Tag Archives: Dave McKean

D. McKean is D. Best!

In the past two weeks I have been to the Imperial War Museum and the House of Illustration in London to watch Simon Armitage then David McKean talk about and show their respective works on WW1 respectively. Armitage in his poem referenced Virgil’s use of the bees and it made me think, ‘Yes, tings like bees would continue to try to survive despite human folly’.

McKean was altogether more comprehensive in his use of insects and birds in his INCREDIBLE graphic-novel-BOOK called Black Dog inspired by the First ‘World’ War and work of Paul Nash. I shall dedicate a full blArt on DMcK later when I have had time to digest all he said and created in the book alongside some great photos of his face and limbs moving thru the discussion of his work.

I must offer that Black Dog by Dave McKean is, for me, the best! It’s such a powerful piece, incorporating such hugh delicacy, that I feel as if I am in the company of a giant in his field who makes the BFG seem tiny. I have had long-standing admiration for the Underground comic art of Rick Griffin since the 1970s but this Black Dog has stolen his place at the top of my thinking. Here’s my rendition of D Mc in a drawing I did of him then played with in PShop.

DMc is D Best image-man
So, here’s me playing with a drawing I done of DMcK at the House of Illustriousness

I am busy working the photos I took into a series of ‘portraits’ which I shall add words I wrote taken from what ‘Dave’ was saying and hope it gives a graphic story of the evening worth looking at. Here’s another image I have worked up. At some time I shall print them off and work into them with other media like pen and paint, but meanwhile this is done in photoshop where I still haven’t worked out how to draw with the natural flair which comes with my years of crafting my turn of hand.

I must tank DMcK fer allowin me to tek snaps and do ma skitches too whilst he tried to consecrate on his words & tings. Here he is troyin to concentrated milk:

d mac + mi werdz
The chance to carve imagery out of the great image carver was amazing for me

Now for someting com-peterly diffrunt:

Latest update on my Shrewd Idiot book:

I have now completed the layouts of my Shrewd Idiot book and in the good feeling that has dawned as a result of the culmination of what amounts to 40 years work I have been self-reflecting. My printman says he can give it his attention come august 22nd which gives me a bit of time to dig out about 40-50 images I am going to add to it in colour, the bulk of it is B&W wid justa modicum of red, on drafting film which wiil add both the images and a palimpsest [The noun palimpsest originally described a document, such as a page from a manuscript written on parchment, that had been rubbed smooth so it could be used again, with traces of the original writing showing through. The word still carries that meaning, but ancient manuscripts are rare these days, so you’re more likely to hear palimpsest used to describe something that has traces of early stages showing through…Vocabulary.com, which seems appropriate for my SI pages in which I am re-using (scans of) typed pages from my 1978 manuscript along with handwritten additions and alterations and a few comments from the older me what is now. In fact only a Stupid Idiot like what I am would bother to ‘publish’ the work in the way I have laid it out. It has indeed been a very arduous process in which I scanned the typing, then cleaned up every page so the cut & paste line didn’t show and dropped in copies of the drawings I used to do in my ‘notes’. It would have been infinitely easier to have had the whole of the words re-typed digitally and then worked into a new layout but I had to suffer for my art! Trouble is it’ll also make the potential reader/buyer suffer too and many will be put off by its form. I have chosen to ignore all those considerations, I’ve always been stubborn with an inbuilt determination to make things hard for myself, in the name of ‘authenticity’. I should really heed the words of Walter Matthieu (born Matuchanskayasky on October 1, 1920, in New York City to impoverished Russian-Jewish immigrants) in one of his final films, Kotch(er) 1971, where he says that sometimes it’s best not to be so honest and that honesty can be and is sometimes too brutal, but, I never learn do I?….Do I ? On the contrary, I am learning all the time; I take things into consideration then eject them for my better plan, which more often than not seems foolhardy, hence the Shrewd Idiot! I am hoping that the beautiful presentation of the book will invite scores of punters to pirchase it, yes that’s pirchase as in pirspire (try doing that without wordcheck killing it!). One of my heroes, Brian Clough, before the demon drink took his judgement, used the same strategy as me when he said he would

  1. listen to his player(s)’ points of view, then
  2. carry on and do what he intended to do before they expressed their differences of opinion.

Hero! He won the Euro-Cup twice with a load of  players most of whom had passed their sell by dates and a few greenhorns at Notts Forest. That was no fluke, Forest never did anything worthwhile after his demise.

