Category Archives: world peace

about working toward conflict resolution in peaceful ways

Inside This Earthen Book-Box 1

This is only part one of a blArt about my new Inside This Earthen Book-Box ITEB

Part 2 will follow in a few days with more images of the Book-Box

pot wit scrolls sm
6 scrolls surround my pot on a hexagonal table, notice the Beuys’ scroll has felt over it!

A while ago I wrote a series of poems to be printed as scrolls which I placed inside a big pot.

I called the project Inside This Clay Jug after a poem Robert Bly had recited after the original translation by Rabindranath Tagore of a 14th century poem by Kabir. I first heard the recital on the late a Jackie Leven cd. I loved it and was lucky to have known Jackie when he used another pen name, John St Fields. I loved his rendition of Inside This Clay Jug for years and was fortunate to get together with Jackie shortly before he died. The project was as much in memorium to him as it was a celebration of knowledge passed down in ancient times by communities who hid their precious writings in pots in caves or underground like the Nag Hamadi library and Buddhist pots found in Kandahar.

the jug sm
Pot + Scrolls stand on sand base. There are words from Kabir’s poem on the pot. Each scroll has a leather thong with the name of the subject or his associative domain created on a clay tab.

I don’t expect anyone to go to this link BUT it has an account of how Buddha’s pot for alms was found in Kandahar, it’s an incredibly complex story but the kind I find quite fascinating if & when I find the time to explore. For me this kind of exploration is the closest I’ll ever get to actually setting foot in Kandahar cos am a lazy old tyke. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=umZEfH1n0X4C&pg=PA281&lpg=PA281&dq=Buddhist+pots+found+in+Kandahar&source=bl&ots=XcgKUd5QC8&sig=qX35SJ3d_ZAJ9w4c_sG7PDX6YGQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqmNzu2_zUAhUNY1AKHV-ADl8Q6AEIRTAJ#v=onepage&q=Buddhist%20pots%20found%20in%20Kandahar&f=false

Recently I bound a copy of David Jury’s beautiful letterpress version of my poems in pots into a codex book.

1 isev bk SoB comp sm
Inside This Earthen Vessel (ISEV)

Letterpress print version bound as a codex book 

I only made two copies so far, one for me and one for DJ. And I have added a lovely little purple tassle to mine and sent it up to an international competition to see if they like it.

Whilst making the book I made a couple of extra cover and thought one day I’d make a book-box with one of em and put into it every incarnation of my poems for the Clay Jug Project about which I also published a book called G BATCH.

a cover of gbatch
Front cover of G BATCH

Now I know G BATCH is not the best name for the book, it’d be better named something like Inside This Clay Jug an Introduction. I preferred at the time to take letters from the names of the six men that my poems are about and as a group is also a batch called it a batch, G BATCH. The book is handmade in an edition of 50. It explains my ideas behind the project.

a orignl carl jung design
In my collage of Carl Jung I include a mandala I invented for Jung with pots and fishes plus a Buddhist Wheel of life. He is wearing his Gnostic ring.

It also has the master drawing that I used for the etchings of the six men.

isev at corsham court 2 sm
ISEV displayed at the Bath Spa ‘Concrete Poetry’ Symposium

I re-wrote the poems and published about 3 versions of them, Inside This Earthen Vessel (ISEV) was one version wherein I did the layout of the poems in the shape of pots and when DJ saw them he suggested we collaborate on the letterpress version which he would print. Those prints of the poems are now quite famous. Back in 2014 The Poetry Library at Southbank exhibited their copy in the Open Show of that year. They were recently (June 2017) exhibited at Bath Spa uni as part of their symposium on Concrete Poetry.

I did do a ‘concrete poem’ with the names of the G BATCH, actually more a log poem:

a gbatch concrete poem sm
Look carefully and you’ll see the names carved onto the logs.

Nowadays the bark is dropping off so I am going to recut the names a little deeper into the trunks to add to the poem’s lifespan along with some clarity.

Here’s some images of the Tenzin Gyatso (Dalai Lama) one when it was first cut.

a gyatso log stands
In my log poem I put his name where the T is in Batch. I s’pose I can recut the name as Tenzin?

 

a gyatso log cut
Tenzin Gyatso is the Dalai Lama’s name.

 

 

 

 

 

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Team of trophies.

 

Real Madrid have eleven European Cups in their trophy cabinet now. (Liverpool have 5, Notts Forest won it twice & Man U av 2.)

That makes Real Madrid (Ray-Al some say) historically the greatest club in Europe, by far. Even back in 1961 when I was ten years old and playing for Tod Road Junior team in the Hartley Cup Final Ray-Al had already won the Cup 5 times, in fact every year since its inception in 1955 and we all fought to be Di Stefano, Puskas or Ghento in kickabouts in Burnley’s backstreets. I go to two finals as a 10 year old and we were joint winners of both. That’s the closest I ever came to winning a cup. Where does that place me in the ‘greats’ of football? About the same place as I am in amongst the greats in everything else- Nowhere Man.

