Category Archives: WW1

Black Dog at Tate

Ok so I went to Dave McKean’s performance and discussion of Black Dog at Tate Britain. I’m afraid I ain’t got the time to give it a truly full and gripping report which it deserves as my life is busy, getting busier, so to catch up I am going to bring in some images from that gig and just make short notes. It were wonderful to see the images from the book big up on screen and the light that shines thru makes them even better than on the printed page. I hope D McK don’t have any problem with me putting his images up on my blArt, I do it with the best intention and it will bring the stunning quality of his work to a few more folks.

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This is my portrait of Dave McKean, I have him sitting meditating above a cloud holding the kingfisher’s egg with the big old moon which was in the sky early November.

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Dave showed that he is also a composer as he played the organ in this concert with his incredible coelacanth zeppelin image.

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Matthew Sharp sang a lot of the lyrics in his wonderful baritone (?) voice.

 

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Clare Haythornethwaite played violin and added some high pitched vocals.

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The battle of the Somme began with one almighty explosion which was heard across the channel in London. Dave’s dragon takes a pretty dull thud and makes it both exciting and menacing.

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Nature still continued to appear during the trench warfare and here D McK highlights a robin.

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In his graphic novel he had a hand searching for a kingfisher’s eggs and I added my character Apulhed to the score!

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Butterflies make a welcome break to the shrapnel flying at the entrenched soldiers.

Black Dog is one staggering graphic novel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be my Homeward Dove

‘Lift me like an olive branch

Be my Homeward Dove’

Leonard Cohen

Poet

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Be my Homeward Dove

On Friday night I took part in a series of readings for EducAid in Colchester Sixth form college. The main contribution was my Beuys ‘Sliding thru Eurasia’ poym. However I want to read one of Cohen’s pieces if given the time.

Thanks to Jim Pey for giving me the opportunity to ‘perform’ last night  and my friends Richard & Shelley who joined me and really seemed to enjoy the evening of poems & readings in Colchester on behalf of EducAid. http://www.educaid.org.uk/

This is from my Inside This Clay Jug poems.

Here he comes now over the hill! Sliding … Gliding…

Joseph Beuys with his Celtic roots

Sweeping…and…

Dancing down the backbone of England

Along the Pennine Way

 

Please “Don’t mention the War”

(in which)

He served the Luftwaffe in the air up there

(appropriate bomber diving sounds)

We each of us has a cross to bear

 

He says he piloted a Stuka bomber

Then he all fell down and broke his crown.

He went flying from the cock-pit and cracked his skull

Maybe that was what loosened his slates?

 

So who were these mysterious ‘Tartar Shamans’

Who pulled him from the burning wreck?

They were Siberian nomads

Who wrapped him up in felt and fat

Which later on he used for sculpture, just like that!

 

Swooping… down to Poland on a sled

In his waistcoat with his homburg on his head

He alone put the wrongs of the 3rd Reich to bed

 

‘Join up’ he told Eurasia… ‘Show me your friendly nature’

 

‘Everyone can be an artist’ (don’t you know?)

‘Just let your honey in all directions flow

Draw yourself in to the spiral vor…text

Why don’t you come with me little man On My Magic Blackboard Ride

 

Meet up with Hermann Hesse

Fellow Wanderer on the mountain paths

Dancing down the Backbone of Italy

Along the Appennine Way

 

We are not humans We are dancers

Swirling and whirling

Along the road down Destiny’s Inscrutable Was

It was lovely to see some of the audience smiling as I moved thru mi Beuys ‘poym’ “Explaining Beuys To A Dead Woodpecker”. Funny as you look around when you’re doing summat like that. There’s a nervousness at trying to remember the words and the nuances, yet nowadays I feel can bring in some of the audience with a little look. I try to gauge reaction/interest, altho it’s never a perfect science, I think I am learning to ‘read’ an audience better. That allows me to stay with something that’s ‘working’ and move quickly on if it isn’t.

“Dance Me To The End Of Love” Len Cohen

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone

Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon

Show me slowly what I only know the limits of

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on

Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long

We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born

Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn

Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in

Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove

Dance me to the end of love

I did my take on reading the above song as a poem  and I thought it wonderful how a couple of the other participants recounted their Len Cohen experiences reflected against my story of not seeing the man, whereas they had! It was not so much a mourning as a real delight in what he stood for and emanated with a panache and quite grace. I agree with the last speaker who said that he, on having the opportunity to meet and speak with LC, said thru a post event party-champagne haze, that Len was good no matter what others may think. It still applies. I loved when he did Glastonbury and gained thousands of new fans. Here he sings ‘Anthem’- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJSlpEb_jFk

There’s a poignant story about the girl in his song Marianne which is told in the Telegraph Obituary on 19.8.2016 about Cohen’s erstwhile love Marianne Ihlen who “spent her time since 1979 working in the personnel department of an oil company, painting and exploring Tibetan Buddhism.She remained in touch with Cohen, though when he performed in Oslo in 2010, she attended the concert without going backstage. But she sensed that he knew she was there.

