Tag Archives: Apulspirit

The White Dress

The Portal takes me back and to ‘Other Spaces’

The ‘performance’ art I’m doing in my new piece at Colchester Art Centre on Sun12Sept2021 is based on the content of my self-published books with some poetic license. It has many bits of music cut (with thanks to all the songsters!) from songs which were popular back in the day and as I’m only speaking very sparsely the words of each song actually tell the story. So listen well.

“We are a music-making species — always have been, always will be — and music’s capacity to explore, express and address what it is to be human remains one of our greatest communal gifts… We evolved by coming together around the fire* every night, singing songs and telling stories — invariably, telling stories through singing songs. That’s what our ancestors did; that’s how they made sense of the world and each other; that’s how they learned how to be. It is an impulse that is still fundamental to who we are.” Clemency Burton-Hill *there’s no actual fire in my piece.

I woke at four am today 25th August 2021 and came up with some answers to things which were bugging me both short term and longer. Seems I was lucid at that time of day. Short term was solving some of the challenges* I need to resolve for my show on 12th September. *(Lennon sang ‘There is no problem only solutions’ or summat like that)

I was reading about how Michael Parkinson thought so much about Alan Whicker who he said “Played the pauses better than anyone else”. I see how important that is as I prepare for my September 12th gig in which there’s a series of transferences and instinct (or simply inexperience) makes me want to fill every space but it’s probably better to leave pause time in. The silence, no movement no sound maybe a shift of lighting, will then frame the activity.

I’m may spend some of the time just sitting on my small cane chair rather than attempting to ‘dance’ my way through the whole piece. So I’ll be like that story teller on Jackanory. Early on in the piece I have a paper fish placed on my back which recalls the time as an eleven year old it happened to me in France and now I’m going to keep it on my back as I move through any of the autobiographic parts because being the fool or rather playing the Fool was part of my adopted character trait. And it adds continuity and meaning to the piece. The fool turned, like that worm which I also carried about as a character trait, in my second year at college when I realised I wasn’t playing a fool I was in danger of being a fool. A shrewd decision to stem my foolish behaviours which is probably the advent of the Shrewd-ness in PK.

I used to be an artist but I’m alright noooOW, I did oil painting but after about thirty years I gave up flogging a dead horse because my studio was full of unsold pictures everyone loved but nobody ever bought. I hang my ‘painting’ on the portal whilst I whip it then destroy it during Sandy Denny’s No End song. I’m also wearing the red beret which mysteriously appears on my return from Paris just in time for the whip it-like-John Cleese scene. I will separate the Fool (on the hill) bit from the Kazuo Ono part and maybe use Jeff Beck’s instrumental Suspension for Kazuo and also really try to make a simple Kazuo papier-mâché mask notwithstanding the sparsity of time. I don’t think I’ll complete the new Squidgeratkin mask but I’m going to embellish the original latex one with feathers and flame.

On the long term issues it came to me why I was so upset by that JFK murder it’s because subconsciously at the time he was incremental in avoiding a nuclear war with Russian leaders. There’s been so much prevarication ever since but I’m convinced he was a man marked to die and not by Lee Harvey Oswald who was a scapegoat but by forces within America’s Establishment and the bullet that actually blew his brain out was fired from behind by a security guard; accidentally or by design. American politics just then began a downhill spiral which ended up with a LOUD Trump. The jury’s still out on the Biden administration but America is so damaged there’s probably no way to recovery. I think Lennon was murdered by a hit man too. Lennon is my Working Class Hero, the words of most of the songs are pertinent to the story

Another hero is Dudley D Watkins who created characters for Beano one was called Jimmy and he had a Magic patch on his bum which enabled him to travel through time. I’ll be sporting a similar patch on me bum.

I used to be an artist but I’m alright noooOW, I did oil painting but after about thirty years I gave up flogging a dead horse because my studio was full of unsold pictures everyone loved but nobody ever bought.

