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!
It was not just a Book Launch, it was my 67th Birthday Celebration at Colchester Arts Centre (CAC) on Sunday altho’ my birthday is 27 Oct we had decided that Nov5 is an easier date to remember remember. As it turned out we forgot to celebrate ma birtdae, altho’ my wife did send a cake to CAC which my guests enjoyed. I was too busy clearing up the stage area so the next act could set up..
Anthony Roberts gave me the invite to Launch on seeing a copy of my The Shrewd Idiot book and he also gave me a beautifully phrased introduction yesterday which made me feel real good!
Richard Spencer did two songs beautifully to help me tell the shrewd idiot’s tale (of woe & glad tiding)
The Performance Art gig I did just grew and grew in the weeks (nay months) of prep as I got more excited on its approach. The idea which underpins my PA gigs is to bring my static 2D, 3D and BookArt forms to life, to have them walking and talking and most of all DANCING to celebrate life, theirs and mine!
CAC gave me the best facilities I have ever had access to and I am very very grateful for that. Neil Thorp (the man detailed out by Mark Senior Techie who left the country on seeing my scrip) to do the Techie work was very helpful and patient with this first timer. He accommodated my script and its being crammed with different ‘tracks’ of music (which I had edited down in Audacity to give my story a running musical accompaniment appropriate to the story line and of course with a dance beat I could move to in what one of those present has kindly called ‘dad dancing’) and different ‘slide changes’ on a powerpoint I never had intended to use but it was apparently the best way to coordinate the sound, vision and lighting schedules. Ben Howard it was who organised the provision for my gig and gave me encouraging words in the weeks before. Anyway the outcome was tremendous as I looked at the stage before the crowd was allowed in.
Although I had a poster printed on yellow paper (A3,4 & 5!) and got it distributed around Colchester, even at the Town Hall, there was something lacking in my promotion of the gig as all those who turned up already owned copies of my Beautiful Shrewd Idiot book. I did mention it (hundreds of times) in my blArt, posted a tweet about it and the lovely Daphne Sandham at Colchester Art Society put up a mention of it in her weekly newsletter to members and she retweeted my tweet. They came to see if the man in the book was for real. Well, in the book he was 18-23 years old between 1969-73, in the process of becoming an artist & teacher whilst being tamed by 3 lovely women in those years. Yes he does exist but a bit older now and not necessarily as good a dancer altho’ he did attempt to disprove that fallacious, rather libellous, definitely deleterious theory to cries of ‘dad dancing’ called in mock humour.
He also exhibited some salacious stories about his former self(s). Some of his creations ‘came to life too’ well one did, Apulhed, whose appearance was indeed the highlight, an opinion unanimously acclaimed by the audience.
Here’s some images of the author dad-dancing and not caring about the consequences (in fact some of his moves were perfec Zumba).
Here’s the Emperor Rosegon Dance Competition in full swing. The judge was a bit biased! I admit now I should have come 3rd not 1st, but whose birthday and whose gig were it any road up!
One of the best things which arose from the gig was a beautiful informed review written by Gary Malkin of the Artist’s Book Archive at Baltic, Gatesheed. I’ll ask his permission to post it next time as he gave great insight into my books, particularly The Shrewd Idiot, Christine Dixon created two beautiful handouts for the gig which I wish I had used in the advance publicity. She also came up on stage to grace the floor with her dancing skills as I reminisced about my chat up lines from the 1970s! Thank you Christine. Thanks also to Dave Doughty who acted as the Taxi Driver and the film maker. I hope to post the results of his efforts in the not too distant so you can enjoy ma gig at CAC.
I am doing a very quick blArt this week as I am hard on rehearsing and preparing for my book launching gig at Colchester Arts Centre this coming Sunday 5th November at 2pm.
Am also doing a reading of Bukowski’s Poem For Dante at Firstsite in Colchester on Friday 3rd at 7.30 when the Educaid trust will be having another of their wonderful group readings in aid of Sierra Leone. No time even for yoga classes this week.