When Cohen heard that Marianne was dying of leukaemia, he wrote to her: “Well, Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

Now he can join her again without hurting anyone as we are all destined to travel down the inscrutable road of destiny, one day.

I was lucky to get tickets to see Dave McKean at the Tate Brit on Sunday 13th doing his Black Dog gig and talk . I am hoping to be able to get some more live images of him. Here’s one of the results from last time I saw him.

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St Dave

Leonard Cohen, I have been a fan since someone compared my artworks to his sad songs in a derogatory way in about 1976. I love his use of words. The way he counterbalanced beauty and high note with the beast and his low tones.

 

During my previous incarnation as a teacher I managed to ‘sing’ his ‘Dance me to the end of love’ to an entrapped audience of other teachers (they deserved it!). Luckily my assistant was a young Canadian who could sing well. Half way thru the ‘performance’ the Head of Science stole the show by dancing into the centre of the stage dressed in a tutu. I think Leonard would have smiled benignly!

Which he’s doing now, looking back at the human pace.

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Len Cohen drawn in 2008

Shalom & Namaste! 

 

LC was born a Jew and later adopted Buddhist monk Sasaki Roshi as his mentor.

https://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zenord.html

all images ©pete kennedy 2016

Simpler blog part 2.

OK so I have stopped attempting to change the world (for what I consider the better…after all that’s only my opinion, innit?) and now I just do ma simpler blArt.

This one’s about:

My old windsurfer board, Colchester Art Society’s (CAS) forthcoming 70th anniversary show, a talk at Tate Brit, my pose for Benton Hall challenge, a general celebration of life, oh and a decision by 14-18NOW against supporting my work which I’ll put first as I don’t wish to end on a down note…In fact it’s not a downer, it’s a relief.

I asked 14-18NOW if they could see their way to support my idea for a book and a  Performance Art PA piece about the part played by ordinary folks in WW1. I am determined to do both things and, like I have always done, create them from my never ending personal financial store which presently is my pension. I have this crazy idea that at 65 I can do all the things I never managed to do (much, apart from 21 solo exhibitions including lots of new (PA) bits over the years between the 70s and when I retired hurt frae teaching in 2009 or should I say re-tyred, or even retried?) whilst I had to work a day job to feed my wife and 2 and a half kids…the half being the cats, hamsters, wabbits and occasional bird from budgies to those damn tweety little tings, oh and guinea pigs and silkies…

[Pete this is not being simple!

OK, I’ll not wander off the topic, I believe ‘digress’ is the correct werd]

So, my idea is to write a book which talks about all the folks in my home town who were scuttled off to war in 1914 and put images of them in from their obits in the Burnley papers of the day. Then I had this idea to build a ‘trench’ with two turrets, one each side of the stage and then I play Tommy and Gerry, scurrying back and fro giving the other waller some hell and getting myself blown up as both men. Then I had this idea to have dummies made of the aristocrats who created the war and machinated its continuous slaughter using donkeys to lead the lions in the trenches (as they say). Audience members would have been invited to throw tomatoes at the dummies whilst emitting slang low life curses about their megalomania. But it’s a stupid idea anyway and as 14-18NOW so aptly put it, “We … regret that we have decided not to offer you one of our co-commissions.  We did not believe that your project would have the reach and impact that we are seeking for our final season in 2018.” Neither did the plans of the generals on all sides in 14-18THEN!

What do I know about potential reach? All I do know is the men and women who suffered so much tween 14-18, then some more in 1926, then more in 39-45, then some in the miner’s strike…

(so well portrayed by Ken Loach https://www.theguardian.com/film/2011/jul/20/ken-loach-documentary-first-screening)

…all deserve to have their stories told. But not from the ‘official’ viewpoint which so often has belittled the millions who were sacrificed. It has not been ‘playing cricket’ to let loose on the war-mongers who would send thousands of men over the top to be mown down by machine guns, not just once then stop it after realising the fruitlessness of it, no but many more times. A dead strategy leads to dead men and annihilated towns etc. It is happening now in Syria. And Ukraine. And Tibet. But nobody talks about it. And that is what my ‘play’ would be about. So in a way it’s good to not get support cos it relieves me of sticking my neck out and getting banned for 40 years like Ken Loach did and I don’t have 40 years left to play with anyway. So, that’s it then.

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My old windsurfer board:

It sure looks like I am trying to sell it butNO! In fact I am trying to overcome my reticence of clearing out unused tut. I have kept and accumulated everything that came into my life, except people of course, of those I just have memories, at least for the time being, until that goes too. So you can understand when I tell you that I cannot open my studio door let alone work in it. I had to stop windsurfing several years ago cos my hands were suffering and I couldn’t hold the boom. But there is the board, hoarded. Yesterday I plucked up the courage to put it out for sale on our front, it didn’t sell yet cos our front is quite obscured in a little village, but it’s the thought that counts (my ability to sell don’t count that’s fer sure, never has).

My pose for Benton Hall Olympic challenge photo?

Well who wouldn’t want a free month membership? They asked us to pose in sports gear and put an image up on the Benton Hall facebook site so I wore ma Tai Chi top and took ma Tai Chi sword and did a pose, see below. The photo what gits the most ‘likes’ wins a month free.

