Tag Archives: Colchester Art Centre

Impregnable BBC, Tate Too!

Every week I see famous folk sit on programmes at the Beeb and talk about their latest book. I turn to my wife and assure her its ok they’ll be doing a special feature about my book(s) tomorrow. But as you know tomorrow never comes. I decided to do something about it instead of moaning all the time. I shall write to a book programme at Beeb I thought. So I prepared this letter:

To “Open Book, BBC Radio 4, Broadcasting House, London W1A 1AA

I am an artist/author and have recently written, illustrated, designed and published a new book, The Shrewd Idiot. I would like to have it considered for a slot on your book programme. Below are two blogs about its launch in Colchester Arts Centre. I shall be doing another (London) Launch at the Book Art Book shop near Old St station on 26 January 2018

The first blog is about the launch gig:

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2017/11/06/shrewd-idiots-book-launch-at-cac/

This second one has some great photos of the gig but you’ll have to skip all my mention of a Van gig I went to see in Birmingham. I live near Colchester so can get into London easily if anyone wishes to see my book(s).

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/am-entranced-all-over/

Then I went on th’Internet to get the email of someone I could send it to. Their page politely informed me that they don’t review books but I could join a writers group and write to a title then submit it to see if I could gain a commission for a play or drama etc. But that’s not what am interested in. I’ve done the writing, laid out the pages and published the book to my own high expectations and I just want a couple of minutes on The One Show or Graham Norton to talk to the viewers about my efforts and the books’ contents and the beautiful (I think) art in them. But like you, I know it’s never going to happen.

hens teeths

*[I know, you know, we all know my chances of getting ‘exposure’ in any institutional outlet; galleries, TV, radio, shops etc is about as possible as hens growing teeth…and I mean big teeth like a lions! But I like to embarrass them by having the temerity to arsk to be let in. In fact I have had considerable ‘success’ over the past 50 years since I began my work as a thinking adult and am not complaining.]

And The Tate too!

Each time I publish a book with an ISBN number I show it to reps of the Tate bookshop, the most recent being of course The Shrewd Idiot the guy got back to me and said, “I can see great effort has been expended but it’s a pass from me I’m afraid.” I can understand his reluctance because afterall they wouldn’t sell at Tate cos am not famous. It’s not just Tate that’s hard to get a foot in the door to. It’s most all of them, I know, I have tried for 50 years. I had to learn to do without them. I survived. I already had more than 21 solo exhibitions in my adopted homeland, Essex. In some quarters they call me Burnley Pete. But I only lived in Bly for 15 years, 1954-69 and I have lived in Essex since 1973, that’s 44 years and counting. However you can take the boy out of Lancashire but you can’t take the Burnley out of this lad. I still speak in th’dulcit tones of ma home town and am proud to have spent my formative years there where I learned a lot.

I do have some good news, Rough Trade. Rough Trade have taken a copy of The Shrewd Idiot into their Brick Lane shop and placed some stuff about it on their website. Here’s a link to it: https://roughtrade.com/gb/books/the-shrewd-idiot

The story in The Shrewd Idiot predates the start of Rough Trade’s trading (1976) as the book’s about my days between Burnley & Exeter & Bournemouth between 1969-73. And I have it on good authority that the book takes you back to the early 1970s, like a time machine.

After my gig to launch the book at Colchester Arts Centre I had a debrief with the Honorary Doctor who runs tha place and he said I should cut it to 20 minutes and he’ll consider finding it a slot sometime. That gives me incentive to go back to my drawing board and tighten the whole thing up. I learnt a great deal doing it there and I know what not to do next time and what I’d aim to do to improve it.

JAt & KC almost done
John Atkins, Dylan Thomas & Ken Campbell meet to discuss alien life out there.