But Don’t Give Up I hear Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush & the Dalai Lama sing. I may never have won a cup but I scored many wonderful goals and had some great achievements. Oh be Thankful!

sennacheribs prism BM image

The Sennacherib Prism 691 BC rests in the British museum for all of us to fascinate over. Their comment is:

‘Hexagonal clay prism, foundation record lists campaigns of (Assyrian king) Sennacherib until the start of his final war against Babylon, and includes a description of the tribute received from Hezekiah, King of Judah in 701 BC’. See this fascinating (despite having subtle leanings toward a biblical bias) article about the prism et al:

http://www.bible-history.com/empires/prism.html

 

I discovered it (The Sennacherib Prism) was there (at the BM) in the final week of my MA in ‘Art & the Book’. I had just about completed a major project in which I had used six men of ideas as the focus for my idea of placing ‘knowledge’ in clay pots. The project pivots around the concept of ‘six’, which in fact was a pragmatic reduction on Gurdjeff’s use of nine, nine would have increased my workload by another 50% and I had enough with six. Luckily six sided shapes tessellate as any bee will tell ya and bees also feature in the ideas of two of my ‘heroes’, Gurdjeff & Beuys.

 

For me the ancient hexagonal prism was and is tantamount to a book and at the time vowed to make a book(s) influenced by it. I love it. I cannot read cuneiform so must rely on the experts to tell me what it records. It seems to me that the view of history which we received in schools was so jaundiced against Assyria & Babylon, for reasons I shall not try to mention nor explain here, suffice to say that the region in which it was made has been at war with itself and others for millennia.  Assyria & Babylon and Persia for that matter had truly great civilisations for their time and those people arose out of a cauldron of activity in which their cultural and technological skills grew exponentially. I just love this prism. For me it represents (not in its words which are about wars and conquests but in its skills of the art of writing and making) a great human achievement. Compare it to an ipad. If in 2,000 years time a being stumbles upon an ipad & this prism I think it will be the prism which would communicate more once that being deciphers the content into its own language. The ipad will communicate little because the waves (of the internet?) which inform it will no longer be around, so it’ll be just a piece of plastic with a few words like ‘ipad’ marked on it.

My first real opportunity to make a book(s) influenced by the prism came recently when I saw an ad in Sarah Bodman’s BAN p49  http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/pdf/newspdfs/103.pdf

‘Call for artists’ books: The Great Silk Road International Artist’s Book project Organiser: International Association “Artist’s Book” Curators: Vasily Vlasov, Mikhail Pogarsky Project theme: Artists’ Books unite the world! The art of communication The international art project “The Great Silk Road” is aimed at the development of communication and cooperation between countries and peoples. Two thousand years ago, the Silk Road united the Far East and Europe and has been the main channel for the exchange of goods, technologies and knowledge. Today we offer to renew the exchange on a new level of art’s message, ideas and images through the artist’s book. The Great Silk Road is primarily a metaphor. We do not limit artists in the methods of the interpretation of this theme. We are open to any bright images and ideas aimed at communication between East and West, North and South, art and society; on building productive dialogue between countries and peoples. If politicians cannot find a common language for each other, they will have the help of the international language of art.’

BANG off I go again. I don’t have time to create any artisbuk right now, but anyroadup am gonna! And I did and I sent it to Moscow and I shall shew it to yez when I get a message from Russia saying they gorrit and they’ll have it in the show. Why did I bother to do it when am so busy working on other books like my long awaited (by at least half a dozen long term suffering friends + one or two masochists) New Shrewd Idiot? Well.

I may win a trophy like Ray-yall Madrid did? [Idjet! there’s no trophies to be won. The real trophy is being able to participate, innit?]

 

The Silk Road is what I DO! It features loud in much of my work since my MA studies in 2013. The Silk Road was much frequented and writ about by my old mate Gurdjeff (Gurdjieff or Gurdzhiev if you like) who talked of the Remarkable wise men he found tucked away in places like Bokhara and Samarkand on the old Silk Road. So I just cracked on and did it.

silk rd buk 2 sm

The result is my first hexagonal prism book. Using binds and words and artefacts together to indicate my fascinations which my bookbinding mentor Mike Sullivan kindly said, ‘…they look very exciting…’.

Everyone who sees them seems to like them. I have made 3 slightly differing versions each of which can be shown in different placements, all of which are reminiscent of ancient stupas built by various peoples moving out of India onto the Old Silk Road trail to China taking one of the most valuable of human commodities with them, ideas. And creative, beneficial, positive notions are, for me, the best.

What else happened this week?

Well I turned up at Firstsite for another impromptu lesson in break-dance from ‘Isaac’. He runs classes there as part of the YAK youth project. He’s so tolerant and patient and I have now nearly ‘got’ the first six steps in the basic break-dance form.

