgabe, aber ich habe mich in die Lage versetzt, wie ein Zombie in einem Film zu gehen. VestAndPage machen keine laufenden Urteile über Ihre Wahl der Handlungen, sie lassen Sie ‘tun, was Sie tun’, aber Sie tun es mit einiger Begeisterung, wie Sie wissen, die ganze Gruppe wird beobachten, wenn Sie das Wort Solo nehmen und Ihre Bewegungen zu tun . Rogue, Allow (Erlaubt ?) & Ambient präsentierte mir etwas härtere Visualisierungen, aber ich fand einige Züge, die ich während meines “Gigs” am 5. November im COLCHESTER ARTS CENTER ausstellen würde, zusammen mit Stücken, die ich geplant hatte, bevor ich nach Düsseldorf gehe.
In Wuppertal machte ich eine Pilgerfahrt, um dort zu sehen, wo Pina Bausch ihre Tänzer führte. Ich hatte süßes und saures Gefühl, als ich das scheinbar aufgegebene Gebäude ansah, als “das Unternehmen auf Tournee in den USA ist. Mit freundlichen Grüßen. Ursula “. Aber ich konnte die Buchbinder Roger Green besuchen, die mir freundlich viele seiner Buchprojekte gezeigt hat und wenn ich jemals das Wohlergehen habe, werde ich zurückkehren, um an einem seiner Workshops teilzunehmen, auch wenn ich nicht mehr mit dem Zug fahren werde dauert bis zu 12 Stunden pro Strecke, auch mit der 3-stündigen Wartezeit bei Stansted wäre ein Flug weniger zeitaufwendig. Der Versuch, die Zugverbindungszeiten für meine Heimreise zu ermitteln, erwies sich an den Informationstafeln in Düsseldorf und davor sogar bei der Eurostar-Phoneline “Hilfe”. Am Ende war es Patrick bei Hostelworld, der in seiner Sache eigentlich sagte: “Was ist das Problem? Fahren Sie einfach in den Zug (nach Koln) und dann auf den nächsten zu Bruxelles “, was genau das war, was ich tat und ich hatte 4 schöne sonnige Stunden in Bruxelles, wo Highlights waren die Tintin Shop und Montana, ein Graffiti-Shop, wo ich sah – Mater Museum: von Vincent Glowinski (Autor), Agnès Debizet (Autor) und Joe Sorren von Gingko Press. Ich saß auf dem sonnigen Platz und aß einen in Koln gekauften Scone, trink einen Kaffee, den ich mit meiner letzten 2€ Münze gekauft hatte und hörte eine Frau, die schöne Oboe spielte.
Ich würde wieder in der Hostelworld als ihr Platz war komfortabel und das Frühstück war gut. Ich muss mich aber daran erinnern, dass ich mein Ticket vor dem Einsteigen in den Zug stempeln kann, ich habe auf der Rückfahrt von Wuppertal nach Düsseldorf vergessen (altho ‘war ich müde und ein bisschen kalt) und wie das Gesetz des Gesetzes das hätte Wächter bestiegen meinen Zug in 12 Lokalreisen! Es gibt eine 60 € Geldbuße, wenn sie sich dafür entscheiden, sie anzuwenden, aber sie können für Ausländer (Brit-Opfer des Brexit-Fiaskos), die die Anweisungen auf jedem Ticket nicht lesen können,
Ich habe so viel von meinem Treffen mit Buchkünstler Sam Winston gelernt, wir sind Partner in Verbrechen mit Worten! Wir beide untergraben den Kanon. Wir alle spielen wit werds in unseren individuellen Weisen. Es ist so re-invigourating zu sehen, ein Verwandter-Geist ‘Spiel’ mit dem geschriebenen Hand-geschriebenen Wort (oft in Bleistift). Er schlug vor, vielleicht mache ich mehr mit vorhandenen (manu-scrips) und weniger mit zukünftigen Texten; in der Erwägung, dass ich von allen Versionen, die ich in den 70er Jahren von The Shrewd Idiot (SI buk) schrieb, abgesehen hatte, hat er vielleicht nicht angemerkt, vielleicht noch mehr buks aus diesen Scripts. Und wie für meine zukünftigen tomes, vermindern die Inhalte, selektiv, so dass sie mehr diskret, was wäre eine lovli Idee, vor allem für den Betrachter.