I am trying to pull together all my recent inspirations to attract interest in my series of books concerning The Shrewd Idiot.
If you have a spare hour Sunday afternoon the main activity is from 2-3 pm.
You may like to buy one of my books at a really good price too.
Here’s a couple of images I took at today’s practice. [Don’t forget to bring your camera! You can flash away til yer heart’s content cos I got no ban on cameras. That’s not to do with vanity, it’s freedom of speech, a pic tells a 1000 words.] Oh and can some of you let me know if you are coming, then I’ll get my beautiful wife to make more birthday cakes. At present there’s no way of knowing numbers cos we said no entry fee. That means no bookings so we cannot estimate numbers. But like Sophia saw at Red Lion, I’d perform (my art) even if nobody came, but I do know some folk will be there.
Some of the Idiot’s garb.
This is just a dummy Apulhed Mask (real one is a secret to be revealed on the day)
A former self
I don’t want to give too much away but I shall be in dialogue with my former selves and my character Apulhed will make a surprise appearance. That’s as long as he can make it from whatever part of the cosmos he’s visiting now. He’s never let me down before. Looks like he’s in Japan!
Or he may be further afield. I wake about 4am and look out my window and there above the trees I have a great view of Orion’s Belt with Sirius lurking below it.
There was a full moon tonight and I awoke at 2am to take some photos of our nearest neighbour, some may tink am a bit nutty?
You’re not going to believe this but I am already preparing for my Book Launch at Colchester Arts Centre (CAC) scheduled for November 5th 2017. Apart from my books and artworks being there I shall do some Performance Art (PA). I know the things I’d like to do and with the ambience and assistance at CAC I am certain that it’ll be the best venue so far where I’ve done my PA stuff. I shall use this Bruno Mars Talking To The Moon piece https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9pXeziqdLc in my The Three Graces (see below).
However. Whatever I plan at the moment may change dramatically as I am about to go to Germany to spend time with my PA heroes Vest & Page (aka Verena & Andrea). This is a link to a trailer of their 2016 film, ‘Plantain’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS80Ki-T9bI Their workshop is phenomenal like their work and I shall leave it a different Performance Artist to the one I am now. Hopefully a better one, of that I have little doubt. The last time I did PA in the company of V&P I poured wine over my head, I had pancake dough plopped on it too, leaves and grass all over my body and the gathered onlookers were laughing at my antics which, I must warn you, only encourages me to do more!
For those of you who need to know more about what PA is I can say that it is whatever the PA artist decides it is (Jurgen Fritz said in 2015, “Pete does what Pete does and that is what it is.”). PA can be very short, just a few minutes or very long, several days non-stop which is called ‘durational’ [or endurance, for the person doing PA and the potential audience]. You won’t have to ‘endure’ mine as am only planning on 3 pieces each about 15 minutes long.
I have also prepared the definitive Mask of Apulhed(man) and have been doing ‘research at Tate Modern where I saw the South Korean Geumhyung Jeong make her masks come to life. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zm37m8/geumhyung-jeong-at-tate-modern-tanks-seven-different-ways Also went to see avant garde Flamenco dancer Rocio Molina at Barbican cos I want to put about 60 seconds of ‘flamenco’ into ma gig. This week I went to see Michael Clark Company do his tribute to David Bowie at Barbican. As there’s quite a bit of (purported) dance in ma gig am hoping their moves influence my body in a positive way. It was a good night of dance, a bit short at 90 minutes including a 20 mins interval but it was good to see how good Clark dances.
The link below will show you some very differing PA pieces with a go at describing the form that is PA in the first para. :
There are ‘purists’ who tend to prefer not to use music, dance, or spoken word and like to do intense, mysterious-meaningful actions which may be about political or ethical issues. I am not a purist. I like to use music, dance, spoken word and changes of garb. I like to tell stories through movement & masks in my PA, stories about myself and the state of the world as I find it now and how it was when I moved through the years I have lived. Not a lot has changed over the years, the rich get richer and the rest of us just have to muddle on doing the best we can. I need faith hope & love to carry on pushing creative outcomes which make people think and maybe even entertain for as long as I am able, I am just so fortunate to be able. Ability takes years to accumulate and it can disappear in the blink of an eye so I make as much use of my time as I can.