Talking Colchester there’s an exhibition of work by the members of The Colchester Art Society on at the Minories and I had two prints accepted and hung. They did not hang my surreal portrait of John Atkins talking about UFOs with Ken Campbell cos it was rather big, which is a shame, cos John was one of the town’s favourite authors ever. The bloke smoking is the ghost of Dylan Thomas who John used to play darts with in London when he was editor of Tribune. Here’s the obit I helped prepare for the Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/may/18/obituary-john-atkins

Ken appeared at Colchester Arts Centre several times and was one of the HonDoctor’s favourite ever performers. They’re both up in the clouds now talking to their hearts’ content. Bless them both, I loved them both.

Someone else we loved, Pauline, a friend for most of the years we’ve lived in Essex, (who used to teach in the Maldon area before moving to Colchester), died last week from the effects of cancer. Pauline was renowned for her dry wit and for ‘calling a pot black,’ because she pulled no punches when commenting on hypocrisy and false values… she also called her black cat Boudicca. Sadly she won’t be able to go to her second daughter’s wedding in a few weeks’ time, which she was hoping to do, but she was there to help her daughter choose the dress. Bless her too. She’ll be watching from a safe distance.

That reminds me of a lovely story about the great physicist Richard Feynman. He had married a woman who was the love of his life but she contracted a life shortening condition whilst still quite young. Feynman continued to communicate to her after she died and eventually sent her a parcel on which he put, ‘Address unknown’. Saying,

“My darling wife, I do adore you.

I love my wife. My wife is dead.

Rich.

PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.”

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/02/i-love-my-wife-my-wife-is-dead.html

That’s beautiful, like Feynman was too. He makes science seem possible, he enthused me to look at science AND he played bongos. On that bong I shall finish.

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Buddha in the snow today outside my house

And as the snow takes over throughout Britain, if you find yourself hunkering down with not so much to do, why not go back to look at this blArt I did summarising my year of 2015 in which I became an OPA (Opsimath Performance Artist). https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/lookin-back/

 

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am Entranced all over

I saw Van Morrison (No Probys No Farlowes No Photos!) again on Monday 13 Nov. in Birmingham Symphony Hall with ‘Spud’ (in the Shrewd Idiot) who taught me photography. He had never seen Van before and when he saw Van was coming to Brum he thought there’s only one man to see Van with and that’s PK, so he booked 2 tickets and invited me. Van did a great gig, he worked really hard, played sax a lot (he’s not quite got the Pee Wee Ellis touch tho’), a lovely Les Paul gold guitar and keyboard for his best number on the night Northern Muse, “She moves through the county Down”, on which he fair flew over to his keyboard to do a piano run in and seemed to be doing a number suggested by someone in the front row.

This vid is a version of Northern Muse: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhgbFVAde20&feature=player_embedded)?

His band were tight as a drum. I loved the woman’s bongos a bit but her xylophone was supreme and I loved her sense of timing & fun trying to keep up to the Man’s demands. Below is a track list,

  1. Hold it right there
  2. Moondance
  3. Warm Love
  4. Too much trouble on my mind
  5. Magic time
  6. Baby please don’t go
  7. Here Comes the Nicht
  8. What you believe in your Head & Heart / Island of the saints or Ireland of the saints?
  9. Days like this
  10. Did you get healed/ I said Yeh Yeh
  11. Sometimes we cry
  12. Carrying a torch
  13. Enlightenment
  14. Whenever He shines his light
  15. I can’t stop loving you
  16. Northern Muse
  17. Van lose stairway
  18. Got my mojo working
  19. Broken record
  20. Brown eyed girl
  21. Gloria

This clip from Jools Holland is the same group but Chris Farlowe was not at Brum. Nor was the smaller of the 2 women. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcfAs36YLho

And a full Van Lined ‘Orchestra’ at the Hollywood Bowl doing Ballerina, which must be one of the best songs ever, ever. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfaaaDX_Uh0

I drove back home the following day. Long way, over 300 mile round trip but worth the effort.

Sadly I didn’t find his new cd inspiring me to Roll With The Punches. It harks back to R&B numbers from the 1960s and further back which are not Van’s best licks.

On Wednesday 15th Nov I went to one of Colchester Arts Centre’spay what you can’ nights to see a wonderful piece of performance art. It entailed a story about a woman born with white hair and some of the challenges her silk like locks brought with them. She told her story with no spoken words only some recorded conversation in which her mother reiterated how others had reacted to her white haired daughter.