Blu Bella sm

I have installed the Quark2016 package and am working thru some teething issues with one of their engineers. Well I think I am, I hope she didn’t get back over the weekend cos they don’t work over (British) bank hols in India, not cos she’s given up on me as a dead loss. Hopefully once solved I shall rapidly (I hope) put my 1970’s illustrations into the New Shrewd Idiot. I got to get it finished and finally out. I have a new idea for the wrap-over cover. I have a self portrait what I done just before I left my home town for college days.

a self P 1969 v sm

I may use that with three flower picture above it representing three young women who play important parts in the book; a bluebell, a rose and a camellia. It’s wonderful where an unshackled mind takes you innit?

and in tribute to those who drowned at The Battle of Jutland, both sides.

a first poppy 2016 sm

 

Moonbeams on my pillow

Final prep for Society o’ Bukbindas (SoB).

In a recent interview Yan Martell said he thought that art can bring about changed perceptions by altering your perspective, “to posit a different reality” [to that/those with which you’re familiar].

All my life in art this is what I have tried to achieve. I always looked for a difference. Now in my Performance Art [PA] I have discovered a way to animate my vision. What on earth is this PA some of you may say and how come you are doing it? RoseLee Goldberg, in Performance Art. From Futurism to the Present, says

‘…the very presence of the ‘performance artist’ in real time ‘stopping time’, that gives the medium its central position. In the first decade of the 21st century PA is at last being folded into the history of art, moving from the margins to the centre…PA continues to be a highly reflexive, volatile form- one that artists use to articulate and respond to change. It continues to defy definition and remains as unpredictable and provocative as it ever was.’

As I said I always looked for a ‘difference’ and PA gives me the opportunity to make a difference, as well as making books and all my other ‘art’ stuff. I got into it back in 1973 when a friend called Chris Leonard asked me to do an Apulhed Mask Show in the drama theatre at college. I tend to do a piece of PA at the start of each of my 25 or more exhibitions but now I have caught the bug and my PA is as important a part of my output as anything I ever created. It panders to the actor in me, the show-off, exhibitionist and all that stuff we usually hide. I feel I can achieve the impossible in PA. The impossible not something like flying or walking on water but things I would not do as a rule. Recite poems, dance, mime, wear a dress, wear a Tibetan Monk’s yellow hat, all crazy things I’d avoid normally cos deep inside this shallow disguise is a normal man, I’ve yet to find him though.

RoseLee Goldberg’s book entitled ‘From Futurism to the Present’ gives clues as to how long PA has been around. For me it began with Alfred Jarry and in a way his work has never met its equal. Everyone after that was re-framing what he did but don’t misunderstand me, there’s been and still are some really wonderful PA creators. And she is correct in saying that it has gradually entered into the thoughts if not building of the gallery. PA isn’t exactly easy to sell. So Saatchi for one may have had difficulty harnessing it for his collection. That’s one of the great appeals of PA, it hasn’t been strangled by the gallery, yet. I am in a lucky position. I am now an OAP, I’m retired from my day job and I don’t have to ‘do’ anything. But I choose to make books and PA cos I feel I have something, garnered from my 50 years trying to ‘make it’ as an artist bloke, which I can bring to the PA place. What’s that? Well it seems you can do PA almost anywhere. This week (ending 27Feb2016) I did a small part of my new piece in the foyer of my sports club cos someone asked me to ‘Do it here for me, right now’, so I did. And that broke a duck. I hadn’t dared do it like that but as I was asked, I did. And a link in the shackles dropped off (Ta Lara Ann!).

We all know about books.

Many of us make beautiful books. But do we all remember the way the word was first turned from an oral thing into a physical thing?

At first it was inscribed in clay then a variety of different grounds were tried. We are now embarked on the digital age and who can dream of where that will take the book? I look at different book forms and try to create them and their makers, using my body and some props and specially composed music.

 

The bark mask?

1 treeking sm

The bark mask is typical of my creative process. I conceived the idea of using tree related stuff to create a mask because we make books from trees and I began to make it using materials which I had saved from my work in my garden. As I moved through its making I allowed the mask to dictate to me some of its form hence some rather unusual asymmetrical results with the elements of surprise and a degree of shock. Purportedly the Tree Sprit brings with him a warning about the need to be Eco-Friendly. But as with all symbols and signifiers there’s a lot more to it than that.

And there’s more to PA than finding difference and exhibiting one’s prowess in becoming the book! PA is a forum for protest and complaint too. I have a gripe about the men, it’s almost always men, purportedly to be ‘world leaders’. My gripe goes back past world war one and forward to present day when these jerks ‘lead’ [from the back of course, in safe bunkers] the country to war.

 

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/the-worlds-wound-or-the-worlds-wound-up/ In this blog (above) on 25th Jan 2015 I spoke about Putin taking Russia down an unfortunate old path which the Tsars & Stalin used many times in the history of that country, I said:

 

“Putin needs to be given an out, a chance to climb down, to admit a mistake and a chance to heal the damage, before it escalates into a catastrophe. The ‘world ‘leaders’ are complicit. They are in danger of engaging in a 3rd ‘World War’. STOP. See the comparison between Ukraine 2014 and Serbia 1914. Be very careful.”

