Tag Archives: colchester

342843DavidBowie LADA Workshop

projected image of Earth at Klanghaus gig Colchester Saturday 23 sept 2016

342843DavidBowie is the name of minor planet (asteroid) from the outer region of the asteroid belt, approximately 2 kilometres in diameter, 342843 DavidBowie 2008YN3 is still flying around up there, and will be for billions of years! 342843DavidBowie is also the name of a ‘Bowie Stargazing and Performance Writing’ workshop which Simon Persighetti & Katie Etheridge ran on behalf of LADA from 22-24 September 2016 beginning with the first day at Colchester Arts Centre and the next two days at Firstsite Gallery. It was eye-opening for me in several ways and I thanked K & S:

10:00hrs (25.9.16)

“Dear Katie and Simon image000

these images (below) are from my tiny mobile facility. Hope you enjoy.

I really enjoyed being with youse over the past tree days, I got so much from the course.

I loved ‘getting’ that my writing is valid as Performance Art (PA) and all the potential possibilities of incorporating it into ma PA, also my ‘script’ (as it stands) for the Sommboys piece which is still very much work in progress BUT NOW I SHALL DEFINITELY INCORPORATE THE WRITTEN WORD into ma PA and spoken with much more ‘authors-oratory’.

I am reaching the climax of producing my ‘new-old’ buk about my 4 years as a student (of life and thought) at Exeter 69-73 and as I walked to ma car Isabel gave me the word ‘interrupted’ and I realised thet that is watti do, I interrupt my (altered spellingly) written scripts. Now I shall be able to really fly.”

K & S took us thru a number of different ways ‘Performance-Writing’ can be used:

  1. Challenge the 2 dimensionality of the book.
  2. Unfolding emerging text witnessed by the audience.
  3. Record & edit ‘sound & vision text’ in any way using technology- sonic, audio, video…
  4. Site installed text
  5. Writing for the digital environment including blogging.

And we had plenty of opportunities to try out several of these methods.

I liked it when we split up into different roles; Oracle, Questioner, Scribe, Messenger, Voice and the rest were Audience. This led to some great pieces of improvised use of words which came over to each participant in a variety of hearings. If you were the Oracle you could occasionally hear the Voice saying words you said earlier because the Messenger had picked up words from the Scribe and spoken them into the Voice’s ear who then spoke them into a mike and they were transmitted. If you were the Scribe you’d be listening to the Oracle and then you’d hear the Voice say some words you’d written earlier but it’d be in danger of knocking your concentration cos you were still scribing. Fascinating listening for the Audience.

You can add a screen onto which the scribe can type the words instead of handwriting them so the audience gets the thing as a visual too.

So I can imagine new (for me) ways of delivering the ‘script’ (as it stands) for the Sommboys PA piece as well as my Shrewd Idiot book which is written in the first place as a journal.

The three days also paid homage to the work of David Bowie and we all submerged ourselves in various ways in his Inspiration.

So much so that last Thursday 23rd Sept we went to an isolated house overlooking Abberton reservoir to stare at the incredibly full star tapestry. It was so dark and clear I could not see the Orion constellation as there were so many stars behind it they made it difficult to pick out even Orion’s belt which is apparently an asterism. http://earthsky.org/tonight/good-sky-trick-orions-belt-points-to-starsirius We talked about a newly discovered asterism which is shaped like the zigzag shape Bowie famously wears on his head on the Aladdin Sane cover of 1973. It almost drove me (I’m a lad) insane trying to focus in on the specific stars of a constellation on a £75 telescope whose tripod legs kept shifting. In the end I gave up trying to be specific and just homed in on an area of stars and said to myself, I need to get onto a bigger better telescope. So my star gazing has finally begun. All this naming and categorizing of star patterns is fine for those who need it, there’s parallels in most everything that UBeings engage in, but for me it is to do with immersion. I try immerse ma sen in ‘life’, take out what I can and represent it as best I can in the various fields I find my self labouring in. Oh, I wrote a poem about that, the way the art establichsmunt has always turned a blind eye to ma werk and all:


I am a poet now but I ain’t got the degree

Ah So ‘They’ won’t hear me

I am a writer now but I ain’t got the degree

So ‘They’ won’t read me

I am a artisbloke now

I always have been

(a has been?)

But I ain’t not got the degree

So ‘They’ won’t see me

I do Performance Art now but I ain’t got no degree

So ‘They’ won’t watch me

Now I got a Masters now

But ‘They’ still can’t hear me

‘They’ still can’t read me

‘They’ still can’t see me

‘They’ still can’t watch me

Because nobody has told them I’m good enough

‘They’ can’t read between the lines

And ‘They’ can’t see that for themselves

Listen ‘They’ don’t have ears to hear

Nor do ‘They’ have the senses to watch

But after all is said and done

‘They’ ain’t of any significance

‘They’ don’t make ma art(s…s…s…)

And in the end

It’s no matter what ‘They’ say or don’t

As I leaf it to Posterity now

Because ‘They’ missed out this time around

Didn’t You!

Did Ya?

During the workshop me and Daniella did a cut out writing piece which I thoroughly enjoyed doing contrary to my initial thoughts on doing ‘cut ups ‘like Brion Gysin did’ (Brion invented the cut and paste but only after the surrealists had invented it in the 1920’s) and Bowie used the technique as did Lennon. http://www.thewhitereview.org/art/the-idea-machine-brion-gysin/ Here’s our result:


Murchison me wit Daniella

Dedicated to lovely little Petrie Murchison a woman I used to talk with at my college in Exeter in the Art department as we both worked in print-making. I wonder where she is now?

I enjoyed working with Kate & Daniella on our final project in the last two days. We began by using the much unseen and underused windows at ground-level in Firstsite. We were looking at using three helmets; one from an aboriginal people (like the Hopi), one from deep sea divers of the 19th century and of course one from the 1960’s space astronaut adventures which inspired both Bowie and Kubrick. We, using Katie’s words, made an ‘Elegant Synthesis using the word DIVE’ (as yu know elegance isn’t my norm). They got me to lay in the window and put up the four letters in dive one after the other whilst everyone else stood watching from the bottom of the steps outside. This was lovely cos it actually utilized an part of the architect Rafael Viñoly’s design which was intended to be a beautiful feature but which is so rarely seen or appreciated because for strange and stupid reasons the whole field outside the gallery on the old bus station side is out of bounds when really it should be one of the biggest boons. The gallery cannot be walked round from the outside because the gate is locked to this side with the windows at floor level which therefore cannot be seen into and that’s what they’re designed for because you can’t see out them from the inside unless yer doon on th’knees like what I wer.


Katie in character as a deep sea diver

On day 3 we three worked to change the ‘Elegant Synthesis using the word DIVE’ into a longer piece with masks what I made using minimal materials and time. We presented our piece wearing the masks which was real hard on Daniella cos she wer suffrin badly from hayfever or sum otha allergy ting. The best ting in our performance was when this little girl about 4 year old in a white costume with a pointed hat seemed to feel she could improve it by just being there and she did! Also someone else was just behind us doing their thing which we were unaware of but the audience enjoyed that intervention too too. Katie did a reading onto a sound recorder and she played it back alongside reading it aloud. Daniella, who hails from Peru, did a lovely piece about shamans in America who apparently dance to the shape of different constellations where she had sentences on bits o paper which were stapled onto a red cord which she placed in a cupboard and she pulled out handing one end to one audience member who passed it along to the next and this continued until the story was told and she placed the cord and words back in the cupboard. This brought up the cords we had referenced during the mask-performance; shaman’s cord to the unknown, divers cord to air, astronaut’s cord to the module and of course reference to the umbilical cord of humanity (UBeings).

