Tag Archives: bruce mclean

Tom Phillips, his wurds, my werds, your word.

It’s words, we love to play wit them. The constructing and de-constructing. There’s so much to do wit werds. I create werds mi wey. Tom does too, his way. Together, with whey, we make HEY!

tom swiping smkba page

So I saw (see I saw) Tom Phillips (TP) last night at the South Bank Poetry Library. Good show. He talked about his new ‘thrupenny’ opera based on an old Victorian book he paid thruppence for back in 1966 whilst in the company of the late great R B Kitaj at a flea market. The book was ‘The Human Document’ (W. H. Mallock) TP was intent on doing some altered book werk treat-ment on that Victorian forgotten document, told RBK he’d spend the rest of his life on it, and up to now he did, 50 years. His version he called ‘Humumenthttp://humument.com/ and it’s a play with the text,

a play full of art which he has turned into an opera now. So this book, one of Britain’s early artist’s books, has had a life and is now in its 5th version. TP’s work on the pages is exquisite as some examples show in the Poetry Library. Tom talks with the closeness of an artisbloke but the distance of someone who knew he had ‘made it’ years ago. He is very confident, very self-effacing, if you can do both at once. Very kind too, let me take some photos, and signed a little pamphlet I got about his other big work, Dante’s Inferno which he translated himself then illustrated impeccably. I hold my hand up to Tom, he is no doubt a wonderful artist and he has the bravery to delve deep into the possibilities of ‘social media’ like his tweets show. His creativity to me seems to be how he manipulates media. Now he’s manipulating Opera with similar adventures which he described fleetintly last night, talking of what ingrediates a good opera; music, dance, foreign tongue etc. So below I am going to amalgamate his spoken word with my own thoughts and observations and variations, don’t worry if you can’t understand a werd of it, it’s a new form of ‘writing-collaboration’, werds and images I gleanmachinated into a combination of his werds and mine and those they trigger in your mind too, here goes:

‘November 1966 in company with Ronald Kitaj I found A Human Document on a flea market it cost thruppence. So the opera can legitimately be called the thruppenny opera? I know the purple questions you stir the violent notes. The opera could be a palindrome cos , ‘One man in the dust is so much like another’ opens and closes it.we got dancing in this show, Gavin Bryars = did the music (?) music is the ultimate art we all aspire to…all other stumblingscribblings in art tried to match…music.

Wild strawberries captured, mentions rosebud too, hints of bergman & orson wells. My instructions to dancers are really ‘challenges & provocations’. A white shadow, white nocturnal dream. Couldn’t leev Billy Toje out of the opera now could I? I made him rather a grand figure. The inarticulate language? Why not call mine ‘mando’? reads some mando gibberish. Talks of ‘words picked from inside words’ in the wonderful words of the English language. I love the tweet & twitter world for the new words…

Mallock (W H) was a prig, a prick, anti-semitic, very snobbish.

I thought I’d make a parade. In the Rimbaud (not Rambo?) manner. Lord Ruin & the Sausages. The Velvet Subterranean Band. Aaron’s Extended Sprouting Stalk. Humument, I hope to have it done by its 50th birthday.’Then Tom stopped hard. It wer dun.

nancy campbell sm kb

Nancy said she was impressed with the man’s work. Chris McCabe said he was a poet too much published over the years in Poets Review (?).

chris mcabe

Tom doing this reminded me I already did a Nonogon Dance ting where 15 kids from Maldon danced (in masks watti dun and costumes too) to music by Mick West & Mark Newby-Robson whilst I read the story of the Nonogon Nomads. Goff Merrijeff projected video clips. Bin thur dun that, Colchester Library, Jan 5th 2000. I’d do it again only more betterer if I got the opening. And there’s a dance Inside The Clay Pot too. C’mon where are the sponsors? Until they arrive I shall continue to dance alone.

Next night I danced my way to fistite in Colchester again to listen and watch 4 ex-Bruce McLean students strut their poses. And werry gut twer too.

It’s wonderful to see that fistite have extended the McLean show til end November. Sad to see nobody seems to av seen my little article in Venue, well at least nobody said something like, hey, I saw that really positive mention, nevertheless…that sketch of Bruce I did in the Tate back in 1994:

 a venue piece  alone smkb

Bruce continues to blow a wind of fresh airs through the (so far) much (undeservedly) maligned gallery. Let’s hope that this excellent exhibition really turns the tide in favour of the place in, at least, the eyes of the local community who still do not seem to have adopted it as their favourite place to be seen etc. It’s a case of the prophet in his own land not being appreciated and I know all about that, cos for the first 44 yearns of my ‘career’ I wernt either, but as youse all know that’s abArt to change. Is it now? Anyway, there was humour from the start as the master of ceremonies Klaas Hoek appeared on his knees pretending to be Lautrec after a quote by Bruce said he had a peculiar view.


