Tag Archives: Dalai Lama

A lifelong friend

A lifelong friend, Trevor C., said (3.1.16) ‘Happy New Year Pete. Even though I just about made it passed the first line [of your latest blog]! All the best to you and hope that your family are all well.’

He was referring to his lack of comprehension of my blog, but I had given him an in to his comment by saying ‘many folk may fall asleep after the first line’ in it.

The two working class boys shopping for their mum could be me and Trev but we weren’t born when this photo was taken in Glasgow (where I was in fact born two years later! Trev were born in Burnley where I settled in 1954).

gorbal boys by hardy

(image Bert Hardy 1948).

http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2013/mar/24/bert-hardy-photographs-in-pictures

pete, an mates tod rd trio

Pete, Roy & Trev (capt.) drawn from a photo of Tod Road Juniors taken by Roy’s dad when we were about to play in the Centenary Cup Final as one of the top two primary school teams in Burnley in 1961.

 This blog is about relationships.

I’ve known Trev since we were 5 year olds. We played football together at Primary and Secondary schools then for NALGO and The Old Boys’ teams after we left school. We used to drink beer and chase girls together during our teens in his Wolseley Hornet, which can be seen in the background of this group photo.

pete bly boys 1971

Pete (sporting his six pack and Lennon-specs), Steve Hezzlewood, Trev
with Stuart in foreground at campsite near Woolacombe.

Steve and Pete in the sea off Polperro, shortly before we rescued Trev who had an attack of cramp. Steve was to die in his early forties from a congenital heart problem.

a wolesley hornet

Five of us were driven back from the great festival at Shepton Mallet in it in 1970!

For many years I always would visit him whenever I returned to my home town (which I hardly ever visit now since both of my parents died). He’s one of a handful of friends I’ve kept touch with since 1955. Those relationships are precious reminders of Burnley where I went to school.

Last week’s TED lecture flagged up the vital part good relationships play in longevity. Mutual support, community, compassion* and camaraderie help support a long healthy life. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#section_query/in%3Ainbox/15203661e1e6c780

* In his chapter called ‘Monks In The Machine’ in The Wisdom Of Compassion Victor Chan reports finding out that Richard Davidson uses an fMRI machine to show activation in parts of the brain to explore brain functions when people think. Davidson discovered that people who have a high register of an electrical signal called ‘gamma’ tend to be in heightened feelings of happiness, joyful & optimistic. He found that one monk who had done over 34 thousand hours of meditation entered a state of euphoria when meditating on Compassion, joy and fulfilment permeated his entire nature. Most of the monks showed large increases in gamma waves in their left pre-frontal cortex- a sign that they were experiencing intense periods of well-being. It may be possible to intentionally cultivate positive traits such as empathy & kindness and use it as an antidote to anxiety & depression. The Dalai Lama’s insight after 80 years of meditation is that altruism is the surest way to bring about genuine life satisfaction.

 

Since the late sixties, when I began taking ‘art’ seriously, my relationship with ‘the gallery’ has been anything but healthy. In fact it’s been heartily non-existent. It’s interesting too that this week I went to talk with an accountant cos HMRC in its wisdom (not) decided I need to do self-assessment returns on the basis that a gallery put me on its wages forms in order to gain some tax allowance on the £100 bursary they gave me. The accountant laughed at my finances which show my outgoings to make my art are easily a hundred times greater than my incomings. Which brings up the question of what a fool believes. I believed for the past 50 years that one day my art would pay back all the time and effort. It hasn’t, not financially anyway. It has in terms of my learning, my extended skill base, my fairly prodigious output (most of which I retain) and of course my job as a teacher of art which kept the wolf from the door.

I’m working on re-viewing my attitudes and expectations in order to move thru my next phase in life. Not expecting ever to sell my art, never being made welcome in the gallery nor being asked to lecture at any higher level institution must be taken as a definite, it’s not what might occur, it happened already. By doing that I am no longer chasing what I call ‘wil o’ the wisps. I can just continue to make what pleases me, which is what I mostly did all along. I intend to complete the masters of several books I am designing most of which I have written and made images for already but I won’t create editions. I am doing them to prove to myself I can. I don’t wish to create more than the master any more, there’s no need, there’s no market. The resounding silence I have received for the 3 articles I wrote for some journals and the quiet noise my books have generated in the past 40 years indicates to me that people are not gagging to see them even less own them or even write columns about them. To those of you (I can count you on my two hands) who have gently expressed your liking for some product I created, thank you, but the remainders of past books and paintings, prints, bronzes etc indicates to me it’s time to retract. I am not sad, but just being realistic. I am changing my focus, I am reading the signs more clearly. I ploughed on regardless for 50 years thinking people would eventually understand, ‘get’ what I am saying and all. Now I am going to clear the clutter in various aspects of my life, stop chasing my dreams and start taking notice of the need to weed my ground, paint my house, cook some of our food and all the things that ‘normal’ folk do which I have neglected whilst chasing the dream.

Performance Artist (PA) Alastair MacLennan once said that ‘a society gets the art it deserves’ and it seems the society I lived in didn’t deserve my work because it didn’t ‘get’ (or receive) it. Individuals, other artists, players, writers all have ‘got’ my work but society at large, especially represented by the gallery, the media and the critics, didn’t ‘get’ it. Ironically the absence of accolade & ‘success’ for my werk aided my own freedom to explore my very own path & produce outcomes untrammelled by the expectations of others.

‘In a debate concerning freedom Karel Teige discussed the relationship between society and the production of art which he saw as ironic in a society primarily concerned with profit making’. (Slavka Sverakova, p10 in Alastair MacLennan Is No 1975-1988, 1988.) In 1985 MacLennan had said, ‘Realising the bottom line is never ideological, but human; that art is not in, of, or onto itself. It’s for people.’ (ibid)

Here I want to quote some more from Slavka’s preface because it seems to me to be a perfect manifesto for my own future-work:

‘MacLennan…insists that periphery is the cutting edge of culture’ [My work has always been on the periphery, it’s even on the outside of Outsider Art! I have always stood at the side watching, trying to get in, crying cos am rejected and all those emotions which everyone who ever tried to make art feels in varying degrees. Escher^, seems not to have bothered with the circuit and his stuff has had lasting quality, I must say it’s influenced my work on occasion. One example is my etching below. (^I mention Escher cos his art was all to do with transformation from one state into another, very much like what my PA is about, creating magic moments from seemingly mundane things through interesting juxtapositions

– I PK (or DAN I OOPAPA) said that, sounds profound to me!),]

etched scheffler part

Part of my etching about knowledge

MacLennan…’the art centre is wherever you are’. [compare with Jurgen Fritz, ‘Performance Art is what the Performer declares it to be’]

Plato in Timaeus formulated the idea that ‘human dignity does not depend on a hierarchy of wealth and power. ‘Plato’s Demiurge is not an object of worship he is a builder and maker, he puts things together, joins them, blends them, splits them up, divides them’ (ibid). [Isn’t that what I always do, done, did?]