Since then I have met a Ukrainian who reminded me of the terrible incursion Russia has made into that independent country killing some of the person’s friends AND RUSSIA IS STILL THERE. Putin is also involving in Syria supporting Assad and bombing groups of Syrians who are combatting his (Assad) regime’s heinous measures against Syrians, 11 million of whom have fled. Stop the killing now your madnesses. lennon an bombs 2 snowflakes smmy image of my Uncle John making snowflakes out of bombs (so they shot him 5 times)

I hope that this peace brokered with John Kerry and Russia is the ‘chance to climb down’ I mentioned above cos the war-path is a bad trail to follow. I won’t say ‘ask Blair & Bush Jnr’ now cos that’d be too obvious.

So, back to my PA at S-o-B this coming Saturday, a lot happened overnight! I awoke having decided in my sleep to actually make this PA easier to comprehend for the S-o-B visitor. A lot of PA uses few if any words. The artist just does the piece, no words nor explanations, it its purest terms. I have decided to give an ‘in’ to my actions. I shall talk thru the first couple of stages, explaining where (I think) I’m coming from.

Finally I had a wonderful experience as I awoke at 05.10 hrs today. I looked down the bed and saw a stream of light along the length of my body. A bit like the white line down the middle of the road illuminated by those old cat’s eyes. I knew I was in bed not on the road. I looked up and saw the curtains had a slight opening in them and the halfmoon was peeping thru the gap sending a beam of light over my body. As I stood up it was down my bed and up over my pillow. I love synchronicity, Jung is one of me six ‘wise’ men in the poems in my Clay Jug. Let’s hear the Captain sing one of his most beautiful songs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjazg_lTfJA See you on the end of the rainbow in Kentish town on Saturday 5th March.

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/dec/18/captain-beefheart-don-van-liet-obituary 

Bless

leaf-books + verdun anniversary!

See below for some images of my beautiful hand made books that I call my ‘Leaf-Books’. In fact they are both one-off/unique copies from the Clay Jug project. In each of them are six original etchings that I did plus one woodcut taken from a Tibetan woodblock. The etchings were made to illustrate six ‘poems’ I wrote about six men who contributed a lot to building our humanity.

So. I wrote, in preparation for a work I hope to develop thru 2016:

“07.21 hrs 21st February 2016 One hundred years and six minutes ago the German bombardment for the battle of Verdun Erich Georg Anton von Falkenhayn’s concept that attrition would bleed the French dry meant he used, ‘total, ruthless methods to achieve a limited aim,’ losing many Germans in the process of annihilating the French who tried to defend it. The scale of German losses brought Falkenhayn much criticism.  Indeed the failure to capture Verdun ultimately resulted in Falkenhayn’s removal as Chief of Staff.

http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/verdun_falkenhayn.htm

I am saying this not because I glory in war stories, on the contrary I abhor them. I have spent much of my life advocating an end to all wars and my series of books based around my Clay Jug theme are testimony, not so much mine as that of six equally anti-war men, about my point. The six men I chose all made their peace with man’s inability to stem wars. Each of them in some way made a significant contribution to ideas which promote peace and harmony. Even Joseph Beuys who was in the Luftwaffe spent much of his post war days trying to bring about a unification of what he called Eurasia. Like the Dadaists after WW1 his strange antics were anti-art-establishment actions which were designed to upset the status quo and allow for a more universal acceptance that the old ways of using bronze and marble could be ousted and any material can be used in ‘sculpture’, including the artist’s body.” Ironically the ‘art world’ adopted his work, sucked it in to the ‘establishment’, like they do with all the rebels they cannot tame- see sir mick jagggger abart that- they hike the prices up and now you couldn’t afford to buy one of Beuys half eaten marmalade tarts unless you were a Trump from Trumpingtown.

And that’s where I come in. In my Performance Art (PA) my body and its movement become the artwork, the living sculpture.

I did a big blog about my rightful place in the pantheon which also mentions Beuys and a ‘talk’ I did at the Minories, Colchester in 2013 which, for those interested in my Performance Art, you may like to visit, here tis:

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/my-claim-to-a-plaice-in-the-pantheon-with-my-pantstillon-my-2-recent-talks-and-an-oxford-visit/

Later this year I am planning on doing a piece of Performance Art about the Somme but that’s a big one and it’ll have to be designed for a specific venue, so if you have one where you’d like to see it let me know, especially if you have a venue that could be used

. I think it’s very relevant to remind folk about the futility of war. All wars have to come to an end sometime and there’s rarely any ‘winners’. The debacles in the Middle East in the past 20 years show that is still true.

Right now am working twards a small 15 minute piece (part 2) of Performance Art for the Society of Bookbinder’s bookart day.

