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).
On Friday night I took part in a series of readings for EducAid in Colchester Sixth form college. The main contribution was my Beuys ‘Sliding thru Eurasia’ poym. However I want to read one of Cohen’s pieces if given the time.
Thanks to Jim Pey for giving me the opportunity to ‘perform’ last night and my friends Richard & Shelley who joined me and really seemed to enjoy the evening of poems & readings in Colchester on behalf of EducAid. http://www.educaid.org.uk/
This is from my Inside This Clay Jug poems.
Here he comes now over the hill! Sliding … Gliding…
Joseph Beuys with his Celtic roots
Dancing down the backbone of England
Along the Pennine Way
Please “Don’t mention the War”
He served the Luftwaffe in the air up there
(appropriate bomber diving sounds)
We each of us has a cross to bear
He says he piloted a Stuka bomber
Then he all fell down and broke his crown.
He went flying from the cock-pit and cracked his skull
Maybe that was what loosened his slates?
So who were these mysterious ‘Tartar Shamans’
Who pulled him from the burning wreck?
They were Siberian nomads
Who wrapped him up in felt and fat
Which later on he used for sculpture, just like that!
Swooping… down to Poland on a sled
In his waistcoat with his homburg on his head
He alone put the wrongs of the 3rd Reich to bed
‘Join up’ he told Eurasia… ‘Show me your friendly nature’
‘Everyone can be an artist’ (don’t you know?)
‘Just let your honey in all directions flow
Draw yourself in to the spiral vor…text
Why don’t you come with me little man On My Magic Blackboard Ride
Meet up with Hermann Hesse
Fellow Wanderer on the mountain paths
Dancing down the Backbone of Italy
Along the Appennine Way
We are not humans We are dancers
Swirling and whirling
Along the road down Destiny’s Inscrutable Was
It was lovely to see some of the audience smiling as I moved thru mi Beuys ‘poym’ “Explaining Beuys To A Dead Woodpecker”. Funny as you look around when you’re doing summat like that. There’s a nervousness at trying to remember the words and the nuances, yet nowadays I feel can bring in some of the audience with a little look. I try to gauge reaction/interest, altho it’s never a perfect science, I think I am learning to ‘read’ an audience better. That allows me to stay with something that’s ‘working’ and move quickly on if it isn’t.
“Dance Me To The End Of Love” Len Cohen
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
I did my take on reading the above song as a poem and I thought it wonderful how a couple of the other participants recounted their Len Cohen experiences reflected against my story of not seeing the man, whereas they had! It was not so much a mourning as a real delight in what he stood for and emanated with a panache and quite grace. I agree with the last speaker who said that he, on having the opportunity to meet and speak with LC, said thru a post event party-champagne haze, that Len was good no matter what others may think. It still applies. I loved when he did Glastonbury and gained thousands of new fans. Here he sings ‘Anthem’- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJSlpEb_jFk
There’s a poignant story about the girl in his song Marianne which is told in the Telegraph Obituary on 19.8.2016 about Cohen’s erstwhile love Marianne Ihlen who “spent her time since 1979 working in the personnel department of an oil company, painting and exploring Tibetan Buddhism.She remained in touch with Cohen, though when he performed in Oslo in 2010, she attended the concert without going backstage. But she sensed that he knew she was there.
When Cohen heard that Marianne was dying of leukaemia, he wrote to her: “Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.””
Now he can join her again without hurting anyone as we are all destined to travel down the inscrutable road of destiny, one day.
I was lucky to get tickets to see Dave McKean at the Tate Brit on Sunday 13th doing his Black Dog gig and talk . I am hoping to be able to get some more live images of him. Here’s one of the results from last time I saw him.
Leonard Cohen, I have been a fan since someone compared my artworks to his sad songs in a derogatory way in about 1976. I love his use of words. The way he counterbalanced beauty and high note with the beast and his low tones.