MacLennan talks of, ‘What we perceive is a certain combination of shifting qualities in a certain place at a certain time.’ [this makes the ‘event’ the art. So many Performance Artists don’t like their work to be recorded. It is what it was at the moment it happened, it cannot be replicated. Beuys said that the event not the notes left on the piano was the art]

MacLennan says he performs, ‘Installed, sited action/ritual, evolving  thru stages of transition for pre-determined durations with content engaging political, social & cultural issues…highly sensual & chaotic…as Heidegger said ’the matter-form-structure content tends to be submerged in the creator’s own participation as the source of the object’s presence’. [There, my permit to place ‘me’, costumed, masked, or in my birthday suit, in my art, my go-ahead to bring my (past*) art & artefacts into my PA! And so it shall Be.]

*’past’, it’s always ‘past’ if you make it, no matter when you make it.

So, the artist who is ‘creative’, one who creates new ideas/product/challenge, has few outlets (if any). In PA, as Jurgen Fritz (JF) and Vest & Page (V&P) said during a discussion at IPA, in order to get paid venue work you have to more or less guarantee your product is of appeal to a potential audience, in other words, reliable in a predictable form. However, one of the excitements of PA is that it seeks out & thrives upon the unexpected. As JF and V&P all indicated, when the going gets difficult/tough/surprising/unpredictable “It has begun”. The very nature of creative art is that it is challenging and it can be (delightfully/scarily) surprising. MacLennan said, “Realising the bottom line is never ideological, but human; that art is not in, of, or onto itself. It is for people.”(Performance Mag 1985 No 37 p11)

Now I understand that when I do more PA I’d need to be able to communicate with or ‘get’ to the public mind, without demeaning my ideas nor intelligence & sensibility of the watchers of course.

I shall develop some of this in ma next blog.

They say The Duke if 70’s Cool died just after his 69th birthday. Respect, The Man Who Fell To Earth has returned to the Ether from whence he came to gift us with his Ziggy songs.

a sunset fer Bowie sm

So, to my tribute to the great innovator David (Jones) Bowie. I went to see him in Boscombe in summer 1972 just as he was developing his Ziggy character on a wing and a prayer. He wore a denim jacket with some fur embellishment on the collar, which style I adopted on my return to college for the jackets worn by the male dancers in St Luke’s College Performance ‘Catulli Carmina’ in the late autumn of that year. I love his China Girl stuff best. He’ll be walking along the beach with his mam again now. Here’s Ashes to Ashes and an unusual instrumental, just watch him dance 2.30 mins in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7KSM5j4-Zg . 

longer deeper version ‘we all want a happy life’

There’s a short version of this at https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/we-all-want-a-happy-life/ but this one’s delving deeper into my passion, ‘What makes things tick and why are we here?’

We all want a happy life!

patti an hands sm

‘May I be Nothing but the peeling of a lotus papering the distance for you underfoot. Tiny yellow bundles bursting like stars Like smiles And the laughter of the bells’ Said Patti Smith on reading her pome to the Dalai Lama commemorating his 6th july 80th birthday forthcoming. Then surprise surprise out he came at Glastonbury! http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e84mxj/live/c9wrbp He cut a cake full of fresh fruit. Then walked out front and did a speech, “We all want a happy life Each new day Birthday In order to be more happy day Keep here (points his chest) More Compassion It creates Honest, Truthful Transference And Trust We are social animals Friendship does not come thru money” scarfin patti Then he let Patti kiss his forehead and he blessed the crowd and was led away. blessin crowd

Patti did a great set, especially her ‘Horses’ and Sir Van’s ‘Gloria’. Other highlights for me were Mike Scott & his new Waterboys. He sang a song about Kerouac & Cassady. He is on the track by Jackie Leven that inspired my Clay jug series. Seems we sing from the same songsheet only I don’t sing/can’t sing. I loved the masks they wore. yello mask best sm Also ‘Goat ‘ wore great masks too. I thought my masks were good, but now I must return to the mask-board. squidgerat kin smkbHere’s one I made earlier, The Squidgerat King.

In fact I ain’t got no time to mek masks right now am making books and stuff ready for BALTIC bookfair in a couple o weeks. http://balticmill.com/whats-on/artist-event/artists-book-market

Some Implications of seeing Gyatso at Glasto

I seem to have had ‘some deep realisation, some moment of realisation’ (Miller) but be wary too, cos the Dalai Lama warns that nothing is permanent nor as it seems. (And I must thank Auntis BeBe Cee for the use of images they projected to the world over iplayer. Mere fleeting moments of my joy not just watching Patti Smith and her white haired band perform so ‘strongly’ as the Lama put it but also the shock & glee at seeing the man known to his people as The Ocean of Wisdom appear in person at Glasto (something I have never done, altho I did go to its inspiration, The Bath Festival 1970).

Now let me delve deeper. Overnight I slept on what the implications are of seeing two folk I have much admiration for, Patti Smith & Tensin Gyatso, together on stage, two such apparently diverse lives and styles. Like Rabindranath Tagore reportedly said, ‘You and I are artists Dilip, not yogis by temperament.’ So Patti the artist and Gyatso the yogi meet! I had picked up a book I read (reed) but never finish, DALAI LAMA- THE CHANGE INITIATOR published in Bombay 1993 and written in almost pigeon-English by two (very) Indian men, Dr Bhaskar Vyas & Dr D V Nene. Their turn of phrase is of course from their cultural background, their use of English is not quite ‘correct’ but still better than my use of Indian, cos I don’t use it at all. Nevertheless they have written pretty profound stuff and my almost chance picking up this book to browse again has led me to a personal realisation which I shall inform you of. If you can come with me and ‘get’ what am about to try to reveal then you’ll maybe agree it is special. If you are too busy etc, then so be it. Patti’s first line was ‘May I be Nothing’, immediately I thought about Nothingness, termed in India as ‘Sunyatathe experience of peace, devoid of any content. Also Sunyata is defined as pratit-yasam-utpada dependant arising which the Dalai Lama says is the way everything depends on everything else, nothing is not interconnected. In fact EVERYTHING JUST IS. And in fact every no-thing ‘just is’ too. OK bear with me. Our Indian authors Vyas & Nene in a very short passage in the book mention several renowned spiritual leaders in quick succession, I shall quote directly as it is complex and you will need to read thru several times but for me it makes so much sense: ‘… is best explained in modern [the] modern astrophysical term of ‘Black Hole’. This is where the entire Universe is collapsing into; and all that goes into black hole is reduced into such a density that is hardly exists at all but then the black hole might also be the originator of “new universe” at the other end of it. Sunyata is like a black hole. All phenomena collapse into it and it becomes nothingness; yet, it gives rise to all the phenomena as we see them. Action within or action without ultimately may mean nothingness. But at the same time, it is action that characterises life. We may therefore choose as to what kind of action we may take recourse to, but act we shall have to, so long as we are alive.” Interestingly the Dalai Lama commented on Patti’s form of action whilst he also mentioned her age vis her and group players’ white haired bonnets. He seemed tickled pink by her powerful voice and the strength of her actions (at her age). Then Patti said his voice carries much further than hers. Such mutual respect from so diverse natures. Gyatso is so considerate of others’ feelings yet Patti seems to ride her rude horses slipshod over accepted norms as she swears cusses and spits her way thru her set both are masters of illusion. Neither are what you seem to see. He looks meek yet is strong like a mountain yak. She looks hard yet she’s such a soft internal spirit. I saw her at the Blake society give a speech-reading-recital-sing her own poemsongs and those of Blake. She was so intimate with the audience, so loving and gentle. You must watch it on iplayer.

ps I have decided to send this out to all of youse who are starring at the forthcoming Artists’ Book Market at BALTIC where I have a table under my title Apulhed Originals. I have done ‘Apulhed’ since I created him in 1971, he’s like a weird Rupert/Tin Tin/Snoopy character created to carry my ideas & explorations in graphic form altho nowadays he only makes cameo appearances like in the header above. Apulhed was my alter ego and companion thru the early days of my writing and art-making. I look forward to meeting some of yez at BALTIC.