Sam macht in der Tat eine Menge ‘Performance Art’ und er ist sich dessen bewusst, aber nicht nutzen ist in der Aufgabe seiner Ausgabe, es ist nur ein Mittel zum Zweck. Für mich ist Performance Art (PA) zu einem integralen Bestandteil meiner Aufgabe zusammen mit und innerhalb meiner Bücher geworden. Das macht PA in der Tat macht es härter, wie ich lernen muss, wie es besser geht, aber das ist nicht wirklich ein Problem cos PA öffnet sich die Seite von mir, die liebt zu flaunt herum, die Tänzerin in mir, der Exhibitionist, die Wagen in mir, der Chance-Taker, der Abenteurer, aber es hilft auch, den Inhalt meiner Bücher da draußen einzuladen, indem er die Leute einlädt, die Bücher zu betrachten und auch einige meiner physikalischen Interpretationen zu sehen, was ich in ihnen wichtig finde.
Es ist toll, meine A4-Version von The Shrewd Idiot auf den Verkauf an der Wunder-full bookartbookshop @Bookartbookshop à Londres! Am 26. Januar 2018 soll ich einen Gig thur machen. Tanya hat vorgeschlagen, dass es eine Feier zum Hundertjahrfeier der Geburt meines Vaters ist, was eine wunderbare Idee ist, und ich werde eine PA vorbereiten, um mich daran zu erinnern, indem ich die Erwähnungen einbeziehe, die ich über ihn gemacht habe Die SI buk.
There was a full moon tonight and I awoke at 2am to take some photos of our nearest neighbour, some may tink am a bit nutty?
You’re not going to believe this but I am already preparing for my Book Launch at Colchester Arts Centre (CAC) scheduled for November 5th 2017. Apart from my books and artworks being there I shall do some Performance Art (PA). I know the things I’d like to do and with the ambience and assistance at CAC I am certain that it’ll be the best venue so far where I’ve done my PA stuff. I shall use this Bruno Mars Talking To The Moon piece https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9pXeziqdLc in my The Three Graces (see below).
However. Whatever I plan at the moment may change dramatically as I am about to go to Germany to spend time with my PA heroes Vest & Page (aka Verena & Andrea). This is a link to a trailer of their 2016 film, ‘Plantain’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS80Ki-T9bI Their workshop is phenomenal like their work and I shall leave it a different Performance Artist to the one I am now. Hopefully a better one, of that I have little doubt. The last time I did PA in the company of V&P I poured wine over my head, I had pancake dough plopped on it too, leaves and grass all over my body and the gathered onlookers were laughing at my antics which, I must warn you, only encourages me to do more!
For those of you who need to know more about what PA is I can say that it is whatever the PA artist decides it is (Jurgen Fritz said in 2015, “Pete does what Pete does and that is what it is.”). PA can be very short, just a few minutes or very long, several days non-stop which is called ‘durational’ [or endurance, for the person doing PA and the potential audience]. You won’t have to ‘endure’ mine as am only planning on 3 pieces each about 15 minutes long.
I have also prepared the definitive Mask of Apulhed(man) and have been doing ‘research at Tate Modern where I saw the South Korean Geumhyung Jeong make her masks come to life. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zm37m8/geumhyung-jeong-at-tate-modern-tanks-seven-different-ways Also went to see avant garde Flamenco dancer Rocio Molina at Barbican cos I want to put about 60 seconds of ‘flamenco’ into ma gig. This week I went to see Michael Clark Company do his tribute to David Bowie at Barbican. As there’s quite a bit of (purported) dance in ma gig am hoping their moves influence my body in a positive way. It was a good night of dance, a bit short at 90 minutes including a 20 mins interval but it was good to see how good Clark dances.