During my previous incarnation as a teacher I managed to ‘sing’ his ‘Dance me to the end of love’ to an entrapped audience of other teachers (they deserved it!). Luckily my assistant was a young Canadian who could sing well. Half way thru the ‘performance’ the Head of Science stole the show by dancing into the centre of the stage dressed in a tutu. I think Leonard would have smiled benignly!
Which he’s doing now, looking back at the human pace.
Shalom & Namaste!
LC was born a Jew and later adopted Buddhist monk Sasaki Roshi as his mentor.
Top Views of ma blog for 7 days ending 2016-04-18:
In fact my blArty blog gets viewed from all round the globe. It’s nice to tink that my words & images may be interesting folk from places I never even heard of like Vanuatu, a country in Oceania.
(Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation made up of roughly 80 islands that stretch 1,300 kilometres, Fiji is near it.
Anyway, back to my normal patter.
I recommend a visit to Chris Ruston’s wonderful show of her Ammonite books at the natural History Museum in Colchester. The display is a little dark but that is for reasons of protection against the damage light can do to delicate tissue. I also had difficulty photographing it cos a nice curator woman approached me and said I had to have Chris’s express written permission to do so. Well in fact Chris sent me these great photos which I cannot equal so here they are.
It is so apt for today! Take out the reference to Jews and Hitler and replace them with any of the peoples fleeing dictators and assassins and other groups who take it upon themselves to destroy rather than create and maintain. Auden’s words are totally appropriate for the way the world still treats people in fear of their lives and who have felt it necessary to traverse danger to try to reach a safe haven. Damn it, he could have written it yesterday, or even today!
To finish off I have to rejoice about my new very old cross-cut saw and the way it cuts thru wood. It’s taken some sorting out and I am so grateful to Richard saw-sharpener extraordinaire at Haydons in Braintree who sharpened and set it so that I could make these lovely pieces.
My objective was to be able to cut up a willow tree which fell about 2 years ago and on the way I had to overcome some obstacles not least my weak muscles. I see it as a zen ting. The tree could be cut by chain saw but I insist on using the less noisy old fashioned crosscut saw. I always like to tackle the near impossible. Don’t know why but there it is. It’s an old willow tree which fell over in strong winds and it’s very very stubborn. The saw worked wonderfully on the much denser rootball from which I cut those beautiful shapes but this darned tree is taking hours to cut thru. still, I got nothing else to do, I am retired aren’t I?
See you at the Laurie Anderson gig at Tate Modern this Friday nicht if you can get there. Bless.
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 thetypescript 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
‘…it is the very presence of the performance artist in real time, of live performers ‘stopping time’, that gives the medium its central position. In the first decade of the 21st century PA is at last being folded into the history of art proper, moving from the margins to the centre…PA continues to be a highly reflexive, volatile form- one that artists use to articulate and respond to change. It continues to defy definition and remains as unpredictable and provocative as it ever was.’ RoseLee Goldberg in Performance Art (PA). From Futurism to the Present.
As the new year gets going the great news is that I shall be doing a short performance art piece at the Society of Bookbinders in Kentish Town in March.
London and South Region of The Society of Bookbinders
Book Arts Day
Saturday 5th March 2016 (10:30 – 4pm)
(£10 members SoB, £15 non-members)
The day will comprise:
An illustrated talk on Book Arts by Sarah Bodman
A book arts fair presenting a variety of emerging and established book artists (many works will be for sale).
Demonstrations by a selection of the exhibiting artists.
A spoken word performance by book artist Pete Kennedy.
A mini exhibition of Sónia Serrão’s personal collection of artists’ books collected over the last 20 years.
Sarah Bodman is an artist and researcher at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), UWE Bristol, where she investigates contemporary book arts. She is also Programme Leader for the MA in Multidisciplinary Printmaking at the Bower Ashton campus, editor of the Book Arts Newsletter, Artist’s Book Yearbook andThe Blue Notebook journal for artists’ books, and writes regularly on artists’ books for ‘a-n’ and Printmaking Today.