Corrina Till gave a lovely illustrated talk about the influence of McLean and of the book Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein on her. Synchronistically she talked of Stein’s early 20th century opera based in the book which itself really plays with words, juxtaposing them. Bruce also has a reputation for just a poses. And plays with werds.

a stein werds

Seems I am not a lone pose…r on the play which operates from our incredible language with all its history and future potentials. With ‘suppose you pose your own placebose’ Stein seemed to be premonition-ing McLean’s big ‘pose’ ting here. I took some images on me camra but missed a wonderful quote Corrina put up about ‘a receptacle & a symbol’ by which Stein could have been talking about my new project but she wernt cos she rote that 100 yearns ago.

eddie farrell

Then Eddie Farrell talked about his mag called Shytsummat (I can’t remember it’s name) which he did a video for where he had the words up like karaoke and said loads of stuff denigrating the world of ‘art’. Bruce and Co seem to love the use of film. I loved the way he was fumbling thru his notes and when finished with one page just dropped it on the floor, I thought it was like a ‘sculpture’ in process. Then he got heavy, my zone, and talked about how the see-aye-aeegh manipulate the world and create new realities by the day. Mentioned Noam Chomsky and other subversive stuff. OK by me, the more folk who see thru the veil the better. Said there’s no poets and writers nowadays doing stuff which rails against the incursive power of the State, (but I think I do. If it’s called a state it’s in a state, innit? No matter which state yer talkin abart. Usually the waste product floats to the top. Lunatics. The lunatics get to run the state. Don’t they? Nixoff, Raygan, Push, Blinkton, and Push again son it smells like bombs?*)

And thruout his talk he balanced the serious with the humorous. At one point in the evening Bruce was shown in a film where he was being questioned how he felt about a gallery in Holland which was being subjected to series of vandalouts’ attacks and he couldn’t help laughing at the list of some pretty serious attacks which he called a catalogue of disasters. Bruce added at the close, “If you can’t laugh you don’t learn” and I shall drink to that. Mine’s a dandelion and burdock.

* I heard a joke or was it true? Man goes into the Asylum, see a bloke hanging from the ceiling. What’s he doing there? He thinks he’s a light bulb. OK, then why don’t you bring him down? Don’t be silly. Then we’d not be able to see in the dark.

brucie laffin sm kbbrucie laffin2 sm kb

Bruce tinks it’s funny!

 My next blArty pete’s will be about the last two pages of the new collaborative book by me and David Jury. That should have been this blog but my two gallery visits butted in. It’ll be the last one I do before the London Artist book fair.


Bruce McLean: Not Trendy But Twitchy.

jonni ray tichet

As we embark on our ‘careers’ there are no guarantees, especially in ‘art’, a term Bruce dislikes. He prefers ‘sculpture’ or ‘painting’ which he taught at the Slade for 20 yearns. And our Bruce has balls. Lots of them, Scottish balls at that, like mine. The cheeky chappie type Rod Stewart always hankered after. Bruce had a better grounding than most having spent most Saturdays in the Glasgow School of Art when he were a laddie. Rather than choose the obvious easy route to become one of the Glasgi Boys he took the long road to London, partly cos he never did like following the expected way. He was lucky to arrive in London in the middle of the 60’s revolution with his teachers the likes of Caro already breaking the mould.

On page 146 in his ‘Acid Test’ book Tom Wolfe talks about (time)’lag’s: There are historical & social lags, where people are living by what their ancestors  perceived, maybe 25, 50 years or centuries behind, and nobody can be creative without overcoming those lags first of all.’

I (Apulhed) see it as my mission to leave behind those lags and break new ground, all my days I have tried to do that. I found however the danger is that you leave others behind, they cannot catch up, you run too fast. A lot of my life I been slowing myself down. Only now 39 years after I compiled Apul-One are people catching up. Bruce McKlean is such an artist. He was lucky to be in the groups who broke free from the lag. The sixties spawned lots of folk kicking against the lag. I was a late-comer. My work started in about 1968 when I wer 17. A lot of (now) famous folk like Bruce, and David Bailey, Jagger, Lennon had kicked off the traces long before I started. That’s one of the reasons it’s so good to have Bruce in Colchester. He was an innovator, and still is pumping against the lag.

