Category Archives: Spirit

Impregnable BBC, Tate Too!

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

The first blog is about the launch gig:

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/shrewd-idiots-book-launch-at-cac/

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).

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/am-entranced-all-over/

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.

hens teeths

*[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.

I do have some good news, Rough Trade. Rough Trade have taken a copy of The Shrewd Idiot into their Brick Lane shop and placed some stuff about it on their website. Here’s a link to it: https://roughtrade.com/gb/books/the-shrewd-idiot

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.

JAt & KC almost done
John Atkins, Dylan Thomas & Ken Campbell meet to discuss alien life out there.

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/may/18/obituary-john-atkins

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.

Rich.

PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.”

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/02/i-love-my-wife-my-wife-is-dead.html

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.

a snow on buda sm
Buddha in the snow today outside my house

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/

 

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Oh Superb Woman

Laurie Anderson at Tate Modern

I headed up to London cos I needed to find Quark in order to iron over some of my concerns about a lack of contact details, it’s very hard to find out anything to do with the functions and possibilities of their package. Fortunately the man who came down to see me when I discovered their offices proved very helpful so I shall probably plough on with it.

The other reason I went to London was cos Laurie Anderson was scheduled to be at a showing of her film Heart of a Dog. We had some difficulty getting there, partly cos I headed off t’ward Tate Britain in the rain (It’s not an ‘age ting’ it’s always been like that, I spent most my life heading off in the wrong direction or up the wrong path!) and the gig was at Tate Modern.

 laurie anderson tate (4) tond sm

Andrea Lissoni talking with Laurie Anderson

It’s her take on her pet terrier Lolabelle’s death and on dying in general. It’s not morbid in any way and in fact she pays a discreet tribute to her late husband Lou Reed, playing him singing as the final moment in the film with a lovely dedication. In fact it’s about finding love, particularly that of her mother, and accepting (or accommodating) death. She also talks of being “in the gap between the moment which is expiring & the one that is arising”, a place akin to where the Buddhists ‘bring the scattered mind home’ in their practice of ‘mindfulness’ where you can find calm abiding in which ‘all your negativity is disarmed, your aggression dissolved and your confusion slowly evaporates as the awareness of clear seeing awakens in you’ through time spent in quiet meditation.

I believe that Laurie Anderson has visited these spaces over a long period in her life and those of us fortunate to watch and listen to her work can be drawn towards her peace-full places.

laurie anderson tate (7) pensive sm

You can listen to about 2 mins of it if yu go to this link and scroll down to “Watch the trailer”: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/film/laurie-anderson-heart-dog

It gives a brief impression of the lovely narration Laurie gives all of her works. She really does tell the tale so well.

laurie anderson tate (15) tond sm

We were ushered in and luckily placed on the very back row. It is a beautiful piece in which Laurie narrates the tale of her adopted dog in its last days, which gives her an opportunity to mention at least two Rinpoches whose advice she seems to access. (Rinpoches don’t seem to come down my neck of the woods but I am sure they hang around in Laurie’s.) [Hey do a sketch of Rinpoches in Lorries! consider it done, it’s all in me mind! In fact I may already have done it without really knowing that I had. I created a 3D work which I call Lorryhead, which is a Buddha with a lorry cab for a head.]

A Rinpoche Lorry Now!

lorryhead tiny kb
LorryHead Rinpoche

About 12 years ago I bought a cd of her 2001 reading The Body Artist by Don DeLillo in which she employs her mesmerizing and soothing tones to read his book. I never got to the end of the 3 hour piece cos I rarely stay still that long but now I shall return and listen to the end. She always seems to have an aura of expectation in her vocals, as if something is about to occur and if it already did there seems to be an expectant or pregnant ‘looking back’.

laurie anderson tate (11) looks back sm

I was fortunate to be able to take a series of photos from different vantage points which I said to Laurie I’d like to use in ma blog if that was ok as I handed her my card so she can come in and see this ting and she replied, “Yes you can, do that”. And I will.

laurie anderson tate (25) 2 sm
After Words

Tell me the old old story……………………………..So, that’s how it is, is it?

I prevented the flash operating in all my shots so the images don’t have sharp highlights but most importantly nobody got upset or distracted by my flashing. Jumping Jack No Flash they call me.

There’s one or two images of her I’d like to use to paint her portrait but it’s unlikely to happen nowadays as I am a Performance Artist and Bukman Blogga Bloke norra oil painter of the auld skool. But you never know.