I have chosen to do a variation of my Clay Jug piece because it resonates ‘book’ and I have several book projects I’d like to show anyone who turns up to see. It was originally done tward my MA in Art & the Book and I have ‘danced’ it at IPA in Glastonbury & Bristol where it was very well received. The books that grew into the project were greatly influenced by Joanna Drucker’s wonderful book on the Alphabet. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/790760.Alphabetic_Labyrinth I experimented with:
use of clay tablets like cuneiform,
poti like the Tibetan book form,
scrolls like medieval manuscripts and
the idea of knowledge being found in buried or hidden pots.
I use the music that Luke E. Walker created for Clay Jug to spark my movement thru this piece. Here’s a link to Luke’s music on soundcloud:
I also recite the words of Kabir and, maybe, Osip Mandelstam). I also intend to show a couple of my most beautiful unique copy books that I did to house my six poems generated from the project. PLUS David Jury’s version in letterpress with a surprise package.
I am also developing a piece which I did at IPA several times in Oct2015 based on the words of a song from the wonder-full cd named still calm melancholy air brush hush by Colin Lloyd Tucker called Brush in which I have his words written and show them with movement as the piece progresses. I mime making a painting and in the end, in some venues, I actually brush an image onto a surface which can be paper and/or glass, perspex, wood, anything. I am looking to do it in shop windows, particularly art supplies places.
It fulfils my desire to follow in the footsteps of zen masters who write their thoughts in beautiful calligraphy and do drawings too. I may use Colin’s beautiful ambient music before I appear ‘on set’ but more & more I am working tward not having beautiful distractions as I move thru a piece, I am working tward playing the music in my head as I move.
Designed as a solo work where PK plays two combatants, Tommy & Gerry. This is a commemoration and hopefully a reconciliation, of the horrific battle of the Somme July 1916. Tommy has a helmet like the one worn by Brits in WW1, but this also could be a cooking pot or wok like those we used to wear as children when playing war games.
My aim is to try to stop all wars on planet Earth, no pressure then Pete! My request is that the world works towards de-powering those perennial ‘leaders’ who create wars and create a planet where war is but a dim distant recollection. Can you Imagine that! Here’s Lennon my working class hero singing his song in a set which has all my favourite foibles in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2hvkPyiAFE You see John dressed in apparel almost certainly designed to antagonise the obviously ‘privileged’ audience his band played in front of dressed in his red suit and black round specs.
And Lady Gaga, almost outdoing Lennon with her glasses pays tribute to one leader (Obama) who tried not to wage war and her favourite song writer in her version of Imagine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urjyP95H6vk
I was hoping to do it in June at the book fair at BALTIC (Artists’ Book Market BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 June 2016) but haven’t been selected to do an intervention this year. So, if you have a venue in the North east area and want to see one or more of my pieces near the weekend of 18-19 June please let me know.
So am nearly ready for BALTIC next week. Their fame even spreads to the south coast, altho this design in Margate is not theirs!
Been a busy fascinating week. I joined ENAS at Margate to see the Grayson Perry show at the Turner Gallery which was pretty good. If he keeps practising he’ll make those pots straight one day. Everyone in the Enas coach seemed to love his work, his wit & intelligence. His work is inspiring. I love the way he tumbles the barriers over, pushing stultified tradition over yet replacing it with new possibilities. I can’t indeed won’t show any images of his work as a protest, a BIG protest about this crap many galleries have about not taking photos etc. It’s such a negative ting. I aks you when you come see my works to take photos, as many as you likes.
Then I wandered around the town and saw some nice art, especially Fiona Fouhy’s etchings.
Here’s some shots from me Margate trip:
that’s me hungry fer petesa
I enjoyed Heidi Plant’s work at the Resort studios and may go back to do some work in their print studio. And when we arrived back at Firstsite wur we set out from the moon was out and the gallery looked so good.