He jumped right on in posing as Henry Moore’s Fallen Warrior wearing a tin hat he’d bought in a second hand shop on the way. ‘George from Gilbert & George reminded me I used to do impersonations of Moore’s sculptures in the dining room at Central. So we did them.’ Or as Elvis in Jailhouse Rock as part of a gang of 4 or 6 or maybe 8 now and then, the first, maybe the last, pose band, Nice Style. He still does a good pose, posing like Forsythe his namesake at the drop of a het. ‘This is ‘it’ poses hands up. ‘Johnnie Ray created a myth. I’m still trying to do it…Failed miserably!’

Inspired like Brucie by Frankie’s Rat Pack too. Impressed like Elvis by Johnnie Ray’s screaming and crying about Bruce told us his mother took him to see rock and roll’s first wild man Johnnie Ray falling over in Glasgow, ‘First conceptual singer (he couldn’t sing) first action singer.’ He also had a bad experience in the company of Eddie Cochran, but I shall let him tell you abart that.
He’s made a massive impression on all the staff at Firstsite, they all grown to love him with his quick wit, charm and considerate ways. Despite feeling a bit ‘twitchy’ with pre-match nerves before he appeared in front of probably the biggest audience ever at firstsite (hooray at last, maybe they all thort johnnie ray would come and cry all over them?) he even went out of his way and consented to come meet Rachel mcGivern who’d spent all day showing little kids how to make their own mcLean sculptures. She were made up girl, well pleased, star stricken too.

bruce an rachel

John Woods had flown in from Leeds (ain’t not got no football team never) after getting to know BMc during a show JW had curated at the Henry Moorish centre up there. He was the master of ceremonies questioneer cos Bruce Forsythe could not be there to say ‘Nice to see ya, Bruce from Olde Brucie’, art as pose.

macleen dancing

Now am gonna just type up me notes, all 10 page on em, cos they say all that BM said yesterday:

An image of the London ‘pose’ event High up on a Baroque palazzo goes up on the screen and JW says it has some resemblance to the scaffold in Jailhouse Rock, this prompts BM to say, ‘The work was the set BEFORE the action, nobody saw that’ meaning the set was constructed and photographed before any audience arrived and those photos were the piece, ‘I’m a Minimalist’. Referring to his relationship with the then prevalent ideas of Minimalism where it was often the idea, the record (usually in writings) the concept which were deemed the real nub of the work. Language art. Art’s the problem. People identify what they do as ‘art’ when really, it’s painting or sculpture.’ (It seems most everything is sculpture for BMc). ‘Performance art, that’s a term of the Arts Council. A 40 page form to get 30 quid. “‘Art’ is something Saatchi deals (with). I think I’ll be a merchant banker. I wanted to be an architect. My dad (who was an architect) said you’re too small to be an architect. Artist, tap dancer etc, you’re ok for that. I tried to join the Ballet Rambert at 21, big turbans & red lips, they said, you can be with the Modern contemporary Dance lot but not here. ”
BMc realises the audience may fall asleep when minimalism is mentioned and asks, ‘Are you finding this interesting…or not?’ and frowns. Audience giggles, he’s got them. ‘We had dress suits (& bow-ties) on, with padded shoulders. Bump. They allowed us to go BUMP into the wall or scaffold’. ‘How about that?’ he motions, Bump. JW had arranged a re-enactment in 2012 and one of the posers hadn’t been able to come., ‘Paul Richards said it’s such a bad idea, let’s do it. Robin Fletcher had a bad leg and didn’t turn up to the re-union.’
Image of Victor Mature. ‘Victor Mature is a hero, 1st conceptual actor in 150 films.’ Then he starts talking about Mussolini as a waiter in one of the pieces they did and Hitler as a house painter. ‘A nod and a wink can change the world’.
‘Slade was influential early on. The pop group I mean (not the art school). We supported the Kinks at Maidstone college. We used mirrors on the audience, blinded them, creating johnnie ray hysteria’.
JW- you met Eddie Cochrane didn’t you? ‘I ran away’ laughs. ‘No really I was scared. I was taken in to his dressing room and he stood there screaming, ‘Bring me horse!!!!’ Well, you know heroin is horse. I thought what the hell? He was actually calling for whores, I ran’. Reflects. ‘Wish I’d stayed in the room.’ ‘saw Gene Vincent play to 15 people in Putney, the great rock & roller, then we went over to the Spotty Dog and got pissed.’ ‘I never saw Barnet Newman (best Abstract Expressionist) singing in Glasgow, saw Liberace tho. I have this idea for an opera, Liberace meets Barnet Newman. Elvis turns up and pushes him off the stage.’
Image of poster for Midnight Cowboy starring John Voight & Dustin Hoffman goes up. ‘We became John Voight & Dustin Hoffman for a week.’
He goes on to talk about his dislike of dishonesty. With BMc what you see is what you get. This reflects in his work. There are no cover ups, no second goes, he draws it and it stays drawn, there’s a spontaneity in his pieces. He can’t understand why in Hollwood they used stands in for ugly people or in Mario Lanza’s case he was replaced by the non-singing unknown Edward Purdum who mimed to Lanza’s singing. Same with the use of the tall Jose Ferrer who knelt down while taking the part of the tiny Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Huston’s Moulin Rouge. ‘great film…for a six year old’ (when his ma took him.) BMc made films which often take the mick out of existing iconic films. This prompted one of the audience to say he was a good film maker. ‘Film is more interesting cos it’s cheaper to make. You can switch the camera on and off.’
He loves Tony Hancock’s film the Rebel, says ‘it’s still like that at the RCA schools, nothing’s changed in 60 years, still sitting in black suits talking bullshit.’
His film Urban Turban was dissed. It’s a parable of the D’Offay gallery, based on the Rebel only artist wants to become banker.
A shot of a BMC posing as the Moore Fallen Warrior in 1969 goes on screen. ‘Hey, what about if he misses the plinth? Falling Warrior misses plinth. How come they always fall spot in the centre of the plinth? I once went to Much Hadham to seek work with Moore. He came out to see us, ‘Turned out nice again’ he said. I expected this guy to say something profound not ‘Turned out nice again’, offered us four shillings an hour, half what Bill Turnbull was paying I got back on the bus. Bit tight! I come frae glasgi and I know what tight is’. Bill Turnbull made me think this whole (art) activity is fraudulent.
Image of Irina Moore standing by a construction Moore had erected around a big sculpture to protect it as he fabricated it. Did that influence your constructions? ‘Yes well, I liked his constructions, they were good but a lot of his sculptures were sloppy when he put them out for others to do them. I liked the ones he did himself.’
Image (apparently) photo of a sculpture in a plate of soup goes up. ‘That was a collage, the sculpture was a photo, not real, which I filmed. ‘Waiter waiter there’s a sculpture in my soup.’
Art history should be taught backwards. I’m trying to do the sculpture that I didn’t get done. I’m a Minimalist. (I don’t want to make things accessible, too much of this bums on seats. Let’s keep everybody out. Went to the Tate’s Matisse cut outs, you could smell the sweat from all those people, I had to get out for some air. I like making invisible sculpture. I found one I lost. I couldn’t actually find it. Audience titters. It’s there. It’s gone. Is that a sculpture? It might be. Where is it? Does it exist. It’s gone. (BMc is on a roll here) Am using old stuff, but am not re-making it. Look, photocopies of (his old late mate) Flanagan’s Hare –cheap to make.