I hope nobody gets upset at my ‘networking’ to my fellow table holders at BALTIC but I come from the same generation as Pattis Smith and we got the balls to get out there and tell it. But I do not condone spitting on stage, am not going to do that, there’s a limit!

We all want a happy life!

‘May I be Nothing but the peeling of a lotus papering the distance for you underfoot.

Tiny yellow bundles bursting like stars

Like smiles

And the laughter of the bells’

Said Patti Smith on reading her pome to the Dalai Lame commemorating his 6th july 80th birthday forthcoming.

Then surprise surprise out he came at Glastonbury!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e84mxj/live/c9wrbp

He cut a cake full of fresh fruit. Then walked out front and did a speech,

“We all want a happy life

Each new day

Birthday

In order to be more happy day

Keep here (points his chest)

More Compassion

It creates Honest,

Truthful

Transference

And Trust

We are social animals

Friendship does not come thru money”

scarfin patti

Then he let Patti kiss his forehead and he blessed the crowd and was led away.

The image of Apulhed in the top o ma blArt is drawn around a photo of the Dalai Lama taken during his flight from Mao’s Chinese invaders when he was very young.

blessin crowd

Patti did a great set, especially her ‘Horses’ and Sir Van’s ‘Gloria’.

yello mask best sm

Other highlights for me were Mike Scott & his new Waterboys. He sang a song about Kerouac & Cassady. He is on the track by Jackie Leven that inspired my Clay jug series. Seems we sing from the same songsheet only I don’t sing/can’t sing. I loved the masks they wore.

Also ‘Goat ‘ wore great masks too.

I thought my masks were good, but now I must return to the mask-board.

In fact I ain’t got no time to mek masks right now am making books and stuff ready for BALTIC bookfair in a couple o weeks.

The Dalai Lama walked passed by me several years ago

I am not a Buddhist per se Percy (if that is your name?). I am interested in the ideas of Buddhism but I am also interested in football and rock & roller which does not make me a footballer nor a Rolling Stone. The Dalai Lama is the living one amongst my ‘Six Mystics’, men of ideas who moved human cultures forward (to what I am unsure but to a better understanding of why we are here and to whence we are heading would help), which feature inside my Clay Jug Project. I say project, it’s fashionable to call a plan or a dream a ‘project’ because although it began as a topic in my MA studies it was in fact ongoing before that and it won’t leave me alone. Each of my six mystics has led me on in some way down the path of knowledge and each has signposted some area of ‘ideas’ which I have explored. So Joseph Beuys inspires my ‘performances’, not only because when I don a trilby there’s a slight resemblance but because he had so much gall and you gotta have loads of galls if you’re ‘performing’ art. Also he was a reject. His college did not like his ideas so he created his own college and basically had a ‘sit-in’ at the old Institution and his creation became more widely known than the Institution and maybe more influential on folk like Anselm Kiefer and others. Beuys may appear an odd one out in my 6 mystics but he was deeply into the spirit of ancient Celtic culture and each of the ‘mystics’ is into the spiritual in some way. I have always had this feeling that there is more to life than the everyday necessities. I looked up to the sky at 5am today and it was cloudless and thousands of stars were glittering in the darkness. There’s wonder out there and when you listen to Jung you see there’s wonder inside you too. Most of my mystics say that that wonder is divine. Or like Beuys they are driven by it. Hesse looked to the East for inspiration then he built the ideas from Eastern cultures into his books alongside his knowledge of western monasticism which itself was from the East- Egypt, India etc.

 

In a way I am talking about grace and empathy, skills I hope I am learning as I grow old-er. My one big example is the Dalai Lama who passed by me several years ago and O I was lucky to get a wonderful snap of him.

dalama hands

I intend to do some more artworks based around him in the not too distant. I did one awhile back and donated it to the Tibet Society and they were so unimpressed by it saying, ‘In Tibet we have a tradition of making images which goes back hundreds of years. We don’t do Impressionist works.’ So there. Get back in yer garret Peter. Here it is. I was quite proud of it.

 tibet lanscape

 

I copied a photo of some mountains in Tibet with fields running toward them. The stripes running vertically at the back of the mountains are…more higher mountains, and that for me is a portrait of life. I climbed to the top of my mountain, passed my B/Ed degree, and found there was more to do. Now I got an MA too, and a few other things and I have stopped looking for mountains to climb. Not that I am tired, cos I am, but I have decided to enjoy the view more. Am looking back on my life and seeing what I achieved, sharing it with youse, and of course I shall continue to output. But let me show you this da lama an mts smwhere I took one of the mountains and placed an image of the Dalai Lama back in his own country. With a Tibetan wheel of life too. He’s pointing out that behind that mountain is a bigger one and behind that, infinity.

I saw him on tv one night and I took out my paints and I created this

Da Lama in color sketch sm

Which am using in my new mask for BABE in April. Am creating a new book with six re-worked masks in and six re-worked poems from G Batch & Inside This Earthen Vessel. One of the most impressive performances I have seen in all my days was the Tashi Lunpo monks doing Tibetan dance and music with these astounding costumes on. I won’t be wearing any costumes like theirs. In fact the skills employed in making them go back hundreds of years.

a tashi dancers

I am reading a wonderful little book by the Dalai Lama called ‘The Way To Freedom’ in which he explains a lot of the Tibetan Buddhist idea rather well. And I love the image on the cover where he’s got his hands clasped.

I went there on the day he opened the Peace Garden in the Imperial War Museum and I did a drawing for the Tibetans of him and the circle in that garden but they turned it down when I offered it to them. Once again it didn’t fit their ideas. No offence taken.

dalama peace gdn small

He’s in his tall yellow hat holding a Tibetan book called a pothi and overlooking the Peace Garden. And I got a yellow hat like what he wears, but I just look stupid in it, innit? yello hat meOm Man

I have a BIG blart about a local much maligned gallery (of Colchester fame) forming in the pipeline but I need to wait for some replies to enquiries I am making so altho impulse wants me to do it this week the wise, calm strong steady side of me says WAIT. I come not to malign this gallery but to praise it. There’s been enough malignations hitting it already. It needs support and help to develop a better public profile and I’d like to help even more than my occasional blogs about it in the past may have done. Watch this blArt.