Next we watched Debbie & Laura do their Fem-Space piece which was their Creation myth with feminine principals and principles. Re-writing the old masculine myths and ending with the patriarchs being projected out of the goddess’s daughter’s nether regions after being composed of her vomit of the geometry that her mother had regurgitated to feed her, it’s a convoluted but rather powerful story which reversed the creation myth order from male to female. [This tale was not dissimilar to the creation myth of the Gnostics who had a woman equal partner the male god who created this Universe in an act to materialize life whereas previously life had had no material being.]

Then we were tired.

folk clambered onto the bus on which Neutrinos played music before skipping off to the next space in the looming depot.

We went to eat in a Lebanese restaurant and on to a magic bus what took us to the old derelict bus depot in Colchester where the Neutrinos and Klanghaus entertained us and half of Colchester’s cognoscenti. It was an amazing arrival of what I would call ‘real art’ in the town as they walked us thru the shambled old structure singing wonderful words like My Face Is Wet From Pissing Into The Wind. Which I know all about having spent much of my (creative) life doing so myself. (see ma poem ‘They’ above)

Stone the Crows flew in for the night!

I won’t try telling the tale of Klanghaus just show some tiny snaps what I took with my inadequate mobile camera what actually provides me with some wonderful images.

this is an amazing ‘face’ which my camera managed to ascertain from the woman who peeked out from under the bus by the tyre. I think it’s astounding. A kind of collaboration between me as artis, old mobile as veru low quality device, the woman from Neutrinos face and what digitising does.I looks like one of Oskar Schlemmer’s models.



Moving on, letting go.

Image featured above shows a strange bird looming over the slanted side of firstsite gallery. What will it be a harbinger of? What does it presage? Only good I hope in the end but that is going to be a challenge which must be worked towards wholeheartedly and in unison by all the stakeholders; the council, the gallery, the public and art lovers from all over this land. It’s gonna take time and investment.

Recently (12th Feb?) I saw a pretty damning report on BBC Anglia tv in which the footage they used was several years old, altho they did have a reporter there to interview the director that day. They reported that the ‘Arts’ Council was threatening to withdraw support for the gallery. I decided to write to the several parties (excepting the Beeb as they never seem to take any notice, you get this thing that says they get millions of letters and sorry they won’t bother to reply) showing my concern that the true picture of the valiant efforts made by the gallery in the past few years has not been recorded and to offer direct help to its director Matthew Rowe from my 50 years’ experience in art and gallery visiting since seeing the big Henry Moore show at Tate in 1967. On 13 Feb I said, ‘Dear Matthew, I believe with my experience and qualifications I may be able to help you. Please see the attached. Also, please acknowledge receipt as I have guessed at your email address.’

I felt that local MP Bob Russell’s take on the gallery was quite negative when he cited how much millions it costs each year. OK compare that to how much the Castle takes? He replied saying I should contac the press with one of my less positive points. But he had replied within 24 hours!

I contacted the arts council in the guise of Hedley Swain and sent him the above list of links to my blArts. He replied within 24 hours and thanked me for my ‘other’ views, ‘It is useful to us to have different opinions and view-points to draw on. I assure you that Arts Council will do all it can, working with other local stakeholders, to improve the current situation.’

matthew rowe

The Director did not respond to my offer to help. Not yet, 28.2.15, but it’s only 15 days since I sent my offer.

I’d like to update the story so far on firstsite gallery in Colchester. I hear they are preparing a new launch with a fresh approach, I wish them well and I pray that it works not just for them but for all the interested parties. I believe they need more help from Colchester Council not less. There is a need for parking right next to the gallery in the space down which buses used to turn in their scores daily. At present parking is totally banned there and it is a total missed opportunity. Our society is used to ‘on site’ parking like at all the big supermarkets nowadays. People are loathe to walk more than 50 metres to a place. I know that’s true and the council’s refusal to provide on site parking is adding to the gallery’s problems in the past several years. There was supposed to be an art college coming very close to the gallery as part of the plan but that fell through. The whole area was supposed to be being built up with a multi-million pound development which never materialised. Then the gallery opened with its slanting wall and very little natural footfall. I believe the gallery needs a re-structure/build. Getting in some consultant architect the likes of Richard Rogers may help. There’s a need to get rid of the slant and to somehow introduce a mezzanine floor something like the one at Barbican gallery which can add space to exhibit more stuff.

outsite leans

Strange flying tings seen looming over firstsite

There is still a lot of space around the gallery which could be used to provide amenities for the local population which would also bring more folk in proximity to the gallery but it seems that nobody has enough imagination to propose any ideas. At least I have not seen any moves on that front, but I am not local and don’t get all the local news. I have offered to meet the Director to put forward some of my own ideas but he is obviously too busy hatching the re-launch plans. Or he just doesn’t want to know what a fool believes.

in the not too distant past I was called an ‘advocate’ of firstsite gallery Colchester but in fact I am a commentator (a common ‘tatoe). I’d like to play in their team or at least help the team but they don’t select me. Last week I was told my latest effort to gain a place on the hallowed walls was unsuccessful. They invited bids for a wall space 8m x 3m and once again I gave it my best shot, but I  didn’t score this time.

Now, personally, I am ‘Moving on, letting go’. I done e‘nuff’, I tried and tried agin and cannot suck seed. Am not moving on, letting go through any bitter feelings, I still have sympathy for their plight but I feel I have done more than the average commentator in my effort to assist. Picture me standing outside the gallery banging my head against the wall. I believe I deserve a bit more respect but of course what I believe and what actually happens are rare bedfellows.

It’s not hard, there’s lots of evidence.apul gnum wall

ps You have to replace the brick wall with a gold tin wall.

Well it may surprise some of yez but yes it hurts. But I am almost a Buddhist and am learning not to cling on, I’m no clingon!

Before I go let me give some links to the blArts I done about firstsite:

About Bruce McLean- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/bruce-mclean-not-trendy-but-twitchy/


Bruce McLean said- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/this-is-the-best-exhibition-of-my-work-ever/


Two part report on firstsite symposium- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/so-we-live-in-a-digital-cage-part-2/




Krzysztof Fijalkowski, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Norwich University of the Arts gives a  talk about Henri Chopin- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/henri-chopin-and-others-who-got-forgot/


The Man from New York talk- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/andrew-roths-talk-at-first-site-last-saturday/


Ann Stephen from Australia’s talk- https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/first-site-talk-success-but/

The gallery is going to find it difficult to re-connect with the folk who once frequented it as it has been empty now several weeks and the café has disappeared and the continuity has been discontinued. If you pop in there at present not only do people keep coming up to you asking if you had permission to venture thru to where you stand perusing the 8×3 space before you apply but there is an eerie silence and emptiness which is going to hard to re-fill or even firstfill. I hope I have filled you in with my fill. Eugh that’s Awe-fill!

 tward entrance

Some more images of firstsite gallery at present


lookin out


17.03.15- I managed to spend a few minutes in conversation with the Director who came over as an amicable man with a basketful of challenges which I must say he is approaching with a good degree of patience and positive planning. The gallery has re-launched and re-branded with a wonderful new show which I like but I fear the local population won’t be won over with. The four artists local(-ish) at least to Essex I am reminded chosen to fill the 3x8m space are all very good practitioners, evidence of which is shown in a display of some work from each in the 8×3 space. the new cafe proprietors look to be setting about setting it up beautifully with local suppliers being utilised. Good luck for the future!

some new pics of the new set up, still quite empty of footfallers.