Pina Bausch’s dance company came to Sadler’s Wells and I saw them on February 14th. I was there because of the Wim Wender’s documentary which galvanised my interest in their work and I was not disappointed. I was watching and I decided to add some moves into my planned PA piece for March 5th at Kentish Town. I have been working up this idea of telling the history of the book since clay tablets in Ur and I’ve managed to design a sequence of moves in which I mime the different processes with some small dance moves joining up the sketches.

Before I do my piece I shall be showing several of my own books in part 1. Here’s some images from them, as you can see my work is unorthodox

unique hand made, second in series
unique hand made, second in series

Front cover to Leaf Book Two

semi see thru Japanese paper with Tibetan woodblock print behind
semi see thru Japanese paper with Tibetan woodblock print behind

Intro to Leaf Book Two. You lift the tabs to see the woodblock print

My Gurdzhiev poem over my etching of G.
My Gurdzhiev poem over my etching of G.

Gurdzhiev page in Leaf Book Two

unique book, hand made
unique book, hand made

Leaf Book One

Leaf Book 1 has six etchings in a pouch, secured by leather straps
Leaf Book 1 has six etchings in a pouch, secured by leather straps

The pouch keeps the six etchings neatly together in Leaf Book One

intro leaf book 1 sm

Intro to Leaf Book One

Silesi in book sm

Silesi page in Leaf Book One

 

It’s For The People.

 

Going back to thoughts https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/a-lifelong-friend/ on my old friend for 60 years Trev*, initially it would trouble me that my words don’t reach people like him but, on consideration, I have spent 48 years developing my words & ideas which he neither followed nor kept up with my path, why should he? I don’t understand his zone either, he was an accountant, I don’t do money, ask HMRC they’d confirm that. *Good news is Trev got in touch and said he enjoyed my last blArt.

Here’s the first viewing of one of the Apulhed Comix c.1977 that never got published in the 1970s. By 1979 I had created Happy Apulhed, a much more friendly, less eerie character.

ahed sets off color sm

When I was doing Apulhed comics at college in the early 1970s my old mates back in Burnley could explain my work was beyond their experience by saying, “Pete’s gone off to college and is full of new-fangled ideas, he’s just a bit strange but we can tolerate that because he’s…” Now nearly 50 years later I have further widened the gap. Not vindictively, just by osmosis, as a result of my endeavours but it still begs the question- If my art cannot reach ‘normal’ folk, am I missing the mark?

Nonetheless folk from all over the world do find my art interesting. yesterday I had hits from Vietnam and Sweden and my total views is fast approaching 10K. Some write and say I write well or the blog is good. But more, I feel that when I do any more Performance Art (PA) I’d need to be able to communicate or ‘get’ to the public’s minds whilst neither condescending them, nor demeaning my ideas of course. There would always be an elephant of surprise and an unsettling feeling in the outcomes I produce to keep the onlookers’ attention. Don’t want youse all falling asleep now do we?

I have been looking again at Verena & Andrea’s (Vest & Page) stuff in the vids on their website. http://www.vest-and-page.de/#!selected-works/caf0 They show by their astounding work that by comparison my work is a mere blot on the floor left by a PA Baby in his swaddling bands. (‘Swaddling’ is an age-old practice of wrapping infants tightly in blankets or similar cloths so that movement of the limbs is tightly restricted. Swaddling bands were often used to further restrict the infant. At the moment I feel constrained as if by swaddling bands and only by ‘getting’ my work out there’ will I change my garment, or maybe relinquish [most of] them.) The good news is I’ve been invited onto the Book Arts Day for The Society of Bookbinders on Sat 5th March 2016 in little old London town to do some Performance Art. Right now I’m working on a new piece, ‘Brush’, using words from Colin Lloyd Tucker’s beautiful song ‘Brush’. My friends, the Townsend Twins are helping choreograph the movement. I may also include a new rendition of Clay Jug after the beautiful poem by Kabir.

And ‘PA Baby‘ is maybe another pseudonym for me as it cover the fact that I’m old enough in calendar years to be their grandpa yet in terms of my experience in the field of PA I’m just a baby. In fact whilst at IPA in October a lot of my work brought me, and indeed some observers, to tears. In my case because I was going back into my early experiences and re-living them and also seeing that at 64 years old I weren’t about to have certain experiences again and indeed the inevitability of the changes old age will bring also weighed down on me. I got my crying in first. Some watchers cried in sympathy, some because I touched a chord and others just cried cos they were incredibly tired after 8 days of full-on PA practice with a group of strangers to start with who fast became close bonds. I still find it so daunting to think of what is out there in the Performance Art field. But it’s silly to compare. It’s like comparing a little village’s pub band to the Rolling Stones but there again the greats do look at the new stuff coming thru and like V&P are very encouraging. My mate IEPW told me that David Bowie liked Arcade Fire so much that he requested to sing with them and they accepted his offer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6c9Ejfu-iU

Also he did this with them uploaded 2 Feb 2006 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkCc_qiI7UA well now, David had another 10 years.

Deathday instead of Birthday celebrations?

Image053

A Big Cloud of Unknowing.