So this bloke attacked me with his puny belt but like Crocodile Dundee I got a bigger one than him but I don’t use it as a rule.

There’s a John Cleese reference too.

The Belt piece is there because it’s in my Shrewd Idiot book you’ll need to buy one to find the context.

By the way the red hardback Shrewd Idiot cost me £100 each and you can buy one today for what it cost me. R J printers in Maldon print most of my books and came to my rescue when The Trilogy was not up to standard.

The Dress piece is about Love and Loss, from ecstasy to forlorn and back again. Good Vibration is not about celebrating it was on the radio that night my first love gave me the bum’s rush.

Kazuo Ohno was an amazing Japanese performance artist I tagged a tribute to him at the end.

Flyer for the gig
This is the inside cover of the June edition of my Trilogy.

An announcement on World Book Day

An announcement on World Book Day (not for children tho’!)

10-si-buks-2317
A Pile Of 10 deluxe Shrewd Idiots 2nd March 2017

YES THE SHREWD IDIOT’ (deluxe limited edition of 10) IS NOW READY FOR PURCHASE!

As part of the ‘PK College Days Trilogy*

BUT BE QUICK COS THERE’S ONLY 8 LEFT!

b

Pete Kennedy will be doing a fifteen minute Live Art Piece (LAP) of his

‘Apulhed & The Three Graces’^

to introduce the book’s content at Bristol’s Arnolfini gallery in the Dark Studio

at 5pm on April 1st 2017.

And that’s no joke.

As they used to say way back when, “Be there or be square”.

PK will ‘perform’ his books’ content with the help of a series of masks, costume changes, specially edited music, mime (?), dance (??) and poetry (???). Please bring your cameras and flash away then, if possible, send PK some of your images for his blArty blog! “I hate it when you go to a gig and they’ve banned the use of photography. Some of the best work in my books was camera assisted.”

*The ‘P.K. – COLLEGE DAYS TRILOGY’ is comprised of two circa A3 books;

1-si
Front cover of The Shrewd Idiot

  1. ‘The Shrewd Idiot’ [Out Now- the story of Northern Lad recounting how Three Graces and his ‘creation’ Appleheadman helped him to rise out of the morass (short for His Moron’s Ass?), &
  2. ‘Pete Kennedy The First Five Years’ [To be released soon- 37 artworks 69-73 printed on translucent paper to complement The Shrewd Idiot], both in a deluxe edition of ten.

& 3. ‘Appleheadman Sees’ – which is circa A5, unlimited edition. Out Now

apulscreem-2017-bw-repeatd-hd-sm
Back cover of Appleheadman Sees.

The three books can be bought separately or as a trilogy. Buy one or both of the deluxe editions and get a free copy of Apul-One’.

^ ‘Three Graces’ are three women who partnered our Northern Lad at some time during 1969-73. Each of them came to him at crucial times in his life and each brought new and wonderful loving experiences.

 

a new ‘Shrewd Idiot’ book

Here’s a sighting of ma new Shrewd Idiot book during the binding at Sullivan & Son.

1st-sighting-sans-cover-sm

It’s A3 size, that’s with two A4 type-written (By Jill nee Williams in the late 1970s) sheets on each page. There are 13 ‘big’ images at A3 size potted thru the script along with lots oif little doodles and some nice images dropped into the typed pages. There’s lots of alterations and corrections through the document because it was originally meant to be a manuscript to attract a publisher deal. In the 1970s the publisher would take this document and hand it to the typesetter who would follow the instructions which I had put over the type and any which were added by the publisher. This ‘manuscript’ was never intended for public consumption hence the need at one point to go through and change all names when I thought maybe I’d self-publish as a normal book which would be typed into a modern form where all the corrections and changes could be implemented so the viewer never see them. However, I decided not to have it re-typed, that would have made my job a lot easier so it was a must to avoid, NO, better to really really struggle with the original typed pages, scan them in then alter them as required in photoshop then design the layout in Quark (I know, Quark is so out of vogue now and it’d be much easier in Indesign, so I stuck with Quark, you know me.