Now for something completely different but I believe relevant, especially for my regulars and  you know about my ‘what I believes’:

When I was 30 year old I scored two goals in 2 minutes (big head), one headed into the top left hand corner from a corner and t’other straight from the re-start when I nicked the ball as they kicked off, ran half the pitch length evading a lunging leg of a desprit full back and rounded the goalie to chip it in against Ingatestone for Maldon Saint Marys second eleven in a cup game which we won 2-1. Later in the same cup the manager left me on the sub’s bench for the Final aginst RHP which my goals had gotten the team to, playing a kid of 16 in my stead. Earlier that season, in the winter cos the ground had an inch or two of snow on it I had headed a goal in from a corner in a melee and felt a deep pain in my belly, so deep I thought someone had kicked me, it turned out this Charlie had decided to thump me in the stomach as I headed the ball.

a bad tackle(beyond the pale)

Unlike Nemanja Matic of Chelsea v. Burnley last week who took this bad (beyond the pale) tackle from Ashley Barnes I withheld my desire to retaliate*, I took his number, I remembered his face. Ten minutes from the end of that final I aksed Old Bill the manager if I was going to get a kick? “Oh sorry Pete I forgot you, get on now.”

a fyutballa peteHow could you leave this fella out?

PK in 1981

Sadly I couldn’t pull back the goal deficit in the 5 minutes left (which meant in the 30 odd years I played football I never got a winner’s medal!) but I had my eye on Charlie. I am not sure he remembered me without snowdrops on my head. Anyway I re-introduced myself on the half way line. It was a fair but hard tackle (NOT beyond the pale). He didn’t get up but only missed the last three minutes of play. I never returned to play for Maldon Saint Marys second eleven, not ‘nuff respec’. I did return to football 20 years later and scored loadsa goals as a veteran, well the ball is still a sphere and the goals are still in the same place and I still loved the game.

But ‘respec’ is wattam talking about. * Matic was sent off and banned from a Wembley Final for retaliation, Barnes got off scot free. Talking about the dinosaur attitude of institutions the FA have done FA about the ref’s ineptitude; he should have sent Barnes off before Matic took the law into his own hands and then the FA should lift the ban so Matic can participate in the Wembley Final . It’s not as if his shove on Barnes was life-threatening, more like a person in the isle at a supermarket pushing a trolley. (ps Chelsea still won!)


My ‘Artist’s Books’ From Slack Space to BABE (11 & 12 April)

So what is an artist’s book? Or what is my artist’s book? In answering the former I can point to some beautiful examples of the form, well no it’s not a ‘form’ as form indicates rules to bind you by, there isn’t a ‘form’ there is just the ‘difference’. The difference is such that  artist’s books are often difficult to file in a library. They often have no side panel recognizing ‘title’. They rarely have isbn’s or all the detail about who published it and the artists’ rights. AND THEY CAN BE UNIQUE IN THE COMBINATION OF MATERIALS THEY JUXTAPOSE. So in Slack Space this week there are artists like Chris Rushton

chris rushton sm

and Miranda Campbell (& Others) who stretch the ‘form’. Chris’s work exquisitely combines her dyed textural papers and folds and tears and cuts into forms.

slac 020

Miranda makes leather bound books but also creates these wonderful things with cracked logs, feathers and curled paper with words on which would look odd on a library shelf. Anselm Kiefer makes unique books in which he uses plasterboard or lead or paper or photos as his base and then he sticks them in acid and throws mud on them and buries them and all sorts of stuff as he approaches each book as an individual work much as he does his ‘paintings’ (he’s not at slack!).

keif bukbird merged

I find his work inspiring with its freedoms and its ignoring of norms and mores (moreys? Morays… moray eels are like his books scarey). But I guess one day when I have shed the fetters of the ‘books’ I have in the pipeline I shall follow his example and make more one-offs and make em big and make em so cumbersome they can’t leave my garden where I’ll mekem wid loads of rubbish and muck and I’ll burn em and kick em and all that cos I once did karate so I can kick like a gud en. I joke but am not joking. I love it when I see the craft in book artists like Kate Bufton at Book Transformations https://twitter.com/BuftonKate and  Fiona Dempster at Paper Ponderings http://paperponderings.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/purely-pencils-part-ii.html both of whom produce voluminously but there’s a sense of control and craft there which altho I admire I wish to break free https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEKVLjXO2Fk I’ve fallen in love with difference, in fact I’ve always loved her. My work is different. At present I am not cutting and folding and binding with dexterity but I am writing about my heroes, what I call mystics; artists, poets, thinkers and Joseph Beuys the shaman. And that leads me to my ‘performances’ which are part of my books. In fact I can cut the strut, fold my limps and unbind my-self thru the dance I do at my ‘talk’ or ‘reading’. And what are books for if not to be read, or scanned. In fact at the first (Slack) reading from my collaborative work with David Jury which is on display at Slack I realised something wonderful. His prints are stupendous and my words are whatever you decide they are

ves 6 sm

but when I put them into an amalgamated form where I could read them as one piece the possibilities are enormous. There’s no video of me doing that yet, so you’d have to invite me to your place if you want to see it for yourself. Last year or was it 2013 I did an article in which I promoted the idea that a pot with writing on was a book cover

the book of gnolidge
the book of gnolidge

and the scrolls around it or dropped in it were the pages. Now am saying my reading is part of my book. Beat that Anselm!

I am not taking the pot to BABE but you should see it on the powerpoint projection in the entrance to the Arnolfini. I am really looking forward to meeting you all at BABE.


I shall be the last one of BABE’s ‘Performances and Readings’ (Meeting Room, Arnolfini) on the second day, Sunday 12th April

cast in arranged order:

 2pm Judy Kravis of Road Books

2.30pm Graeme Hobbs, Colva Books – Hill Pond. The pieces I wrote were instead of photographs – written photographs.

3pm, Field Study International – Emanation action.

3.30pm Nancy Campbell and Donna Williams – Poems in BSL and English about language learning and extinction.

cover of six mystics intro
cover of six mystics intro

4pm Pete Kennedy ‘readings’ – Inspired by Kabir’s poem ‘Inside This Clay Jug’ (transformed from Rabindranath Tagore’s translation by Robert Bly and recited by Pete) Also, various renditions (with masks) from the original book on Six Mystics- G Batch (G…iorgi Ivanovitch Gurdzhiev. B…euys Joseph. A…ngeli Silesii. T…enzin Gyatso. C…arl Gustav Jung & H…ermann Hesse.), and Inside This Clay Jug and Inside This Great Jug.

Here’s Mercury going into the mystic with one of the most beautiful and touching moments ever recorded. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3RJLOyGVf0


ps The featured  image at the top is of Paula MacGregor’s book in the show presently on at Slack Space.