A show & tell talk at Tate brit?

Last Friday I went to Tate archive where this Irish lad brought out some letters written by Vanessa Bell, Michaels Rothenstein & Nicholson and some drawings by Paul & John Nash and Robert Graves from around about 1418then. I went up cos I were researching my Somme Boys idea (again) and I thought it may cast more light on those dark times which indeed it did. I heard the phrase ‘Lions led by Donkeys’ for the first time from the mouth of that very same Irish lad. And the phrase resonated with my synopsis that the war was created and run by megalomaniacal monarchs and twits from the so-called ‘Upper Classes’. It was good to see John Nash’s sketch of some fat generals coming round to inspect the troops. And fascinating to see how Vanessa fought to be able to give conscientious objector Duncan Grant a home and job during the war, if he’d been from a working class family they’d have just jailed him. I always saw it as crazy punishing people who didn’t want to kill other men but war is like that innit, you gets medals for killing when in peace time you’d get hung (in 1418backthen until hanging was abolished, in England, they still execute folk in some countries but.

[Too heavy Pete]

The Colchester Art Society’s (CAS) forthcoming 70th anniversary show opens this Saturday for two weeks.

http://www.colchesterartsociety.co.uk/page_2249082.html

It’s 48 years since I first submitted any work for an Art group summer show, that was back in me home toon of Burnley in 1968 where i had two portrait paintings (I promise to dig out the one I still have) accepted and mentioned in the Burnley Express, so I should be good at submissions by now but I found recently you still get those nerves as to whether your best efforts will gain the nod of acceptance from the group. Then I said to myself, that nervousness is a deep rut learning thing (see Guy Claxton on that) and it’s like a bad habit, have more faith in yourself, you’re no longer that 17 year old novice. I don’t like joining groups. Especially after my history of failed attempts at the RA show where after about 5 submissions I finally had two accepted by the panel and then they weren’t even hung. RA sent me a letter congratulating me and said it were an honour to be ‘awarded’ ‘Doubtful’ status. That had cost me about £120 to NOT be seen by the RA visitors etc, some honour. So I never bothered again. I know, the nation’s in mourning, but I can’t be throwing away 120 quid every time _carriage & submit fees). One year I know someone who paid to submit an artist’s book there and they cancelled the category after allegedly not having enough entries in the division, but they din’t reimburse her.

Recently I was persuaded to join CAS recently and submit some artworks fer their show which I did and much to my delight they’ve accepted 3 works and hung two very beautifully. My tribute oil of local writer John Atkins and national hero funny man Ken Campbell stands or hangs rather in a space which you can’t help but see as you enter the big main room and even tho I say it myself [Nobody else would you tweet] it looks real good. All those hours slogging away over a lot of turps, linseed oil and canvas on dark lonely nights has eventually paid off.

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This was one of two painting as accepted by the RA in 2005 but not hung, that’s why I have RA Doubtful after my name on ma cards. [Now, you’re slippin back Pete]

I won’t mention the fact that my brakes failed just after I had delivered my work to the Minories in Colchester because that would worry you too much, but they did. And it’s funny innit how such a simple thing can have such unsettling consequences. Not that I managed to crash or ought like that, but just driving yer car up to th’garige to have them tell you you got a leaking brake pipe or summat and then you place the car in the compound and get a lift off yer wife to your business for the day and then at the end of the day the garage rings and says that you didn’t leave the key and you say I most certainly did and they say just check your jacket pockets sir and you do and there they are those sneaky keys what just must have jumped back into my pocket. So the car won’t be done today obviously.

What’s a general celebration of life then?

Well of course I didn’t have a prang, that’s enough to celebrate innit? And I took more photos of beautiful tings this week.

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Guru cat contemplatin

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Well he may not be so beautiful but he keeps trying.

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Here’s Snoop having a rest unda a rainbow in our ‘ouse, which is a very very fine house, with two cats in th’yard…

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sunset over West Ham ground at Stratford last Friday night.

OK I realise this was not a simpler blArt, I’ll try harder nextime.

Bye fer noo, I bid you good night, or g’day wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

Somme Whelp In The Wilderness.

The Whelp In The Wilderness.(c) pete kennedy 2016

The image at the top is an incredible piece of synchronicity. I was planning this blArt and sitting early morning with my pen in my hand and I looked up at the fireplace, We have a crystal in the widow which sometimes sends rainbow patches of light across the room. THEN this apparition appeared. A gentle glowing on the candle which looked like it had lit up inside. As if i had lit a candle in memory of those who died, on all sides, in that onslaught known as the Battle of the Somme. I could hardly believe my eyes. This lighting effect has never occurred before. Eerie but beautiful. Bless them all.