He mentions Walter de Maria (that shows how far out I been, never ever heared of him.And he seems important, how did I live this long sans eering abart him?) .

BMc and me do have a shared appreciation of Barnet Newman! One ting is BMc has carried out the images I have only thought of doing tham!
He goes on, ‘ It was there it wasn’t there. Shadow obsesses me, am going to Spain to find some good shadow. I WILL find one.
Curtain. Audience invited to contribute.

I offered him a drawing i dun back in 1994 at Tate. He graciously accepted one. then he posed wid it with some blArty bloke what had a rod (stewart?) thru his neck.

apic o me a pic o brucefoto (c) CC (ta dancer)

A plug for his return in conversation with 4 of his ex students on Sept 17th then One of BMc’s ex-students suggests artists have become the bankers now. Says, yes the egg stain in the trousers is now considered art. And if you are looking for a good shadow- Hank Marvin. On that note I am posting this.

bruce amung sculpts


I have now been able to watch Bruce’s film on the three screens in full. It’s a fun ting and it refers back to many of McLean’s moments of creativity in his oeuvre. He throws in some gratuitous nudity, art has always had the attraction of nude models. In 1969 when I attended a all boys gwamma I was attracted to ‘art’ night classes becos there was a lady sitting naked as a jay bird posing for us to aspire to be little leonardos. I had never seen a woman naked and althoshe looked more like Edna Everidge than Kate Moss I was trapped into ‘art’ for the rest of my days! The bait has reeled me in, once an artist (an incredibly poor one at first, some say that never changed) always an artist. Anyway, there’s a nice young woman in bruce’s film with all her kit off except her cowboy hat. The music by Dave Stewart is strong, bit like a second rate Philip Glass, gets a bit mesmeric and a bit tedious to. But I like the overall effect of the film with all of its references to the corruption in the world of art. The very best bit for me is the bit where three men dance but you can only see their legs. It is wonderful. Not cos of the legs, (am no gay) no it’s just wonderfully irreverent. I like the woman in the tall hat, well the hat at least. And Bruce’s drawings on the wall and in the little £5 book about its planning. Good that.