“I was born on the day the Pope came to Coventry, my home town. In my family this unexpected appearance was perceived as a blessing. A sublime gift”

Jo Bannon uses blinding light, proximity, movement and sound to create an extraordinary visual poem.”

She started the gig under a big sheet and it took me some time to realise it was a metaphor for the womb & birth. Every element of her gig was clean cut and crisply choreographed. I liked the way she created the Pope’s hat from a single sheet of paper + sellotape which she had secreted on her wrist. I learned a lot from watching her move through her silent script.

She had various leads which led from her table to electricity source as she boiled a kettle and poured hot water into a stainless steel bowl with some cooler water in then washed her silken locks then for me the best moments of the gig she used a powerful hair dryer to blow her hair (almost) away.

[There’s some really beautiful images of her on her website which I cannot use as I don’t have the rights permission. http://www.jobannon.co.uk/Alba.html ]

2 richs apul entrance floating ahed backgnd
On the night the floating Apulhed was not projected to coincide with his entrance but with the wonder of digital art I have made it happen. 

On Sunday 19Nov my friend Dave showed me his vid of my gig the previous week at Colchester Arts Centre and it was glaringly obvious that I had used too many words and too fast at that. My determination to breathe deeply and slowly throughout my gig had blown away with my first breath after which I don’t think I took another inward breath until the final curtain fell. So much for my plan.

a apulentranced sm
Apulhed recites Kabir’s Clay Jug poem

The entrance of Apulhed to Mark Newby Robson’s music stole the show but the fact I was not breathing correctly didn’t matter at all as my face was hidden inside the mask. The presence of Apulhed stole the show and I instinctively kept the mask on for more of the gig than I had planned and gave him the job of reciting the beautiful Clay Jug poem by Kabir and dancing to ambient music by Luke E Walker whilst showing the audience the inside of the jug. We shall edit the film down and upload it onto utube sometime before Christmas, I hope.

On Sunday 26 Nov me & a few friends have tickets for the FINAL Farewell Tour gig of [Captain Beefheart’s ex] Magic Band at Colchester Arts Centre. I sadly never saw The Captain ‘live’ but my friend Chris Leonard who saw him said he went to the recent Bristol gig with trepidation not knowing what to expect and he said it stands among the best performance he ever saw! And he’s seen a lot! I hope they play Bluejeans & Moonbeams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjazg_lTfJA cos I love it, one of the best songs ever and the band are stunning. IF they do I’d be up there in Seventh Heaven, shaking hands with The Captain!

Peace Be With You

Shrewd Idiot’s Book Launch at CAC

Book Launch + Birthday Celebration

It was not just a Book Launch, it was my 67th Birthday Celebration at Colchester Arts Centre (CAC) on Sunday altho’ my birthday is 27 Oct we had decided that Nov5 is an easier date to remember remember. As it turned out we forgot to celebrate ma birtdae, altho’ my wife did send a cake to CAC which my guests enjoyed. I was too busy clearing up the stage area so the next act could set up..

AR dances for his pencil
Ant competing with aplomb with the Shrewd Idiot for dad dancer of the year.

Anthony Roberts gave me the invite to Launch on seeing a copy of my The Shrewd Idiot book and he also gave me a beautifully phrased introduction yesterday which made me feel real good!

A Rich dancing for pencil
Richard Spencer who did a beautiful rendition of Neil Young’s After the Goldrush.

Richard Spencer did two songs beautifully to help me tell the shrewd idiot’s tale (of woe & glad tiding)

The Performance Art gig I did just grew and grew in the weeks (nay months) of prep as I got more excited on its approach. The idea which underpins my PA gigs is to bring my static 2D, 3D and BookArt forms to life, to have them walking and talking and most of all DANCING to celebrate life, theirs and mine!

a pre gig stage set up sm
stage set with 3 of my 1968-70 self portrasits which each became a mask in the gig. I have not used those easels in a while now.