Artist Books & Stories at Slack Space

The exhibition of artist’s book work in the old police station in Colchester has started with a bang of readings last Thursday night in the blizzard outside conditions but still about 30 folk turned up. This event flagged up this National storytelling week and it was well worth it. I was unsure what to expect altho I knew a lot of the bookartists were good I had no idea who was reading. The show was set up very well and the works look great. I shall list some I like below. Then the readings began at 7pm, 5 poets and writers; Steve Ovel (poet), Candyce Lange (writer), Natalie Pfeffer (poet), Pete Kennedy (poet, printer and prancer), Pete Smith (story teller).

 bloke sm

Steve Ovel warmed the mike first, some of his poems seethed and what a lot he had got. I really liked several but I would suggest he finishes his next reading on a high note not down in the dumped relationship darkness.

sheena sm

Candyce Lange with her American drawl read her short story beautifully. For me there were touches of the way Bukowski reads. Her story was well crafted and held my interest, I really loved it and was shaken when she revealed that she had written it in a couple of hours.

eng lady sm

Natalie Pfeffer read her poems beautifully and once again they were well crafted. I wasn’t taking notes so I cannot recall a word of them but she was impressive.

me dignify smUglihed

Pete Kennedy that’s me, well all I can say my reading from the combined texts in David jury’s letterpress version of my poems went down really well much to my surprise as I felt I was following some experienced practitioners whose word-smithing was excellent. Even my little jig went down well.

paulas peter best sm

Pete Smith then told a story, ‘The Waterfowler’, this is national story telling week after all. He was lovely. He told the tale of how a man who used to shoot geese for a living from a punt and how he got lost during a shoot to be guided home by a mysterious man in a long black cloak a floppy hat and an upside down pipe. It warmed the cockles of me heart.

Artist’s books show

What a lovely little show! Paula MacGregorpaula sm

and the other volunteers at Slack have mounted this widely varied selection of books really well using the limited resources at hand. I thank them for all the hard work and dedication it must have taken. A special mention must go to Chris Clarke – who is responsible for the ‘mathematical equations and the unique logistics of hanging the work’.  He is also a very personable bloke what has offered me advice on how I can improve my ‘talk and prance’ act! And of course my abject apology for accusing him of setting up the wrong track on Thursday nicht! I had just zoomed into the clouds reading the amalgam poem and I did not recognize the music so I hurled some nearly expletive deleted…s at him, something about not being able to get the staff… which he took graciously in his long stride (he’s about 6 foot 4!) and he put the next track on and THAT was the wrong ‘un, so there i were blithering away and he got it right and am sure I heard him whisper, ‘Shut up you twinkle toed prancer, just DANCE!’, but then again maybe he didn’t? Bless him.

Paula MacGregor has some lovely assemblages of interesting items picked up from second hand shops which she combines cleverly with her knowledge of making books. I liked the use of scrolls.

 pauls mcgregor buk an scroll sm pauls mcgregor scroll in cabnet sm

Sandie Cottee I think I am right in saying Sandee uses a ring binder machine to create some of her books which feature lots of collages. Many of her books ‘tell stories’ using ‘upcycled materials’.

 sandie cottee sm

Karen Dennison Karen is mainly a poet but she like to illustrate hers and others’ work. She is working on multi-layered imagery. I added the layer of the windows reflected in the glass.

 karen dennison blue sm

Helen Armstrong Bland has done some brave complex folding using maps and images of people in which her stories emerge in ‘reconstructed narratives’.

 armstrong bland babymapper sm

Chris Rushton makes astounding books with dyed papers which she tears and folds in complicated ways sometimes adding words in her exquisite hand. Texture, pattern and shape abound.

chris rushton folds an werds sm chris rushton sm

 Wendy Allen has done really tiny but significant books of late using letterpress and stitching. She is another book artist using the ancient art of scrolls but with an intricate swirl of stitches alongside words.

 wen alen table sm wendy allen unscrolled sm

 Ailsa Clarke has only one book in the show but it is very beautiful it’s hand-drawn words and marbled paper with careful folds enhanced by ‘scarlet thread’ looks like a bridge astraddle a river.

 ailsa sm

David Howe has sent in one of his unique ‘books’ with pages in a grid made of twigs which echo the window panes. His use of natural materials and the play of textures, pattern and space is always exciting. It is possible to read the words but I see them more as another texture, woven words symbolising signs for language.

 david howe sm

Miranda Campbell has also used things from the woods to hold her beautifully curved stories on paper strips. Her ‘normal’ bookwork is ace and then she makes these wonderful book-sculptures.

miranda campbell swirls sm

Paul Garcia has taken to book-binding like a mathematician takes to Escher’s work and his output has the twists & turns of that Dutch master printer especially in the lovely red ink of his Celtic Knotted illustration. His attention to detail in his leather sculptured book in a box with a concave hole produced by the receding holes growing smaller reminds me of the apple shaped holes in my book ApulGold which is replicated in his rendition into which Garcia has put an infinite amount of skill and dedication into his work.

 paul garcia celtic not sm

paul garcia holes sm

Pete Kennedy (talking about me) has put in a new concertina book showing images which he took of barges in the early 1980s. The quote from Joseph Conrad rings around the red sails. Also showing is the original jar shaped composition for the pages of Inside This Earthen Vessel.

 pete kennedy barges sm

David Jury has brought his wonderful version of Inside This Earthen Vessel which Paula has exhibited alongside the original. This set of prints show David’s requisite skill as a letterpress printer. Also congrats to Paula MacGregor and Pete Smith for the hanging. I love the posters of David’s letterpress set up which show the difficult task he had bringing together all of those differing fonts.

 david jury sm

Sally Chinea has made some beautiful book-sculpture stories with which I complete this short report

.sallie chinea box sm

sal chin newspaper figs sm

The image of the cells at the back of the police station tells its own story of the history of this remarkable place.

cells sm

Newcastle Hatton gallery & the Baltic

 a peter yates (2)

Sound art at the Hatton gallery Newcastle

10.30 hrs, 27.1.15

Attendant ‘Ray’ says, ‘It’s quite interesting…more than you’d think…but there’s other galleries [rooms] thru there…’. His voice (not quiet) adds to the sound as Danny Bright’s sound art show ‘Ghosting the Periphery’ begins. http://www.bogstandardaudio.co.uk/

Man (Ray) on a phone (that’s an attendant called Ray not the great artist bloke who did Rayographs!) …footsteps (on the loop) across wooden floorboards…electronic sound akin to Brian Eno (?)…7-8 minutes in a sound like a didgeridoo… am facing two pillars


The minimalist atmosphere heightens my senses, I’m ‘looking’ at these pillars and the light from the windows. Beebeep Beebeep Beebeep from the desk area adds to the noises, more from the student shop area in the foyer adds or distracts? Another attendant on the desk mumbles on the phone…ancient domed skylites above


Foyer voices overpowering. Subtle sounds at 16 minutes…real footsteps and Sneeze from deskman who begins talking with Ray. 18 minutes sounds like bins rattling…Australian girl’s voice from the foyer very loud…quiet creaking floorboards from behind, it’s Ray walking on his rounds.

I expected a light show from what I saw on the post card. In fact a light show would enhance the sounds. The light from the windows etc was doing a light show of its own. The minimalist atmosphere really heightens my senses.


Like when I awoke today at 04.20 hrs 4.2.15 and looked to the sky, not an elephant’s eye no, only/just the nearly full moon and a ‘star’ which happened to be Jupiter. What more would you want? Earth’s satellite and a planet from our Solar System!

T’other rooms were full of good stuff too. Kurt Schwitter’s Merzbarn wall



resides there and his sound poem Ursonate inspired ‘Ghosting the Periphery’. http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/hatton-gallery/latest/news/new-sound-installation-to-reflect-on-hatton-039-s-history.html

a peter yates (4)

Also showing at Hatton is a peter Yates exhibition. Yates was a colleague of Richard Hamilton at Newcastle art college: http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/hatton-gallery/whats-on/exhibitions/peter-yates-paintings-1939-1982.html I really like the way the curator of the show mounted these images in a pyramid shape which is so much more exciting than just setting them in a line at eye level. Especially when you see that the images refer to triangles and pyramid forms.