The link below will show you some very differing PA pieces with a go at describing the form that is PA in the first para. :
There are ‘purists’ who tend to prefer not to use music, dance, or spoken word and like to do intense, mysterious-meaningful actions which may be about political or ethical issues. I am not a purist. I like to use music, dance, spoken word and changes of garb. I like to tell stories through movement & masks in my PA, stories about myself and the state of the world as I find it now and how it was when I moved through the years I have lived. Not a lot has changed over the years, the rich get richer and the rest of us just have to muddle on doing the best we can. I need faith hope & love to carry on pushing creative outcomes which make people think and maybe even entertain for as long as I am able, I am just so fortunate to be able. Ability takes years to accumulate and it can disappear in the blink of an eye so I make as much use of my time as I can.
This is a cover I designed but did not use for the book.
So, at the moment the stories I shall focus on will be taken from the book I have just published called The Shrewd Idiot. I knew the idiot well and I feel for his inability to get things right in his life. At the time portrayed in the book (1969-73) he didn’t know his ass from his twits. He was in fact a very lucky man with many friends and some were very close to him yet he often went out searching for more. One thing I know now, after all these, was that he rarely felt or showed any sense of being ‘worthy’. He didn’t comport himself with the pride and feeling of value that many of his achievements warranted. Once he had achieved some good accomplishment he never rested on his laurels, he moved immediately on, to the next challenge.
When it came to his relationships with women, like many men, the one he was with was rarely the one he wanted to stay with and he was always looking for a better model. The idiot never understood that ‘a bird on the handle is worth two in the brush’ or summat like that. So, in almost all he did, and he did a lot, he was never satisfied. And one reason he couldn’t get his head together and think straight was cos he spent a lot of his evenings under the influence of alcoholic beverage. “Pissed all th’time”, some were heard to say when asked about his state of mind. In the Colchester Arts Centre PA at 2pm on 5Nov 2017 My 67 year old self will have some dialogue with my ‘Self’ from the early 1970’s, that’s if he remembers to turn up, sobre.
His drinking sprees will not be the subject of the PA, but his relations with women are in a piece called The Three Graces (about the 3 women he actually liked to be with…most of the time). Between 1969 and 1973 the idiot had relations of quite intense quality with 3 young women (these didn’t overlap…much) but lost all 3 because of his inability to show commitment. Actually he could commit. He committed to being Social Secretary at college, to playing football for the 3rd eleven at college and to ‘making art’ but that didn’t help his relationships in fact it very much undermined them. So The Three Graces is about the idiot’s feelings of loss after they had all wandered away from him.
Sounds really sad dunnit? But no, it was not only sad, it was uplifting, the idiot had to look at what he did and change for the better, which he did but it took decades and the help of a good woman to bring him through to a better place. Her identity is not evident in The Three Graces PA, but she was there for him as he managed to settle down, have a family and eventually stop savouring the evil brew.
The idiot eventually did be shrewd and now he has published some memoirs. And the whole idea of the book launch is to encourage folks to purchase them in the form of a beautifully composed book. There’s two or three to choose from at varying prices, but you’ll get to see them on November 5th.
I valiantly attempt to meditate, am still trying after all these years but am not very good at it, yet. I was intrigued when I read this in Brain Pickings: ‘Oftentimes during meditation, I am visited by flash-memories dislodged from some dusty recess of my unconscious — vignettes and glimpses of people, places, and events from long ago and far away, belonging to what feels like another lifetime.’ Maria Popova.
I have experienced exactly that, I remembered my own first visit to the Lake District during a deep restorative yoga relaxation session with Catrina. I saw that as strange but very understandable. In some ways the significance of that one memory was that the trip was with my junior school at the end of my time there and it was the first time I had been anywhere away from and without my mum and dad (Jack & Jenny K.).