Also Venue done a little but very positive mention of the show:


This is the best exhibition of my work, ever.

 bruce mc hand 2 face sm res

Bruce McLean & Michelle Cotton in front of his One day Tate Installation

Bruce McLean said, ‘This is the best exhibition of my work, ever, even better than the German one. It has been mounted by a very good team in an excellent gallery’. I agree and would add it is not only an excellent show of his work, past and present but also a wonderful first sight into the beauty of the Firstsite gallery in all its use of angles and reflected light from the architect’s plans brought out by this stunning display which for the first time utilises the whole of the gallery just concentrating on one thing, Bruce McLean’s considerable oeuvre.

The decision to feature his work for their summer-long show is an inspired one. McLean represents that era from the early 1970’s, post Beatles and Hockney’s heyday and post Caro’s break with Henry Moore’s form,  when it seemed everything had been done. What to do next? McLean came up with some suggestions. His art was like the stance of the Rolling Stones who took the previous and challenged it with new ways of presentation. With the Stones it was Rhythm & Blues, for McLean it was sculpture for he still prefers to be seen as a sculptor and some of the ‘paintings’ in this show are in fact sculptures. One, which reflects his thinking in a series of very large canvas ‘paintings’, comprised of several images which mirror and reflect aspects of each other. Shades of Henry Moore’s imagery and, dare I say Barry Flanagan or Joseph Beuys’s hare, inhabit the canvas along with naked figures drawn in his own unfussy way. When you walk out of the main exhibition space you see to your left, on the way to the café, two paintings on the wall with another standing in front obscuring most of them and an old plastic and metal chair. You wonder why the gallery didn’t get the show ready by now until you see the chair in one of the paintings and you realise it is part of the work and the work is a sculpture piece. It is a typical McLean break with convention, a break he instigated whilst still at Central School St Martins when he created some sculpture with curtains and plywood boards on the roof thus making the building itself the pedestal. Caro had brought over from meeting David Smith in the USA the use of industrial metal (girders) in his sculptures and now one of his pupils was extending the material which could be used with not a little tongue in cheek, for cheeky is what McLean’s art invariably is. As is the man, with references to Scottish transvestites being more severe and colourful than any others to illustrate the severity of Scottish weather with its dominant displays of lugubrious grey which, with his being born and bred in Glasgow, is McLean’s favoured colour. His greys however, like his Scottish transvestite analogy, are rather more colourful too.

McLean represents the consciousness that emanates from the (2nd world) ‘war babies’, born 1944, with all of its energy, influences and contravention of previous canons.

a ny ex gallery owner and friend

Ex-owner of New York gallery which showed McLean first in USA.

A mentionable crowd from London turned up but most importantly McLean was there, not only at Firstsite last Saturday, more importantly he was there as a daring pioneer, a mischievous player in 1965-69 when art was bubbling up with great potentials like the world of rock music and film much stifled since by the adoption of the Duchamp take by the Brit Pack and Saatchi lot. McLean was one of the foremost advocates of that potential with its experimentalist breakaway and its creating new grounds on which to place ponder and see ‘art’. McLean was in St Martins under Caro and King (Philip) when Paolozzi was making and breaking his plaster of paris takes and re-assembling them into traditional bronzes. Meanwhile McLean was adopting non-traditional materials; industrial steel like his tutor Caro, fibre board, plastic, his nose and glass mirrors reflecting the influences of Robert Smithson and others across the Atlantic. He saw Gilbert & George doing their human body sculptures so he did his own poses, even creating a ‘band’ of posers who opened gigs for groups like Roxy Music just as John Cooper Clarke had for the punk bands and John Dowie was to do his talks fashioned on the work od Ken Campbell.

The show reverberates with energy. Michelle Cotton and her team of curators have placed McLean’s work throughout the gallery space in every nook and cranny. Making full use of the space for the first time since its inception this show exhibits the gallery itself and utilises all of its marvellous facilities through film, video, personal appearances and discussions, artist’s books and more. This exhibition shows off the attention to detail, like the wooden flooring, which the architects considered in their design of gallery’s spaces and the ways it was designed to be used with the geometry of the walls, ceilings and windows mirroring and reflecting the light from both inside and outside.

little lady in hat

A London Lady in her Vasarely hat

With subtle shades of colour and geometric form, counterpoising the same content that echoes throughout McLean’s works which are indeed sometimes enhanced by these reflections as in the long glass case which houses his far from o’puscular artist’s books.

a reflections in mac lean sm res

Part of a McLean book in glass case.