This is a cover I designed but did not use for the book.
So, at the moment the stories I shall focus on will be taken from the book I have just published called The Shrewd Idiot. I knew the idiot well and I feel for his inability to get things right in his life. At the time portrayed in the book (1969-73) he didn’t know his ass from his twits. He was in fact a very lucky man with many friends and some were very close to him yet he often went out searching for more. One thing I know now, after all these, was that he rarely felt or showed any sense of being ‘worthy’. He didn’t comport himself with the pride and feeling of value that many of his achievements warranted. Once he had achieved some good accomplishment he never rested on his laurels, he moved immediately on, to the next challenge.
When it came to his relationships with women, like many men, the one he was with was rarely the one he wanted to stay with and he was always looking for a better model. The idiot never understood that ‘a bird on the handle is worth two in the brush’ or summat like that. So, in almost all he did, and he did a lot, he was never satisfied. And one reason he couldn’t get his head together and think straight was cos he spent a lot of his evenings under the influence of alcoholic beverage. “Pissed all th’time”, some were heard to say when asked about his state of mind. In the Colchester Arts Centre PA at 2pm on 5Nov 2017 My 67 year old self will have some dialogue with my ‘Self’ from the early 1970’s, that’s if he remembers to turn up, sobre.
His drinking sprees will not be the subject of the PA, but his relations with women are in a piece called The Three Graces (about the 3 women he actually liked to be with…most of the time). Between 1969 and 1973 the idiot had relations of quite intense quality with 3 young women (these didn’t overlap…much) but lost all 3 because of his inability to show commitment. Actually he could commit. He committed to being Social Secretary at college, to playing football for the 3rd eleven at college and to ‘making art’ but that didn’t help his relationships in fact it very much undermined them. So The Three Graces is about the idiot’s feelings of loss after they had all wandered away from him.
Sounds really sad dunnit? But no, it was not only sad, it was uplifting, the idiot had to look at what he did and change for the better, which he did but it took decades and the help of a good woman to bring him through to a better place. Her identity is not evident in The Three Graces PA, but she was there for him as he managed to settle down, have a family and eventually stop savouring the evil brew.
The idiot eventually did be shrewd and now he has published some memoirs. And the whole idea of the book launch is to encourage folks to purchase them in the form of a beautifully composed book. There’s two or three to choose from at varying prices, but you’ll get to see them on November 5th.
Now I’d like to reveal my new ‘book-box’ with various parts of the Inside This Clay Jug project on display in it.
[I do not expect it to sell in fact on the contrary it is my own personal gallery space in which I can house an important show about a vital phase in my output.
I have had many ‘shows’ of my output since leaving college in Exeter in July 1973. The leaving of college, like the leaving of school is an important juncture. Leaving school was for me as being born (again) when I dropped the manacles which had gripped me since first entering school aged 4.
The first hint or ‘show’ of my output was my buk Apul-One which said (to my school) “You no longer manacle me, I’m free as can be. I no longer had to acquiesce to the norm”, I could do it my way and I did, for example with the personalised phonetic (fonetic) spellins. As it happened in 1975 I couldn’t exhibit (in my ‘gallery’, which Apul-One was) the beautiful use of colour which my ‘art’ employed as that was too costly but I was able to use my B&W works. Those colours are now available in my ‘Shrewd Idiot Series’ of books recently self-published (2017).
The Inside This Clay Jug project is vastly different to the content of Apul-One & the ‘Shrewd Idiot Series’ which both appear to reflect my own journey through the early 1970s. Inside This Clay Jug exhibits and reflects upon my acquisition of knowledge in, what may be best referred to as, the realm of spiritual contemplation, my thoughts on the deeper aspects of my existence and my investigations into ideas and concepts a little deeper than the surface level at which most of us conduct our daily journey.]
The book-box is circa A2 in size & about 25mm in depth.