The letterpress version of Inside This Earthen Vessel.

A Collaboration between Pete Kennedy & David Jury.

This is a meeting of two minds. Between us we’ve been ‘doing’ art for 90 odd years. Well, odd in my case, meticulous in DJ’s. For David is an artist whirler when it comes to working a press with his tweezers teasing new meanings from my words.

So to begin, David loved the words in my Inside This Earthen Vessel which I brought to him after I had laid them out in the shape of typographic pots. Mine was a series of six concrete poems in which I had put the typo into the shape of a pot in an edition of 50. Some ‘important’ words I had enlarged. My version is basically ‘unaltered text’ typo speak, and can be read as a ‘book’. So, David thought the words were ‘spine-tingling’, the typo form was of interest to his present investigations into words typed/laid out in the shape of things and he obviously had a hunch that he could do something substantial with them in letterpress. It became his summer obsession.

David saw possible developments out of the idea and wanted to go much larger, with an edition of about 30. The collaboration is ‘altered text’ and with a sub-text in a smaller font can be read in at least two ways, and more. The ‘sub-text’ came about because I had left gaps between words in order to create the pot shape. DJ saw that as a waste of valuable space which letters could fill.

David also edited some of my original words out in order to fit the pot shape, he asked me to produce a second text of a totally different nature to the main text for the sub-text and we would arrange and agree which words to include or exclude.

 

Poem One, featuring Hermann Hesse.

The first poem is about Nobel Prize winning writer Hermann Hesse in a magical (impossible in real time) meeting with a monk named in early Buddhist scripts called Dhona who is reported to have lived during the time of Buddha and to have made his acquaintance. Why not add a ‘sub-text’, one that works as a foil or counterpoint for the main mostly ‘serious’ original text. Add mainly more mundane words maybe with some humour? I threw some of my ‘everyday’ poems at David and he would select words  which added to the other text in a smaller and differing font. They can be read separately but also alongside and within the main text thus giving a third series of potential readings. To gain a fourth series (like Gurdzhiev?) DJ began to use wood types he had collected long time but never been able to use, these BIG letters add more readings especially as he began to cut words in two and eventually even saw letters in half! But I move too fast. In poem one he was fairly close to my original, just using larger letters at the foot of the poem.

In writing Siddhartha HH brought the story of the young prince Shakyamuni to the West in a masterwork. Remember when he wrote it there was no internet, ideas were slow to travel. When I wrote the poem I enlarged the size of some ‘important’ words. DJ was to take this on and develop it. His first attempt took many ‘takes’ before he managed to set the type in the shape of the pot and work out the rhythm of the words. He stuck closely to my original. He liked the idea that the pot was not drawn, so it was only there in the shape of the words which seemed to set on the bottom as sediment. This settling was assisted by some words being bigger which not only added more weight to the page but also to the meaning. In doing the poem I had realised that Buddha, the first Buddhist, was saying to a monk from an earlier faith (Vedan?) which believed it impossible to leave the wheel of rebirth, that he had discovered how to get off the wheel (of ‘Samsara). This, in its day, was revolutionary! I assume that Dhona became a follower as he is quoted in early Buddhist texts as an advocate of Buddha’s ideas.

 

Poem Two, featuring The Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama fled his homeland when it seemed Maoist Chinese wanted to ‘disappear’ him, like they did over a million Tibetans since his departure. I know there are millions of good folk in China, it’s just that the ones who rose to the ‘top’ were not that benevolent towards others who did not agree to their hegemony. Reports of the way China has stripped Tibet of so many things are horrendous although I have no (dare not, I am natural born a chicken) like Lennon sang been there to ‘See for Myself’. Incredibly, the Chinese rebuilt many of the temples their predecessors destroyed in the 1950’s and use Tibet’s old religion as a tourist attraction now despite it being a crime to carry pictures of the Dalai Lama, it is said.

I was lucky to be able to attend, along with Sting, Richard Gere And Jimmy Nail, the grand opening by the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan Peace Garden in the Imperial War Museum (sic) grounds in London.

dalama peace gdn small

Sadly, when I re-visited it for the first time recently it was devoid of visitors. Does that show how much interest there is in peace in the world? I mean, the museum was so packed to the rafters with visitors to the new memory of the First World  War I couldn’t buy a ticket to get in that day, yet nobody was with me in the Peace Garden! No actually, I prefer to think it’s because everyone is too busy and has no time left in their day for contemplation, that includes me. I only touched base then scurried off after a few minutes scooting round the beautiful garden.

Poem Three featuring C G Jung (hey, A Jung in a jug!)

Jung was a Gnostic and he wore a ring with a G on to prove it. In my poem I have him ‘Dancing with Sophia’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye6JssTdnvw

Sophia the Gnostics believe is the partner of the entity that created ‘gods’ like the one in the Jewish testaments. That entity did not want a material world created, it was satisfied with the existence of non-being (spirit?) or Void. The Void being the ‘real’ world with ‘materiality’ (our form of existence), becoming a digression, an interruption, a problem. My analogy of Jung dancing with Sophia indicates his interest in Gnostic ideas which were around at the time of the Nicene Creed when the new canon of the Christian church was decided in the rule of Constantine the Roman Emperor. My reference to Pachomius is about a monk whose community had collected books from all of the known world, including India, and had to bury them to avoid the persecutions of one Athanasius who wanted to kill all heretics. Heretics had not been heretics until the Nicene Creed decided that their ideas were now outside the canon!

Metanoia and Nekzia are terms which Jung used to describe the dark part of the world where humans are sent to experience a rebirth of ideas. It is an old idea that the darkest hour comes before the dawning. Orpheus went into the underworld to find his love etc. before Enlightenment comes the dark abyss must be reconciled.

 

That is an insight into my thinking in the first three poems. Next blogart ting will be the poems 4-6, here is a taster of the new DJ poems:

a sunniside o jo bo 2 sm kb

words & image (c) pete kennedy 2014/print (c)David Jury 2014

See yez…on the Light side?

 

Meeting with David Jury, the secret work is out.