Cotton’s monograph, written and edited to coincide with this thorough showing of his full life work, is a fitting measure of its importance. Its knock down price of just under £25, paralleling similar books from more financially secure galleries like Tate, who do in fact endorse firstsite, is more than reasonable and it should become a collector’s item.


McLean’s work has a lively, daring, vibrant, ebullient immediacy which is almost always subversive too. Like a song of Tom Waits, ‘I don’t have to ask permission. If I want to go out fishing.’ it inspires you to try things out. A visit, indeed several visits, would be well rewarded and could help lift the rather grey cloud that has hung over this golden gallery since its inception. ‘A Whiter Shade Of Grey’?

This is, like McLean said for other reasons, the best show so far.

a bruce an frend sm res

McLean ‘at home’ in firstsite with friends.


What keeps me going drives me forwards, reticently.

My old mate Stuart said he envied my passion for my subject, this comment along with several other ‘likes’ for my visual pun on stools is what helps fuel my passion. Thank you all for those lovely comments; DW, Jools, AWilliam & Windy. Someone frae Allemagne went into my post this week too. I know hardly anyone there but am pleased, maybe it’s becos (am not a Londoner) but I love (the work of) several German ‘artists’ and flag em up?

I had been reticent to post that blArt cos I didn’t want to be a stool pidgeon, even tho I don’t know what one o them is. Is it summat to do wit pigeon Engerlitsch? By the way ken Campbell wrote some good books using Pig-Eon Anglais, I digress I always do, don’t I? after I posted my stool blArt I thought folks will either see me in the mire or may admire me. There you go again, ploying wit werds. I have to adnit it’s not me what plays it’s my lodger, Daniel O’Blarty. Me I wroite rather straight blogs in Querns Englitch, there you see he’s interferlated my typings. He put the ‘o’ in write, the ‘r’ in queen and added a ‘t’ to my Englich AND he says he’s tinking o adding an ‘er’ too or a two too, toot toot too! He annoys me-mind you, don’t you tink that bit in Lord of the Rings film where Gollum’s 2 selves argued was the very best part of the trilogy?! I don’t. We do. You know. You may tink am a split personality or at least I got doo-ality- is there such a werd as ‘ality’? No! but there’s rea-lity, abi-lity* but no a-lity. *Tink abart it, able-ity, she has able-ness etc. Be careful there may be a lity-gate, shun it. I wish he would go, what do you say, he’s ok, he’s better than you? Me that is or rather not me. Anyway so four folk (have you heard the one abart the 4 candles? 4 candles in my life burning in my wind(we’ll not go there), in the rain then, kangools in the rain. Do we ever get kangaroos in the reign? Not if sum Aussies had their republican eye-deers. So these four kanga roos said they dug the stool blArt and am so pleased nay relieved (we’ll not go there). It’s not that I wish to be kept in order by my readers, no, not at all, but I have a reputation to keep up. What?well I like to demure not manure. So am hoping to write a new blArt soon enogh but am preoccupied right now. Today there’s a play off final for Engerlind’s second tear league. (In fact QPR won it which brings about an amazing parallel to the 1970’s. Back then QPR bought Burnley’s best player, Dave Thomas, then came one place behind them as runners up in tier two. This year they bought Burnley’s best player, Charlie Austin, and came one place behind them again! Funny that innit? Then in the evening Ronaldo & Bale are plying their trade making history and vast fortunes while I (we) am-are sitting here blArting away making nothing but a reputed station of the dross. Stop press, and then Gareth said my blog wer fascinating, how good is thart?

The tings I do are hit & miss. Some hit the target, which is hard to find when you don’t always know where or what it is as part of the creativity is opening new pastures, others miss by miles, which in itself can be creative cos then, miles from the target you discover something neworthwhile.

There’s a Bruce McLean show coming up at Firstite an I wer preparing a short report to send to see if Venue wood publish it so I did a lot of reading around the man. I mentioned that he had spent many years going to the Glasgow school of art building designed by Mackintosh. Real strange, I sent it to them on Friday evening and overnicht the building went up in flames, well not actually in the night, but it was not reported here til Saturday morgan, weird. Remind me not to write aboot your hoose. Anyways, whilst I wer studying up on brucie I came across a photo of him doing a performance piece with Sylvia Ziranek in ‘Sorry. A Minimal In Parts’ and that name tinged a bell. I had met her at a bert Irwin launch in 2012 and aksed if I could tek her photo as she looked good and theatrical, I never knew ought aboot her past.


i love this image, especially cos it’s not perfect.