So buy my buk you pirfec puntas cos I knows warramonabArt!

Postscript:

Choreographer Rosemary Butcher, who has died recently aged 69, once commented: “I’m not particularly interested in accessibility. Staying easy isn’t going to move anything.”

In 1965 the liberal arts college at Dartington, in Devon, launched a new theatre and dance studies course and she enrolled as its first dance student.

In 1968 she travelled to the US on a two-year scholarship and, studying at the schools of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, received a thorough immersion in the mainstream of American modern dance. But it was when she returned to New York and began working with members of the radical dance collective Judson Church that she found the aesthetic that inspired her own dance-making.

The Judson philosophy was encapsulated in the opening line of its manifesto “NO to spectacle, no to virtuosity … magic and make believe”. But, just as important to Butcher, the Judson choreographers were closely involved in the experimental strategies of new music, film and visual art, and it was within this crossover culture that she saw her own career taking shape, rather than in the world of pure dance. (Guardian 20 July 2016).

I was fortunate enough to attend a number of classes in the Martha Graham technique run by Molly Penn when I was looking for something to substitute for football at St Luke’s college in Exeter in the summer months of 1972. Molly accepted me in altho I was pretty damned useless. It did lead to her asking me to design the dance production of her take on Catulli Carmina wherein she used the same structure as the Black Mountain college had with 3 people doing the production; a artisbloke (me) a dance person Molly, and a music person whose name I forgits nah (Peter O’Brien you goofball). cf Rauschenburg/Merce Cunningham/John Cage. This event is chronicled in ma Shrewd Idiot buk and this will be one of the big images in it, innit!

cat car poster
my design for the poster created and screen-printed par moi in 1972

London Calling

 

I spent all me life avoiding London but London’s Calling me nowadays.

I find I like wandering wondering about the streets attractive in me old age. Last time I found it like that wer when I were about 20 year old but then I used to wonder what I’d do with me life. Now I wonder what I did with it! But once again London seems to beckon with opportunity. I know from experience that she beckons falsely. Or rather she appears to offer stuff and rarely delivers the goods.  Or maybe it’s me? Maybe with my vivid imagination I get all excited and imagine maybe I’ll get that long yearned ‘big’ break’? But almost 50 years of experience has proved the break never comes. Only small, gradual, arduous, hard-earned breaks come, which often made me look like an overnight success. And often that’s how long the opportunities lasted, overnight. Break of day and they’re gone, and I missed ‘em.

bryan and mary
Bryan & Mary + old friends “Chester” West, Glynis West.

Recently I had the privilege to be invited to Bryan & Mary Talbot’s book launch at the Cartoon Museum. On my way there I donated four photos from my 70’s & 80’s photos of ‘rock stars’ to that lovely camera museum/café called The Camera Museum at 44 Museum which they have been kind enough to exhibit downstairs. My first London photo exhibition, London beckons!

So, Bryan & Mary’s book launch at the Cartoon museum proved to be a regeneration of old acquaintance and a finding new folks to share time with. It is great to see how successful they have become and it was lovely to see London mayoral candidate Lee Harris talk about the good old days when he published Bryan’s work (and mine, in BStorm 2) in the seminal graphic novel on Chester P Hackenbush in Brainstorm Comics, mid 1970’s.

Bryan, Mary, Richard “Chester” West, Glynis West, Lee Harris.Lee reminiscing

I only had ma little mobile phone ‘camera’ with me so these images are tiny and poor but I reckon I might do a page of ‘comic’ with them sometime? That’d be nice but right now I ain’t got much time as am working on 3 different books simultaneously (there’s reasons for that I cannot go into here), stupid I know but someone’s got to prepare my books and that pleasure befalls to me.

Here’s some low res snaps:

bryan aloneBryan stands alone

mi beachy belleComic book heroes never grow old

Sweet tattooed lady looking like Minnie the Minx.

Not only the best tattoo but also a PhD in Maths she had.

david mckean + munch

A wonderful work by Dave McKean.

It was nice to speak with James Bacon who came from Forbidden Planet to write about Bryan & Mary’s book launch (and his companion, the tattooed lady). You can see his report here:

http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/comics-mary-bryan-talbot-launch-
red-virgin

People came from afar to this event and I was lucky to meet, momentarily, another of Bryan & Mary’s accomplices in the world of graphic novels, Kate Charlesworth who had come by train from Edinburgh. Kate collaborated with B & M on Sally Heathcote. http://www.katecharlesworth.com/

A week later I turned up at Colchester Arts Centre for one of the Wednesday gigs and boy was it ‘special’, thanks again Ant. Liz Aggiss presented her ‘Slap & Tickle’ show. Liz, an old friend of Ken Campbell’s, who seemed to me to be the female Ken Campbell (she took that as the compliment it was intended), was scarily AAAA-Mazing!