David Jury and me used to meet about once a month to chat over coffee. I showed him my new artist book preparation where I was putting my six ‘mystics poems’ onto the page each laid out in the shape of a pot. DJ was just completing an article about writers who did shaped typography and he was intrigued when he saw my new work. On reading them he liked the words and my form of presentation. Being a cheeky fella I asked him if he might write a small crit so that I could place it on the back of my book so that potential buyers may get a gist of what my words were about and he wrote:
“Pete Kennedy’s words are contained in six ‘Earthen Vessels’. But none of these vessels is whole, their bases, by varying degrees, are missing. In fact, it quickly becomes clear that all knowable laws are absent. So what is it that holds the words together?
The more you look the more you read, the more you read the more you look. Their occasional dramatic change of scale: ‘Namaste’ and ‘I Am a Buddha Now’ rightly dominate whilst their additional ‘weight’ causes them to slowly fall, like sediment, towards the bottom of the jar… that does not exist. These vessels are spine-tingling.” Follow that Pete I thought.
Shortly afterwards he suggested that maybe he could do a letterpress version of the poems as pots for his summer project, would I be interested?
Interested, I had been wondering how I could do a simple letterpress version myself to take to the Wayzegoose book fair in Oxford this October and I would be chomping at the bit to see the wayshegoes with DJ’s version and we immediately embarked. My offer to help with the mucky jobs was politely declined as DJ see the process as essentially a contemplative and private one. Miles Wigfield, chairman of the Oxford Guild of Printers, observes that this is not unusual amongst letterpress enthusiasts who like to work on their own. So he began.
The first print took several weeks to complete as DJ had to work out how to get the pot shape I had accomplished using Quark. He asked for one of my drawings of a nice shaped pot and said he’d use it as a kind of template to outline his layout. He was fascinated with the notion that the pot itself although hinted at didn’t ‘exist’. This was in keeping with his own readings of Buddhist books where everything is in fact an illusion. He liked the way the words seemed to accumulate like sediment in a vessel. Vessel is a word I had adopted partly because it denotes jug, jar, pot or any other container which the ancients may have used to protect their precious objects in. Going even further back earthen vessels would have been amongst humankind’s earliest ever artefacts. That age old play between what is attractive to the eye and useful as an object which peaked with the design of Concorde and began with the design of a bowl to drink or eat from, that mix of meeting the designer’s needs in terms of available or newly invented technologies and the users requirements was probably solved earlier in pots than in the drawings of woolly mammoths on cave walls. My interest in pots, triggered initially by my curiosty about the Dead Sea Scrolls opened out to discover that many communities from India to Afghanistan and later into China had incarcerated valuable objects and/or sacred documents in pots then either buried them or secreted them in caves. The first writings were cuneiform on clay too. This led to my desire to create words in the shape of pots because of its deep ancient resonance.
Take a look at a previous blArt I did for more info about my pots: https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/a-change-in-my-habits-i-am-giving-good-notice-of-an-event-for-your-diary/
DJ has a long time fascination with letterpress and has collected some old wood fonts which he had not previously been able to use. Now, with the change of fonts and their size in my work, he is able to blow the dust off and use them. This all benefits my writings for the pots which are always in flux anyway and now have been re-written, almost weekly, to fit the new needs of the collaboration. Working with DJ has been invigorating. Initially I had faced my own challenge to shape the words into pots now DJ took on the mantle for his versions and where I had merely increased the size of the Bodoni bold font to denote important words and phrases DJ began to use very differing fonts to his main Bodoni. I had used full stops repeated to make up some spaces in order that I did not have to re-write or add too much to my original ‘poems’. DJ pointed out that every space is potential for making a mark or statement, every space is valuable. He began to introduce strings of shapes to substitute my dots. He soon saw that the knots or strings were not adequate, didn’t look good. So, he said it’s a shame not to use letters in those spaces, maybe in a smaller font? To begin with he had tried using words like ah and om but that wasn’t enough. Maybe we can put in a ‘sub-text’, do you have any other poems we can use. Well yes, as it happened I was typing up and re-doing some other poems, poems I sometimes write about everyday things, thoughts and observations on the way my life is going or went or should have gone. Much simpler than the mystic poems which were the result of hundreds of hours of study and contemplation, writing and re-writing, reading to a ‘public’ re-appraising starting again and so on. Yes, that sounds great, send some to me and I shall see how they fit. And fit they did. So the first print now has a sub-text too which adds several layers of meaning which ever way you read them. The page as a whole now becomes a fascinating mix of visual and contextual meanings. You can read the poem in its original then the subtext or read the whole of it as one or don’t read it at all just enjoy the visual effect.
Soon enough DJ was wanting the words to break out of the sedimentary base of the pots which don’t exist. Another compositional device creating more interest, more possibilities to ‘play’ and arrive at more exciting results. By print 3 DJ started to turn some of the words upside down or reverse them, now they become multi-dimensional.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poem one is inspired by the writings of Herman Hesse. Poem 2 by the life of the present Dalai Lama. Poem 3 is about the deep mythological interests of C G Jung.
Although I was unsure when to reveal to the eagerly awaiting world or artist book and letterpress enthusiasts news of our collaboration David had no such qualms and on Wednesday 30.7.14 he gave a talk to a small gathering of letterpress enthusiasts at The Waiting Room in Colchester (which I could not attend cos of my weekly commitment to Ballroom Dancing. One day I am hoping to replace Lewis Smith at the top of the podium, although I am not as athletic, young nor handsome as he I am determined to topple him. You know me, I never let a small challenge overawe my dreams). The talk was well received and I thank Clare Marsh for sending me these two images, one of DJ flying and one of two of the prints we have made already.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I haven’t asked DJ what it’s like working with me but the smile on his face speaks volumes.

Now, on 25th Aug 2014 DJ is nearly finished with his letterpress edition of six of my poems. Each one has gotten more adventurous and it seems he has had a wonderful time pushing the boat out and using wood type he has bought but never used over a number of years. we should be ready to show the world the outcome in September sometime. Each print has it seems come up better than the one before so much so that it seems the first one is almost conservative, almost staid. but not quiet, i mean quiet not quite!

watch out book fairs here we come; whitechapel-DJ’s table 1st

Amalgamations and Collaborations

A week in the life of Blarty O’Dork

My Six Vessels Artists Book’s progress.
My new artist’s book, Inside This Earthen Vessel which is a re-write of the poem in my earlier book, G Batch about six men I call mystics, is nearly ready to go to press. I have set the ‘poems’ in Quark in the shape of pots or ‘vessels’ which makes them like concrete (or rather, ceramic) poems. I think I shall call them my ceramic poems. Concrete poems started by the likes of Apollinaire and Alfred Jarry are set on the page in various shapes rather than the traditional set in normal typographic layout. A friend of mine who has been big into typo for ages liked them so much that he suggested we do a collaborative publication in letterpress later on using the poems. I shall keep you posted on that progress. My version is all but completed ready for my printer to run off 50 copies, which is a mixed blessing cos I am going to be doing all the trimming and folding and that’s no easy task. Here is the first one.
INSIDE THIS EARTHEN VESSEL
Destination Dust
Dhona the Brahmin was a mendicant
monk….. Who asked Siddhartha (Gautama
Shakyamuni, Tathāgata) “Are you human, one
from Gandharva?……… Are you a god or maybe a
Yaksa?” “Brahmin everything that’s created passes.
Strive diligently into your transition, go peacefully to
ward your destination. Escape from the Spinning Wheel
of Samsara.” During dispute when Guatama passed away
Brahmin Dhona, intervening, did say….“The message of the
Blessed Buddha Is still peace & forbearance today.” Thereby
the Malla chieftans of Kusinara….. On whose soil Shakyamuni
had died. Reluctantly released the relics to be divided into eight
domains….. Thereby each claimant built a monument……Which
every time turned to rust Confirming Siddhartha’s message that
Every… thing… passes… to… ashes… and……………. dust
Up on the road near Montagnola… A Wandering Writer named
Hesse heard the tale from a Mendicant Monk…………….Then he
recounted the story to you and to me In a book which he called
‘Siddhartha.’
Tathāgata shewed how to escape the Swamps of Samsara and
Suffering. Tathāgata said “Namaste. The Light
in me Greets the Light in thee. I Am a Buddha Brahmin,
I Am a Buddha Now.”