And then there was Chiara Ambrosia’s ‘question’ which was more of a statement of affirmation of Laurie’s film and it impact on the emotions. Chiara started and so she continued until she had finished and it seemed to tickle Laurie.

laurie anderson tate (16) toned Chiara smChiara Ambrosia

Afterwards when I congratulated Chiara on her ‘thesis’ we realised we had met before and that she was well into bookart as well as film. I got this incredible shot of us standing in the foyer at Tate with me looking like the man with the light for a head.

laurie a's fans turn + toned litesman sm
Chiara stands next to a bloke with the light in his head and Mikey Kirkpatrick in the corridors of th’Tate.

I have loved Laurie’s stuff ever since I first heard her do Oh Superman and this vid encapsulates her in all her glory:

Laurie Anderson’s Oh Superman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH2x5pARGdE#t=496.136

and Bowie’s version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5dRY_EHMjU

laurie anderson tate (23) toned sm

Thanks Laurie, Namaste

Images and writing (c) pete kennedy 2016

Thanks for the great gig Laurie and thanks for saying you don’t mind if i use the images of you.

,

1450 BC is a pivotal moment

Please bear with me here in this blog cos I’ve not taken to or ’got’ religion, no, but I have gotten humanity or spirituality.

Spirit is in all of us. It’s what makes us live. We are the body which the spirit inhabits. Spirit is bigger than us, it is all of us, it transcends all boundaries physical and conceptual. Spirit is above all these conflicts, it yearns for peace amongst the races of planet Earth. Like the Dalai Lama says we all wish to be happy and contented.

Some are willing to fight wars, to kill and maim in the name of their peace. Hence the crusades and the jihads. I am not of that leaning or school of thought, I would prefer to cherish all living beings. [Although as a meat eater I must bear some responsibility for the demise of some of the world’s stock of beef, sheep, fish and all but I spoke with a man who was raised on a farm and they ‘get’ that you give the livestock a good living time then it becomes food on the plate. We need protein but I draw the line. Some animals were reared from time immemorial to serve humankind; cows, pigs, horses, camels salmon and so on. The indigenous folks of the Americas had the right idea when they would co-exist with the buffalo and when they killed one would use every part in some way, the buffalo was their brother.

In my last blog I mentioned 3 countries whose recent history has been strife-ridden; Afghanistan, Iraq & Syria. In fact their strife goes back as much as 5,000 years despite their being the cradle of civilisation. That area has almost always been at war, as have many other areas of this globe. That’s mostly because the human race [my name for the human race is non-gender, ubeings I spose that can be shortened some more to Ubees? Or even Usbees cos we are all in it together, Usbeez I may say Usbeez] are family-protective and territorially jealous whilst also being covetous and greedy. To put it another way, Usbeez are tribal.

My interest in the ancient history of this planet began when I was young and forced to listen to stories in church from the old & new testaments. Ironically Christians broke away from Judaism to set up a different view of life & death yet the powers that ruled GB chose to re-adapt the Old Testament. The powers that ruled GB were from the so called ‘upper class’; the rich, the landed, they decided somewhere along the line that Greece and Rome were the pinnacle of the ancient world and that Greek & Latin were the languages with most importance. That must have seemed obvious as many words in the ‘English’ language hail from Roman Latin and the idea of democracy is supposed to have hailed from Greece altho their democracy was nowhere near all inclusive.

However, the world of what has come to be known as the Semitic-speaking peoples which includes what was Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Phoenicia etc, now known as Iraq & Syria etc, was vitally important in the development of the later Greeks & Romans. Without the Semitic-speaking peoples there would have been no writing. The Phoenicians were Semitic and the Greeks adopted their alphabet. The Phoenicians built Carthage and (I believe) eventually settled in Etruria. http://www.britannica.com/place/Etruria-ancient-country-Italy

The Phoenicians were the big power that moved around the Mediterranean and they traded with the people of Crete and Thera (modern day Santorini, look at the map in this link and you’ll see it is like a polo mint shape, that’s because it was blown asunder in 1450BC (https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=santorini).

thers

The people of Crete and Thera were the Minoan civilisation, maybe they were what Socrates and Plato referred to as Atlantis. At the time of the massive natural disaster in 1450 BC which destroyed the Minoan culture the people of Crete and Thera had the most advanced society in the region, possibly on the planet. It pre-dated the rise of the Mycenaean Greeks who indeed took advantage of the wreckage left by volcanic eruptions and tsunamis to over-run and overcome a group of people who had held them at bay for a long time. I believe that 1450 BC is a pivotal moment of earth’s history and it is hard for us to comprehend how big the changes brought about by that disastrous time were. Everything in the ancient world changed.

http://www.explorecrete.com/archaeology/minoan-civilization-destruction.html

There are some thinkers who believe that there were also some cataclysmic occurrences in the sky, possibly outside the Earth’s atmosphere, something like a comet coming very close to colliding with the planet. There is evidence in all the records of peoples who at that time were capable of keeping records of huge displays of bright lights and explosions in the skies. I believe that a lot of myths about dragons and the gods fighting come from these events. But, whereas that’s some incredible stories from Scandinavia to China, it’s not the focus of this blart.