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This week the Burnley Express, the local paper which along with the Burnley News reported on the war at the time (1914-18), carried these words this week:

‘On the morning of July 1st 1916 men and boys from Burnley were among tens of thousands of soldiers ordered to go “over the top” only to be cut down by German machine gunners. More than 100 soldiers from the town were among the 57,000 British Army casualties suffered on the first day of the battle alone.’ (John Deehan john.deehan@jpress.co.uk 27.06.2016)

http://www.burnleyexpress.net/news/local/remember-burnley-men-killed-in-battle-of-the-somme-1-7983991

Throughout 2016 I have been working toward a commemoration for those who fought in the horrendous human waste that was called the Somme battle (1July-18Nov 1916). I create images & words which I use in my own hand made ‘artist books’ and in my own ‘performance art’ pieces (PAP) where I create scenarios and enact ideas + events using my body, masks and other props to illustrate a story. I wanted to do my PAP around 1 July in somewhere like Burnley my home town, or Newcastle, my mother’s home area where her parents lost (my grandparent aged) relatives two years before she was born in 1918 and I met survivors of the conflict in 1961 or Colchester which is my adoptive home of culture. I did put feelers out but, like Paul Simon in his song The Boxer (hear a beau rendition by Mumford & son- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAl-vZsswb4 ), ‘I get no offers’, not even a come on from the whores of 7th avenue!

The way I see it I have ‘til Nov 18 2016 to do a piece for it to carry true resonance for those slaughtered as a result of the total incompetence of the ‘leaders’.  Because these things take time to organise I don’t believe it’ll get done this year but then I have ‘til 11.11.2018 to at least fall within the compass of the century after WW1. I shall continue to find the venue and any backing to do my PAP but I am not holding my breath. I even approached the 14-18now group but I get no answer, maybe cos am not very famous, or maybe not very good! https://www.1418now.org.uk/

That’s no sour grapes of wrath it’s just a forlorn whelp in the wilderness!

Oh how history repeats itself; the ‘leaders’ of Britain’s government, Euro MPs (particularly Farage who rarely turns up to do his job and when he deigns to does so only to undermine the institution he was elected onto to represent the English people), the Labour(ing) and the England FA + their latest ridiculed manager all exhibit those same incompetencies today!).

I am going to blArt some of the words from my research and ideas about the Somme + the issues around those years of unnecessary carnage on which I would base my PAP. If there’s anyone interested out there please get in touch.

I found this startling blog called ‘In The Dark’ in which the writer mentions that the men were made to continue running towards machine guns-  “Rather than calling off the attack in the face of the horrific slaughter, the powers that be carried on sending troops over the top to their doom for months on end. By the end of the battle (in November that year) the British losses were a staggering 420,000, while those on the German side were estimated at half a million.”  https://telescoper.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/the-flowers-in-the-field-the-somme-remembered/ .

The imbeciles who organised these ‘battles’ (no, let’s call them mass murders) were the same social group that ‘led’ soldiers into battle in Africa against the brave Zulus at Rourke’s Drift and Isandlwana 37 years earlier, only in that case it was the Zulu leaders who sent their warriors in waves unprotected against the barrier of guns with the consequent carnage that ensued. (‘Isandlwana, the battle that rocked Victorian Britain; at which the Zulus wiped out a substantial British force’) Despite victory at Isandlwana the Zulu forces never recovered and they had to capitulate to the Europeans, who brought concentration camps to Africa during their internecine Boer War the victors of which then introduced apartheid.

Here’s the ideas I would base my PAP on BUT whereas the topic is of the greatest seriousness I do intend to add an element of sardonic humour, livening up the topic with surreal reflection as the famous sketch by Blackadder did, using the maniacal monarchs as objects of derision. I won’t say exactly how but think of fairground games like ‘ring toss’ and ‘bean bag tossing’ at tossers:

I have been reading about the Ancient Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians who all were involved in internecine wars and all succumbed to the Greeks (of Alexander The Vainglorious) who themselves eventually fell down under the inhumane slaughters that emanated from Rome. It seems to me (it’s not rocket science) that, like disease, war is a human condition, it goes with the patch!

I would have hoped (European) wars would have ended after Napoleon was incarcerated, or after WW1 or after WW2 but it never did. To name but a few; Burma, Korea, Vietnam, Biafra, Bangla Desh, Iraq & Afghanistan and now Syria’s war which is reminiscent of the carnage of the two ‘World Wars’. A triumvirate  of my heroes, the present Dalai Lama, G I Gurdzhiev (G.) & Lennon, (illus)all advocate(d) that Ubeings (my word for Humankind which is gender absent or all equally inclusive) stop doing conflicts, which G. called mutual self-destruction.

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Look what happens to you if you talk too much about ending wars, ask John.

The First World War was fabricated by monarchical maniacs who ‘ruled’ various ‘Empires’ which had been created by stealing land from and enslaving various indigenous populations throughout the world in the previous 3-400 years. When they turned their corporate venom onto their own peoples the carnage was incomprehensible. These “leaders” all thought they could use their mass-populaces as ‘cannon-fodder’ and they proceeded to do so and nobody was able to reverse, nor prevent, the carnage. The populations were led into the conflict believing it was for god & country when it was obviously for the dim-wits who ‘ruled’ them and the so called privileged ‘upper-class’ of each country to maintain their status quo, which many still maintain even in 2016, the present government of UK being a prime example.