I wish I had known them at the time. Because in 1976 I left teaching to become a self-appointed artisblokefella. I created this first Squidgerat mask)

SquiKg b an w

And I wer going to arrive at the ICA unannounced and demand a job (doing a Muriel in the corridors and having my masked folk running around, in fact it would still be good to do there, or anywhere, let me know if you want me to, for lots of dosh of coarse). I dipped out, didn’t do it. But I knew then and see now it would have been. Would still be pertinent, and bloody wonderful too. I have done several ‘appearances’ in ‘this-guys’ masked, usually at the outset of a standing exhibition.

 apul bly sho may 80

The First Squidgerat did appear in my one man show at Brentwood theatre in 1995.

1st Squid Brenwd 95

His appearance and non- appearance was indicative of where I was at, I weren’t pushy enough. I deferred to potential distractors instead of mocking them from inside the masks.

Nobody knows you when you shy away so am determined now to push on with my performances. I’ve already put it forward to a couple of art college places. I have several old shows which would bare light of day, or the limelights. I have new ideas too, one is something which came to me this week about my reticent reluctance to do performance pieces or Retrulart Performance Petesays where in I shall recount tales of the Meeting with Remarkable People I have had. Taking ‘life’ as a performance and telling of my times with Richard Harris, Ken Campbell, Mark Knopfler, Ray Pointer and all the crest. If you can be assed and have a couple of hours to spare you may like to see see-saw my full latest updatedest creative history on my LinkedIn site.

(please note, this is my first try to link to linkdIn and it seems that you have to be a member of it to linkin, not very linkedup is it? Anyway, i may just put my ‘history’ up as a blArt, but not today folks.)



Finally, my poem for the week. Do you get paranoic aboot parking too? Hum this to ‘I get knocked down’ by Chumbawamba (one of them, Egbert Bacon, went to my old school, do you tink he saw my buk Apul-One there cos they bought one for their library way bach).



I get stressed out

Parking anywhere

Especially rail stations

Burri gerrup agen


I get stressed out

Filling in forms

Especially any forms

Burri gerrup agen


I get stressed aart

Awaiting replies on line

Or any other ways

Burri gerrup agen


I get stressed aarght

I don’t know why

But there it was

Burri gerrup agen


I git stressed oot

when i kant link in

burram no gonnu

get stressed art agin


I get stressed aarghteught

It has to stop

Need to chill out…be cool

And jus gerrup agin.

ps I posted this on Sunday 25 May 2014. That very day me ole mate DW commented  on it and i asked if I can post his comments. He agreed it’s ok and am doing so because as a ubeing it is good inside to see that my stuff reaches out and touches the mind of others and inspires. That’s one of my basic drives. My mate is aware of my journey, some of which he has shared, and he knows some of the obstacles. Anyway, here is his comment, plus a great snap of him taken when he wer a yung viking.


I love it when Danny O’Blarty takes over and is all revved up, it’s like the road is melting and the trees are bending just like an acid trip.
I fell off the chair when you threatened to burn our houses down with the power of a letter from yerself.
Very true about when you are on the edge as a creative and don’t know where the target is. In my research days we had a series of categories of things to explore, which were:
What we know
What we know we don’t know
What we don’t know we don’t know
We went for the last category.
It reminded me of the great book:
“Zen in the Art of Archery” by Eugen Herrigel
where the key to the skill is not to fire at a target, but to connect all components of the archer, arrow, bow and target. The skill is to sense as each component adjusts when brought together and identify when the optimum connection occurs. It calls for a different type of seeing, where you encourage your perception and actions to sense patterns that can represent a fit.
Pete, your alter ego(s) are now surfing and are like the best of their types, such as:
Dean Moriarty  in  jack Kerouac’s On the Road
Sebastian Dangerfield in J P Donleavy’s The Ginger Man
where they suck in the energy and take it away from the author on a glorious helter-skelter ride
I like this on Bukowski’s notion of creativity:
‘On Bukowski’s gravestone reads: “Don’t Try”, a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity. Bukowski explained the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington: “Somebody at one of these places […] asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.’
‘The Lost Boy’,  put in this boat with no oars and set on fire and I was sent off like a viking warrior to Valhalla……..but it didn’t work or else I returned!
on a boat in guernsey


Falling between two stools, who me? No way Hosey.