When I heard of the death of David Bowie I thought to myself, they should have a day each year to celebrate him, maybe his day of dying would be the best day for an annual remembering of his creative, original and inspirational, trend-setting (in its purest form) life. Undoubtedly he did set trends.

Image062

OM

The Dalai Lama has said, “Usually I don’t consider birthdays something important. In Tibet we consider the death anniversary more important. I think that’s quite wise. A person who made good contributions in life, then after [their] death, remember them in some anniversaries…as a Buddhist monk I believe every day is a new day, every day is birthday. The particles of our body momentarily changing, always become something new. Mental thinking, because of new knowledge & experience, also changes. So every day is a birthday. [If] we use our day in a proper way then the months & decades, whole life becomes meaningful. If you can help other, do it as much as you can. If you cannot do it, at least, restrain from harming others. That’s the essential of meaningful life.”

I’ll drink to that, nowadays my chosen drink is water.

 

The Silver Sword of Yin

I was on the roof of next door’s ‘wash-house’ early-1960’s when I heard Freda Lister sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow beautifully, it was the first time I had heard the song. There was a bunch of us kids up there on a warm summer’s day during school hols. One of the group shewed me a paperback book and said they had just read it and it was wonderful. That book The Silver Sword, (probably the first ‘serious’ book I ever read after my staple diet of Enid Blyton’s fairy & goblins and Beanos), was about refugees.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silver_Sword

Whilst working as a consultant for NASA James Lovelock developed the Gaia Hypothesis in his book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Oxford, 1979). [He also claims to have invented the microwave oven.] Having invested a few paragraphs in rehearsing the improbability behind the assembly of sentient self-replicating life from a chemical soup, in turbulent conditions over immense timescales, Lovelock cheerfully resolves it all by concluding, “Life on Earth was thus an almost utterly improbable event with almost infinite opportunities of happening. So it did.” p.14 (Tim Radford Friday 27 August 2010 Guardian Science) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lovelock

‘Lovelock believes global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics. Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe.’ (Decca Aitkenhead The Guardian, Saturday 1 March 2008) http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange

Before 2000 I had read various predictions that the biggest problem awaiting the 21st century would be shifting populations, from a number of causations; war being the primary one, famine and epidemics following rapidly in its wake. Now it has come to pass. War is never a solution, maybe sometimes a stopgap, but the issues rage on. Hitler thought that through war he could build a 3rd Reich Empire to rival those of Britain & France of the 19th century. He was proved wrong but at GREAT cost. My parents’ generation was embroiled in the outcomes at the time. Ted Walker, an 18 year old from Burnley who I came to meet in the 1960s, was taken at Dunkirk and effectively enslaved in a Stalag in Poland for the rest of the war then, like the childers in The Silver Sword, eventually left to walk back to Burnley. I have a postcard to prove it. And after that war there were millions of displaced people.

Dad.1939Ted in 1939 before capture at Dunkirk.

So we move to the modern day, nothing has changed, the results of war are refugees, migrants, pilgrims whatever you call people desperate to escape enough to leave familiar territories and jump aboard unseaworthy vessels after paying crooks extortionate sums of money, they are in flight, searching for some safe haven and maybe a better future.

So what do they do, the so called ‘Heads of Europe’. They squabble. They bring up all the age old prejudices. They build walls. They place razor wire on fences.

There have been oases of hope, like Germany allowing in a lot very quickly. Germany knows what it’s like to grow out from the ruins of a war which its leader had lost years before he shot himself and stemmed the advance of troops from all sides.

Syria looks like a country devastated by such a war now. I don’t need to tell you, it’s there in all the news. It seems the Head of State in Syria has no compunction about the people who live in the cities his forces bomb. There are many other forces at work there too, like the head of Russia’s ‘special forces’ is ‘advising’ the government side and has been filmed leading Assad’s forces, (purportedly), the result is that millions flee.

If only countries could use money directed for armament in building new towns in lands of plenty there may be a medium term miracle but my 64 years of living this life doesn’t indicate that’s about to occur. Even if it did there would need to be a big turn-around in the way we humans (ubeings I like to call us) treat one another. All this ‘he’s a muslim, he’s a Brit, he’s a Sunni, he’s a Sikh, he’s the other side’ etc needs to be sifted over. It’s called prejudice I think. It’s so hard for ubeings to let bygones be bygones, to shake hands and make up. So many prefer to reek revenge, an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth. Often we get pre-emptive revenge, just in case they attack us we attack first.  But violence begets violence. When we feel aggressed upon it seems a natural instinct to re-act against the perceived aggressor, the Dalai Lama and his followers walk away from that idea. In Tai Chi too, albeit a martial art from China (a lot of good does hail from China) the idea which seems so counter-intuitive for a novice like me is that you DON’T react, you go with the flow, you give ground or rather you deflect the incoming assault by using your ‘yin’ (negative/nil) force ‘against’ the ‘yang’ of the attack. So the aggressor has nothing to fight as the one he attacks offers no resistance, ‘…the Taoists call T’ai Hsu the Great Nothing‘ Hoff says in his Tao of Pooh and elsewhere he aptly describes the force of T’ai Hsu as like a cork bobbing on water and if you try to hit it it just bobs more and more as you try harder to make contact, eventually the assailant becomes tired and the cork bobs on down the river of life unscathed.