 Their Moronic Majesties Maniacal Madnesses; Wilhelm II Kaiser Bill Frederick William Victor Albert of Prussia, George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert)GB, Nicholas II , Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov Russia, Franz Joseph I Austria- Hungary, Mehmed V Reshad (Ottoman Turk Sultan), & President Raymond Poincare (France).

Their Moronic Majesties Maniacal Madnesses led to the start of WW1 and its continuation despite the obvious insanity and mass murder it exhibited in battles like; Ypres, Verdun, Somme, Passchendaele & Gallipoli! The incompetence of the generals and the blindness of the political morons who manoeuvred the Brits into the mayhem and used the population’s (mostly) men* (from all around the ‘Empire’) as if they were like subuteo players, only this was no game but it was a deadly reality! Now I understand why I feel I was driven.

*I believe thousands of women also took part as nurses tending to the horrific injuries. “Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). It was founded in 1902 at the time of the Boer war and in 1914 was less than 300 strong. At the end of the war four years later it numbered over 10,000 nurses.” from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26838077

My Performance Art about the Somme is a tiny but explosive reminder of the destructive power held by military forces. The ability to decimate has increased a million fold in the hundred years since 1916, so beware taking the armed solution.

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ww1 veteran

[I have an ally in the German artist Otto Dix whose inspiring work I wish to incorporate into this piece. http://www.ottodix.org/catalog-prints/  On same website is explains most of his images are now in public domain. See http://www.ottodix.org/copyright/ ]

 

In my PAP (Performance Art Piece) A hundred yearns ago

I have ‘Tommy’ in the trench at the Somme*, July 1st 1916.

Ironically the word somme comes from a celtic word meaning ‘tranquil’!

Tommy gives a monologue in which he talks of finally having won this horrendous war.

‘No more maniacal leaders cos we won’t let them rise again! About a hundred years ago we fought Boney Fart & his Grenouilles in a war to end all wars. We have the Russians who beat off Boney attacking Gerry on the eastern flank and they’ve never bin beat and they forced General Prittwitz to run but they lost a million men. Someone has to halt the Huns and today is the day with God’s blessing it will be done. Today, this very day, we’re bombarding Bismarck & Bill the Bosch. There’ll be nowt left o’n ‘em. Later we go over the top to clean them up and this damned war will be over. Then I’ll go back home to my sweetheart and see ma little babe. There’ll be no more wars after this one.

Some madman called Lenin has urged our allied troops to turn their rifles against our officers and start a ‘socialist revolution’, but he’s no leader is he? I know our generals have made mistakes but now they got it right and this nasty trouble will be over by tomorrow. Listen. The bombardment has stopped……There’s the whistle, Over the top to victory!’

Over the top he went on July 1st 1916…and the rest is His Story.

There is a modern context to my PAP as well. War is still used by ‘leaders to attempt to gain ground physically and metaphorically. We shouldn’t ban the bomb, we should banish all wars.

ps if (& when) I get no offers to give a home for my PAP I shall hire somewhere and damn well do it out of my own devices. It’s the least I can do to commemorate the poor sods who were taken in that  horrific battle of the royal families and other elites of Europe.

Postscript

The recent ‘leaders’ who took nations into wars are still prevalent, some (or should I say Somme?) examples; Thatcher & Blair although they pale into insignificance against the Bushes snr & jnr, Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi, Putin, and maybe the worst of all, the man responsible for the mass of the population of his country leaving their destroyed cities to risk crossing oceans in small dinghies Assad. Believe me their moronic majesties’ bequest is still very very real!

In my old college town of Exeter I am impressed to see images of their commemoration of the Somme http://www.thesomme19240.co.uk/event/shrouds-of-the-somme-memorial/

This looks like a very moving installation. It gives a small powerful emanation of the hurt which must have been felt on all sides, in many nations.

Haig and the high command really messed up in more ways than one. They had intelligence reports that an area of the front was very vulnerable yet they attacked across the whole front. Ironically the war may have been ended and millions of lives saved if only Haig had been a more competent tactician and used that intelligence (gained from German POWs who told of a weakness in their defences) although it meant the Germans would have purportedly ‘lost’ the war (there could be no victors in that cataclysm!) the gain would have been an end to the carnage. Instead they added to it then added some more in many more such battles until 11.11.1918.

Also someone high up made a fundamental error at 3am that day by phoning a message of good luck for the impending attack. That message was listened in to and the German gunners were alerted across the whole front, with devastating consequences.

Haig and His Highly Incompetents must have seen the disaster unfolding rapidly but instead of calling the attack off continued it until November 18th. Men from all over the world deemed dispensable. Not to mention the many Germans who were massacred in the initial explosion (“A queer dull thud” as one soldier witnessed at the time.) from the mines laid by sappers deep under the German command at Lochnagar. The sappers were taken from those who worked in the pits of Britain, they dug down deep under the German line to lay the biggest store of explosives ever laid. The ‘job’ was fraught with danger as German soldiers were also digging deep.

http://www.greatwar.co.uk/somme/memorial-lochnagar-crater.htm

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Somme Shrouds in Exeter July 1st 2016

‘Thanks Pete

I think we need to make work about the war to help us understand the futility and the waste – and the fact that we never learn…’A Book artist from Australia

Thanks for your reaction ABafA.