There’s a copy of each of the books; G BATCH, Inside This Great Pot, Inside This Earthen Vessel (PK version), Inside This Earthen Vessel (DJ letterpress version) and the full set of 6 etchings from the G Batch master drawings plus the original poems printed on Japanese paper AND the tiny version of DJ’s ISEV.
Here you can see the Jung & the Silesi etchings which are printed in sepia colour and have a tilted diamond shape.
here is the PK version of ISEV resting on the DJ one, with a colour photo of one of his chases.
a closer view of David’s chase for the Silesi letterpress print
the other photo (we only recorded two) of the Beuys’ print chase. All six chases were dissed on completion of the set of prints.
All wrapped in ribbon with DJ’s folder full of letterpress prints at the back
Possibly most beautiful of all?
A simulation of my two Leaf Books inside the book-box!
This juxtaposition may never occur, or I may make a book-box specifically to hold them together altho’ of course they must be sold separately because they are very expensive.
The 2 leaf books each contain six etchings from the G BATCH master series along with the six early poems about the ‘wise men*’ on Japanese paper.
Well it were a toss up between that and The Wise Fool. Shrewd- astute, penetrating, artful and crafty- (I tink) shrewd entails ‘wise’ altho that in fact in the definition relates to money… The Shrewd Idiot aka Pete Kennedy is (or was) that- an Idiot in a lot of his habits BUT he always knew there was a wise part in the mix because he had conversed with it on occasion; in lucid moments. “From early on I knew that ‘life’ was a serious game but I soon learned to make light of it. I frequently played the fool. Apart from rock music and sport my great loves in life have been art & humour [altho’ this tome is not (deliberately) funny], my great heroes include Groucho & Harpo Marx, Spike Milligan & Tommy Cooper.”
Another title could have been A Lucid Tosser or Lucid Idjet…L I, or Li bringing in a zen feel to it.
There’s also another possibility in David Pierce’s book, Reading Joyce where on p. 316 he says, “[the surname] Glue is in fact from Old English gleaw, meaning wise or prudent.” So The Gleaw Idiot? Maybe not. Altho’ I was born in Glesgaw…The Glesgaw Idjet… The Glasgae Idiot?
Anyway all this is too late, the books are named.
So the ‘hero’ of the buk reveals his self, warts & all. There’s big honesty, an honesty which may seem unpalatable to some but it’s part of his idiotic nature- he cannot tell a lie or be clever for the sake of deceiving.
Gail Cher wrote in ‘One Continuous Mistake’, “Fleeting thoughts … quietly shock our being. You think one, sometimes you don’t even realise it’s there…it has been…your mind contains the memory…your consciousness is no longer the same….you keep track of your philosophical thoughts, your spiritual thoughts, your pecuniary thoughts, thoughts of your loved ones…”.) Gail Cher might have written those words for the doltie/dorky hero which is my because those are the kinda thoughts he notes down throughout the book(s) named after him!
Apul-One (original cover A5)
My old Burnley secondary school friend John Walton told me after he had read in 1976, ‘Pete, you write the thoughts we all have and think we’ll write them down but never do…’ Writing was his trade and I took that as a gentle compliment.
The Shrewd Idiot (cover A4 version) Portrait of the Idiot As A Young Man
So it is not a normal book. It’s written in the first person and is purportedly about the first four years of my life after I left school nearly 19 years old.
It’s not an autobiography because it doesn’t outline my successes in life, rather the opposite, it settles on my many doubts and failings (like frequent self-abuse). It features my anguishes rather than my triumphs, not the stuff of autobios. In my life I had many and regular successes and achievements, most of which don’t make it into this rather voluminous moan-ologue. But the fleeting moments do and I believe it’s those fleeting moments that mould the person, that’s why they’re featured. It’s the challenges, the overcoming the doubts and deficiencies that maketh (wo)man. I hope I’m correct cos if am not then this is 300 pages of unadulterated drivel, but don’t worry, be happy that I wouldn’t do that to you. Over 40 years since I first set my pen to paper writing this tome long-hand from the journals I kept tween 1969-73 and after spending months doing final edits and the layout for the book before I published it I am sure there is a story there, in fact several stories within the main momentum which follows me from a green horny youth through days of satisfaction and later of loss. The book shows many relationships beginning and moving on and some ending (prematurely) with some continuing way past the book’s end.