So, there we have it, the book is now printed and with my binders who have now debossed the actual cover cloth with my little drawing of the Shrewd Idiot pushing his barrow of books, well one BIG tome anyway!

a-cover-embossed-a4-right-side-view-sm

This red image is only half the cover, it sits to the right hand side of the cover making it look like the fool is pushing his barrow off the book.

Everything about the book is not exactly what it seems at first glance. It looks like a story about a young bloke who left his home town and travelled as far away as he could to get an education and how he was initiated into all those things young fellas need to be initiated into. But it’s not about that at all. It’s about awakening, awakening of consciousness and the acquisition of skill to carry the revelations that an awakened consciousness finds in a pretty uninterested world. By the end of the book the idiot has a lot of disappointing outcomes but they are just more revelations about how hard life can be especially when you have a penchant for making life difficult or finding the hard way to do the easy things.

In the end the book is not about that fella back in the early 1970s, it’s about his older version now in his mid-sixties and how he never gave up on his dream of showing folk the quality of what he found in all those initiations and revelations and how it took more than forty years to bring them out in a public format. You’ll see as soon as you open it that it is not what you thought it was as the opened book shows, it has a beautiful feel to it and again that’s an acquired sensibility from over 40 years of continuous effort and striving to achieve.

And the best is yet to come because this is just number one in a whole series of publications which this guy has been preparing over the past. But there’ll be no more quite like this, I’ll find easier ways to do the design and layouts. Watch this space.

apulscreem-2017-black-on-wite-sm
the original face of Apulhed when he saw mankind’s inhumanity all over the planet Earth

The book plus a sister publication of 37 A3 images should be available by the end of February 2017 and hopefully a facsimile publication of the famous concertina ‘book’ called ‘Appleheadman Screams’ which I did in 1972. Nothing has changed, the things he screamed about are still going on…and on…and on. Apulhed shows a perturbed visage but he won’t accept the original face of Apulhed when he saw mankind’s inhumanity all over the planet Earth, he decide that rather than flee this realm he will stayy to spread happiness and compassion, slowly but surely he knows that humankind will return to peace.

I am doing a launch Performance Art piece at the Arnolfini during the BABE book event on Saturday 1st April. Watch out cos that’s not what it seems either, whereas if you can get to it you’ll see what looks like a Clickerti-Clix year old bloke prancing about with words and masks and dad-dancing (not! I do Zumba once a week don’t you know), it’s really an introduction to the Shrewd Idiot book with all its ins and outs. More about that in my next blog.

A Simpler look at Life.

A Simpler look at Life.

As you know many of my BlArts are about pretty heavy stuff and strange stuff and stuff most folk aren’t bee arsed abArt most of the time.

This week I am taking a much simpler look, more direct, at (my experience of) life.

Mostimes when I come to ‘write’ I put my concerned hat on and go, ‘Now, what’s concerning me now?’ but there’s a lot goes on of beauty in ma life what I don’t blart on about like:

When I did my first degree I did a dissertation about modern Japanese art and I came across their paintings which were so like photos. Why bother painting it when you can take the photo, on a Japanese camera even!

Here’s some flowers with raindrops on

a mornin glorya rain on ivy s

Rainbow lights, they come into ma living room early morning when the sun shines, nice.

a rainbos

I made a friend this week, but only for a couple of days. Twas a big old bumble bee. I found him swimming, or rather, drowning in my cats’ drinking bowl.

chili drinks 2 s
cat guarding bowl from bee trespassers

I plucked him out one day last week and put him safe. Next I found him walking round in some clover.

a bee in clova s
notice his left wing is a bit frazzled

I noticed walking was his only means of gerrin about cos one of his wings was badly damaged. So, if he’d tried to fly he would have only gone around in circles like a whirly dervished bee. The following day I found him back in his swimming pool again! So, I put my bronze medallion life saving into action and pulled him out agin. Put him safe agin too. Or two. Next day I found him curled up and died. Well, I got him two extra days on this planet, maybe he’ll return as an Olympic swimmer?

and here’s a flower pic I took a couple of weeks ago in the Tibetan Peace Garden in the Imperial War Museum.

a yeller fleurs

Happy Days, no heavy stuffs

Namaste

Authors’ Authority.