The focus is on installing the peoples of Assyria and Babylon into their place above the tiny enclave around ancient Judea which has taken on such a big over-important position because the west adopted a form of Christianity which was already a watered down version of the Christ story by the time of the Nicene Creed in 325 A.D. (http://www.theopedia.com/nicene-creed )

I say watered down because the literature adopted at the Nicene Creed deliberately cut out, exiled, many writings which the creed’s creators didn’t see fit for their purpose.

he went right back
some words taken from David Jury’s letterpress version of my scroll poem about Johannes Scheffler, medieval author of the poem ‘Cherubinic Wanderer’ which is about making contact with the source of all things, inside yourself.

It is my feeling that a lot of valuable information was therefore lost to the next 1620 years until in the 1940s various excavations and discoveries found out the content of some of the damned documents in places like Nag Hamadi (http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html ).

 

tumultus disc by Pol sm
Tumultous disc in stained glass by MLK

This has not got to do with ‘religion’ it’s to do with truth, honesty and fairness. These vital traits were absent from the Nicene Creed’s outlook which was aimed to push a certain view of the world which was already alien to the ideas of the revolutionary group that surrounded a man with great ideas and example, known to the west as Jesus Christ. Joshua ben Gennesareth may have been his title in reality. If you want to research this further see this set of links https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=Joshua+ben+Gennesareth

When I mention Christ (which indeed was a title for ‘messiah or anointed one’ see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christos_(given_name)) I do so in the group of  extraordinary thinkers who lived in this order; Buddha, Christ and Mohammed,  I say let’s give these three guys equal billing as none of them would have been into pecking orders and all of whom had a message which was essentially the same- “Walk away from previous bad actions, forgive the perpetrators (including yourself if it were you what dunnit) and build a new future with trust, mutual acceptance and love for all beings.”

The reason I mention this is because all 3 were well aware of the penchant of mankind to take revenge and how that always leads to its corollary (its natural consequence), more violence, more revenge. So these three genii were and still do advocating a revolution against the natural consequence.

I am not ‘religious’ but I believe in the spiritual aspect of existence and I believe these three men were spot on!

I was reading about the (ancient) Hittites, the Babylonians and the Persian (all of whom had incredible advances in their societys, sciences and arts) and the books tell us that each of those countries fought continuously amongst themselves and I don’t think it takes a brilliant mind to say those battles still continue today. The Middle East is riven with strife over the past 5,000 years where men have continued to administer the natural consequences and the wars which began 5,000 years back still continue today. That’s a fact.

Surprisingly there has been a miracle in Ireland where the tribes did kill one another for hundreds of years and that miracle was what is called the Good Friday Agreement (10 April 1998). I hope that they can come to such an agreement in Syria soon enough. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Give Peace a Chance!

I tried to change the world

Now I can listen & hear what three wise men,  Krishnamurti, Roy Fraser & the Dalai Lama, have told me, I don’t know why but there it IS, maybe cos am old?a ceramic buddhaithis was Roy Fraser’s little ceramic Buddhai what I drew…

OM MADI PADME HUMMMmm

Like many others of the Sixties generation I tried to change the world these past 50 years. But, like the US forces going into Saddam’s Iraq, I never had a contingency for what to put in the old world’s place. I found out that nobody changes the world cos the world just carries on in it’s own bittersweet way, forever. The world in which we live, or should I say Universe, has been going on for millions of years and will continue with or without us ubeings. In fact if we blow the Earth to smithereens the universe just keeps rolling along with what’s left of the Earth and all who dwelt there re-constituted. We are in fact always re-constituting, part of you and me was in the BIG BANG what made the existence we became aware of. When we die our bodies will re-constitute once more and help make up other things. If we have a spirit or a soul that carries on somehow.

a penned mystic sm

This is my spirit guide

‘This mug is a combination of particles, atoms, quarks [like the old man in the sketch above which is for me maybe the best thing I have ever created. I very rarely draw things from my mind without any visual prompt but this old guy just arrived from my pencil. Like Lennon used to say he didn’t ‘write’ his songs, he was a conduit thru which they came, same with this old guy]. But each particle is not ‘mug’. The same can be said of everything, including yourself. The mug, ‘me’, are merely labels, something we use to describe everyday reality. The mug, me, came into existence because of a complex web of causes and conditions. They do not exist independently [our] existence is dependent on an infinite, intricately linked series of events, people, causes and conditions.’ Dalai Lama in The Wisdom Of Compassion.