The Society of Bookbinders (SoB) Conference 2017
I audaciously sent my bound version of Inside This Earthen Vessel with David Jury’s beautiful letterpress renditions of my six poems into the (SoB) Competition & it was included in the (SoB) Exhibition (organised and set up by Marie Doinne and Mylyn McColl) where it was in good company. It happened to be the biggest height & width-wise in the show. There were however many exceptional entries and I particularly liked the two books entered by Rahel Scheufele (Switzerland) who won the Second Prize & Third Prize in ‘Fine Binding’.
Sumi Perera’s ‘soundwave scroll & boxset’ called 28 or not 28 was for me one of the best in show as she not only bound her cd in a box but also created a very beautiful round box for her scroll.
Also I loved the cover, which was all I could see in the display cabinet- and I would have loved to have seen inside of Daniel Wray’s Koi Karp & Chips.
In fact the method of display disallowed showing insides of books which for me is a shame as the insides must make up 50-90% of the book. In my case I made the bind to house the prints! And the prints are high quality letterpress the words being very meaningful too.
The Catalogue has excellent design and layout by Mel Jefferson who also won the People’s choice award.
I was lucky to be able to attend several talks about different aspects of Bookbinding where I was astounded by how little I know:
Kathy Abbott –A ‘Tomorrow’s Past’ Modern Conservation Binding in Limp Vellum www.kathyabbott.biz I learned so much watching Kathy’s talk in which she informed me that EVA is the best adhesive to use as it conserves better. Very instructive about making a ‘pricking temple’ and how to score creases from the mid-page out to top/bottom.
Roger Green – Making a Drop-Back Boxwww.buchbinderei-green.de I recently made my first book-box which had a ‘lip’ around the box, Roger’s had no lip and it was much stronger.
Renate Mesmer – Medieval girdle bindings. Renate’s incredible intro to making girdle books was quite stunning, concomitant with someone who works at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.
Consuela (Chela) Metzger –the ledger book. Chela showed me the making of a cover in parchment with all sorts of tacketing.
John Mumford – Islamic bindings John gave a fascinating talk on how books were made after Constantine became Roman Emperor and felt the need to have ‘50 new churches decked out in shimmering gold and jewels which also adorned the parchment bibles that had to have heavy wooden boards on to keep the parchment flat.
Christopher Harvey- Old Manuscripts, Working Books, Changing Structures – Aspects of Book Conservation at the College of Arms, London www.college-of-arms.gov.uk Chris spoke well of the collection housed near St Paul’s in London where he tackles, ‘support & structural issues of the paper book-blocks’.
Peter Bower Adventures with Books: Investigations into Book History using Paper Analysis. Peter’s talk about his detective work in paper analysis was fascinating.
Paul Johnson – Pop Up Books In a way I saved the most intriguing til last. Paul showed us how he goes about making his incredibly complex one-off ‘pop-up’ books.
I was lucky to sit next to Monique Lallier during the formal meal in the Ballroom at Keele Uni as she proved to have a good sense of humour, as did her husband Don Etherington who told me he was an amateur binder and me being ignorant believed him, the joke was on me Don. It turns out that Monique does the most beautiful bookbinding and if I work hard for the next 50 years I may catch up with her. We also found that we read the same books, Book of Joy by Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu and Red Notice by Bill Browder, what a strange coincidence. Next I must read her book on binding which she did with her husband!
After attending the above talks and demos in just 2 days I was knackered but much better informed about some of the skills which are out there. So, I am sticking my girdle book under my belt and, like Bunyan’s hero Christian, I’m setting off on a long road down Bookbinder’s Way. First stop may be Wuppertal in Germany (Pina Bausch’s dance place) where Roger Green has his bindery. He lives about 30 minutes train journey from Dusseldorf where I hope to be later this year to benefit from Vest & Page’s workshops in Performance Art (PA). Verena & Andrea (who are V & P) are two of the very best PA practitioners and I am hoping that just being there and getting guidance from them will help me move forward in the arts of Performance Art!
Am gonna need as much help as I can get as am doing some of my own pieces at Colchester Art Centre on Nov 5th as part of a launch for my Shrewd Idiot books.