All this Schwitter’s stuff has it seems influenced me too and last night I finished preparing a reading for the new bookart show at Slack Space in Colchester from the version of my poem created by David Jury. I have typed it up as it is on the letterpress page with the subtext in there too and it’s going to be interesting trying to read it. I hope I don’t go off into a sound wail to match Schwitters! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2L6mbZalg8E  (This is a wonderful intro to his work.)

And here’s one of my poems from the DJ pages:

Let’s Go, Ego

Deep inside the jug swirling & Dancing Getting up with Sophia  And living Finding symbols from the ancient of days. Peeping behind the curtain of   appearances and finding  the word hidden within. In Mystic Synchronistic swing each With his Gnostic ring ting ding  C G Jung deciphers your dreams Moment as With a ring a ding a ding SING  Fighting the monster of the It comes, without fear deep  In the dark sea of Sometimes profoundly well Metanoia night.  Plunging into the deep abyss of Nekzia  Rising astraddle a silver steed All past masters dance to greet him. Clinging to nothing Other he reaches balance. Synchronicity is everywhere, Nothing  Times comes from happenchance.  Contacting the eternal source He realises his place With a Badly, altogether sadly RING A (there’s nothing wrong with that) DING TIW NIH

So, if you got the time and the notion be there, the reading is in the 7-8 pm section.

OK so the open event was good, the show is great and I did my ‘reading’ along with 4 others, see my report which I shall post on Sunday.

And then I went into the Baltic which is quite a big noise gallery in Gateshead. I loved the small exhibition of a winner of a prize for last year’s MA students. Mo Coade MA had some images of beautiful colours made in the river by pollution from a glass factory (?) and two screens showing film of the riverside where the colours change with the ebb and flow of the water oh the beauty of pollution!


I followed my nose up to the library which has grown exponentially in the past 10 years under the guiding hand of Gary Malkin. Here he is looking at my rubber stamp from my new book Inside This Earthen Vessel which prompted him to tell the tale of when he worked in London making rubber stamps. A call came from the set of Octopussy for an urgent need to make a stamp which they needed to use as a fake tattoo on a Bond girl’s back. He had to explain there was no helicopter landing pad near the stampworks, so they sent a motorbike around.


I mentioned that I do artists books and he asked to see some and he liked what he saw acquiring two for their collection then he took me and showed me the artist’s book archive which is the next part of the library he’d like to develop. Baltic has already got a strong tie with the world of artist’s books, in 2003 they had a big exhibition of them curated by Clive Phillpot who compiled an informed ‘catalogue’ of views & opinions on artist’s books at the time in ‘Outside of the Dog’. There’s a difficulty displaying artist’s books as they, or many of them, don’t necessarily fit into normal shelves. Gary intends to give access to the archive where folks can then open the archival boxes. I look forward to my next visit to Newcastle to view the growing archive.



At the risk of being ridiculed

I know some parties who read this will look upon my suggestion as an object fit for only ridicule, I am writing this piece and am asking for a BIG space in a gallery to show my work from the past 48 years. It is going to be a BIG exhibition as I have enough output to fill a gallery… (like First Site* in Colchester for example).

But my aim is not specific to First Site, no I want to be shown at BIG galleries in major cities too. I don’t mind smaller galleries and I have done about 25 solo exhibitions since 1977. I understand their (the ‘established’ places) problem, it also applies to commercial galleries like those in Cork St., you don’t get a look in unless you and your work tick some boxes, many boxes like; right college, saleability, reputation, articles about you, fame, and you know all the rest. I happen to not tick any boxes and have made it a mission to untick any that were ticked. I am an old fashioned player. Some trendys would say I am a Modernist and the same folk would say this is the Post-Modern era, well listen, it’s not, ask Wil Self who will tell you it’s too soon to change the name.wil an gabr wil an gabr2

And to place the word ‘post’ in front of anything is rather lame; Post Impressionist, Post Structuralism, Post Haste, Post Card, it doesn’t change anything, at least they were more imaginative early 20th century; Fauvism, pointillism, Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism but all of them are really part of Modernism as is post modernism and Modernism is the era that followed Classicism, the latter going on for thousands of years.

I believe an artist, with a brush, with a ball, with a voice, etc has to be individual, original and be saying things few if any have already said in ways that others would not imagine to say them in. Well, I tick all those boxes BUT, nobody except people with imagination and independent choosing can see the quality in my work, and there’s not many like that in the gallery world, is there?

Martha Graham, the woman who helped develop ‘modern’ ballet out of the old style ballet, said, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this experience is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost”. I have been aware of that for many of my 64 years and maybe that’s why I have always carried the torch for ‘art’, or rather my particular version of the arts which I developed thru years of study, hard work, experiment, getting out there and showing it, putting it into my books and all. I am happy, like Blake (Wm., always William, only William is worthy of the name!), I know my work is unique, unicorn, one corn, corny, crazy like O’Dorkey. But I’m not your ‘normal’ artist, or anyting for that matta, (Matta is anudda great artis) I am ‘off the wall’ (well maybe that’s why they wouldnie hang you on the wall at all?) My arts never fitted no box no never not at all. even when at school learning my trade I zoomed thru taking on influences, devouring them; Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Soutine, D D Watkins Scarfe.

mags dots

 my fauve sister c. 1968

I had more than one ‘style’, I had the painterly bit after heroes like El Greco, Rembrandt, and Grunewald, then I had the comic pArt after Steve Ditko and e Jeffries e jeffreys toby twirl

Even when I went ‘full time’ artistbloke tween 1976 – 81 the arts council wallers couldn’t fathom where I wer coming frae nor going to, I even had writing in my locker and that wasn’t allowed in ‘art’. Yet early on my talent was recognised by David Wild, Quentin Bell, Ruskin Spear and the Principal of Birmingham College of art who on assessing my Bachelor’s stuff in June 1973 said I should consider applying there for an MA. AS I wer £80 overdrawn, a lot in those days, I took a job teaching and got drawn in to that gulf. I decided to follow my own canoe down the rapids of my life and never had time to court the galleries and forgot about the MA. Sadly I waited 40 years then chose to do it at a college with issues and without facilities and vision of how to treat ‘adults’. But I met David Jury there and also became acquainted with the world of artists books which in many ways leap frogs the ‘art world/gallery’ fields and as most of my ideas will go into books albeit some will have to be a bit big I can live with that.

I am an original and the trouble is if you are the first to do it ‘this’ or ‘that’ way, few will ‘get’ what you’re on about and most will call you a madman, or woman if you are the other gender. Which brings in the agenda, yes there is and always has been an agenda. The modern ‘art-world-market’ started in a gradual stunted way with a few proprietors trying it out with artists like Gauguin. A crop of gallerists opened in France (Ambroise Vollard , Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler Léopold Zborowski) and they sold works and this spread to other countries and it caught on. Some of the early artists didn’t tick the boxes but the world was young. Gradually some became ‘established’ and one of the boxes had to be you were ‘established’. BUMPH that cuts out the majority of us artists, don’t ya. (Actually, I am established but only in a small field, actually it’s not even a field, it’s a shelf tucked away on the end of Wigan Pier) And how do you get ‘established’? You have to be chosen. Of course this choosing goes further back, back past Josh Reynolds and further back to les Louis the Kings of France (they were all called Louis for a while til that one was topped, then it stopped. So Picasso was chosen by Gertrude Stein. Etcetera. Etcetera Etcetera

You can see a record of what I did (mostly my writing and shows, not my artworks), over the years at:



*First Site is a much maligned landmark gallery with wonderful potential STILL which this county of Essex England needed for decades and now it has been opened the folk of the local area have taken a very poor opinion of it. This is mostly because of the fiasco over its build which should now just be a historical fact rather than a vendetta against the people who run it. I have spoken up about the gallery and the work it has already done. I even applied to be an associate artist but didn’t get selected. I wrote a small article which got published in a magazine about arts from Cambridge called Venue putting a very positive light on the gallery. Yet I know for sure they would never see me as an artist worthy of a major show, or any show for that matter. They have a view that only internationally recognised artists, even if totally obscure to the local population, are worthy of hanging on their walls. And that is very sad especially when there are several colleges within 25 miles with many people involved in art. I, who am steeped in art and who taught it to almost every age from 0-90, have learned a lot from the shows at First Site. They’ve had some great shows and some great talks, but not a lot of people attend them, partly cos many would feel threatened by the attitude that seems to prevail. There’s an aloofness, a separateness, a communication-less-ness. The space has rarely felt welcoming. They are revamping it right now, I hope the revamp leads to a better atmosphere and that it becomes a popular place, like Tate Modern did when it opened, a fact which was by no means guaranteed.


ps I don’t mind if I never get another venue to show at cos it’s quite hard work showing.

pps I forgot, that’s an age thing, no it’s not.