One of the Dalai Lama’s teachers was Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and I found a beautiful film about him here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQPmnGTUHYU at about 25 mins in it gets very good, seems we are taken into a Shangrila! I even see them printing off pages of a pothi, one of their bookforms. It’s amazing to me how similar looking Khyentse was to one of my mentors in life, an old friend who I painted awhile ago called Roy Fraser. Roy was also into spiritual searching and I had lots of interesting chats late into the night with him alongside a ‘spirit in a bottle’ called Glenn Fiddich.

Roy F as rinpoche smRoy Frasera kheyntse detaleDilgo Khyentse

If you have a couple of hours to spare, take a look at this Buddhist woman and her take on Compassion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=datWeGjthJU&feature=youtu.be

Both Tai Chi and Ashtanga Yoga help body and mind to gain good health and equilibrium. I won’t bother to explain that here, just believe me.

I was lucky enough to be able to start doing Tai Chi and Ashtanga Yoga with Gareth Chandler http://www.garethchandler.com/links.htm out of Chelmsford about 5 years ago. Like lots of people I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I discover that what I let myself into was an incredible asset for (my) life (and yours too if you want to try it!). I have moved on to learn Tai Chi with Master Ch’ng Lay Seng in Witham. http://clstaichichuan.co.uk/

master Ch'n Lay SengMaster Ch’ng Lay Seng

Both forms do incredible benefits for the body and mind. These couple and inter-relate with my interest in Tibetan Buddhist ideas, zen and meditation. The more I do it the more I learn how much they are so interconnected. All of them have had a profound effect on all that I do.

I read a book ‘Finding Balance in the Midst of Chaos’ by a ‘Peter Strong PhD’ which is strong medicine, in fact it’s too difficult to read without making notes and having a dictionary of sanscrit/pali words handy but I would like to share a passage where he talks about our body & mind’s ability to maintain ‘homeostasis’ or ‘same state’ balance in our life. Our body is regulated by responses designed to maintain physiological & psychological equilibrium by adapting to ‘instability created by external or internal stress’.

The Dalai Lama also says ‘…karma means cause & effect. Suffering (dukkha) is unavoidable [it is a ‘given’ in human- ubeing- life, ed.] it is something we have to deal with. Accepting the situation decreases anxiety. Acceptance gives peace of mind’.

Psychological equilibrium comes when ‘there is freedom from conflict and suffering. This state is called dukkha-nirodha, ‘dukkha’ being ‘suffering’ and ‘nirodha’ meaning extinction. [think of suffrin-eroder, to erode suffering maybe] Before I befuddle you more with Strong’s words I must say that if you look at the writing of B S Iyengar you’ll find the benefits the different yoga moves/positions (asanas) manifest on us ‘yogis’ [a ‘yogi’ is just anyone who does yoga].

Also when Krishnamurti revealed his secret to life he said, “Don’t mind what happens”. This gives us a clue as to how to reach a place where we find our own equilibrium but it’s very hard. His choice of words as always is very clever. He doesn’t advocate not being interested nor taking initiatives, he just says “Don’t mind what happens”, which to me means, don’t ‘attach’ to what happens, don’t cling to memories, things, ideas etc., we all have our experiences and sometimes we get embroiled, we can’t detach and that can lead to all sorts of issues.

[a spurious aside- Like I can’t, or couldn’t detach from the idea that my art was worthy and the world did me a dis-service by not attaching to it and giving me loads a money and praise and love and attachment. Then I look see what those results brought for the likes of Michael Jackson, John Lennon & Elvis the Pelvis and I can see I don’t want loads a money and praise and love and attachment. I am now more ready to give up my forlorn attempts to be up there with the famous ones, or the special one Mourn-inho! I think myself lucky that I never made it. I no longer ‘mind’, even if I did in the past and that’s really an ‘if’. I have had moments, I’ve had positive feedback which has gone into the burner and helped energise me as did criticisms cos often I’d not take them laying down, I’d up and at ‘em. I’d make my next ting beat better. All the time I wanted to improve. Which is funny when you’re running in the wrong direction with all the prizes under your arms, and then they begin to melt or even worse, rot. I had an instinctive feeling when Mourn-inho returned to Chelsea he would regret it, and now he does. Then again, I wouldn’t put it past Mourninho to have manipulated the situation so that he became persona non grata at Chelsea FC just as it was becoming obvious that Van Gaal had underestimated the task at Man U FC and is proving a little short of the required level to sort that old monster out quickly enough for the expectations in a league where measure has become greatly distorted by vast amounts of money?]