The ‘a’s with the little ting on top just happened, so I have left them as I really like them.
Copies of the book should be available before the end of August. In time for the Oxford ‘Wayzegoose’ book fair where I have gotten a table near my birthday in October. “ Will you still need me. Will you still feed me. When I’m sixty four? Ba bum boom, les Beatells.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDt26gJYVB4
The new book has several mentions of key belief systems but it’s not any way a religious book. It’s about looking at the wonders of existence on this little globe using the insights of some men who spent their lives dedicated to trying to help human beings see more clearly, the six ‘thinkers’ (or maybe better called ‘tinkers’?) in it being:

G.iorgi Ivanovitch Gurdzhiev

B.euys Joseph
A.ngeli Silesii
T.enzin Gyatso
C.arl Gustav Jung
H.ermann Hesse

The first letters of each name give the title of my Introduction to the project in an earlier artist’s book, G Batch.I could have included others like William Blake, but my time was limited to one year to complete that project and I had to be selective. The nice ting is this new book and my collaboration both grew easily from all the work I did at the time. There is even a wider scope book in there but Thames & Hudson’s reader in ‘Spiritual’ etc books couldn’t imagine that anyone out there would buy it in big enough numbers. I believe they would, it’s just that the publishing world has little imagination, like the art world- galleries etc. I approached the Museum Of Modern Art NY with my image called variously Venus at the Stairs or Venus Stares because they own two of the images which inspired me to do that image, Schlemmer & Lichtensteins, but they send a rather rude and ignominious reply to anyone who has the temerity to approach them:
Sirs and mesdames,
at the end of April 2014 i send a package with my image of my picture to see if I could galvanise an interest on your part to buy one. I sent it by air mail to: The Museum of Modern Art
The Department of Painting and Sculpture
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
In the light of not having gotten a reply by today, 16July 2014 should i take it that your gallery has no interest?
Hello.
Thank you for contacting The Museum of Modern Art.
Please note that the Department of Painting and Sculpture’s acquisition and exhibition programs are developed from within the Museum. Due to the large number of unsolicited submissions we receive, we can only respond to those which the curators express an interesting in pursuing.
Sincerely,
The Museum of Modern Art

And from a gallery in Germany which happens to be having a Schlemmer show right now, a fact I was as usual blissfully unaware of when I suggested they buy my pic:
Dear Mr. Kennedy,
Thank you for this information on your work inspired by Schlemmer. However: as you may presume, our exhbition is already fully set and it is a retrospective on the artist Oskar Schlemmer only.
Sincerely,
I.Conzen Kuratorin für Klassische Moderne
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

I remember back in the early 80’s on their first(?) album Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits mentioned a friend who had made it, ‘In the Gallery’. At the time I was an ‘artist-bloke’ making and teaching art and related skills and I recall thinking well am not ‘In the Gallery’ yet, maybe one day? That never happened. I’m flagging up my chagrin cos it’s no good me saying in 20 yearns time ‘Why did you not let me in?’ and you telling me you didn’t know I wanted to be considered. In fact, my old mate IEPW has reminded me that ‘galleries’ are commercial enterprises, they are never going to let anyone in who isn’t ‘recognised’ and/or in one way or another, famed. So, I am barking up the wrong tree again. They are never going to let me in, in fact my biggest claim to fame is my ‘originality’ and that my friends is exactly what they do not want. They want the things which have been tried and tested, vetted and decided upon by key decision makers like Saatchi, the money, the last ting they want is someone who is always changing tack, always searching for the new.

There are those who tell me that being in the gallery is not all it’s cracked up to be (whatever that is; being ‘seen’, bought, considered, added to the list etc). Like Lucy Lippard who started, after gaining a degree in curating (?), at Momany and spent much of her life advocating being ‘outside the gallery’, I heard her say it in a talk a year or two ago, albeit from the stage in one of London’s ‘important’ galleries.

VIP I have to correct the mistake above. Lucy has gently informed me that she got ‘just an MA in art history’ rather than curating. I had carelessly assumed her degree to be in curating from her early role at MOMA. (As you will suspect I am trying to avoid digging a deeper hole here when I say) I have only respect for Lucy and her long standing relationship within and without the world of art. I first came across her writing in relation to Eva Hesse, an artist whose work I love and of whom Lucy was a friend and advocate, I think…be careful now…take nothing for granted Pete. Since then I have studied, slightly, her work in relation to the likes of Robert Smithson and her Numbers Shows. I was lucky to listen to and draw her at the Whitechapel gallery a couple of years ago. When I say I drew her it was without her knowledge or consent as I draw folk when the institution dis-allows photography so I have a visual record of a person at an event. As you may guess visual memory is important to me.

lucy for blog 29714 smkb

I’m a sad bastad me. Sad cos I tried so hard to break through into the world ofart, I mean you gotta be sad to even try, why not get a proper job?

What’s interesting is how tings move on. I never used to see my ‘writing’ as part of my ‘art’ but recently I have learned to understand they are one. In the same way, for many years I saw my ‘comic’ or graphic drawings (of Apulhed and Friends) as separate from my oil paintings and now I understand they are one. I used to wonder how I could amalgamate one skill or form in with another across a wide range, then I realised they are not separate, they are one. In my last blog I did a newstyle ‘comic’ in which I began to incorporate the photo-image with the drawn image. Expect to see more amalgamations, and collaborations, as the stopper is out of the champagne bottle.

A Blake workshop
On Saturday I went to a workshop by a Blake scholar whose prints from his own re-makes of Blake’s copper plates are in every important Blake collection all over the woild. The workshop ‘Printing in the Infernal Method’, led by Professor Michael Phillips, took place on Saturday 26 July 2014, at Morley College. Michael explained the mystery behind Blake’s method of creating the prints for his books. He dispelled myths about Blake’s techniques. Fundamentally Blake could mirror write on the tiny plates (c.70×112 mm) from his youth. Michael carries his own little bottles of pigment, limited to the exact colours Blake used, and linseed oil. He mixed the ink to its optimum mix. He then applied the ink to the small copper plates which he explained were created from a number of sources close to the original plates all of which are lost. He told us of a little boy who Blake taught how to make a plate.
http://williamblakeprints.co.uk/making_the_plates.html

michael phillips daubing

Michael the master Blake printer daubing delicately.

Luckily for posterity the boy had kept what was a postage stamp sized plate in his box and it passed to descendants. On the back of it was an old Blake image which has given Michael an exact measure of the depth of cut Blake used to incise the image then use two dips into sulphuric acid. 1.125 mm deep is all he did. Michael scotched the rumour that Blake had used rollers to ink up his plates, no because they were not invented whilst he was working. He used a leather dauber. We were allowed to have a go and man is it difficult. I used my most delicate touch and that was too much, I got well told. Then Michael did four prints from each of 5 plates each diminishing in tone until the final pull, which now had 3 mini-blankets on whereas the first pull had one, was almost inkless. I learned so much from Michael and have to thank him for his patience and knowledge.

blake chimney sweep print smkb

The Chimney Sweep.
You can see how kak-handed my daubing was where the grain shows in the ‘white’ areas.