Poym of the week


I shud av gon far

Wid my repertoire

In my old car

(Twer a ford Pop-(u)-lar)


Burri got stuk in th’moat

In a ricketi boat

And am barely afloat

Tanks to a singer of note-s

Cos that’s wat he wrote


His name you can’t guess

The the ansa to thes

His name is not Jess

(This poym is a mess)


I’ll let him fini the res-t

The clue’s in the the

Why I say it in jes-t

Will u pass the test



Here’s a couple o dames who nearly gave up, listen in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJUk1UklklE

Saturday Sound Waives Sociability, then the Sunday Sunrise of my Book(s)! unabridged version.

 This is the longer version for them what wants to see into my tiny mind and all.  The beautiful images of sunrise and reflected trails in water were taken by my old Burnley ex-pat  matey Duncan, Thanks DW

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q03E7oTc5qo Read All About It by Emily Sande sets the scene in this BlArt, listen to her beautiful words which resonate with my poems on the wall this weekend.

Grating And Gyrating Sound Waves Drown The Conversations.

The LA*BF weekend had planned hard to make it a good event but for many stallholders upstairs the Saturday ‘performances’ were a worry as the wave of sound was grating and gyrating the ears cos the harmonics in the hall left much to be desired stopping the needed conversations between the makers and potential purchasers. Twas a lovely idea to get poets to read aLOUD but in the words of a famous song from the 60’s, ‘Too LOUD man’.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kyn4KJzbL3c

And for many hours the punters seemed unaware that upstairs were the best of the solo artist-book-makers (ABMs). Where, there at the top of the stair something not doing clippity clik on the tills! So we spoke about signage to th’organisers and it slightly improved Saturday pm and by Sunday pm there were a deluge, which would av been well come on the first two days too. They need to sort it out from the start for next year.

(A*-means artbooks NOT artisbooks! I found out, oops)

I sacrificed my weekly Ashtanga Yoga practice for the joys of driving & parking in Londres. Driving up we missed a turn cos I were talking too much (as usual) and ended up in Kent (like the late Warren Zevon’s Werewolf of London we even ran into fog and I feared we were entering Jung’s Nekyia which I mention in my poem about Jung and here follows an extract from an article about an article by Jung  ‘When such a fate befalls a man who belongs to the neurotic, he usually encounters the unconscious in the form of the ‘Dark One,’ a Kundry of horribly grotesque, primeval ugliness or else of infernal beauty. In Faust’s metamorphosis, Gretchen, Helen, Mary, and the abstract ‘Eternal Feminine’ correspond to the four female figures of the Gnostic underworld, Eve, Helen, Mary, and Sophia. And just as Faust is embroiled in murderous happenings and reappears in changed form, so Picasso changes shape and reappears in the underworld form of the tragic Harlequin – a motif that runs through numerous paintings. It may be remarked in passing that Harlequin is an ancient chthonic god.

For the whole article go to: http://web.org.uk/picasso/jung_article.html

The descent into ancient times has been associated ever since Homer’s day with the Nekyia. Faust turns back to the crazy primitive world of the witches’ sabbath and to a chimerical vision of classical antiquity. Picasso conjures up crude, earthy shapes, grotesque and primitive, and resurrects the soullessness of ancient Pompeii in a cold, glittering light’)

Anyhow that meant I approached Mike Davies & Richard Roger’s millennium dome (http://www.theguardian.com/culture/1999/jul/26/artsfeatures.architectureweek1999) from the opposite side to my familiar Essex view. The speed cameras around London are a farce, one every hundred yards it seems/ ‘They make millions from the fines’ I were told. Parking in NCP next to the gallery (so we could carry our books) was extortionate but we ‘Engerlitscht’ seem to accept things like that instead of refusing to pay, (it’s like the students’ fees too, in ‘civilised’ countries like Scotland and Germany who take responsibilities for their people (not just those of them with financial clout) they made such a fuss that the governments stopped trying to steal the right to an ‘education for life’ and no longer charge the student mass, but here in this democratic land only the rich are entitled to the  top ‘education’… STOP there Don’t Start… Yer Flogging A Dead Donkey!)

I (Lard o’th’Tease) were a guest player with a presence on David Jury’s (the Lord of the Leafs) ‘Fox Ash’ table in the form of my new (little) version of Inside The Earthen Vessel to show the inspiration behind our collaboration on DJ’s beautiful (the big version) Inside The Earthen Vessel. Thursday’s opening, Friday & Saturday brought not a whiff of sales but it were good to be next to Mette Ambeck & Mike Nicholson and even better to find Mette’s little collaboration, UDKANT, with Nancy Campbell while the latter were still around to sign it along with Mette for me, thanks girls, made my first day. http://www.ambeckdesign.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/udkant.html Mette & Mike are experienced pilots flying the bookart trials regarding the straggling punters all spent up once they’d reached us. So I suggest that LABF reverse the orders of the tables, put the big boys upstairs out of the way so the public can enjoy the more individual handmade produce in the big room downstairs. IF they did I would apply early enough next time to be allocated my own table so I can show more of my work next time. I have decided to produce my new weird and wonderful ‘Squidgeratscrawlings’, which is my most original work from my subconscious-images, done over the last 40 years. Images which make Jean Cocteau’s Opium Sketches seem like Enid Blyton pixie illustrations! Influenced by the like of Klee, Ernst, Miro, Rick Griffin and other surreal maniacs.

Also, got to mention the lovely staff and food in the Exmouth café next door. http://www.exmouthcoffee.co.uk/gallery.html the staff work so hard non-stop, don’t know how they sustain it, I prefer to make books, paint, print write poems and do yoga!

I had several meals there over the weekend and I believe their Chai tea must be one of the best around. Kept my spirits high whilst I spoke with folks who couldn’t afford to buy but loved the work.

Most of them took my card and that’ll give access to this blArt, so you may be a new Merry Prancer Maybe A Dancer on my Digibuk Hi!Way, well come.

Then on the Sunday it seemed like the Sunrise of my Book(s), people had been interested and talking with us about their merits and suddenly scores of enthusiasts from every country under the sun arrived. The first big one went and it seemed everyone was after one, confirming DJ’s hunch that his letterpress prints were profoundly appealing. I had just organised a signing on the backs by us both when the first buyer decided to take one. We realised the only way to wrap them was in what Picabia had referred to as a band of copper, ( in ‘I Am a Beautiful Monster’ p146 ‘This poetry has no beginning or end; imagine that there’s no cover and that it’s bound with copper rings.’ Lausanne 1919.) altho in the absence of copper I had found some brass bangles but they worked a treat as I carefully rolled the ‘book’ into a ‘scroll’ and slotted two bangles over, one at each end. Then the firmness of the scrolled book made its own protection.