I sent that out to about 100 folks, many quite good friends, since Thursday and do you know! You are th’only one that’s made any comment.(Ignore that I’ve had 4 now. Also my wife and son tell me I shouldn’t expect any reactions at all, ‘people don’t react to things they see in newspapers normally, so why should they react to your blog you old fart?’)

Just before i went to my computer i were tinking about my blog and my gripes about bad leadership and I thought, ‘d’y know, the same stupid stuck up twits are in charge today, and the same right wing thinkers (not, I don’t believe they can be called ‘thinkers’)) are i/c the Press. Nothing has altered’. In fact the 1960s seemed a time of HOPE. Atlee brought in the education act in 1945 which educated me, then I was taught to teach by intelligent humanists who said, let your students find their way to their passion and then take them to the top of the highest mountain and push them, LET THEM FLY. But since then it’s gone backwards and the public schoolboys (Like Gove, Boris, Cameron & Osborne) have a strangled-hold on the Asylum whilst Labour again display disarray and the LibDems are dead in the water, despite being instrumental in stopping the public schoolboys worst intentions whilst they were in coalition.  I think I’ll move to Australia, or Canada, or even France, anywhere to escape these clods! Pete

One friend’s reaction flags up a rather rude reaction to brrrExit: Look at these posters with Boris on by Billy Childish, be care full cos he used a word what is naughty. It refers to the sex organ on a pig and is originally from Old English (I think):

http://www.l-13.org/acatalog/BILLY-CHILDISH-RECORDINGS.html

 

 

 

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

 

‘and Lennon’s on sale again’

 

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

As the new year gets going the great news is that I shall be doing a short performance art piece at the Society of Bookbinders in Kentish Town in March.

SoB Book Arts Day 2016

London and South Region of The Society of Bookbinders

Book Arts Day

Saturday 5th March 2016  (10:30 – 4pm)

(£10 members SoB, £15 non-members)

The day will comprise:

 An illustrated talk on Book Arts by Sarah Bodman

 A book arts fair presenting a variety of emerging and established book artists (many works will be for sale).

 Demonstrations by a selection of the exhibiting artists.

 A spoken word performance by book artist Pete Kennedy.

 A mini exhibition of Sónia Serrão’s personal collection of artists’ books collected over the last 20 years.

Sarah Bodman is an artist and researcher at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), UWE Bristol, where she investigates contemporary book arts. She is also Programme Leader for the MA in Multidisciplinary Printmaking at the Bower Ashton campus, editor of the Book Arts Newsletter, Artist’s Book Yearbook andThe Blue Notebook journal for artists’ books, and writes regularly on artists’ books for ‘a-n’ and Printmaking Today.

 

I have chosen to do a variation of my Clay Jug piece because it resonates ‘book’ and I have several book projects I’d like to show anyone who turns up to see. It was originally done tward my MA in Art & the Book and I have ‘danced’ it at IPA in Glastonbury & Bristol where it was very well received. The books that grew into the project were greatly influenced by Joanna Drucker’s wonderful book on the Alphabet. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/790760.Alphabetic_Labyrinth I experimented with:

  • use of clay tablets like cuneiform,
  • poti like the Tibetan book form,
  • scrolls like medieval manuscripts and
  • the idea of knowledge being found in buried or hidden pots.

I use the music that Luke E. Walker created for Clay Jug to spark my movement thru this piece. Here’s a link to Luke’s music on soundcloud:

I also recite the words of Kabir and, maybe, Osip Mandelstam). I also intend to show a couple of my most beautiful unique copy books that I did to house my six poems generated from the project. PLUS David Jury’s version in letterpress with a surprise package.

I am also developing a piece which I did at IPA several times in Oct2015 based on the words of a song from the wonder-full cd  named still calm melancholy air brush hush by Colin Lloyd Tucker called Brush in which I have his words written and show them with movement as the piece progresses. I mime making a painting and in the end, in some venues, I actually brush an image onto a surface which can be paper and/or glass, perspex, wood, anything. I am looking to do it in shop windows, particularly art supplies places.

It fulfils my desire to follow in the footsteps of zen masters who write their thoughts in beautiful calligraphy and do drawings too. I may use Colin’s beautiful ambient music before I appear ‘on set’ but more & more I am working tward not having beautiful distractions as I move thru a piece, I am working tward playing the music in my head as I move.

see-   http://campus.poetryschool.com/follow-brush-making-zuihitsu-poetry/

another  new idea I am working on is:

 Somme Lads – Burnley Boys 1916

Designed as a solo work where PK plays two combatants, Tommy & Gerry. This is a commemoration and hopefully a reconciliation, of the horrific battle of the Somme July 1916. Tommy has a helmet like the one worn by Brits in WW1, but this also could be a cooking pot or wok like those we used to wear as children when playing war games.