Not ‘attaching’ gives us the opportunity to establish and maintain equilibrium so that if we need to assess some situation we can be non-judgemental. Thereby, having no side to take our reactivity is lessened, maybe to nil. We become observers. His mind, in Strong’s words, is “free to respond in the best way possible to resolve suffering (known as dukkha) and restore stability. Strong cites the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which he states states that all systems seek a state of maximum (thermos) stability and will change (dynamic) if given freedom to change. It’s a battle between habitual reactivity (habits formed thru conditioning & experience) and the natural intelligence which innate (existent but usually dormant within us) in our psyche. Habits so often overrule the intuitive wisdom. Krishnamurti leapfrogs this conundrum by a conviction not to be bothered by what occurs (Am Oi Bovvad?!). I am going to make it my New Year’s resolution to try not to ‘attach’ to trial, tribulation and triumph!

 

My German ‘gHosts’.

All of a sudden my life is beginning to happen. ‘It’s almost as if the stars are tangled in a ghostly spider’s web. The whole network is beginning to glow, to pulse with light, exactly as if it were alive…’ (p. 166, Tom Wolfe in Cool Aid Acid Test).

I spent 65 years ‘trying’ to ‘get there’ and suddenly somehow I arrive! Like Clementine, I’m on tea & croissants. On Friday night last when I turned on the Mercury prize I discovered a man/voice which was as big a revelation to me as hearing Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks on vinyl way back in 1968 on an old Dancette record player exactly like this one.a dancette

Benjamin Clementine was chosen as the top album (?) and what a phenomenon!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a68KJWe_Tfk

Although I am not a phenomenon I did surprise a few folk at the IPA fortnight (http://www.ipapress.i-pa.org/official-news/ipa-autumn-2015-official-news/great-blog-from-pete-kennedy-about-ipa-autumn-2015/  recently but I been a long time gestating. During the time of my ‘working life’ I never ‘made it’, that’s for sure, partly cos I were too busy working for a living. But I never gave up my pursuit of the goal which was to make a mark on the consciousness of the era in which I have lived.

It was a long hard battle. I wrote, I painted, I did graphics (‘comic’, caricature and stuff) and I drew. I drew cos I could. I actually draw because of the battle I had to fight to acquire the ability to draw. It wasn’t easy cos as a 16 year old I was cack-handed (kakˈhandɪd; ‘clumsy, awkward or inept way of doing something; originally meaning left handed’, in other words I couldn’t draw for toffee but now I’m ambidextrous and am proud of that. Although I perform across a number of media it was the ability to draw which I chased hard until I achieved a certain skill which allowed me to draw the likes of Feliks Topolski, Miriam Patchen and more recently Vest & Page.

When Richard Morphet, the then Keeper of the Modern Collection at Tate, said to me in c. 1994, ‘Your work has a very German feel’, I think he was referring to the new breed from Germany like ‘upside down man’ Baselitz, yes there was a similarity but it stemmed from our all having the same influences in art history. Here’s one of my portraits (of Michael McKell actually) showing the similarity in technique. This is one of the illustrations which are reproduced beautifully in my article in JAB38 but here I am showing it in colour, it needs colour as does much of my oeuvre.

Michael McKell lino cut, black & brown

When Brad Freeman gave the go ahead on my article for the Journal of Artists Books (JAB http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/) and I pondered on being asked to feature my own work, mainly in book and print but also in paint, and those who had inspired, directed and influenced it. It soon became apparent that many of them were of German origin. My father and his father’s generation had been embroiled in war with Germany yet I was inspired by so many German artists and writers. Significantly many of my influences had been on the Nazi regime’s list of ‘degenerate art’. The writer, artist and mountain walker Hermann Hesse, significantly, even stood up against the First World War. Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys all had to cope in their various ways with having been born in Germany and the aftermath stigma of the Third Reich.

a The scale is the result of the dance

my portrait of Anselm Kiefer

Luckily my embroilment has been with the positive creative side of the German spirit. The list is long and the work they did will give insight into my own output, about which the article will further inform you. Beneath German military imperialism lays a deeper current, German humanism as manifested in the work of writers like Hesse, Walser and Klee, each has had a profound effect on my work/output which I shall be linking to the work of the following artists showing how they have had an impact on my thinking:

Expressionists; Shmidt-Rotluf, Franz Marc (Post Card To Prince Jussuf), Kokoshka with his very literature base and liberal brush.