Take a leaf from the Dalai Lama’s book and promote peace. I know it’s hard to just let it go. Our prejudices rule our actions all too often.

But prejudice takes strange forms. South African leaders refused the Dalai Lama permission to attend a Nobel Peace summit because they don’t want to lose Chinese trades. China had invaded un-prepared Tibet in 1950 http://tibetoffice.org/tibet-info/invasion-after and by 1959 thousands of political refugees, including the Dalai Lama, felt the need to flee Tibet because of Chinese repression of their rights in the name of freedom for the common man from what they saw as feudal repression by an upper class dominated by religious ideas which Mao’s boys didn’t consider of any worth. (Ironically there is a regeneration of the main religions in Modern China and in Mongolia Buddhist ideas have undergone a substantial revival since it got out of the Soviet bloc. http://www.brill.com/change-democratic-mongolia )

The lines of refugees that came over the mountains into India then are comparable to those being seen coming out of Syria and Libya today but the West turned a blind eye. It was heavily involved fighting North Korea with its Chinese ‘advisers’. I have met and been very impressed by a number of Chinese people’s intelligence, yet the masses in China can do little to stop the systematic pillaging of Tibet’s resources and the subjugation of its spiritual ideas.

apulamaApulhed Spirit o’ The Dalai Lama

The Chinese leaders need to re-consider their approach to Tibet, but they won’t because [I believe] they see Tibet as a buffer to any move coming into China from the West. They have destroyed the Tibet monasteries, and continue to harass the indigenous population. Tibet had so many monasteries because they had turned their backs on war and chosen paths of peace, quite an accomplishment as they were of Mongol descent and had once conquered China, China never forgets.

Britain is not without guilt, apart from being the first country to invade Tibet (in 1903) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_expedition_to_Tibet when Younghusband slaughtered hundreds of ill-armed Tibetans who had the audacity to not want British sovereignty, now they make pacts with China. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/02/nobel-peace-summit-south-africa-dalai-lama-visa.

 ‘XXIII. Both sides stand ready to deepen understanding of each other’s development paths and strengthen political trust. Both sides emphasise the importance of promoting and protecting human rights and the rule of law and stand ready to strengthen their human rights dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect. In line with its longstanding policy, the UK recognises that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China and does not support Tibetan independence. Both sides agreed it is both in China and the UK’s interests to promote the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong in accordance with the “one country, two systems” principle and the basic law.’ https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-statement-from-government-of-the-peoples-republic-of-china-government-of-the-united-kingdom-of-great-britain-and-northern-ireland

George Osborne, Conservative finance minister is in China today, no doubt he won’t mention Tibet. You’re not allowed to mention Tibet, it’s a bit like John Cleese mentioning the war.

Chinese leaders will make a return visit to Britain in October. I am afraid none of them will hear me urge them to alleviate the repressive conditions imposed on indigenous Tibetans nor request them to allow the Dalai Lama and his people freedom to return and control their own actions in Tibet. He has said they wish for Tibetan autonomy now rather than independence.

dukar cross dukar weelDukar wheel made by Tashi Lunpho monks.

But I am forever grateful to the peace-loving Tibet people whose work I witnessed this week at a gobsmackingly wonder-full show by the Tashi Lunpho monks in London. Since their monastery/university in Tibet was destroyed under Chinese rule the Tashi Lunpho monks have built a new centre in Sikkim, South India. http://www.tashi-lhunpo.org.uk/monastery_15.html

dukar bag

I’d love to go see the Dalai Lama too but can’t afford the 70-90£ asking prices. I tried to blag my way in by telling them I been aksed to write an article for the Tibet Foundation and some up to date photos would be good, but they didn’t listen or they weren’t impressed.

dalama peace gdn smallDalai Lama at his Peace Garden.

longer deeper version ‘we all want a happy life’

There’s a short version of this at https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/we-all-want-a-happy-life/ but this one’s delving deeper into my passion, ‘What makes things tick and why are we here?’

We all want a happy life!

patti an hands sm

‘May I be Nothing but the peeling of a lotus papering the distance for you underfoot. Tiny yellow bundles bursting like stars Like smiles And the laughter of the bells’ Said Patti Smith on reading her pome to the Dalai Lama commemorating his 6th july 80th birthday forthcoming. Then surprise surprise out he came at Glastonbury! http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e84mxj/live/c9wrbp He cut a cake full of fresh fruit. Then walked out front and did a speech, “We all want a happy life Each new day Birthday In order to be more happy day Keep here (points his chest) More Compassion It creates Honest, Truthful Transference And Trust We are social animals Friendship does not come thru money” scarfin patti Then he let Patti kiss his forehead and he blessed the crowd and was led away. blessin crowd

Patti did a great set, especially her ‘Horses’ and Sir Van’s ‘Gloria’. Other highlights for me were Mike Scott & his new Waterboys. He sang a song about Kerouac & Cassady. He is on the track by Jackie Leven that inspired my Clay jug series. Seems we sing from the same songsheet only I don’t sing/can’t sing. I loved the masks they wore. yello mask best sm Also ‘Goat ‘ wore great masks too. I thought my masks were good, but now I must return to the mask-board. squidgerat kin smkbHere’s one I made earlier, The Squidgerat King.