Also
I love the work of Stephanie Wright http://www.sculptgallery.com/item/single/2282/stephanie_wright_compot which i saw in the new summer show at Sculpt gallery near Tiptree in Essex. Her pots cum found objets sculptures are refreshingly original and humour-filled. If you care to go to her website she does quite a range of ceramics but the ones in this gallery are my favourite.

The revolutin-airy will not be tooroor-eyesed! Nor bush-whacked by bandits.

Image

Five dames turned up for the second redlionbookshop talk. Louis Armstorng’s ‘What a wonderful world’ did not resound thru the rafters as I couldn’t bring my stereo set up. No music this time to soothe the atmospheres. But the poet in me turned up. my trouble is he won’t go away and even today ! (17th) I am/he is altering and adding to the poems about ‘Six Mystics’ which I read a rendition of last Saturday (15th). Interestingly, I do believe the poet is helping me. In the Gurdjeff poem he said I can fit in a thing about compassion which has arisen in my thinking. The idea that compassion is a flame which you cannot extinguish. I did have a line where G. went to Tibet , the fount of compassion, but now I have changed that to,

‘Climbing Tibetan mountains

Open range of the Snow Lion

To the flowering flame of Compassion’

I added to G’s last verse more of the senses, realising… realising I can do that why, because, I can!

‘Feel the everlasting flame of Zoroaster glows

Within each of us with eyes to see

And those of us with ears to hear the bee…s

Straighten up and smell the breeze’

I had also moved the lion of snow sentence from the Dalai Lama poem so I could add the idea of charity to his this morning when the poet told me to have Faith, Hope And Charity evident in the poems, which are as one, a group.

‘A refugee

Escaping into the charitable arms of his neighbouring India’

We rarely know what it is that drives us to create (our creativity) that may dawn on you as & if you develop. I didn’t know when I left school in 1969 that one day I would attempt writing poetry. Also that some of my writing would be about the meaning of (our) reality. I am neither preaching nor proselytising I’m just attempting to ‘think’ as lucidly as I am able.

These days I have, at last, found time to go back thru some of the writings I did (in my journals) back in 1979-80. Around that time I was a self-employed artist-writer working on The Shrewd Idiot and feeling the birth pangs of my First Squidgerat project. In order to try make some money, knowing it would take a long time for any funds from a book to kick in and that my own vision of ‘art’ and its products did not appeal to a mass audience, I was printing sweatshirts for schools and producing the first (Maldon) Barge Calendar. It is interesting to read the same complaint I wrote about the costs of putting on an exhibition, never mind its relative ‘success’ in the eyes of visitors and media, were then as now above the monies that it generated into my bank account. To all extent and purposes, if I were a wise man, I should have given up/in. And I am in an identical position today. To put it in a nutshell, my work doesn’t sell. So the sensible ting to do? Give up. Full Stop. But I fail to put my brakes on and I refuse to pack it in. vaingloriously I continue writing and making ‘art’. Like Olympic skater Robin Cousins said ( I think it wer im wat seddit), ‘If I don’t win anything people will see me as a madman’ then he won gold. Well I may not win any golds, they are like hen’s teeth anyway in the arts and it seems are reserved for the already famous, those already well catered for financially. There is a wonderful comparison between the late Tom Finney’s record and that of the present day footballer wayne rooney who has just signed a contract for £300 grand a week when Tom an infinitely better player got £20. Also Finney was never booked nor sent off, (he never tupped no-one but he would have nutmegged em! auteur’s note, nutmeggin is a nicer legal form of tuppin), rooney has had both, several times. Age wise I am a lot closer to Finney and I think I retain some of his dedication to the cause. I do it cos I love doing it.

I am 63 now and won’t have much time to break thru with any aspect of my work before I follow Tom and lots more of my heroes but I am not crying nor asking sympathy. I have given it a good go and shall continue so to do. I have some ideas on how to bring works, which have been in the pipeline for up to 35 yearns, through into a form which I would be satisfied represents my abilities, ideas, originality etc.two tings I must point out.

1. the zen master Ikkyū (1394-1481)wrote

Writing something

To leave behind

Is yet another kind of dream.

When I awake I know that

There will be no one to read it.

And

“fucking flattery, success, money.

I just sit back and suck my thumb.”

― Ikkyu, Crow With No Mouth

Then

2. ‘Being Flynn’ a film with Robert de Niro in, there is an incredible film! And its arrival in my life was coincidental with my final prep night before I did my second reading at Red Lion bookshop Colchester last Saturday.

Image

photoshop of the poet created by C C (thanks CC for revealing the real me to me!)

The film is about a relationship triangle between a young man and his present mother and absent father who is off chasing his dream to be another American genius writer. (I’m not American so don’t worry about me!) It is hard hitting and was the worst prep I needed when preparing to (pretend to be) a poet the next day. It helped me realise the stupidity of believing I can be a player. I mean, look at that idiot above, would you buy an etching from him, or a car for that matter?

So. I been round the houses, the trees, fields etc several times now. I started in 1967 with a Henry Moore exhibition at Tate, just Tate, there wer no Tate Mod then just ‘Tate’.That made me decide to be an artis chap. My art, that I have done since then, speaks for itself. I am getting tired of talkin. From now on I talk about other tings. Am no longer flogging a dead horse. The donkey’s given up farting now. And another reason nobody came to my readings. I am so goddamned ugly (but not so ugly as Jagga), no really. My Celtic name means Ugly Head (creator of Apulhed).

Image

a recent photo of the auteur

Remember ugly by name ugly by nature. I’m the one what used to tup the captain. I should have bin the captain! I was captain of Brun house team and the Wednesday league team Scrubbers what won the cup that season. That’s as high as the establishermont would allow me to go. And my lack of financial and critical and academic success, I have to admit, is my own fault, it’s my karma, I shouldn’t have tupped the captn. (For my Buddhist friends, please don’t get me wrong, it wer only a gentle tup. Not like one o me shin shatterin tackles. But no, I won’t go in to them.

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Alf Tupper (my alter ego) in 1969

My New Concept: A Piece of Peace For Tibet.

Minimalism was merely a moment.