Dada etc; Max Ernst Collage books (La Femme 100 tetes) and his Livres d’artists,

Bauhaus; Klee, Schlemmer

Post war; Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys

Add to these Munch and Soutine, both of whom have a similar ‘feel’ and indeed the former certainly influenced the Expressionists. https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=expressionist+painters

*Kokoshka was born in Austria but was associated with German Expressionism and dada.

Wikipedia says that Kokoschka (who became involved with Performance Art) was a master of ‘innovative oil painting techniques anchored in earlier traditions’ which resonates with my lifelong observation  about ‘art’ or rather  ‘the creative process’ passing down a (transcendent) chain or  down a line/ lineage.

I see my portraits as descendent from the work of Rembrandt or El Greco, then Van Gogh and Soutine yet it never lamely mimics any of them. They set the example but I always looked to move it on. I was born into a generation which experimented with and pushed the barriers, sometimes too far, too quickly. I have always looked over my shoulder or down to see my feet standing on the shoulders of giants. I fought hard with my own inadequacies to overcome my incompetence in various media. I did find my way to doing some oil paintings which had considerable skill. All of the time I heard Max Ernst whispering in my ear that ‘painting is dead’, yet I refused to allow that to happen, I love the push of the wet gooey brush across the dry canvas surface and my attempts to make a difference. I was aware that so many great artists had (before I began) created a great legacy of amazing works which I could hardly hope to match, so I would push off in another direction. To find that direction I would look intensively into the history of ‘art’ and into the practice which was going on around me from the time of my first successful paintings and prints until today.

In the early 1970’s I was lucky to see the work of Soutine, de Kooning, Barnet Newman and Dieter Roth all of whom did what I considered to be ground-breaking work which itself was keeping to the lineage of the greats that went before them. I wanted to create new and original work which proved ever so difficult when the art market only really wanted to have the work of established masters or people who were following in their footsteps. They wouldn’t look at my work because I was not in the canon or established or I didn’t have the right track record or had not been vetted by the right colleges. And who can blame them when so many artists were being produced, choosing who to back and add to the canon must have been difficult. But I carried on making my art regardless, for 48 years now. Now it can be seen that I have created a large oeuvre which has a wide variety of differing styles and ways of working, yet another taboo in the ‘art-world’ where they like it if you concentrate on a small area then you can be boxed up and sold.

I was inspired by Ernst. I saw Roth as an oasis on my starving journey. And later I saw Beuys and Keifer doing things I had done as a result of pursuing my own star only they did them more than I ever could with my limited time and resources.

‘Beuys never made a painting on canvas; he explicitly rejected this traditional artistic production.’ P68 JB-A Colourful World, pubr. Schellmann Art, Munich 2011. Here is a difference because I did do paintings and other things onto canvas, I wouldn’t stop because Beuys did not choose this medium, but I would be able to consider many materials for use in my own work having been given permission so to do by Beuys having used them either before I did or without my knowing that he had and my later finding out he had used materials I had chosen, except before me. What Beuys, Ernst and Roth did was encourage my daring when it came to which materials could be used to make my work with. Had I stuck to the limited media which my educators and many British artists before the sixties had stuck to my output would have been severely limited. Even today many of my pieces are frowned upon by people from all walks of life because many have little idea as to the way art and its use or abuse of materials has moved for better or worse in the past 50 years.

On 23.7.14 I got a note from David Jury about our collaboration for an artists book Inside This Clay Vessel http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780950426716/BATCH-Introduction-Thoughts-Clay-Jug-0950426717/plp :

‘I did a lot of work on Vessel page 2 (V2) today but had to make quite a few changes from yesterday’s efforts. I expect to get a printed result tomorrow. It was Braunschweig University that I visited, but they have no link to Beuys. The permanent exhibition of Beuys I mentioned is kept at a fantastic gallery in Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof. They have a couple of fabulous Keifer pieces too, but they are not always on display.’

I had been asking him about his visit to Braunschweig and the artists that he’d told me about with a view to me going there one day(?). In 2015 I produced a book about the making of my picture called Venus Stairs which was inspired by Schlemmer’s Bauhaus Staircase. The more I see of Schlemmer’s oeuvre the more I love it, especially the stuff he did related to performance, especially now that I am so involved with Performance Art.

Two weeks ago I recited my Beuys poem at firstsite Gallery in Colchester. The poem pokes fun at Beuys and his ways but it’s also an homage to him. When I spent 2 weeks in the company of Performance Artist Jurgen Fritz I was aware that I am still a novice in the field of Performance Art but Jurgen said encouraging things about my efforts. I have been eating, sleeping & dreaming up Performance Art pieces since then and my next blog will be about the IPA fortnight.

making the point

Here’s me reciting my Beuys poem. He had gold on his face, I couldn’t afford gold so I used black.