Next day I was back on my bike and over to London toon to do ‘Poetry’ with a visit to the Poetry Library first to deliver a signed cover for my collaboration work with David Jury. Saradha http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/saradha-soobrayen introduced me to the books of Anne Carson who seems to be an artist writer after my own art. There are lots of parallels in our books’ materials & looks. She were born in Toronto, Ontario in 1950, I was born in Glasgow the same year. Her Antigo Nick has a very similar feel to my Apulgold book, and the similarities don’t stop there. There’s a staggering resemblance in the way she made a book called Nox and the new version of my Shrewd Idiot. So much so you’d think I have copied her, not so, I never heard of her til Saradha introduced her work to me. But the way she has cut & pasted images and words is identical to my prep work already done. I just find that so encouraging and supportive, showing me I am on the right track. Of course the subject matter is very different. Mine is all about me, hers is about her brother.
I finished off at Enitharmon where I still couldn’t find William Blake but I saw a launch of a book on Ed Dorn with his wife Jennifer and others reading poems of his. I bought her poem Eastward Ho, The Saga Of Vitus Bering wherein I discovered that the Bering straits were named after a man called Bering! Bright that.
Now down to some hard graft, polishing ma dancing boots, shaping ma cowbouy hat, donning ma spurs, covering ma buks, learning ma werds and preparing ma presenting skills for BALTIC nex Saturday at High Noon. Bring yer camras, feel free to take them darned photos of Outlaw Pete and his outputs.
In 1969 I wrote this poem in the back of an open lorry which had just picked up two sixteen year old hitch hiking Welsh newly-weds and a nineteen year old me.
They offered to buy me breakfast in the transport Café cos I only had a penny left which I had been given by the girl Gwennie in Under Milk Wood (not)
Yesterday I wrote another poem on the train this time
Not much has changed
Except my age, my experience, my prospects
I am still writing drawing photographing
As I move thru the days and years
Hoping one day to get thru
Maybe to you or
Then I popped into Tate and saw the wonderful works of Sonia Delauney displayed. And entered the Offprint art publishing fair at Tate which was great altho I only did about 6 tables of the 140.
I met some lovely folk. I met Richard Embray’s colleague at the Fourcorners table where I meant to buy their book of Paolozzi archive stuff but I never got back to buy it cos my ‘egs were laching’. I spoke with Krystine (?) at Argo Books and bought Kirstine Roepstorff’s beautiful ‘book’ Horizons of the Moving Mind which is composed of a folder, like my Inside this earthen vessel, with nine ‘repective pamphlets’ tucked inside a bit like b s johnson’s The Unfortunates. I am all into these odd arrangements in artisbuks cos I don’t like the norm. Ditto do some good books, http://shop.dittopress.co.uk/products/god-listens-to-slayer-sanna-charles-pre-order I loved their use of little inserts.
Then I met Aaron at Morel books http://morelbooks.com/Bookshop.html we got on fine and when I said I am re-working my 1970’s buk, the shrewd idiot he said yes send me some of the pages as it grows, so I shall as am getting very excited as the book develops. I am using the original hand-writings and the typewritten type as my ‘fonts’ and the words become the pictures. And the pictures will overlay the werds. I can’t ‘see’ the finished work but that ‘chance’ elememt is very exciting in the mix. He has a couple of Blake (Wm) plates and prints from them and also some work with Patti Smith who I luckily saw do her intimate readings of hers and Blake’s poems etc at the Blake Society do a couple of years ago. I like the way Aaron obviously likes the use of overlays on words and that’s the way my New Shrewd Idiot is moving, with my 70’s sketches and photos in front of the werdz and also I can scrawl over them with my hand-written and calligraphic ‘marks’ of today.
I managed to speak with Colette about my work and asked to be considered as an exhibitor at the next event, altho I’ll be a small teeny weeny fish in a BIG pond if I get a table. She introduced me to her partner who selects the table holders and both of them said they like my little buk Inside This Great Jug. And by the way last week the Saison Poetry Library has accepted a copy too.