CAC gave me the best facilities I have ever had access to and I am very very grateful for that. Neil Thorp (the man detailed out by Mark Senior Techie who left the country on seeing my scrip) to do the Techie work was very helpful and patient with this first timer. He accommodated my script and its being crammed with different ‘tracks’ of music (which I had edited down in Audacity to give my story a running musical accompaniment appropriate to the story line and of course with a dance beat I could move to in what one of those present has kindly called ‘dad dancing’) and different ‘slide changes’ on a powerpoint I never had intended to use but it was apparently the best way to coordinate the sound, vision and lighting schedules. Ben Howard it was who organised the provision for my gig and gave me encouraging words in the weeks before. Anyway the outcome was tremendous as I looked at the stage before the crowd was allowed in.

a colarts nov5 poster yelo sm

Although I had a poster printed on yellow paper (A3,4 & 5!) and got it distributed around Colchester, even at the Town Hall, there was something lacking in my promotion of the gig as all those who turned up already owned copies of my Beautiful Shrewd Idiot book. I did mention it (hundreds of times) in my blArt, posted a tweet about it and the lovely Daphne Sandham at Colchester Art Society put up a mention of it in her weekly newsletter to members and she retweeted my tweet. They came to see if the man in the book was for real. Well, in the book he was 18-23 years old between 1969-73, in the process of becoming an artist & teacher whilst being tamed by 3 lovely women in those years. Yes he does exist but a bit older now and not necessarily as good a dancer altho’ he did attempt to disprove that fallacious, rather libellous, definitely deleterious theory to cries of ‘dad dancing’ called in mock humour.

PK 1971 + poems sm
The Idiot dancer from 1970, don’t be fooled by the mask he’s still in there!

He also exhibited some salacious stories about his former self(s). Some of his creations ‘came to life too’ well one did, Apulhed, whose appearance was indeed the highlight, an opinion unanimously acclaimed by the audience.

apulhed at the lectern
Apulhed in all his glory  speaking to humanity asking them to mend their ways.

Here’s some images of the author dad-dancing and not caring about the consequences (in fact some of his moves were perfec Zumba).

SONY DSC
The 3 dad dancers taken by Christine Dixon

Here’s the Emperor Rosegon Dance Competition in full swing. The judge was a bit biased! I admit now I should have come 3rd not 1st, but whose birthday and whose gig were it any road up!

One of the best things which arose from the gig was a beautiful informed review written by Gary Malkin of the Artist’s Book Archive at Baltic, Gatesheed. I’ll ask his permission to post it next time as he gave great insight into my books, particularly The Shrewd Idiot, Christine Dixon created two beautiful handouts for the gig which I wish I had used in the advance publicity. She also came up on stage to grace the floor with her dancing skills as I reminisced about my chat up lines from the 1970s! Thank you Christine. Thanks also to Dave Doughty who acted as the Taxi Driver and the film maker. I hope to post the results of his efforts in the not too distant so you can enjoy ma gig at CAC.

christine dancing with the Old Idiot sm
Christine putting up with my 1970s chat up.

Namaste

 

 

 

The Shrewd Idiot books launch

a smsi cova words

The time for my launch of my new (set of) book(s) on the theme of The Shrewd Idiot looms ever closer. Anyone who can get to the Colchester Arts Centre [It’s in the street behind The Mercury Theatre, you can park across the road at St Mary’s Car Park.] would be welcome at 2pm Sunday November 5th. entry is free I’ll be talking about my books and doing some zany Performance Art (PA) pieces which emanate from the pages of the books.

The Shrewd Idiot book isn’t entirely chronological, there’s flashbacks in it and altho I wrote it in the 70’s, I completed it in 2016 adding a final layer of comments from this man in his mid-sixties to the younger self. In this PA I have a dialogue with my younger selves too. Some of the exchanges may cause ripples of smiles because the young Idiot involves in activities the old Idiot would never admit to, would he?

Back in the early 70’s Neil Young was flagging up the issue of ‘Mother Nature on the run’ and his song After The Gold Rush depicts his dream about contact with other life forms which fits well with my work from around that time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKM5dIANXE8 so I’m featuring a rendition of his song performed by my friend Richard Spencer.