My aim is to try to stop all wars on planet Earth, no pressure then Pete! My request is that the world works towards de-powering those perennial ‘leaders’ who create wars and create a planet where war is but a dim distant recollection. Can you Imagine that! Here’s Lennon my working class hero singing his song in a set which has all my favourite foibles in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2hvkPyiAFE  You see John dressed in apparel almost certainly designed to antagonise the obviously ‘privileged’ audience his band played in front of dressed in his red suit and black round specs.

And Lady Gaga, almost outdoing Lennon with her glasses pays tribute to one leader (Obama) who tried not to wage war and her favourite song writer in her version of Imagine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urjyP95H6vk

Here’s  Marianne Faithful singing another Lennon classic, Working Class Hero in which he lays it down like he sees it, quite lucidly I believe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2SDRQJrawU

Finally another working class hero David Bowie who sang ‘Lennon’s on sale again’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IftjxN_KJoM and whose outlandish dress-sense set the stage for Gaga.

I was hoping to do it in June at the book fair at BALTIC (Artists’ Book Market BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 June 2016) but haven’t been selected to do an intervention this year. So, if you have a venue in the North east area and want to see one or more of my pieces near the weekend of 18-19 June please let me know.

pete's earthen vessel

 Planet of the Dolphins? (unabridged)

This is the unabridged version of my new blAst for those of you who are not too busy to read its dense detail and not a bit squeamish as it contains details about the results of high explosives in WW1 that some folk may find difficult. The reason I mention them is because I firmly believe, in my naïve and stupid way, that all war and any assault on other humans with intent to kill or maim should be banished. (I don’t mind hard tackles on the field of sport as in some ways that is a way of working off aggression and in fact competition in International sport has proved to be a substitute for conflict on the field of battle!)

 

Reporting on my contacts with the ‘outside world’, UWE have put out their latest Artist’s books Newsletter and am happy to share that they, Sarah Bodman that is, included the whole of my ‘report’ about the poetry library’s Open Day on pp 39 thru 41 which includes a couple of newstyle visual typo poems. Best to see them in colour http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/newspdfs/95.pdf

 

Also on p 42 the Book Art * Art Book 2 show in Colchester’s Slack Space gallery is flagged up. Some of the best Artist’s book makers in Essex will be showing new stuff from Wednesday 4th – Saturday 28th February. Slack Space is open Wednesday-Saturday from 11am-6pm. I am going to read from my poems at the opening on Thursday 5th.

 

I did offer to put on a show at firstsite whilst the gallery was empty and they did honour me with a reply in which they graciously pointed out “a 5-week long residency by Maria Loboda, during which time she will fabricate a new work in situ” is soon to begin. That is music to my ears because I felt it was such a waste of space to have the walls bare for the time before the next scheduled show in March.

 

In a way it’s good to have no demands on my time so that I can concentrate my time on preparing my own contributions to the world of artists books and more generally to my vision and creation of the outputs I perceive and wish to make like the new book for the forthcoming BABE in April.

 

I quote Rabindranath Tagore who wrote a beautiful poem Gitanjali:

‘I gave myself up for lost in the depth of a glad humiliation – in the shadow of a dim delight.’48.

He also thanks his god for ‘Day by day thou art making me worthy of thy full acceptance by refusing me ever and anon, saving me from perils of weak, uncertain desire’14.

‘All desires that distract me, day and night, are false and empty to the core.’38.

(the numbers refer to the ‘verses in his epic poem Gitanjali for which he received the Nobel Prize).

 screem2

Warning on the words that follow – “This blog gets a bit heavy man, it’s not exactly hip man,” said Neil from the Young Ones, (a great band).

In my last blog I mentioned Solzhenitsyn saying that just after the WW1 a number of old folk offered the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia (including what he referred to as the ‘ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people’ and I suppose the casualties of fighting Hitler): “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” I also related the recent incursions into Ukraine as treading thin ice under which loomed the possibility of yet more war scenarios in this our blighted planet, as if we, or ‘they’ the powers that be have learned nothing from the wars we look back on in this 100th anniversary of WW1 (and commemorations on Churchill who oversaw some heinous actions by British forces alongside his country’s heroic stance against Nazism in the second world-wide tragedy WW2).

Since I posted that blog Russian military craft loitered about 25 miles from Britain, apparently it was Russia’s show of contempt for manoeuvres by Nato forces in Poland after the incursions into Ukraine. There’s a strategic logic to ‘Russia’ wanting parts of Ukraine which could be overcome if Ukraine were to allow Russian access to the sea and Crimea on a friendly basis. Maybe that’s impossible, I don’t know, I’m no expert. But Russia’s moves in Ukraine only began after the Ukranians ousted what seems to have been a puppet governor who seems to have lived the life of an emperor, but he had Russian backing I would imagine because he allowed certain ‘privileges’ to his backers.