I am pleased to say I shall be doing ma ting at the forthcoming Book fair at the Baltic in July, so I must learn the words and get dancing again. No rest for the wicked. Am also intent to make a new little buk about the creation of my big pic, Venus Stairs.
This is the unabridged version of my new blAst for those of you who are not too busy to read its dense detail and not a bit squeamish as it contains details about the results of high explosives in WW1 that some folk may find difficult. The reason I mention them is because I firmly believe, in my naïve and stupid way, that all war and any assault on other humans with intent to kill or maim should be banished. (I don’t mind hard tackles on the field of sport as in some ways that is a way of working off aggression and in fact competition in International sport has proved to be a substitute for conflict on the field of battle!)
Reporting on my contacts with the ‘outside world’, UWE have put out their latest Artist’s books Newsletter and am happy to share that they, Sarah Bodman that is, included the whole of my ‘report’ about the poetry library’s Open Day on pp 39 thru 41 which includes a couple of newstyle visual typo poems. Best to see them in colour http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/newspdfs/95.pdf
Also on p 42 the Book Art * Art Book 2 show in Colchester’s Slack Space gallery is flagged up. Some of the best Artist’s book makers in Essex will be showing new stuff from Wednesday 4th – Saturday 28th February. Slack Space is open Wednesday-Saturday from 11am-6pm. I am going to read from my poems at the opening on Thursday 5th.
I did offer to put on a show at firstsite whilst the gallery was empty and they did honour me with a reply in which they graciously pointed out “a 5-week long residency by Maria Loboda, during which time she will fabricate a new work in situ” is soon to begin. That is music to my ears because I felt it was such a waste of space to have the walls bare for the time before the next scheduled show in March.
In a way it’s good to have no demands on my time so that I can concentrate my time on preparing my own contributions to the world of artists books and more generally to my vision and creation of the outputs I perceive and wish to make like the new book for the forthcoming BABE in April.
I quote Rabindranath Tagore who wrote a beautiful poem Gitanjali:
‘I gave myself up for lost in the depth of a glad humiliation – in the shadow of a dim delight.’48.
He also thanks his god for ‘Day by day thou art making me worthy of thy full acceptance by refusing me ever and anon, saving me from perils of weak, uncertain desire’14.
‘All desires that distract me, day and night, are false and empty to the core.’38.
(the numbers refer to the ‘verses in his epic poem Gitanjali for which he received the Nobel Prize).
Warning on the words that follow – “This blog gets a bit heavy man, it’s not exactly hip man,” said Neil from the Young Ones, (a great band).
In my last blog I mentioned Solzhenitsyn saying that just after the WW1 a number of old folk offered the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia (including what he referred to as the ‘ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people’ and I suppose the casualties of fighting Hitler): “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” I also related the recent incursions into Ukraine as treading thin ice under which loomed the possibility of yet more war scenarios in this our blighted planet, as if we, or ‘they’ the powers that be have learned nothing from the wars we look back on in this 100th anniversary of WW1 (and commemorations on Churchill who oversaw some heinous actions by British forces alongside his country’s heroic stance against Nazism in the second world-wide tragedy WW2).
Since I posted that blog Russian military craft loitered about 25 miles from Britain, apparently it was Russia’s show of contempt for manoeuvres by Nato forces in Poland after the incursions into Ukraine. There’s a strategic logic to ‘Russia’ wanting parts of Ukraine which could be overcome if Ukraine were to allow Russian access to the sea and Crimea on a friendly basis. Maybe that’s impossible, I don’t know, I’m no expert. But Russia’s moves in Ukraine only began after the Ukranians ousted what seems to have been a puppet governor who seems to have lived the life of an emperor, but he had Russian backing I would imagine because he allowed certain ‘privileges’ to his backers.