I shall talk, mime (badly), dance (not quite so badly) through the hand-made books’ content and have a Q&A session at th’end.

I also bring in devices & influences from performances I have seen recently in London, like Trajal Harrell https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/jul/23/trajal-harrell-hoochie-koochie-barbican-observer-review  and Kazuo Ohno (who was born in Hakodate City, Hokkaido, on my birthdate October 27 but in 1906 http://www.kazuoohnodancestudio.com/english/kazuo/ ), Geumhyung Jeong, Rocio Molina and Michael Clark.

As is the ‘won’t’ of many a big gallery they wouldn’t allow photos so I drew them! [altho’ you’ll see I couldn’t remember Geumhyung Jeong’s name as I sat drawing illicitly on the floor of Tate Mod.

G Js piece pp1-2 sm
Geumhyung Jeong’s gig in my shorthand

That’s the trouble wit big galleries, they’re buying into PA but they have no idea what the drift of PA is! PA is an open field in which anything goes. Please bring yer camras and click away madly at my gigs.

ahed maskin
Apulhed during my 1st ever PA in Exeter in 1973

There’s only one extant photo of Apulhed and that was taken in 1973! But there are more now, some taken in 2017 at my Arnolfini gig of course. Thanks Tanya, thanks Hannah! See https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/an-idjet-suckseeds/

I also have Richard Spencer to sing a little at the beginning Bless his cotton socks.

Other artists who help my script are Lady Gaga, Van the Man, Iggy Pop and Bruno Mars.

The Shrewd Idiot book will be on sale in different forms; ‘The A3 deluxe version’, ‘The A4 Perfect Bound version’, The Appleheadman Sees book (A5) and the ‘A3 deluxe PK 1968-73’ which is 27 picture I did tween 1968-73.

I created Apulhed (aka Appleheadman) in 1971 and he has had many many different looks in different media like comics, children’s drama (I did a big show with 14 Children playing my characters when I was the first artist of the new millennium to have an exhibition in Colchester Library), books like my Apul-One 1975.

apul001
The face in the Applehead is Camellia!

Here’s a cover with newly done colours of the 1979 Happy Apulhed ‘comic’.

HAfullcolord sm
the original Happy Apulhed is B&W only

In this gig Apulhed will make a special appearance in a beautiful guise created especially for this gig and that I have never before used, I think it will cause quite a stir. Doors open 13.30 hrs, PA starts at 2pm (14.00 hrs) ends at c. 3pm. Then there’s 30 minutes in which I shall be around to sign any copies of the books you buys and answer any questions about my works.

a colarts nov5 poster

rare as hens teet
As rare as hen’s teeth comments be!

 

Bookbinding and beyond

I valiantly attempt to meditate, am still trying after all these years but am not very good at it, yet. I was intrigued when I read this in Brain Pickings: ‘Oftentimes during meditation, I am visited by flash-memories dislodged from some dusty recess of my unconscious — vignettes and glimpses of people, places, and events from long ago and far away, belonging to what feels like another lifetime.’ Maria Popova.

I have experienced exactly that, I remembered my own first visit to the Lake District during a deep restorative yoga relaxation session with Catrina. I saw that as strange but very understandable. In some ways the significance of that one memory was that the trip was with my junior school at the end of my time there and it was the first time I had been anywhere away from and without my mum and dad (Jack & Jenny K.).

10 TRY'D

The Society of Bookbinders (SoB) Conference 2017

I audaciously sent my bound version of Inside This Earthen Vessel with David Jury’s beautiful letterpress renditions of my six poems into the (SoB) Competition & it was included in the (SoB) Exhibition (organised and set up by Marie Doinne and Mylyn McColl) where it was in good company. It happened to be the biggest height & width-wise in the show. There were however many exceptional entries and I particularly liked the two books entered by Rahel Scheufele (Switzerland) who won the Second Prize & Third Prize in ‘Fine Binding’.