 

Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent is a good mantra.

I was born Peter D. O’Kennedy (http://blogs.transparent.com/irish/an-sloinne-o-cinneide-the-surname-kennedy/ ) in Glasgow Royal Infirmary most definitely of Celtic descent. My paternal grandparents came from Cork & Limerick.

Since I left school in 1969 I been trying to ‘make a name for myself’. But I already have a name, so really there’s no need to make another (anudda). Once again I have to tell maself to STOP, just be your-self. And that’s what I am best at.

Recently whilst negotiating an article for JAB about Dieter Roth and how he far outstrips most all other ‘artist-book’ makers they suggested I focus the writing around my own work. POW, off I went into a piece about some of the great German artists and writers who have impressed upon my work which was published in JAB 38 http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/ . I watched Bob Geldoff’s tele-piece on W B Yeats last night. It was very revealing and helped me to understand the poet/writer better than before. I went to bed thinking, ‘Well that explains some of my own passion and drive…It’s the Oirisht in me…it’s a cultural ting’. I slept a couple of hours and at 02.30 hours came down and wrote this, “I was born in Glasgow Infirmary of Celtic descent. I have 3 books I must achieve:

  • The Shrewd Idiot (SI)
  • Squidgeratscrawls (Sqasc)
  • Genie Ass (G.ass)

I am collating SI. It’s a labourious process but that’s by choice.

Sqasc should be more joyfull.

G.ass is going to be done in 5 or 6 parts, should be ‘fun’.

Then I can re-lease my-self to do the other books that I wish to achieve, some more spontaneous, others from already existing notes & ideas. I don’t care about the audience, just want to achieve them. ASAP.”

Then I returned to bed til about 7.30 am.

a title page for si
an unusual page from SI cos it’s actually typed into the manuscript, most pages are pcopies of old typed pages.

Last week I spoke about my work on the new SI. Am onto page 22 of 252 jpegs to vire over into ma layout. It is quite slow. But I do keep doing other tings. On Saturday I ran off to Tate Britain on a mission where I was surprised to see a painting by Tagore done in 1939! I would like to show you it but, as usual, you cannot take photos in these exhibitions, so everyone loses. I wished to suss out the Susan Philipsz very touching and evocative sound material made on instruments damaged by wars. I had an idea to ask the Tate if I can use a space there to do my Somme Boys Performance Art piece, but you know what it’s like, they’d say who are you/ are you already famous? And there’s no room at the inn fer yo laddie. I have approached the set up that supports Susan Philipsz installation, 14-18now, but am not holding ma breath. Here’s what I sent em:

 

“A Commemoration of the Somme

haunted warrior ww1
ww1 veteran

Performance Art Proposal from Pete Kennedy

I have an idea for a piece of PA which I would like you to consider.

I visited Susan Philipsz’ lovely sound art at Tate yesterday and I noticed lots of empty spaces which I could use to do my piece. I am not thinking it could be done just at Tate but anywhere, in any town or city. I understand that you back things which commemorate WW1? I have also got an idea for an artist’s book about the Somme.

I have chosen the Somme because hundreds of men from my home town of Burnley were killed there.

I am an artist aged 65 who recently acquired an MA in Bookarts and have moved into Performance art after doing a course with Jurgen Fritz & Vest + Page at Glastonbury.

I shall make the book and do the performance art about Somme come what may but I would much appreciate it if you would support my work.

It can be done very simply with few props or a big BLOW-OUT version which would involve a mound of (something like) mud and a structure to represent a trench with inter-connecting ‘tunnel’. I have musicians who can create site specific sound.