Last week I watched Fergal Keane’s report http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vyrzh/the-first-world-war-from-above about the aerial photographs taken over the trenches and the unimaginable devastation left by effects of the then latest in a line of war to end all wars, WW1. The revelations were staggering even to me who had studied History to A level (in which we couldn’t study ancient history like I wished to because the exams only allowed coverage of the European modern stuff; WW1 & WW2), I had met WW1 veterans and had heard about interminable repeated accounts of the horrors of the trenches and the sending over to certain death millions of men from books, magazines and TV. This documentary blew my idea of those horrors asunder. I had not imagined a millionth of it. Death in conflict is nasty at any time by any method but WW1 created unprecedented massacres in what can only be described as hell-holes. My home town had lots of men killed in the war, particularly at the Somme. Some of the remnants would have become ‘sappers’, because of their mining backgrounds in the pits of Burnley. These poor bastards had to dig for a year under the German lines before Ypres and lay 450 tons of high explosive. They dug into a chalk soil and used their bayonets to take out tiny bits of chalk which they had to catch before it hit the ground because any sound would have alerted the enemy. They were indeed extremely successful. About 19 explosive caches were sunk deep under the ground beneath German headquarters. They were set off to explode one after the other in a line which ran toward the Germans who would have seen the previous ones going up and would have had no time to escape. The biggest part of a body found afterwards was a foot in a boot. All the rest of the people involved had been blown to smithereens ‘no bigger than a fingernail clipping…minuscule fragments’. The prize? 5 miles of ground and a determination on the part of General Erich Luddendorf to NOT give up but (he decided) to retake every inch of ground lost no matter what the cost. Therefore, Passchendaele. And that is the maniacal thing about WW1, from its unnecessary outset the ‘leaders’ of every side were literally ‘hell-bent’ on continuing the carnage with scant regard for human and material losses. The nearest thing I have read of the mayhem is Kenneth Patchen’s book, The Journal of Albion Moonlight which gives an inkling of the madness of all out war. http://ndbooks.com/book/the-journal-of-albion-moonlight
Why do I, a man renowned for his sense of fun, give such gory detail above? Because Keane’s documentary brought home to me the true horror of what happens when some men feel they have the right to wage war. That is occurring this minute in Syria. The ruins on the news are reminiscent of the ruins of France after WW1, although no matter how bad they look they are not the result of trench warfare, just more potentially damaging munitions. I am a sad bastard myself, I still agree with John Lennon, Ghandi and the Dalai Lama who wish(ed) to do away with war. That very notion, abandoning war, seems like madness to so many who perpetrate war and the manufacture of weaponry. War seems like madness to me. And I want to return to the top of this piece and talk about this absence of god. I don’t mention god in any attempt to push any religious doctrine or say one is better than another, remember Bob Dylan’s words that “the Germans they too had god on their side”. And the Arab world all say they believe in Allah yet they attack one another. And some cultures say their god is more important than any other god and indeed that there is no other god but theirs. Which is almost as mad as the two ‘world wars’ because it is so blind, so selfish, so blinkered so demeaning of the thoughts of ‘others’ who may themselves have perfectly good ideas on what is good and right etc, but to condemn them out of hand by saying theirs is below yours and indeed is ignorant in the highest state of idiocy.
Men have forgotten God? Yes almost undoubtedly. They had their own god but it was a territorial god, still is in many ways. Many out there are fighting purportedly for their version of god, but not any god who would embrace their actions. I believe any god worth its salt would not wish the devastation humans have wrought upon their own species as far back as the history books can go. The god they forgot is a universal well-being. A being well for all of humanity. Maybe humans could rename god, the WellBeing, or BeingWell? But I wouldn’t wish to start another movement.
For me there may be a god. There may be a something behind all existence. I am not bright enough to work it out. Greater humans than me have tried. BUT, I do think that most religions are at their base saying the same things; do not kill, do not covet, do not steal nor do bad deeds etc.