Last week I watched Fergal Keane’s report http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vyrzh/the-first-world-war-from-above about the aerial photographs taken over the trenches and the unimaginable devastation left by effects of the then latest in a line of war to end all wars, WW1. The revelations were staggering even to me who had studied History to A level (in which we couldn’t study ancient history like I wished to because the exams only allowed coverage of the European modern stuff; WW1 & WW2), I had met WW1 veterans and had heard about interminable repeated accounts of the horrors of the trenches and the sending over to certain death millions of men from books, magazines and TV. This documentary blew my idea of those horrors asunder. I had not imagined a millionth of it. Death in conflict is nasty at any time by any method but WW1 created unprecedented massacres in what can only be described as hell-holes. My home town had lots of men killed in the war, particularly at the Somme. Some of the remnants would have become ‘sappers’, because of their mining backgrounds in the pits of Burnley. These poor bastards had to dig for a year under the German lines before Ypres and lay 450 tons of high explosive. They dug into a chalk soil and used their bayonets to take out tiny bits of chalk which they had to catch before it hit the ground because any sound would have alerted the enemy. They were indeed extremely successful. About 19 explosive caches were sunk deep under the ground beneath German headquarters. They were set off to explode one after the other in a line which ran toward the Germans who would have seen the previous ones going up and would have had no time to escape. The biggest part of a body found afterwards was a foot in a boot. All the rest of the people involved had been blown to smithereens ‘no bigger than a fingernail clipping…minuscule fragments’. The prize? 5 miles of ground and a determination on the part of General Erich Luddendorf to NOT give up but (he decided) to retake every inch of ground lost no matter what the cost. Therefore, Passchendaele. And that is the maniacal thing about WW1, from its unnecessary outset the ‘leaders’ of every side were literally ‘hell-bent’ on continuing the carnage with scant regard for human and material losses. The nearest thing I have read of the mayhem is Kenneth Patchen’s book, The Journal of Albion Moonlight which gives an inkling of the madness of all out war. http://ndbooks.com/book/the-journal-of-albion-moonlight

Why do I, a man renowned for his sense of fun, give such gory detail above? Because Keane’s documentary brought home to me the true horror of what happens when some men feel they have the right to wage war. That is occurring this minute in Syria. The ruins on the news are reminiscent of the ruins of France after WW1, although no matter how bad they look they are not the result of trench warfare, just more potentially damaging munitions. I am a sad bastard myself, I still agree with John Lennon, Ghandi and the Dalai LamaDa Lama in jug who wish(ed) to do away with war. That very notion, abandoning war, seems like madness to so many who perpetrate war and the manufacture of weaponry. War seems like madness to me. And I want to return to the top of this piece and talk about this absence of god. I don’t mention god in any attempt to push any religious doctrine or say one is better than another, remember Bob Dylan’s words that “the Germans they too had god on their side”. And the Arab world all say they believe in Allah yet they attack one another. And some cultures say their god is more important than any other god and indeed that there is no other god but theirs. Which is almost as mad as the two ‘world wars’ because it is so blind, so selfish, so blinkered so demeaning of the thoughts of ‘others’ who may themselves have perfectly good ideas on what is good and right etc, but to condemn them out of hand by saying theirs is below yours and indeed is ignorant in the highest state of idiocy.

Men have forgotten God? Yes almost undoubtedly. They had their own god but it was a territorial god, still is in many ways. Many out there are fighting purportedly for their version of god, but not any god who would embrace their actions. I believe any god worth its salt would not wish the devastation humans have wrought upon their own species as far back as the history books can go. The god they forgot is a universal well-being. A being well for all of humanity. Maybe humans could rename god, the WellBeing, or BeingWell? But I wouldn’t wish to start another movement.

For me there may be a god. There may be a something behind all existence. I am not bright enough to work it out. Greater humans than me have tried. BUT, I do think that most religions are at their base saying the same things; do not kill, do not covet, do not steal nor do bad deeds etc.

I am not certain there is any ‘after-life’ in any recognisable way, not sure we see our relatives on any ‘other side’, not sure if we come back as better beings, or as slugs if we do ‘wrong’. But I am certain there is part of me that was there when the Big Bang took place, apparently that’s true. And am certain that in my genetic make up, my DNA, there are parts that have come down to me from ancestors thousands of years ago. And that my genetic code is passed on to my childers and down to any who may be born in later times. We do re-incarnate in that way, that can be measured.

Also they can work out which part of the world my ancestors came from and research can find out where a skeleton dug up from the ground after being there for say 1500 years where that ‘person’ hailed from. We live in a marvellous world, let’s look after it, let’s try to safeguard what’s good in it and let’s push to end war. Even without war humans have a pretty hard task. But it’s worth it.

Here’s a beautiful poem by Tagore’s Gitanjali

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day

Runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean cradle of birth and death

In ebb and in flow.

And my pride is from the life-throb of ages

Dancing in my blood this moment.

 

Here’s It’s a beautiful Day, a great band I was lucky to see at the Bath Festival, Shepton Malet in 1970 doing their version of a song by Fred Neil.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqAd-kwTdxg

here’s Fred Neil’s original version ‘This old world may never change The way it’s been’

A ‘babyhowdy’ said, ‘this remains one of the most utterly exquisite songs I’ve ever heard! EVERYONE should hear this song, and it doesn’t matter how or where you first hear this masterpiece, so long as you hear it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8g_j5y2OK4

and Tim Buckley’s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO6CNj5YVF8

Maybe one day there’ll be no humans and this will be Planet of the Dolphins. I’m still searching.