 

Sunset for ‘Radar Ken’

refleced moi sm Here’s a photo taken of me in a moment of reflection back around 1994 and below are some of the reflections on where the spirit which inhabits the body whilst we ‘live’ goes when we ‘die’: I’d like to thank those of you who have ‘liked’ this post and all of you who have written to me with your feelings & thoughts, Namaste.

I ‘found’ myself when I finally refrained from looking and chasing around. I had relaxed and was just taking my part in the journey of life. I picked up some notes from 2002 where I had mentioned my then 84 year old mother and my father who had died aged 73 (both born in 1918). My mum lived a further 7 years into her 90s. I was reading the Dalai Lama then as I am now and then I likened him to an alien presence, realising that we all are, as we are visitors to this planet. Our ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’ is merely passing through…However, although I respect their vision I must point out there are millions of other stars and planets out there. Don’t we visit some of them as well?

Tibetan insight into existence would have us believe that what we refer to as ‘life’ is the Bardo of Living and what we see as ‘death’ is their Bardo Of Dying. These are opposites like yin & yang which can’t exist without each other. Tibetan monks see existence as a series of steps or ‘transitions’ through these bardos. We inhabit the bardo of living when we are born and enter the bardo of dying when we ‘depart this mortal coil’. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition says our spirit returns to the bardo of living many (millions of) times in rebirth until we eventually get ‘Enlightenment’ and quit this scene for good.

I been lucky as I been around (in this lifetime) 64 years + some months & days hours minutes & seconds. Let’s crunch numbers- in 1967 when I were 16 Lennon wrote When Am 64 with his old mucka. None of us 16 year olds anticipated back then in 67 that we’d ever be 64 but now 48 yearns later I have become 64 and in 48 years from noo, in October 2063 had I lived that long I’d be 112. Few of us in the west ever think about our deaths as it’s almost taboo to talk about death and writing a blog about the subject is a rather risky ting to do on the face of it but I insist it is a good idea to address the issue before I die cos afterwards it’d be difficult no doubt. I don’t intend to be, and I insist I am not being, morbid. On the contrary I am elucidating to those of you what don’t know the Tibetan take on death is that they take it on early in their thinking lives so that when it does arrive it won’t take them by surprise, they are ready.

blessin crowd

Buddhists perceive the human condition as one permeated by ‘suffering’ and their aim is to become a Buddha through gaining Enlightenment. This is intangible to me with the only way to ‘see’ or ‘understand’ it being only by ‘nuance’ or a glimpse.

Occasionally I ‘glimpse’ a sense of the presence of my dead dad. I may see a symbol which represents him for me like a lacewing and often in moments rather appropriate for my memory of time spent with him.

The same applies to seeing or remembering past lives. In a recurring dream I see a 19th century helmet in mud on a battlefield which speaks to me of a previous life-death in the Crimean war. It’s a rather strange view but I ‘get’ that was from a previous life but it would be more convincing if I had a snitchet of conversation or more detail about the site.

dalama peace gdn small

I am not sure if the Dalai Lama ‘sees’ his past lives (on Earth, in Tibet) clearly. Until I myself have had such vivid clear sight I remain unsure as to whether anyone else can do so.

Thinking like a materialist or a logical positivist empiricist I could/would say I can tell you what I saw or felt. So, I can look back and see myself walking up Manchester Road in Burnley ahead of my mum who was pushing a pram plus my sister after we had seen the Queen Elizabeth at Burnley town hall in 1955 when I was 4 years old.

Queen Liz arriving to obsequiousness at Burnley town hall.

a queen alone bly sm

Liz was more interested in looking in the crowd for ‘Littul Pete’ and his mum.

a queen at burnley

I can see myself playing with a big tin American model toy car in the mud near my home on Wycoller Avenue. I have memories of playing football and wrestling other boys. These memories are real in various degrees. My wife often comments that what I just recalled doesn’t fit her memory of an event we shared together, ‘That’s not how I remember it.’ That calls into question my retention skills and also the idea that we all see the same thing or same event the same way which of course we never can cos we are different folks. As for seeing back into different incarnations, well there’s even less ‘proof’.

Regarding seeing forward to what will happen when I die again there’s no apparent cognisance. Recently some three of my personal friends have died. With each of us, when we die, what happens is the ‘life’ leaves the body. We see that.

a roy F leaving his body sm

My old friend Roy Fraser leaving his earth body watched by Apulsfinx.