Image017DW wit his copy in brass bangles

So when I weren’t squawking to folks at David’s table I were looking at the ‘opposition’ (Freudian slip?).  I was particularly much impressed by the following practitioners in one way or another:

Then I met a couple, Guy & Rebecca who on reading the poems said with looks of delight on their faces, ‘We used to live near Hermann Hesse’s house in Gaienhofen 78343!’ wow. And Guy says to me, ‘It says in Paul Corinthians, “We have this treasure in clay jars” ‘ wow some more!

Gita Wolf for her eye for the typos and her Tara books etc.

Jane Hyslop for her wonderfully inspiring and different binding forms etc.

Jacqueline Thomas for her Srinivisa Ramanajun & Ten Abundant Elements altered books.

Manuel Mazzotti for his passion for quality binds.

Louisa Bailey for her choice of books to sell and her very empathic nature. And for having the Maxt Ernst with fungus on ‘book’.

ernst max title page sm

Whereas our book cost tens o pounds some came to hundreds Luminous Books had a wondrous Maxt Ernst ‘book’ which was found with purple fungus on scanned & printed and offered it at £650. Then three star books had one at 35,000 euros! even I can’t afford that! http://www.threestarbooks.com/MULLICAN.html but i were veri inspired by these two, both of whom use frottage altho only one of them invented it, purportedly Maxt, watch out for mine frottaged futurewerks! Well I did some already with my Bar Critters. The one below first came to me in 1974 in a tea stain on my sink, so it’s so good to see similar creatures in Maxt’s work! And that pertle is a color i luvs.

a squidgerat bar critterbarcrit good sm

My old mate Duncan Walker came to the fair and he (he’s a jolly good dancer!step dancer2here he is dancing down Eld Lane steps in Colchester)


“What an astounding piece of work you and David have produced with your Inside the Earthen Vessel letterpressed bookart. I will treasure the ones that I bought. It is so professional and deserves to be put up on the blog, on a page of its own, all 6 poem sheets and cover, with the brilliant photos of the two pages set in the letterpress. The miniature  concertina card of the 6 poems is a delight, it is an art form in its own right. Because it is so small, you see the patterns of the large letters, their layout and shape on a background of smaller type. It is a wonder in its own right and deserves to be exhibited. I have it on my desk and glance over and pick up on a different word and recite ‘A Ring A Ding’….

Image010DW & DJ

I enjoyed meeting David, he is a Master at this letterpress and design and he emits  a quiet strength in closing down on a design, while you are a soaring opener-upper, a brilliant duo. I used to form creative teams that had to contain both types of people, for things to be created from nothing, and then to be advanced developed and built for a spiral iteration.

Your bookart of the original poems is also a real treasure.

What will the poetry library exhibit of your stuff? It could have a corner of their library with all of it displayed and your poems recited in a looped video clip displayed on a monitor,  with your posters of the letterpress as well. And as I suggested to David, it would be so interesting and an art work in itself to have a short video clip of David setting up the press with one of the pages and him whirling with his tweezers, to show how the craft is performed.

Well done both of you, you have made a real success, through a work of art, created from nothing, by applying some rigorous research, creative leaps and connections, applying and developing techniques in design and build, promoting and exhibiting and also through all of this you have spiralled together to a higher level for the next iteration.

Wow!  I am clapping, what a performance I have seen. Bravo!

Early yesterday morning, before I set off to see your work I snapped the rising sun and  plane vapours in the sky and river and knew it was a beautiful day and it was.”

Tanks lad!

And In the End Nobody’s Perfec!

I’d like to thank the folks below who found some typos that slipped our tiny-tweezer-hands which is slightly reminiscent of being told off by the teachrer, oops there I goes again (but what wonderful teachers). We spent hours perusing, checking, correcting and all too. Should we do a reprint then DJ will sort that out, however we know we’ll miss others next time too, that’s life, or is it typesetting & checking out typos? Maybe we should not have put one in as a deliberate mistake in the tradition of the Turkish rug maker?

Gita Wolf pointed one out

Ian Kirkpatrick pointed one out

Burkard Quessel pointed one out, we’ll let youse all find them yourselves.

BUT we’ll continue blazing the trail.

vapor snake

Hey, I see a new Squidgerat in there!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StLU_q32TVs Hope by Emile Sande

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.


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.


So we live in a Digital Cage? (part 2)

Back to the digicage symposia-um at firstsite Colchester*. OK it was indeed a fascinating syncosie-um with about 40 attendees. I was pleased to talk to Elli who said she regularly pops down from London town to the gallery, ‘It’s just like another part of London on the train (but you’ve got the lovely countryside on the way)’. I really hope she is a pioneer, a scout. Once Londoners and Liverpudlians and Mancunians and all points of the compass hear that the Romans have been ousted, maybe they will beeline for firstsite Colchester. It needs to be frequented. It is a wonderful occurrence. A gallery like that is a boon to the whole nation, I kid you not, you can count galleries like that on, maybe, two hands, there’s not that many. It is akin to a Tate or a Hayward. But they do need a public face-lift. The connect is dis-connected. Unlike tate mod it didn’t hit the ground running and still suffers in the local press and community, it is not a trend place to go yet, I say yet cos am really hopeful this changes and the forthcoming Bruce McLean may help ease the gallery into a better space. Actually if it had been built on a hill or somewhere folk can see the damn thing it may have caught the imagination more quickerly.

This syntoesinium was another daring display of forward thinking by people there in the gallery’s innards who tap into the pulse of what is happening in the world out there away from firstsite Colchester, but also IN every area, digitally. firstsite Colchester brought Kim Dotcom (watch this face) to ‘us’ in this phase of its development by Simon Denny and the Gallery of Modern art Vienna http://www.mumok.at/ , who I believe own the stuff. Is it art? Yes it is (not?), well it is alright, cos you see in the 1970s even receipts became ‘art’ and DimDot Bom has received a few unwelcome guests in his time, many from that quiet little colony across the Pacific from his New Zealand home in the good ole boys drinkin wiski and rye land the USof A FBI with machine guns and all the other stuff thay used to corner Bin Larder. The Fedbis were a bit annoyed wit Dimboy cos he wer pirating movies and making millions of, dollars. He lived in a mansion complex similar to the dictatoe wat got ousted in Ukraine and they say that nice man in Russia (wat our Bonnie Prince don’t tink much of) also has a Brimdotbomb stately home too too. Funny how they all want what Dimbo has got. In fact I tink I shall settle on Dimbo as it has a resonance with a flying elephant and I like that. So Dimboy’s fortune, which is in the exhibition in piles or heaps like Carl Andre bricks in the Tate, is REAL, it’s physical dollar bills, now confiscated and now returned to him as his lawyers battle it out in America. The model he used to make film and music available on its release for free (ish) is now adopted by some of the companies which own the copyrites, he showed them how to market in the Digicage.

Then James Bridle stood up and talked about Wikipedia (did you know , Jimmy Wales said, a wiki is a website that anyone can edit (whitch can be changed), and wiki-leeks is nuttin to do wit wiki-pedias) and drone spyplane-bombers which he had drawn out with tape in various places. He also makes abstract art designs in books from the ‘maps’ all your smart phones create as you journey around and they connect with all the other users in any area you pass. This was a fascinating day in which many of my blindnesses, failures to ‘connect’ or stay in touch and oversights were adjusted. Two women even tried persuading me that Traced Ear Hermin is not as bad as she seems. Well one woe-man’s sealink can be anudda man’s flaw.

