As I approach my next, much anticipated, books fair ( clik the link- https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ui=2&ik=cfd5b16764&view=att&th=1629b285999316e9&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw ) I rediscovered this old blArt and I thought my oh my did I write that? It is a very good intro/explainor of my modus operandi in some of my werkx. It kind of contextualises some of watti do, gives some history to the way I became the rebel riter wat i becaymed.
My Shrewd Idiotbook(s) give more intro to my writins and tinkins but in them it’s by osmosis, you get the picture by looking at my art and reedin ma ritin…gerrit? So, am reblArtin ma blog. Here’s lookin forard t’Baltic buk SPAM
The best think that ever happened to me was being top boy in the class in the final term of my year 6 (junior school) in 1961. Two girls beat me; Ann Whittaker and Susan I can’t recall her name but her dad was a headmaster… Mr Brown I tink. There were 45 in our class, a big class in about the biggest primary school in the town. So, when it came to moving ‘up’ to the all boys gwamma school you’d think I’d be placed amongst the top pupils? But No. I wer placed in the bottom intake class, 1C, with that dunce Bilkinton, who was always bottom boy, usually above the bottom two girls. The rebel was created. I knew summat wer rong and it wernt ma spellin! I never found the reason or cause for my being mis-placed. It may just have been something to…
After a busy weekend at Society of Bookbinders (SoB) in Kentish Town & Substance (SuB) (PABE Aspex Gallery Portsmouth Harbour) book fairs I was exhausted on getting back home Sunday nicht and much of Monday. As I wasn’t up to doing much (except sawing wood for my multi fuel Stanley cooker), a mindless activity, so I can chill, literally my fingers were like icicles despite gloves & scarf and all. During my wind-down time it occurred to me that the one thing I like more than making books (inc. writing and imaging and designing and getting print off and collating and binding variously) and doing Performance Art (PA) is the crack (as the lucky Irish 6 Nations Champs would say); the chat, the meeting and engaging in conversation about mutual interests with people.
So folk come up to my display of recent books at my table and peruse and maybe ask questions or make comments and I may answer then there’s the repartee + badinage. And I realised ‘that’s the thing which is most important, it’s making contact, touching the minds & consciousness’. Moments to remember. There were plenty of them at both events.
Particularly during & after my PA bits. People may comment and react to my books but it’s amazing looking from the ‘stage’ into the the audience’ faces and to see both their attention and silence at certain points. Neither audience knew what to expect although my handout (beautifully printed at r j printers in Maldon) did go some way to explain what I was about to do, then did. In both venues the audiences were very patient and forgiving and 4 folk said they really enjoyed it at SuB.
I love the image which The Ladies Of The Press took of Young Shrewd Idiot seated. It shows the attention given by the audience and the hanging Japanese kimono which features a bit later on. They also took a short vid of him ‘dancing’ with The Red Dress which I shall try to post soon (the tech is beyond me, I’ll get my mate Dave to elp me). It’s lovely because the dress was falling from the coat hanger (not part of the plan) and I tenderly readjust it back onto the coat hanger. Much more tenderly than am renowned for!
One woman (Renée O’Drobinak of The Ladies of the Press) who is obviously big into theatre came up after and said it had an Ancient quality, ‘like Greek’. I think she meant the overall drama but also the humour & pathos together in one piece.
The reaction was even stronger at SoB where several (fellow book people) said it (my celebration of my dad’s life using the words of Annie Lennox) was very touching. Here’s a short vid taken on Saturday which you can watch on Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/p/BgeD8TMjM2L/?taken-by=palaverdesigns ) . Some even remembered when I did ‘The History of Printing’ in a 20 minute PA two years ago.
I haven’t got any images from either PA gig as it stands becos, obviously, I were doing my ting and cannot be taking snaps. I saw some folks taking them so if any kind soul out thur can send me one I’ll add them to my blArt as they come. Thanks to whoever took the image above! Thanks Dave Kirby for sending it. “The Young Shrewd Idiot sits down with the Red Dress on his lap at Substance gig” is my title for it. The Young Shrewd Idiot is (of course silly old me wearing a mask which is taken from an oil painting that I painted from the mirror when I was at college. The painting is in The Shrewd Idiot (A4 at least) book. I wear 3 simple card masks of my 1968-72 faces watti dun. The 4th mask is a pair of very special ‘shades’ which I don when am doing the Iggy Pop number Shades. The fifth and best mask is my 3D Apulhed mask, the best I ever made thus far, thanks to you Verena giving me the recipe. Am hoping one day to make the 3 self portraits 3D too, altho not totally necessary I’d like to achieve that.