This is developing daily as I realize more. For example, when I worked with Jurgen last October I realised I must not make it just a memory of the British losses, the Germans suffered too.

Yesterday at Tate’s ‘Artist & Empire’ I saw a double portrait by Philip de Laszlo of two Indian (Sikh?) officers, Jagat & Man Singh, who were painted shortly before they went to the Somme. It said that 1 in 6 of the allied force came from India. So now I must play ‘Tommy’, ‘Otto’ (and maybe ‘Singh’?) in my PA.

Namaste”

Then I moved on up to the British Library to see if I could find a copy of the Burnley Express that I saw in 1970 which was from c1916-18 and every page was full of obituaries to the dead men from the town. I want to use those pages in a ‘book’ I want to make for my tribute to those who fell at the Somme form all parts of the planet. I can’t trace the darned ting, I know it’s out there. If only they still had hard copy I could go to a library and rifle thru! I shouldn’t be considering doing books and performance art about the Somme, I got enough to do, but It’s The Way I Tell ‘Em!

Footnote to Joey B. “I was always told ‘Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent: The Arsenal.’”  David Rocastle ex-player. I think young Joey Barton should listen to David. Concentrate on playing good football Joey not jumping all over the opponent’s leg.

The Way I Tell ’em!

The Way You Do The Things You Do.

03.45hrs 28.3.2016

My (vast?) knowledge of ‘art’ became (apparently) irrelevant overnite becos they (purportedly) moved the goalposts when I must have had my eyes off the ball (or maybe the Jasper Johns/Pop Art target?) by their declaring ‘post’-Modernism’ which supposedly super ceded the Modernism & Classicism that I had studied and played a part of between 1968 and when the pMT (post-Modernis Tings) began (date unsure, a bit hazy and for me irrelevant).

SI littul buks

I don’t believe ‘post’-Modernism’, it’s a crap idea which seeped down from architecture into some folk’s view of art. Whatever it’s purported to be (a shift, a change, a re-direct) it isn’t because the history (of art) is a continuation. As part of the continuity we have learned that the media we can utilise is not just the old fields of oil paint, water colour, bronze and wood altho I have loved working in all of them. Nowadays it’s ok to use ANY material to create art and all sorts of differing environments. Latterly I learned that as I manipulate the words as words and image on my computer design package that’s just as relevant in making (my) art as was once my manipulation of oil with turps on a canvas.

So. My books are art and always have been. I used to feel an odd sensation when I looked at say a photo I had done or a presentation with masks and feel…t that they weren’t ‘proper’ art. My ‘pop’ art drawings/comix with Apulhedman were just as relevant as my oils of my wife. So, all my activities which I used to put into a number of pigeon holes have now become my ‘art’. They are all one. They manifest from my observation, imagination and skill.

They represent me. They re-present the ‘me’ what lives and breathes in ways and materials, some of which will outlive the entity I call ‘me’ by many centuries…

S I title an image
my 1980’s design for the cover.

The book I am working on or ‘compiling’ at present, The Shrewd Idiot (SI), has a LONG history. I left my teaching post in 1976 to format it from notes I had written, drawn and photo’d in various journals and sketchbooks since 1969. I had done my first self-published book, Apul-One (1975), from the same sources and SI was to be a more ‘normally’ spelt version of same. Its initial version was completed by 1978 and then I started sending it to publishers, two of whom (Wildwood House, then Calder), considered it for publication but eventually both dropped it. I have re-approached it several times in the intervening years and the newest version will have evidence of interventions from different times. It was never a ‘literary’ work. It was always a collection of some thoughts, observations, hopes, fears and images of one individual.

A1 bakover
Back cover of Apul-One, little has changed since.