The evidence is clear. The body ceases to function and we can no longer have a conversation with them, in a physical sense, any more. And soon enough it will occur to my own body, it will ‘die’. (Tibetans say that everything is impermanent and this is true scientifically too. The body we call ‘ours’ is in constant flux, never remaining the same from one moment to the next, subtle changes we are mostly unaware of. Once the spirit leaves the body it has no further use for that body becomes surplus to requirement. Some people donate parts of their old body to science and the medical needs of others which I believe is a generous action. In old Tibet they used sky burials, thus providing the wildlife (usually birds) with sustenance. This was partly to do with the lack of soft earth to dig nor wood to cremate with as in India. I have found a beautiful poem by Robert Okaji in a blog I follow-  http://atomicgeography.com/2015/08/13/another-sky-burial/ Whatever is done with our body after we die in one way or another it reconstitutes. It is said that in all of us there is a trace of elements from the original Big Bang. Everything is always changing. That is a mantra I wrote in the early 1970’s when I used to keep a journal towards my future books. Once you accept that you can see the need to cling onto even our old discarded body is unnecessary. I sense some folk may find this writing a bit difficult. yes it may be with the old taboos that are so prevalent in our society which i believe need to be lifted. I see a need to be able to speak about the subject called death with compassion and harmony rather than fear and trepidation. One lady in reply to this blog revealed to me that she used to care for the body of the person who had died and that she saw the activity as “what a privilege it is to perform this final act of care but for most people who die”. Tibetan writings as in Sogyal Rinpoche’s Book of Living & Dying give guidance on how to stay with the deceased person and help them acclimatise to the bardo of dying. I have thought about Ken this week and whilst listening to some beautiful Tibetan monks chanting on cd I could imagine his spirit coming over the mountain to meet thoise monks who would be ready to recieve & welcome hoim along with their ability to put him at ease in his new form. Namaste, Bless you, Shalom. ) What will happen to this thing which is making this pen write these words is unbeknown to me. I have my suspicions, my thoughts on what may happen and emotion and romanticism will inevitably creep into my ideas. We age from the moment of conception, aging is no crime, it’s a fact of life. The idea that this ‘entity’/spirit me which inhabits this aging body will cease to exist because the body that houses it stops functioning seems naïve and ridiculous to me. But we seem to have no proof, after some millions of years in the process of evolving into ‘modern’ humans (ubeings to take gender out of the term) there seems no proof of what happens to this entity that writes these words when the body that enables the mind to drive the impulse from the brain to the hand to the pen ceases functioning because the life force that impulses the body to pump blood around and send minute (my newt) messages almost instantaneously from brain along the cerebral cortex to the fingers and out thru the pen, stops. There’s a circle there. The life force drives the thought, the nervous system and the blood pump and when that life-force stops the processing stops. There must be a yin-yang or positive-negative force going on. The body cannot function without the life force which cannot function without the body, seemingly, at least we have no proof.

Here is a rather sombre/somber song by Len Cohen which seems to be a reflection on all aspects of life and death. I love Cohen’s work he does the most beautiful poems which translate so well into song accompanied always by stunning musicians and singers. This however seems to be his reflections on life without the faintest gilding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x12oo8diKE

We have no proof that there is life on the other planets that have now been proven to be going around many of the billions of stars that exist. We have proof of the minutest microbes because they can be magnified and ‘seen’ but we cannot ‘see’ the life force which inhabits our bodies. Can we?

My life force goes to bed to sleep about 11pm and awakens between 4 (thanks cats) and 7am. Whilst it sleeps it is still functioning. It still pumps from the heart and ‘sees’ dreams and certain sounds impinge enough to wake me up. I don’t wish to give a blow by blow, puff by puff account of ‘living’ what I am trying to get to, to understand, is the life-force. On top of mundane tasks like toileting, washing up, eating, I create ‘art’ including the words on this paper. That’s just above existing. I dance. I drive a car etc. one day in the next 40 years for sure all that will stop. Bound to. My body will have aged and deteriorated so much that it cannot continue to function. Then am gone. This is where the words don’t come. I cannot anticipate what happens. Some say nothing, dead end- pardon the pun. That seems a shame & a waste after all the effort that went in from me being 3 and walking up Manchester Road ‘til now in 2015 with my GCEs & Masters degrees and all. But it’s a fact, it stops, the physical part. So my dad died and took all of his steeplejack knowledge with him, his second world war experience went too.

In a way that’s why I write and create art so that I leave a footprint other than the natural residue of having lived x years but in many ways my ‘work’ is clutter, rubbish and it will dissipate. So enjoy it, drink it while you still can.