BUT, apart from the overt stories, there’s the covert revelations. It reveals my initiations, realisations, and most of all my growth from a punchy teenager to a more reflective early 20 year old who has no idea what his future holds but knows he’s at least prepared with his accumulated skills and learnings to face most of what life normally throws at a person and from experience knows that he can cope with some of the extraordinary things that crop up now & then.
The ‘punchy teenager’ taming was begun by the first of 3 women (The Three Graces) who had a major impact on him in those 4 years. Her name in the book was Bluebell, in real life it was Cath. She was the first woman I ‘went out with’ after I left school and in effect she saved my life. She gave me hope for the future and I still received her Christmas cards until a year or two ago… they seem to have petered out now despite my writing to her Australian address to tell her I’d like to send her a copy of the SI(A4). The second grace, Rose, real life- Jane, drifted rapidly then slowly out of my life but she taught me to value patience, although it’s taken 40 years for the lesson to kick my ass. The third grace, Camellia, whose real name I cannot reveal cos she’ll bat me, is still teaching me how to behave. She’s still got a lot of work to do. So as a result of those 3 gracious ladies I became less punchy, despite for a while taking on karate (I’m yellow!), I now learn Tai Chi with Master Ch’n Lay Seng, and the last thing you do in Tai Chi is get punchy!
The other revelation is of course the art that I produced. Much of my best work from 1968-73 is displayed in the book(s). One of my greatest thrills is to have found an outlet for the imagery which otherwise would have remained in my drawer until after my death* when it’d be taken out and revealed as the work of a wonderful undiscovered talent and then sold for millions of dollars, yen, euros but not £s cos an artist is never really recognised in his home town, are they? But I no longer care that for the past 40 odd years I was unable to find a market for the works I turned out with never ending enthusiasm. Most all of them end up in my big plans-chest or a hut in ma garden and remain unseen, so the SI buks are, for me, a comprehensive solo exhibition of those works. In the A4 version you get 25 images on translucent paper (tracing paper for want of a better word) which gives what I refer to as ‘palimpsest’ views through the parts of the paper which contain no image.
*Spike Milligan said, “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens”.
buks have been my vindication and I am so proud to present them to the world. The A4 version of The Shrewd Idiot can be bought (£45 rrp) at the Whitechapel Gallery bookshop in London. The British Library will receive one copy but the other national libraries won’t as I only made 50 copies and at that price I cannot afford to give em away.
I have now firmed up the date with Antony Roberts at Colchester Arts Centre to do a ‘launch cum celebration’ event around books. The date is Sunday afternoon at 2pm on 5th November 2017, just 9 days after ma 67th boithday. So there should be cakes and drinks and maybe me doing a couple of the performance art pieces (paps) about the books, inc The Three Graces). I must say, I’ve waited almost 40 years to do something there, I first approached the centre in c.1976 shortly after its formation, the then Principal of Colchester Art College (Atkinson?) and Tim Holden interviewed me, the former saying he thought was good but the rest o ma work didn’t strike a chord with him. They laughed at me when I said I wanted to do a show there, they’re not laughing now!
Congratulations to Sally Shaw and all at Firstsite for getting that BIG arts council grant. The gallery has moved a long way since its near demise a couple of years ago.
It was great to see Firstsite humming with at least 3 simultaneous activities last Friday night when I was lucky to be invited once again by Jim Pey at Educaid to read one of my pieces. I did a 2017 poym inspired by my 1972 set of screenprints ‘Appleheadman Sees’ which I shall read again on the 5th of November with a little brushing up. In fact I’d love to do my PA version of the song called ‘Brush’ by Colin Lloyd Tucker too too.
Everyting cums to hee hee what waits!
The activities of Pete Kennedy, Performance Artist Bloke, Book Creator & retired artist.