In fact I ain’t got no time to mek masks right now am making books and stuff ready for BALTIC bookfair in a couple o weeks. http://balticmill.com/whats-on/artist-event/artists-book-market

Some Implications of seeing Gyatso at Glasto

I seem to have had ‘some deep realisation, some moment of realisation’ (Miller) but be wary too, cos the Dalai Lama warns that nothing is permanent nor as it seems. (And I must thank Auntis BeBe Cee for the use of images they projected to the world over iplayer. Mere fleeting moments of my joy not just watching Patti Smith and her white haired band perform so ‘strongly’ as the Lama put it but also the shock & glee at seeing the man known to his people as The Ocean of Wisdom appear in person at Glasto (something I have never done, altho I did go to its inspiration, The Bath Festival 1970).

Now let me delve deeper. Overnight I slept on what the implications are of seeing two folk I have much admiration for, Patti Smith & Tensin Gyatso, together on stage, two such apparently diverse lives and styles. Like Rabindranath Tagore reportedly said, ‘You and I are artists Dilip, not yogis by temperament.’ So Patti the artist and Gyatso the yogi meet! I had picked up a book I read (reed) but never finish, DALAI LAMA- THE CHANGE INITIATOR published in Bombay 1993 and written in almost pigeon-English by two (very) Indian men, Dr Bhaskar Vyas & Dr D V Nene. Their turn of phrase is of course from their cultural background, their use of English is not quite ‘correct’ but still better than my use of Indian, cos I don’t use it at all. Nevertheless they have written pretty profound stuff and my almost chance picking up this book to browse again has led me to a personal realisation which I shall inform you of. If you can come with me and ‘get’ what am about to try to reveal then you’ll maybe agree it is special. If you are too busy etc, then so be it. Patti’s first line was ‘May I be Nothing’, immediately I thought about Nothingness, termed in India as ‘Sunyatathe experience of peace, devoid of any content. Also Sunyata is defined as pratit-yasam-utpada dependant arising which the Dalai Lama says is the way everything depends on everything else, nothing is not interconnected. In fact EVERYTHING JUST IS. And in fact every no-thing ‘just is’ too. OK bear with me. Our Indian authors Vyas & Nene in a very short passage in the book mention several renowned spiritual leaders in quick succession, I shall quote directly as it is complex and you will need to read thru several times but for me it makes so much sense: ‘… is best explained in modern [the] modern astrophysical term of ‘Black Hole’. This is where the entire Universe is collapsing into; and all that goes into black hole is reduced into such a density that is hardly exists at all but then the black hole might also be the originator of “new universe” at the other end of it. Sunyata is like a black hole. All phenomena collapse into it and it becomes nothingness; yet, it gives rise to all the phenomena as we see them. Action within or action without ultimately may mean nothingness. But at the same time, it is action that characterises life. We may therefore choose as to what kind of action we may take recourse to, but act we shall have to, so long as we are alive.” Interestingly the Dalai Lama commented on Patti’s form of action whilst he also mentioned her age vis her and group players’ white haired bonnets. He seemed tickled pink by her powerful voice and the strength of her actions (at her age). Then Patti said his voice carries much further than hers. Such mutual respect from so diverse natures. Gyatso is so considerate of others’ feelings yet Patti seems to ride her rude horses slipshod over accepted norms as she swears cusses and spits her way thru her set both are masters of illusion. Neither are what you seem to see. He looks meek yet is strong like a mountain yak. She looks hard yet she’s such a soft internal spirit. I saw her at the Blake society give a speech-reading-recital-sing her own poemsongs and those of Blake. She was so intimate with the audience, so loving and gentle. You must watch it on iplayer.

ps I have decided to send this out to all of youse who are starring at the forthcoming Artists’ Book Market at BALTIC where I have a table under my title Apulhed Originals. I have done ‘Apulhed’ since I created him in 1971, he’s like a weird Rupert/Tin Tin/Snoopy character created to carry my ideas & explorations in graphic form altho nowadays he only makes cameo appearances like in the header above. Apulhed was my alter ego and companion thru the early days of my writing and art-making. I look forward to meeting some of yez at BALTIC.

I hope nobody gets upset at my ‘networking’ to my fellow table holders at BALTIC but I come from the same generation as Pattis Smith and we got the balls to get out there and tell it. But I do not condone spitting on stage, am not going to do that, there’s a limit!