Special thanks to Dave Kirby at SuB & those responsible at SoB for inviting me to take part. I enjoyed both experiences, especially as I did not get caught up in the bad snow what fell on the South West (Southwester than Portsmouth!)
I shall have a table at the next Society of Bookbinders fair in Kentish Town on Saturday 6th April 2019. I will do a 15 minute set wearing the beautiful Apulhed Mask.
Those of you who follow ma blArt will know that on 26 Jan 2018 at bookartbookshop we added a commemoration of my dad’s centenary birthdate, he would have been 100 this year on that date. It was Tanya who kindly suggested that I do something about him that day. As he was born in Welsh Wales I had to sing a bit of Tom Jones because my dad was in the Burnley Welsh Voice Choir awhile. My dad was not a wimpero like what I is, he were a big strong bloke and a steeplejack, they called him Big Taff at the working men’s club he went to for many years. So I had to sing (well I call it singing, many wouldn’t!) it in a deep Welsh voice, which was ‘ard for a wimp-ero with a normally squeaky voix. I also read some of Annie Lennox’s words pertinent to his final days, again in a deep(ish) Welsh voice (kind of).
I won’t be doing the reading as the spot am doing is just 20 minutes but Annie & Apulhed will join me to remember him in a beautiful little song & dance. It is a very spiritual moment as Apulhed takes us through her song The Gift (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjMBPR5H9x4 ). The song is so pertinent to my dad for a number of reasons. In the movement Apulhed mimes the words, so many of which could apply to Taffy. He worked most of his life out in the rain, it always rains in Burnley dunnit? He carried baggage from his younger days of making mistakes and in the song he hands over a ‘gilded cage’ and an ‘overcoat of guilt’, which “never did belong to him”, well some of them did but you need to ‘let go’. There’s a ‘perfect gift’ he gets from me and Camellia, those who come see the gig will maybe work out what it was. He falls from his chair and has to take a serious look at himself and he finally tumbles from his tree. For a moment he lays in the throes of death until he re-awakens to the sound of rain and he cannot resist rising up and going out in the rain again, just like he said he always would! He goes down to the water’s edge to cast away all doubts and let go. I can see him now up there with his friends supping a pint and singing songs in that lovely Welsh timbre. God Bless you dad.
It fits beautifully into the rest of my gig which is all about The Shrewd Idiot’s antics, mostly from the book of the same name which’ll be on show in two versions (A4 + A3) at my table where you’ll find me willing to answer any questions about my work unless I am wandering round with ma ApulhedMask on. Yes am afraid it’s a mask, the real Apulhed is off round the Cosmos except when he zooms into my costume to transform me during his dance! [Apulhed can travel thru time in the blink of a eye, no distance is too great, no barrier can prevent him]
There’ll be several ‘costume’ changes which I hope to do seamlessly ‘on stage’. The most obvious one is when I become Apulhed-Man, I don’t have a telephone box to change in like what SuperMan did and I need to do it with a degree of speed. I’ll be using Acker Bilk’s Stranger On the Shore during that shift and there’s a story to why that music. When I were a lad we couldn’t afford a record player. Acker Bilk sat at No.1 and we were in Morpeth during Burnley Fair Summer Hols and me and dad loved the music, so buying it was an act of rebellion. We couldn’t listen to it at home, we could hold the single vinyl and hum it tho’. That music is very dear to me.
By the way, please feel free to take photos. I am totally disenchanted with those places which ban photography and galleries which forbid you to touch the sculpture. Feel free to flash away but don’t ya toucha ma tutu!
Can a Idiot ever be Shrewd? I believe he can. Of course I’m biased as I was that Idiot if ever there was one.
One publisher’s (Oliver Caldecott) Reader, who read an early chapter of the book in the late 70’s, said that, “Kennedy could not have written this if he had not [become wiser with age]”, or words to that effect. He also likened it to the effect Catcher In The Rye had on the 50’s University generation but as I was the Idiot I was always late and it took until 2017 before a young student woman in Amsterdam likened the book to Salinger. Well, at last. Someone else, back in 1975, a PhD student called Alun Butler whose study was on Rilke, the year I self-published (warran Idjet] Apul-One, the prequel (or follow up as the text postdates that of A1) to The Shrewd Idiot (Apul-Two), likened it to Robert Walser. In some respects these folk were seeing the Shrewd side of the Idiet. In fact his alter ego Apulhed is Shrewd, he’s the Wise One.