Before I begin (at the beginning) I must mention the wonderful BBC2 drama called a poet in NY, http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01w6llk/a-poet-in-new-york it’s about Dylan (Zimmerman’s inspiration for his stage name)Thomas. It’s very very well done AND you got to watch the dance Essie Davis (Caitlan Thomas) does at 20 minutes in, wow, beautiful and uncannily similar to a dance my girl did when she was a child.

maddie dancin


She began to dance naturally and so unexpectedly to some music I was playing for a funeral for a friend (Christina Challis). I took several photos which I then turned into her portrait in my ‘master’ piece, Venus Stares.

a dancer

Took a long time for me to realise that my doing ‘paintings’ was me just merely following in the footsteps of giants but I must admit that since my early days of making art in the mid – late Sixties I never just wanted to idly ‘follow’. I did strike out early on and did portraits with difference. Like this one I did of my li’l sister back about 1968 whilst still in the 6th form.

young girl

my sister aged 14, now destroyed by mice.

Many of my portraits only used the sitter as an excuse to ‘paint’, to manipulate colour, shape and texture on a surface.  Recently I have found an idiom which can hold my idiosyncrasies, digital prints onto canvas. Which I can then leave alone or render, paint, collage, beat up, obliterate, destroy etc. the images which emerge are never meant to replicate the ‘real’ tings…my images are only triggers. For the mind, eyes, senses to take off. My future utube videos will give insight & inroads as well as being part of my art as my blArts are.


Do you know that I been held back/down by the weight (wait) of no expectations*? Or maybe, Not Expecting Much. Most everything I achieved was a surprise ( to so many, you? No, not you). * there is a Bruce McLean exhibition coming up at fistite gallery, Colchester in June.

Looking at his work you see a man who spat in the face of expectation, almost, “IF you’re not expecting me to do I can, I shall, I did- up yours.” Now, there is a lot of that in my work too but whereas Bruce got himself (determinedly) into a place where he was ‘expected’ to achieve certain levels (out of art colleges# etc) I did not.

# Art schools have been vetting stations for artists-to-be for years, I declined to go/avoided them determined to prove my worth by sheer hard work and my innate talents. By my old friend Percy V. Rance. Rancid may be a better name? It doesn’t work. Sadly after 45 yearns making art I remain Anon., arsk me if am bovvad? Well actually I Yam cos, like me ole mate Van Coff, I’m skint. But my brother won’t send me no cash (he’s Scottish true & thru by the way, as am I and am mean as mean can be). Galleries dealers market all missed a trick by ignoring me BUT they keep an age old trick up their sleezy sleeves, they get you when you die. Sadly for them I ain’t fixing to die anytime soon, so everybody loses. Except you that is you can select anything to purchase from my first 45 years output if yer quick enough.

And with expectation comes a certain belief or disbelief. ‘I can’t believe he’s done that,’ or ‘I thought, if anyone would do that , he would.’ Followed by sales, accolades, recognition. In my case these tings didn’t follow cos the expectations weren’t there. Therefore no sales etc. most everyone in the establisherment (and that includes art colleges) would not ‘see’ I did it. Consequently, like Van Cough, I never sold a sausage. In fact am tinking of starting a new publicity campaign in Germany, home of some of my art heroes like Dieter Rot, Jo Beuys and Anselm keifer. Maybe there they’ll get my achievements, my originality, my contexts. Like. My ‘Books Called Enbuk, In A Plastic Box’ (after D. Roth). And my ‘Rubbish Art’ like ‘Bedpetes’. Some people see my art as opuscule, but some (you?) love it.

stool puns

my play on stools pun

Let me explain my use of stools.

Both  Dieter Rot & Richard Hamiltoe used stools in their works. So did van Gogh. So did Beuys with fat on. And Gerhard Richter

http://www.gerhard-richter.com/art/search/detail.php?5617 did a skit on his one time tutor Beuy’s fat chair.

Hamilton said of the adverts which triggered his visual pun on toilet matters, ‘Some adverts make me wax quite poetical. None more than the series by Andrex showing two young ladies in the woods. His ‘poetic visual puns manifested in several photo/paintings of women crouching; ‘Girl with Skirts up’, ‘Girl with Trousers Down’ and ‘Girl with Tights Down’. He’s dealing with a number of ideas/issues here like the way Andrex used the notion of heavenly bliss in dreamy landscapes set in forest glades to advertise toilet roll. And the fact that even the queen uses the toilet daily, queen of the slipstream, yes i know. And Rot used the turd in his work in many forms, from number twos themselves to rabbits made from cow claps (?).

http://www.dieter-roth academy.de/Essays/das_weinen_das_wahnen4.pdf see also http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/this_mortal_coil/

.I suppose we could call their contributions The Turd Reught, or A Herd of Turd, or The Art of Turds?