Now the words I created years ago have become images. Most of the book is made up of images of the typescript typed up mostly by Jill (nee) Williams and boy was she tolerant of my stupid words. Drawings and other forms of image-making are a vital part of the book and that was the rub in the 70’s and 80’s when print was difficult concerning the placement of word & image in a book. Nowadays the two can sit well together and gone are the days when publishers considered it impure to set image and word together. In a way the world is ready for my arrangement of the material now but is it ready for the content? It matters not really cos am doing it anyway. But I am only going to make about 10 copies initially, mostly to give to some friends who moved thru the period it covers. The content will either fascinate or bore potential observers, I say observers cos it’s not (just) for readers in fact it may not be important to read it at all, I wish you wouldn’t cos it’s embarrassing in its revelations. It is not even state of the art in layout & presentation when you think of the beauty which David McKean brings to the page. I am deliberately not using digital layout packages, except for part of the book, becos am determined that Jill’s typing is the image of the main body of the words I wish to convey. There is a ‘story’ or ‘narrative’ which in fact continues thru all my life cos it’s uncompromisingly about the person that was me at the time (1969-1973). Altho in fact it’s like looking in a mirror cos the artist or writer sees themselves on the page as they see themselves in a mirror, unreally. (In my case somewhat unruly too) I can never see the me that you see, I only see the me that lives inside me and he hides a lot of his real self, even from me. In fact this book reveals some parts or thought of that self which maybe should be left in the archives but in the name of honest ‘journalism’ I include most of them even tho some are excruciating in their pomposity and vanity. In some ways it’s a personal writing plus images, in other ways it’s universal cos it is about one man’s efforts to come to terms with his world and find roads to explore with newly acquired abilities to add to what he brings with him to the time of the notes.

It’s all to do with The Way You Do The Things You Do, or as one old comedian used to say in a thick Oirisht drawl, “It’s the way ah tell ‘em”.

Here’s Jerry Garcia’s band doing the Temptations song The Way You Do The Things You Do.

It’s all to do with the way you do the things you do. He plays his guitar in this like Jimi did, and the Temptations were trying to emulate Jimi when they brought the guitar solo in.

just jimi sm
Oil I did of Jimi.

Jimi had a long history as a band man round America before he cut loose as a solo artis. He even cut some music with Arthur Lee’s band Love.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A11RUploW6g

Jimi and Janis Joplin died aged 27 only a few weeks apart. I watched a great documentary on Janis on Beeb 4 and it wer great the way she picked up influence from seeing the best like Otis Redding perform. She took his repeated word phrasing and made it hers. And how. How does a little lady from Port Arthur, Texas do that ting?! It’s to do with letting go into the…mystic, or whatever we call that energy level which seems unreachable to us mortals. https://www.nytimes.com/books/99/05/02/specials/joplin-obit.html

And ere’s a littul poym fer yor kerlecshun:

 

I’ve always bin abit diffrunt.

I was always out of the norm(-an-wisdom).

I meyd sure o dat

All wheys.

 

An now am sixty fibre

And I steal got no-wur man

Still at th’botham off the heath

Anni dinna care

 

No matta worri dun

Dint seam to werk

Always told me

That I wer a burke

 

Never not no gudenuf

To brake doon the gardenia

To redibrek the camel hea

Always keept on nokkin…anni cunt cum in

 

e e cummons came and wint

I surely did ma stint

I paved me clues

And I never tuched Dora

 

I wiz der runt

Of za litter azure

Like me ole whaka

Kennet Patcha

 

(hey thet rymed and thus not allured

D’y meen allowed?

No am never a loud

Man)

 

Ex hippie-pete, ‘It’s the way ah tell ‘em’.

 

This blog is ©pete kennedy 2016 (Nobody else would admit to creating the tripe on it any old how!)

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.

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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.