Sumi Perera’s ‘soundwave scroll & boxset’ called 28 or not 28 was for me one of the best in show as she not only bound her cd in a box but also created a very beautiful round box for her scroll.

sumi perera sm

Also I loved the cover, which was all I could see in the display cabinet- and I would have loved to have seen inside of Daniel Wray’s Koi Karp & Chips.

koi chips

In fact the method of display disallowed showing insides of books which for me is a shame as the insides must make up 50-90% of the book. In my case I made the bind to house the prints! And the prints are high quality letterpress the words being very meaningful too.
a vessel buk at SoB3a sm

 

The Catalogue has excellent design and layout by Mel Jefferson who also won the People’s choice award.

I was lucky to be able to attend several talks about different aspects of Bookbinding where I was astounded by how little I know:

Kathy Abbott A ‘Tomorrow’s Past’ Modern Conservation Binding in Limp Vellum www.kathyabbott.biz I learned so much watching Kathy’s talk in which she informed me that EVA is the best adhesive to use as it conserves better. Very instructive about making a ‘pricking temple’ and how to score creases from the mid-page out to top/bottom.

Roger Green – Making a Drop-Back Box www.buchbinderei-green.de I recently made my first book-box which had a ‘lip’ around the box, Roger’s had no lip and it was much stronger.

Renate Mesmer – Medieval girdle bindings. Renate’s incredible intro to making girdle books was quite stunning, concomitant with someone who works at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Consuela (Chela) Metzger –the ledger book. Chela showed me the making of  a cover in parchment with all sorts of tacketing.

John Mumford – Islamic bindings John gave a fascinating talk on how books were made after Constantine became Roman Emperor and felt the need to have ‘50 new churches decked out in shimmering gold and jewels which also adorned the parchment bibles that had to have heavy wooden boards on to keep the parchment flat.

Christopher Harvey- Old Manuscripts, Working Books, Changing Structures – Aspects of Book Conservation at the College of Arms, London www.college-of-arms.gov.uk Chris spoke well of the collection housed near St Paul’s in London where he tackles, ‘support & structural issues of the paper book-blocks’.

Peter Bower Adventures with Books: Investigations into Book History using Paper Analysis. Peter’s talk about his detective work in paper analysis was fascinating.

Paul Johnson – Pop Up Books In a way I saved the most intriguing til last. Paul showed us how he goes about making his incredibly complex one-off ‘pop-up’ books.

I was lucky to sit next to Monique Lallier during the formal meal in the Ballroom at Keele Uni as she proved to have a good sense of humour, as did her husband Don Etherington who told me he was an amateur binder and me being ignorant believed him, the joke was on me Don. It turns out that Monique does the most beautiful bookbinding and if I work hard for the next 50 years I may catch up with her. We also found that we read the same books, Book of Joy by Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu and Red Notice by Bill Browder, what a strange coincidence. Next I must read her book on binding which she did with her husband!

After attending the above talks and demos in just 2 days I was knackered but much better informed about some of the skills which are out there. So, I am sticking my girdle book under my belt and, like Bunyan’s hero Christian, I’m setting off on a long road down Bookbinder’s Way. First stop may be Wuppertal in Germany (Pina Bausch’s dance place) where Roger Green has his bindery. He lives about 30 minutes train journey from Dusseldorf where I hope to be later this year to benefit from Vest & Page’s workshops in Performance Art (PA). Verena & Andrea (who are V & P) are two of the very best PA practitioners and I am hoping that just being there and getting guidance from them will help me move forward in the arts of Performance Art!

Am gonna need as much help as I can get as am doing some of my own pieces at Colchester Art Centre on Nov 5th as part of a launch for my Shrewd Idiot books.

Talking of Colchester Art Centre I must congratulate Ant & the team for setting up a great show of photos taken by people who live out on the streets in Colchester. It opened on Friday night in the Old Bus Depot which is a big old dusty near derelict site but I love old bus & lorry depots, something about my youth when we used to go frequent them when it rained and we couldn’t keep playing football in the backstreets until the rain abated. So, shelter for me as a kid, and now shelter for the artworks made by people who could benefit from better shelter in today’s world.