The idiotic side of the Shrewd Idiot used to (and still do sometimes) spell wrongly (aka Altered Spelling) or delibritli uses wrong sentince struckture and all sorts of other means of putting the reader off.
Back to my original question, ‘Can a Idiot ever be Shrewd?’ Caldecott’s Reader hit the nail on the head because the idyet left his job knowing it was the right thing to do, to write the book. It only took 40 years to get it out but out it is now! And it never was meant to be such a feature of my bookart & Performance Art and blArts (I call my blog my blArt cos it’s me ‘blatherin on’ like a BlaggArt…ist , that’s it- I’m not a Drag Artist I am a Blag Artis Bloke!
Each part of the The Shrewd Idiot Performance Art gig relates a section from the book of the same name.
Image 1. Shows the idiot aged about 20 dancing & reminiscing his old love, Rose of Exeter who is one of what have become known as the Idiot’s ‘3 Graces’, three women he knew and lost in the book. He is holding a red dress with which he dances. That is not only a going back in time thing it’s also a reference to Trajal Harrell’s dancing which the old Idiot saw last year performing his Hoochie Coochie set at the Barbican in London. In the first song the old Idiot dances to Mick Jagger makes veiled reference to Hoochie Coochie dancing when he mentions “…your mama was a tent show queen…” in Brown Sugar.
Image 2. Aged about 67 the old Idiot dances like a king for Camellia to Iggy Pop’s song ‘Shades’.
Image 3. Apulhed, the idiot’s alter ego appears for real and does his cosmic dance once he overcomes his fear of the humans in the audience.
Image 4. Shows the Idiot at about 18 years old dancing for Bluebell, the first Grace (aka Gertrude) from his late teenage times. If you get to Substance you’ll have the opportunity to see all these parts of the Idiot’s persona in a 20 minute piece.
AND you’ll have the chance to view the A4 & A3 Shrewd Idiot Books at Pete’s table alongside his other books.
IF you go to the Society of Bookbinder’s book event in London on the 17th March you may get a chance to see the Idiot strutting his stuff with Iggy, warming up for Substance.
I been so busy so far this year so this is my first blArt of 2018, so there or should I say ‘So Here & Now’ (It’s the only place to Be).
In the Düsseldorf 2017 review (below) I mention that I had a Book Launch scheduled for 26Jan2018 at Bookartbookshop in London which was last Friday and thanks to the wonderful select group of folk Tanya called in it went really well. Thank you all for coming and for the love & attention. All the photos of the gig are taken by Tanya Peixoto and I am forever grateful, to her. I have made some slight alterations to some, which I hope she doesn’t mind.
I had been honing the Performance Art lifted from the story in my book The Shrewd Idiot ever since my gig at CAC. At Tanya’s suggestion we also celebrated the centenary birthdate of my dad Patrick J. Kennedy (Taffy).
Above photo by Maxine Wynne
Photo by Tanya Peixoto
So to the ‘Red Dress Dance’ & ‘Shades Song’ (After Iggy) commemorating some (3) beautiful girls I knew in the days I was at college
and an Apulhed Appearance (Photo by Tanya Peixoto)
I added a reading of all the mentions I made of my dad ‘Taffy’ in The Shrewd Idiot. To top it off I read some words appropriated from Annie Lennox cd Diva which had a special place in my memory of the final day of my dad’s life. He lived from 1918-1992. He had a ‘colourful’ life interrupted by WW2 when he joined the Air Sea Rescue section of the RAF. He was a Steeplejack* and a very successful amateur football coach & he instructed many in the Burnley area in what was called back then ‘physical culture’ (doing weights) and he introduced me to Mr Universe Earl Maynard at a show in Manchester around 1965 where he told me to show Earl my six pack which as a 14 year old was highly developed. Earl said, “Keep it up!” and, being a teenager, I immediately dropped the weight training. Look at me now!
I COULD HAVE BEEN SOMEONE…Instead of a bum (Thanks Marlon).
So, instead of Mr Universe I became Master Puny of Verse! Goodnite.
[*DON’T mention Dinber my dad thought Dinber was a clown because of the careless dangerous lacks of precaution he allowed, according to Taff]
I never did a summary of my 2017 so here are the highlites of my 2017 year:
I mentioned Jo Bannon in a blArt last year but could not post any images then but she contacted me after her National Tour and said yes I can use some.