 

Let’s Do It, Live Art…

‘Whilst Live Art remains elusive to most mainstream commentators its influence is pervasive, and intriguingly the concept of performativity – its central tenet’ from an article by LADA (Live Art Development Agency) Director Lois Keidan that appeared in Guardian Online on 22 October 2015 when I was half way thru the two week course led by Jurgen Fritz which has totally re-aligned my thinking on what my art is, was and forever more will BE. I am so determined to do Performance Art in my future and have just come across a conversation involving a friend I made (Andrea Pagnes http://www.vest-and-page.de/ ) at the IPA fortnight with a man whose work totally blew me away when I discovered it in a book that I saw at the bookshop in the National Theatre (I’ve yet to see anything other than photos of the man), Ron Athey. Their conversation gets to the hub of the issues in PA and altho I am a novice by comparison I felt so privileged that both Vest & Page said such wonderfully constructive things to me about my efforts. I received so much encouragement to carry on. Recently I have heard it said that ‘art’ is a minority interest (but today on Anglia BBC morning news they tell me “Creative Industries are worth £76 billion per annum to the ‘Economy’- why don’t i see any o that?), well it may be a minority interest to some but it’s been my obsession now for 48 years. I still have some more to say and it will be thru PA/Live Art which is so much more demonstrative in its appreciation than the ‘art world’ [sorry art-world but I been trying to make a dent on you fer 48 years and the door won’t budge! At least when I do Live Art they clap and cheer (when I get off)]Hee Hee.

v & p latex dancers

That’s Andrea in the mask on right hand side.

Some words from Andrea Pagnes in conversation with Ron Athey,

AP‘… the richness and uniqueness that can emanate from personal experience, lived life and the consequent artistic research which arises directly from the deepest inclinations and existential urgencies of an individual.’

‘…when performance art intersects life directly and uncompromisingly, and draws on the most basic instincts, processes and transforms the deeper reasons and urgencies of Man’s presence in the world … it is revelatory: a sincere, transformative experience on human scale.’

RA says, ‘…How, in any medium, to bring something esoteric to

life, how to disturb a given, how to represent the super natural.’

AP you have … challenged conventional bourgeois mores, tastes and expectations

…by addressing viscerally emerging social hypocritical worries…’

RA performance art today… is not populist. Why not do benefits/write for funds/self produce in an amazing site-specific place? Cuz it is so much work but so worth it!

 I love the bit about ‘the richness and uniqueness that can emanate from personal experience’ and that underpinned what 3 of my course leaders said to me. Andrea saw the natural clown/fool in me in two settings which he commented on. I see from the vids on V&P website that he has done much work with clowns.http://www.vest-and-page.de/#!the-smile-at-the-top-of-the-ladder/c1orh

They all encouraged me to use my life experience in my PA, something which comes easy to me I must say as I’ve reached a point in my life where I treasure every moment I have lived and I am ready to go out there and bring my stuff to folks in a variety of settings. At IPA I used some of my Ashtanga Yoga practice in some of my pieces, particularly the Jug Dance but there were other ‘moves’ and references too. Ashtanga Yoga is a fairly vigourous form which emanated from the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya thru his pupil K. Pattabhi Jois. Another of his students B K S Iyengar popularised his Iyengar form in Britain from the 1960s. The main difference as far as I can see is that Iyengar encourages the use of aids like cushions to ease the new student into the forms that can be somewhat excrutiating for a long time for starters. I for one have massive difficulty trying to do a lotus position but no matter, you do what you can and you gradually move towards perfection.The good thing is people do yoga into their 90’s which is fortunate cos I never started til I were in ma 60’s!arnolfini outside jug dance smPhoto by Nicole Murmann (thanks!)

This is not Yoga it is Performance Art, why? cos PA is what the artis says it is, Jurgen told us that, didn’t he?

I discovered a book on yoga which I’d recommend to anyone who wants to know its benefits, it’s called, The Reluctant Yogi by Carla McKay http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15000943-the-reluctant-yogi

I have been doing yoga once or twice a week and now I am so glad I began as it’s obvious it has so many astounding benefits.

Namaste.

My German ‘gHosts’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael McKell lino cut, black & brown

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

a The scale is the result of the dance

my portrait of Anselm Kiefer

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

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

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

Bauhaus; Klee, Schlemmer

Post war; Anselm Keifer, Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

making the point

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

 

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.