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Lucy Lippard drawn during her talk at Whitechapel Gallery London

There once was a movement in art named by some as ‘Minimalism’. Lucy Lippard says, “My 1966 exhibition ‘Eccentric Abstractions’ was an attempt to blur boundaries…between minimalism and something more sensuous” (Tate Papers 12 2009). Learning about Lucy confirmed my suspicion that the Minimalists moved onto better things, usually, (although I am not sure about Carl Andre, I feel he got stuck). Others like Eva Hesse, Robert Smithson and Lawrence Weiner went on to develop their own takes on ‘art’, mostly moving on to ‘Conceptual’ art. It is my belief that in the wider sense all art is conceptual, but there was a ‘movement’ which moved towards the concept, maybe even just a piece of writing outlining/proposing a work, became the work of art. Lucy’s words confirmed for me that my own writings/journals from 1969 to date were (as I always knew), ‘art’. Lucy told us, “Conceptual  art opened up new ways for artists to identify actively with what he/she was making, including performances, street works, video and other ephemeral rebellions against …the ‘precious object syndrome’” (ibid) “Preparation of natural phenomena; reframing of factual material in personal patterns; biography and transformation, primarily of self… are core delineators of Conceptual work…” (see p68 Lucy Lippard’s Numbers Shows, ed Cornelia Butler). My work in the past 40 years falls very much into the above quotes and I Love Lucy for helping me find the contextual phraseology with which I can now see myself, after 44 years of being ignored by the art establishment. Despite repeated requests (in my early days, maybe the first 10 years) for consideration in the form of grants and exhibitions I never received any support (tho’ I did weaken recently and applied for a grant from a local landmark gallery with the same result as of old, no thanks). Thankfully I, like Lucy did, gave up applying for ‘help’ and worked first as a postman, with similar results to Bukowski then as a teacher, to gain money to survive and create my contributions. I was always ‘driven’ to make ‘art’, it was my disease, my madness, I never gave up because I always believed I had something to bring to the party even though I was so often seen as only a barred gate-crasher whilst the likes of Ermin made their ‘copy-of-Louise-Bourgeoise-beds’. Now, she is welcome to lie in it because you make your bed and …I hear there is an art magnate looking for a new bed. I can’t believe I said that.

Lucy also re-awakened my interest in the sorry state of world affairs and prompted me to get up off my backside and be involved, again. So when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela died last week it got me thinking.

I sent an email to the Breakfast Show because I felt quite strongly about the work of an artist called Harold Riley who they had on whilst considering the death of that great peace-full negotiator and emblem Nelson Mandela who was instrumental in dismantling Apartheid and transforming South Africa into a multi-racial democracy:

Dear Charlie and Louise,

Just a little note about the work of artist, Harold Riley, who told such a lovely tale of Mandela. His two paintings were lovely too BUT as an artist I would like him to know my feeling that his, what he called, ‘earlier’ one was infinitely better than his so called final piece. The earlier one was stunning!

Being an artist I am aware that sometimes we try too hard. Even the great Constable did that, you will notice his pencil sketches, sometimes as big as his final paintings were often much better.

As a boy of about 13 in 1963 I used to get up in my home town, Burnley, to go do my paper round about 6am. I actually saw a Knocker-Upper man doing his rounds at c.5-30 am, it would have been a vital service in days of old and it did last into the early 1960’s.Best, Pete Kennedy.

This elicited the following polite reply.

‘Thank you for contacting BBC Breakfast. We try to read as many emails as we can. We get a huge number of them and can’t guarantee that we’ll feature your email on the programme.’

I thought maybe he’ll not see my comment so I then sent it to the Salford Gallery which has a show of his work on. I await their reply.

Interestingly, whilst listening to Riley I mis-heard something he said which is an interesting take on the way we (only) hear what we want to hear. I thought Riley said that Mandela asked him if it was true that folk really went round knocking people up (they actually used a long pole with a bit of ‘wire’ shaped like a snake tongue which they would use to tap carefully on the upstairs window of shift workers in the local cotton mills and coal mines) on Riley’s affirmative reply he said, I thought, “I think I do that kind of thing”, which meant to me that he was waking mankind up to certain things, which indeed he did. However on listening to the interview again I now think Riley said that Mandela said, “I think you can’t do that kind of thing”.  Interestingly, a man who had spent time in Robben jail should believe that knocking men (and women!) out  of bed was not acceptable when in Lancashire they would have known that there would be penalties if they did not turn up to work their shift on time.

Peace For Tibet?

Every large land mass has a man who can help it move from one era to another moving from a primitive combative psychological state to advanced harmonious thinking with stately actions replacing belligerence.  It can be compared with each of us growing up, we had to learn to ‘stick up for ourselves’ and ‘fight our own corner’.  (When I look back on my life it’s my evasion of conflict and my more benevolent actions I am proud of although sometimes like Mandela I had to be ready to fight fire with fire. However usually everybody suffers then.)

India had Ghandi who spent time in South African jails. “On 10 January 1908 Mahatma Gandhi was arrested for the first time in South Africa for refusing to carry an obligatory identity document card commonly known as the ‘pass’. In 1906, the Transvaal government promulgated a new Act forcing registration of the colony’s Indian population. At a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg on 11 September 1906, Gandhi adopted his approach to non-violent protest commonly known as satyagraha (loyalty to the truth) for the first time. thousands of Indians were jailed including Gandhi; some were even shot for striking.”(SAHO)

South Africa had Mandela who spent time in Robben Island.

China had the Dalai Lama who spends time in India, exiled from his homeland.

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Dalai Lama during a TV interview what I drawn him from.

They said on TV last week that few men have endured oppression with such little rancour as Mandela, apart from maybe Ghandi and Tenzin Gyatso, the present Dalai Lama. Whilst the two former are dead the latter is very much alive.  Similar to Mandela it is banned to have images of Gyatso and to quote him is an offence in Tibet. I believe that China needs a courageous leader like F.W. De Clerk, someone who will take up Gyatso’s suggestion that China embraces Tibet’s people not as a subjugated minority but as equal partners in a China which has a multi-racial democracy too. China needs to adopt Mandela’s words, “Never again will this beautiful land (Tibet, China, Africa) experience the oppression of one people by another. Let bygones be bygones.”

The Chinese will of course point to Britain’s legacy all over the world of vandalism, robbery, subversion, theft and all, but, let’s let bygones be bygones. The English have heinous crimes in their past; Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Africa, India, China, Tibet, Afghanistan, the list goes on but on behalf of the English Aristocracy, for it was they who enslaved the populace in the beginning and forced the peoples of its subjugated parts to fight in creating its ‘empire’, I beg the countries of the world to forgive (not so) Great Britain and move towards peace in our time, all over.

Some other countries too have been closed and held back by dictatorships; Chile, Argentina, Greece, China, Syria, Iraq, Sri Lanka to name a few. There is a need to open up and allow negotiations. After all wars there has to be negotiation and reconciliation. Why not forget the in between stage of having a war and just negotiate and reconcile first. Of course humankind has this penchant for fighting, wherever two people are together there is the possibility for argument and conflict but remember what some great spiritual leaders in the past have said too, that wherever people gather together there is the potential for peace and harmony and connection with the greater spirit of the universe. Whether we call these people inspired, blessed, bodhisattva, chosen, no matter what they are called they are special and they point their fingers toward harmony between all peoples. Peace Be With Us. And all that jazz.

Hey. I nearly forgot! I want you to check out this most beautiful link to a Tibetan blog drugmo.wordpress.com Just go down thru it til you find the poem she translated to English about Tibet by  Tsering D. Gonkatsang. You could read it as you watch the video, preferably the one with beautiful Tibetan words. OR just listen to the Tibetan voice and watch the INCREDIBLY beautiful land which is Tibet unfold before your eyes. Then read the poem.

Image

Dalai Lama opening the Peace Garden, London, Imperial War Museum grounds.

All of the above images are of course my own drawings and remain (c) pete kennedy 2013.