It’s not going to help any of us to say I’m not joining in or I won’t be effected cos you’re already in it. Everything has a digital input, from the design of this pen (yep I prep mi blart wit a pen) to the news on your screen (I wer on Anglia news once fer abart 2 minute minutes, my andy Wahol minit o fame). Being a late-Luddite who is still wonderous as to how these aeroplanes can stay up ,in th’air, I find it astounding how in some cases a photo can be taken in papua new guinea then it can be on my breakfast table in say, the Guardian (if I could afford it) within hours or on my tv (?) within minutes. For me, who used to go to, say, Earls Court to see and photo the Stones (1976) on a Nikon F film camera, come home, develop the film, go into my darkroom & print it in B&W then try to sell it and mostly not succeed,

stone 76 earls crt

in fact always not suck seed, to see everyone now can clik their favourite pop band tonite, send it up to the cloud within seconds where someone in papua new guinea fowl can can pick it up on their mobile digiting and print it as a paper copy if they want to be bothered, why bother (thanks Mark Knopfler) why bother when you can view it at will on an ipad then skim on to , say, a new Hockney tree thingi or a film released by Warners after they learned from Dimcombo-Notso-Dim-as-he-looked.

And then you get to tinkin abart values. What’s a ting worth? That dress that Marilyn Monroe wore is worth more than the same design worn by my Auntie Rosie. Jo Beuys suet is Wirther Haftmann more than mien. That provenance ting! One day this pen will be wert more then your pen yawort? (don’t call yer vreedas warts, it’ll put them orf- get lost Blarty Wartman- sorry, am having troble wit my altered eagle) STOP


Dis could be heaven

Or this can be hell

Like old Leadbelly once said

It’ll make yu wonder

It’ll make ya worry

Abart tings to come

But don’t go do wat he did

Unless you’re running aways

Form that old digicaged werld?

Cos he had a greet notion

Ter jemp in th’a river and


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEMqHLcICUs (listen at 40 seconds in)


The nice ting is I real eyesed we’re in it (digicage) am no longa bovvad (concerned consternated) cos I know it dusn’t matta. There is no matter (for this mad hatter). There is no real money (Dimboi gorrit all) It’s gone digi. So as long as I can afferd a loaf & a cuppa, I need no more.

It, th’obsession, becomes extreme. Why am I sitting here blArting at 4 am? Becos you becom obsessed. You are drawn in. in to that digital world which is co-habited by Tron & Bruce Willis (Fifth Elepants) And why do we still use the old language? Based in Latin wot those roman aliens brought is it not?) wi (fi) (fo) hum hmmmmm do we yewse dat ole langwich? No, I wont, I wont yewse it no more, no moor, no mare no mur.. I re-fews. I (am) refuse, I meen ref-use I mene thet’s rub-isht. The old ones ar da beast STOP, stop agen. St-art. It’s art. It’s a blArt.

pete shaded

But when yu try to brake…free from the auld langitch, it’s ard. There’s formal ties. Form all he tees. For all its tease. You see the auld langwitch has its uses, its youses, its you ses, you sed, you say to bed we go, to bog on off. I extemp-poor-eyse. I bleev there will there will be a move away from the old constrictions of the auld lang signs. After all was it Bartays or that other bloke who said language is power, yep it werim, he said langage is powwow. And by spellin crectli yu ar in a power-clutch. So this is my revolution. My revolt shun. But be careful, revoltin leeds to exploding. Witness most evri revolution exploding; French, Russian, Egyptian and so on.

I play wit werds yu know (altho yu may not av noticed?) I was pleying wit wirds for this blArt and beeb 4 did a doc on Dylan Thomas. He played wit werds too tout two or tree or henry moore. I know his play was so much better nay greater than minah berd words I hold mi hand up to that. Give us a big hand. I do. I don’t know much about poetry (altho yu may av noticed?) BUT I recognised Under milk wood as Dylan’s masterwork. Look out for Under Milk Wood on iplayer. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01x5k4n/under-milk-wood


And I gave up once before in the 60’s I thought I would leave the music ‘form’ alone cos nobody would better Lennon and Zimmerman and all so I chose 2b an artisbloke…the rest is His Story (not mine). But this time I’m not for stopping chasing my dreams and skeems to be the big blArty poet too

Toot toot to you

And the same wit nobs on

To you too toot.


I thought you’d like to share my pride in what Krzysztof Fijalkowski said on seeing one of my recent blArts ‘Your blog is certainly a treasure trove of ideas ! I’m impressed with all that work and thinking.’ Krzysztof is Senior Lecturer, Fine Art at Norwich University of the Arts which is rated top Specialist Arts Institution in the UK (National Student Survey 2013). No wonder when its doctors dish out such confidence boosting descriptions!

Also me old mate Duncan has reacted to this blArt, I love how these tings strike chords and energise folk to get up and go,  and he ses i can post his feelings which are:

Sublime bursts of blarty wordplay which project out of your orb like solar flares reaching across space, mostly to be deflected by Earth’s magnetic field, but some get through:



The blarty rearrangement of words just creased me up and my amusement was just an entrée into seeing how an expected word arrangement that habit has frozen, is massaged into an alternative meaning that pokes fun at or questions the frozen form. It is a liberating experience- equivalent to listening to a great comedian’s skewed view of the world, a jester’s jestering……





Traced Ear Hermin

Blarty Wartman

wi fi fo hum hmmmmm


Mangle on, big blArty poet

Other goodnight Irenes Duncan likes, which you’ll have to find in utube cos am unsure how many links am ‘allowed’ to mek here:

Jerry Lee Lewis and Van, Tom Waits, Leon Russell, Ry Cooder, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope,

And Bing Crosby and Judy Garland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfieYEcxMnI


Goodnight Irene

*Not sure why the Roman invaders called colch Camalodinum? Maybe their camels didn’t like the weather there? Maybe they were sent peculiar by Boobicca’s incursions. For that matter I’m not sure where ‘col’ came from? There’s a river Colne, maybe that’s it. But as always I digress.

A lady called Max has answered my blart with som info on how Colchester got its name. She also made some lovely encouraging comment on the blarty ting:

Your mind is amazing Pete. All that knowledge roller coasting in your head and soaring from one thought to another.  I can see how hard it would be to switch off and meditate. I look forward to reading your blogs. The way you play with words and the brilliant humour that shines through.
By the way, the Saxons called Colchester Colneceaster, the Roman fortress of ‘Colonia’. In folk etymology, Colchester was thought of as meaning Cole’s Castle. In the legend, Helena (now the patron saint of Colchester) was the daughter of Cole. She married the Roman senator Constantius Chlorus, who had been sent by Rome as an ambassador and was named as Cole’s successor. Helena’s son became Emperor Constantine.Helena was canonised as Saint Helena of Constantinople and credited with finding the true cross and the remains of the magi.
This is recognised in the emblem of Colchester: a cross and three crowns. Still can’t find out where ‘Col’ came from.
So you see, you’ve got me investigating on my digital device and I really should be reading extracts from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind!
Thank you.


Max said it were difficult to leave a comment so am adding a contac form below-

They mentioned at the symposium about how printing 3D machines can be used to make guns, but, a better future use is they can now make a cervical cancer camera on a digi-printer! That means in remote areas of the world they can ‘print off’ a camera to help detect cervical cancer and treat it early. See click, about 7 mins in!. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0465p7b/click-31052014