Talking of Colchester Art Centre I must congratulate Ant & the team for setting up a great show of photos taken by people who live out on the streets in Colchester. It opened on Friday night in the Old Bus Depot which is a big old dusty near derelict site but I love old bus & lorry depots, something about my youth when we used to go frequent them when it rained and we couldn’t keep playing football in the backstreets until the rain abated. So, shelter for me as a kid, and now shelter for the artworks made by people who could benefit from better shelter in today’s world.
When I saw the first day of Harrell’s ‘Hoochie-Coochie’ season at the Barbican I loved him & his troupe of dancers and his choreography. I wanted very much like to take some photos during the dances but of course Barbican has a blanket ban on anyone doing that! I like the way Harrell crosses the boundaries with his art. So I drew them! You cannot keep a determined man down.
Caen Amour is the longest piece at 1 hour 10 mins and his latest creation, it involves 4 dancers (3 male 1 female; Thibault Lac, Alex Roccoli, Trajal Harrell & Perle Palombe) and the audience. In my sketch the head on left shows how incredibly creative the troupe are with simple props, you have to see them to understand, in this sketch he is wearing a ‘tie’ wrapped round his head and dropping down his face. The central figure is totally covered in long garments and seems to have them pulled together at the mouth by hands. The woman uses a dress to cover her arms and head down to her bum, her nose makes the little black mark to left of the word ‘sheer/sheen’ and her nipples make the two ‘eyes’. Of course my rapid sketches do no service to the beauty of the dancers movements and costumes which are festooned with colour and glittery surfaces.
The dance owes much to a range of influences from Japanese ‘butoh’ to Folies Bergère, from Martha Graham to hoochi coochie dancers. All four main dancers have a trademark Trajal style of movement which comes in from his earlier ‘minimalist’ work and they use gyration and arabesque which crosses genders. “We perform as the all-female shows, though we are mixed genders.” They hold their hands above their heads and make hundreds of moves with their fingers, wrists elbows waists genitals knees feet and bum-see-saw daisys. It’s hard to describe. They are all strong, dedicated, muscular lithe they tease with their ‘c’mon in baby’ looks like strippers would if I ever saw any, not that I have, well not that many Mrs Moneypenny. The music is mesmeric and appropriate; it set the pace and the scene. Three dancers, do most of the show then Trajal enters from through the pillow-seated audience and stamps his style on it. The audience becomes part of the show/choreography when the follow the invite to go round behind the set and watch the dancers disrobe and re-attire for their next entrance and they move on and off the stage with rapid frequency. If you click on the link you’ll see 3mins of Caen Amour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h6LURgMoWg
In The Mood For Frankie
Although only 3 male dancers took part in In the Mood For Frankie it turned out as fascinating as Caen Amour. It’s hard to detail the dance, it’s best to go watch it. The dancers moved across the set in twos with the third player sometimes criss-crossing the others. I found it peculiar that when one of them decided to replenish water in a conduit he used a plastic bottle rather than the brass jug which one dancer was dancing with altho’ taking in the ‘minimal’ and ‘realness’ using ‘everyday objects’ rather than things for show. Trajal talks of…”rejection of spectacle, virtuosity and make-believe…, his work ‘uses constructions of gender, artificiality and social roles to critique authenticity…realness operates precisely by blurring the line between perceptions and constructions of the fake and the real.’
Here I have Trajal watching over La Argentina as she danced.
The clothes he wears in his The return of La Argentina are fluted like her dress altho’ he only dons pieces of fabric, one colour on one leg, another on the other, one colour on one arm another on the other. He does dance with a flamenco dress(?) as he enters. He sits on a piano stool and does a ritual with some spoon and bowls. He scrapes the spoon around the Japanese dish which as its made of clay with a heavy grog sounds a bit like chalk scratching a blackboard but music all the same. As he departs he wears two rectangles of fabric folded into square in which he places his hands and motions toward the crowd which sits & stands watching. Is he waving? Maybe. He’s gesturing some sort of call, some of us wave, he smiles and backs away thru the gap between the audience and he smiles and shoots off up the stairs, the dance is done.