She had various leads which led from her table to electricity sources as she boiled a kettle and poured hot water into a stainless steel bowl with some cooler water in then washed her silken white locks then [for me the best moments of the gig] she used a powerful hair dryer to blow her hair away (almost).
Every week I see famous folk sit on programmes at the Beeb and talk about their latest book. I turn to my wife and assure her its ok they’ll be doing a special feature about my book(s) tomorrow. But as you know tomorrow never comes. I decided to do something about it instead of moaning all the time. I shall write to a book programme at Beeb I thought. So I prepared this letter:
To “Open Book, BBC Radio 4, Broadcasting House, London W1A 1AA
I am an artist/author and have recently written, illustrated, designed and published a new book, The Shrewd Idiot. I would like to have it considered for a slot on your book programme. Below are two blogs about its launch in Colchester Arts Centre. I shall be doing another (London) Launch at the Book Art Book shop near Old St station on 26 January 2018
This second one has some great photos of the gig but you’ll have to skip all my mention of a Van gig I went to see in Birmingham. I live near Colchester so can get into London easily if anyone wishes to see my book(s).
Then I went on th’Internet to get the email of someone I could send it to. Their page politely informed me that they don’t review books but I could join a writers group and write to a title then submit it to see if I could gain a commission for a play or drama etc. But that’s not what am interested in. I’ve done the writing, laid out the pages and published the book to my own high expectations and I just want a couple of minutes on The One Show or Graham Norton to talk to the viewers about my efforts and the books’ contents and the beautiful (I think) art in them. But like you, I know it’s never going to happen.
*[I know, you know, we all know my chances of getting ‘exposure’ in any institutional outlet; galleries, TV, radio, shops etc is about as possible as hens growing teeth…and I mean big teeth like a lions! But I like to embarrass them by having the temerity to arsk to be let in. In fact I have had considerable ‘success’ over the past 50 years since I began my work as a thinking adult and am not complaining.]
And The Tate too!
Each time I publish a book with an ISBN number I show it to reps of the Tate bookshop, the most recent being of course The Shrewd Idiot the guy got back to me and said, “I can see great effort has been expended but it’s a pass from me I’m afraid.” I can understand his reluctance because afterall they wouldn’t sell at Tate cos am not famous. It’s not just Tate that’s hard to get a foot in the door to. It’s most all of them, I know, I have tried for 50 years. I had to learn to do without them. I survived. I already had more than 21 solo exhibitions in my adopted homeland, Essex. In some quarters they call me Burnley Pete. But I only lived in Bly for 15 years, 1954-69 and I have lived in Essex since 1973, that’s 44 years and counting. However you can take the boy out of Lancashire but you can’t take the Burnley out of this lad. I still speak in th’dulcit tones of ma home town and am proud to have spent my formative years there where I learned a lot.
The story in The Shrewd Idiot predates the start of Rough Trade’s trading (1976) as the book’s about my days between Burnley & Exeter & Bournemouth between 1969-73. And I have it on good authority that the book takes you back to the early 1970s, like a time machine.
After my gig to launch the book at Colchester Arts Centre I had a debrief with the Honorary Doctor who runs tha place and he said I should cut it to 20 minutes and he’ll consider finding it a slot sometime. That gives me incentive to go back to my drawing board and tighten the whole thing up. I learnt a great deal doing it there and I know what not to do next time and what I’d aim to do to improve it.
Talking Colchester there’s an exhibition of work by the members of The Colchester Art Society on at the Minories and I had two prints accepted and hung. They did not hang my surreal portrait of John Atkins talking about UFOs with Ken Campbell cos it was rather big, which is a shame, cos John was one of the town’s favourite authors ever. The bloke smoking is the ghost of Dylan Thomas who John used to play darts with in London when he was editor of Tribune. Here’s the obit I helped prepare for the Guardian.
Ken appeared at Colchester Arts Centre several times and was one of the HonDoctor’s favourite ever performers. They’re both up in the clouds now talking to their hearts’ content. Bless them both, I loved them both.
Someone else we loved, Pauline, a friend for most of the years we’ve lived in Essex, (who used to teach in the Maldon area before moving to Colchester), died last week from the effects of cancer. Pauline was renowned for her dry wit and for ‘calling a pot black,’ because she pulled no punches when commenting on hypocrisy and false values… she also called her black cat Boudicca. Sadly she won’t be able to go to her second daughter’s wedding in a few weeks’ time, which she was hoping to do, but she was there to help her daughter choose the dress. Bless her too. She’ll be watching from a safe distance.