I am not certain there is any ‘after-life’ in any recognisable way, not sure we see our relatives on any ‘other side’, not sure if we come back as better beings, or as slugs if we do ‘wrong’. But I am certain there is part of me that was there when the Big Bang took place, apparently that’s true. And am certain that in my genetic make up, my DNA, there are parts that have come down to me from ancestors thousands of years ago. And that my genetic code is passed on to my childers and down to any who may be born in later times. We do re-incarnate in that way, that can be measured.
Also they can work out which part of the world my ancestors came from and research can find out where a skeleton dug up from the ground after being there for say 1500 years where that ‘person’ hailed from. We live in a marvellous world, let’s look after it, let’s try to safeguard what’s good in it and let’s push to end war. Even without war humans have a pretty hard task. But it’s worth it.
Here’s a beautiful poem by Tagore’s Gitanjali
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
Runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean cradle of birth and death
In ebb and in flow.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages
Dancing in my blood this moment.
Here’s It’s a beautiful Day, a great band I was lucky to see at the Bath Festival, Shepton Malet in 1970 doing their version of a song by Fred Neil.
here’s Fred Neil’s original version ‘This old world may never change The way it’s been’
A ‘babyhowdy’ said, ‘this remains one of the most utterly exquisite songs I’ve ever heard! EVERYONE should hear this song, and it doesn’t matter how or where you first hear this masterpiece, so long as you hear it!
Am rejoicing as the week has arrived for two trips into the Big City o’ Londres. I went up yesterday for a full filled day at the Poetry Library where I saw our work in such good company and two bee sandwiched between two such great practitioners as Nancy Campbell & Sam Winston was indeed a privilege. I was of course looking at werds; my verds watti wroted (not like Roth did) and David Jury printed ‘em, Nancy’s words, sam’s words, then loads of others’words like- Gaudier Brezka, Ezra £, Diter Wrot, jon Cage, Gins-oak-burger, Jean Cokatoe (I love her sketches), and many more. However you can’t go see it even ift you cry, it wer only up fer one dae. So am putting some small photos in this blArt to show you what ya mist. And I did this bit of nonsense using up werds wat I sore.
I wer particularly inspired with Sam’s work, ‘Orphan’, in which he used a lot of words he had rote and cut & pasted. So I did the above cut & Baste misen. Eclosion means summat to do with changing frae a pupa to a angel, I tink the transformation has begunned. I invent a new word from a bill stick on a Paolozzi muriel at Tottinghen Caught Rude tube station, Ekanity
it’s a bit like eternity but a bit longer, or shorter, who dares? I have finally fully launcehed misen into the muddy pastureyes of the cut & Blast, some o’t werds cum frae BLAST. Thur’s mad in yer eise Einsteye, Eisenstine, Eyesore, eye eye, oh begorrah bagum.
Then at 8pm 3 poets began to read their reactions to what they had seen in the boxes of books prepared for Sunday’s display. William Wyld went first and did a tribute poem to one he’d seen about mud. I loved his words about a reluctant rebellious recalcitrant seal melting into the snow, ‘You took my claws but you couldn’t take my head’. Then Patrick Brandon read his words inspired by John Cage’s Silence on Rauschenburg. Then he did one filling in the gaps in Tom Phillip’s Humument with words like, ‘What is life other than matter complicated by time…’ In my poem in the exhibition I also refer to humans as energy. Hilda Sheehan talked about life and death too, I suppose poetry is lots about our mortality. I enjoyed her Kiss.
She too referred to John Cage’s Silence. Her poem went
It was a poem for Georgina, after holding up a tiny piece of tangled wire Georgina had made and hung silently last year:
I’m impressed with your strings
Hung up like mirrors
Shhh… let these (very small) images tell the story.
Nancy’s beautiful Icelandic poem
Nancy uses Inuit words for love (I tink)
Pete & David’s collaboration poems
I Yam a Seeker of Toots
Pete next to Sam’s poem
How Sam plays in clouds
At TotCort Rd the mural needs replenishing
Pete auditioning fer Egg Heads
The activities of Pete Kennedy, Performance Artist Bloke, Book Creator & retired artist.