That reminds me of a lovely story about the great physicist Richard Feynman. He had married a woman who was the love of his life but she contracted a life shortening condition whilst still quite young. Feynman continued to communicate to her after she died and eventually sent her a parcel on which he put, ‘Address unknown’. Saying,
“My darling wife, I do adore you.
I love my wife. My wife is dead.
PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.”
That’s beautiful, like Feynman was too. He makes science seem possible, he enthused me to look at science AND he played bongos. On that bong I shall finish.
And as the snow takes over throughout Britain, if you find yourself hunkering down with not so much to do, why not go back to look at this blArt I did summarising my year of 2015 in which I became an OPA (Opsimath Performance Artist). https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/lookin-back/
I saw Van Morrison (No Probys No Farlowes No Photos!) again on Monday 13 Nov. in Birmingham Symphony Hall with ‘Spud’ (in the Shrewd Idiot) who taught me photography. He had never seen Van before and when he saw Van was coming to Brum he thought there’s only one man to see Van with and that’s PK, so he booked 2 tickets and invited me. Van did a great gig, he worked really hard, played sax a lot (he’s not quite got the Pee Wee Ellis touch tho’), a lovely Les Paul gold guitar and keyboard for his best number on the night Northern Muse, “She moves through the county Down”, on which he fair flew over to his keyboard to do a piano run in and seemed to be doing a number suggested by someone in the front row.
I drove back home the following day. Long way, over 300 mile round trip but worth the effort.
Sadly I didn’t find his new cd inspiring me to Roll With The Punches. It harks back to R&B numbers from the 1960s and further back which are not Van’s best licks.
On Wednesday 15th Nov I went to one of Colchester Arts Centre’s ‘pay what you can’ nights to see a wonderful piece of performance art. It entailed a story about a woman born with white hair and some of the challenges her silk like locks brought with them. She told her story with no spoken words only some recorded conversation in which her mother reiterated how others had reacted to her white haired daughter.
“I was born on the day the Pope came to Coventry, my home town. In my family this unexpected appearance was perceived as a blessing. A sublime gift”
Jo Bannon uses blinding light, proximity, movement and sound to create an extraordinary visual poem.”
She started the gig under a big sheet and it took me some time to realise it was a metaphor for the womb & birth. Every element of her gig was clean cut and crisply choreographed. I liked the way she created the Pope’s hat from a single sheet of paper + sellotape which she had secreted on her wrist. I learned a lot from watching her move through her silent script.
She had various leads which led from her table to electricity source as she boiled a kettle and poured hot water into a stainless steel bowl with some cooler water in then washed her silken locks then for me the best moments of the gig she used a powerful hair dryer to blow her hair (almost) away.
On Sunday 19Nov my friend Dave showed me his vid of my gig the previous week at Colchester Arts Centre and it was glaringly obvious that I had used too many words and too fast at that. My determination to breathe deeply and slowly throughout my gig had blown away with my first breath after which I don’t think I took another inward breath until the final curtain fell. So much for my plan.
The entrance of Apulhed to Mark Newby Robson’s music stole the show but the fact I was not breathing correctly didn’t matter at all as my face was hidden inside the mask. The presence of Apulhed stole the show and I instinctively kept the mask on for more of the gig than I had planned and gave him the job of reciting the beautiful Clay Jug poem by Kabir and dancing to ambient music by Luke E Walker whilst showing the audience the inside of the jug. We shall edit the film down and upload it onto utube sometime before Christmas, I hope.
On Sunday 26 Nov me & a few friends have tickets for the FINAL Farewell Tour gig of [Captain Beefheart’s ex] Magic Band at Colchester Arts Centre. I sadly never saw The Captain ‘live’ but my friend Chris Leonard who saw him said he went to the recent Bristol gig with trepidation not knowing what to expect and he said it stands among the best performance he ever saw! And he’s seen a lot! I hope they play Bluejeans & Moonbeamshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjazg_lTfJA cos I love it, one of the best songs ever and the band are stunning. IF they do I’d be up there in Seventh Heaven, shaking hands with The Captain!
Peace Be With You
The activities of Pete Kennedy, Performance Artist Bloke, Book Creator & retired artist.