I loved her show in which she literally had (juggling & pingpong) balls in her bloomers. I won’t try to explain, just look at this: https://vimeo.com/151371749

Now back to ma tree boks.

It’s Not All About The Money

My Future Works

venus great rainbo comestMy new book called Venus Stairs with a rainbow comet  or two on it. I made 10 for BALTIC book market and sold NONE! Good job really as there was a design fault which I spent last week rectifying. Now it’s good and it’s got a tiny diamonte diamond hidden in it too. It’s all about my big picture, Venus at the Stairs (below is a future variation on it)venustares + multi color  back smwhich my ‘performance’ at BALTIC was all about.

 If you’d like to see the performance from the weekend at BALTIC book market  Gateshead Scroll down by hitting the ‘down’ arrow, that gets the films on screen. Arrows on top left near the left lady’s bonnet will take you along to 3rd film in, the Dancing Cowboy! 45 minutes with some idiocy & dance added to serious talking about art.

  http://balticplus.uk/?tagId=38568

cowboy pete fingers gunsCowboy Pete
More on the Cowboy Pete show in my blArt next week.

Some folk make fortunes from their outputs like the old curmudgeon Cirvan de Man. Some spend lifetimes putting stuff out and still make no return. But It’s Not All About The Money, (Jesse J. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GReIQJc_1xw ). It really doesn’t matter what you do cos if it don’t catch (on to ‘public’) attention you can out-put until you are blue in the face and spend all your own time and money making your products and contribution but remain ‘in the red’. It’s about the feeling, Really. The feeling that you bring with you to; the work, the event, your life and the life of others & what you leave behind in those things- your legacy.

So, like, have you heard about Flann O’Brien? No? He was a wordsmith and a funny man & a good writer who never got ‘known’ about like his fellow Irishmen; Beckett, Joyce and or Cirvan de Man that new knight of the Realm and multi-millionaire bloke. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/vanmorrison/summertimeinengland.html

Have you ever heard about…Lisa Fischer? She’s a wonder-full singer who accompanies the Rolling Stones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4ueTukzqHY WOW, listen to her high note on the first song.

I am 100 days short of being 65 years young, in old currency that was an Old Aged Pensioner but nowadays 60 is the new 40 so where does that leave me, Forever Young? Here’s Beyonce with JayZ doing their version- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT3nAT3G1ak  That’s very different from the original Bob Dylan rendition!

So, I am a mere 100 days short of being 65! I am a fully made up man. I realised, when I opened a book on Georges Roualt in all its perfection altho written in Japanese & French from Tokyo Art Museum that my life is in perfect pitch. I need nothing more. I am happy in my 64 years and 260-odd days worn skin. Last Saturday I did my best ‘performance’ so far at BALTIC. I can see now that all my future work needs only to be my own efforts using ANYTHING I see fits, creating reflections in word, image & artefact utilising my experience, abilities, skill and all.

A friend said, “You are certainly getting noticed. I like the comment about it probably take all the two days to understand your work!” Which raises the issue of ‘understanding’ or ‘comprehending’. You don’t hear anyone say they don’t ‘understand’ Beyonce or Bob Dylan, we just enjoy. Understanding? No it’s not to do with understanding as such. It’s to do with interest. I am interested in the thing so much I wish to understand it more, then, back to the start of this piece- It’s about the feeling. The feeling that you bring with you to; the work, the event, your life and the life of others & what you leave behind in those things- your legacy.

In conclusion- Pete (c’est moi) has found a new man in himself

‘I QUIT

Barking up wrong trees

And

Chasing wil o’th’wisps

Let ‘them’ come invite me

Let them open their doors

I stop pushing

No longer

Waiting at the threshold

I AM HERE

And Now

I perform my work

In all ways

I USE any thing

I create Images & Artefacts

From all I see and find

I am not after convincing

I am not after converting

JUST BEING

I feel replete

I feel complete

I KNOW what I shall do with

The rest of my life

& Work

I got a perfec book

Georges Roualt

I know where am (Apul)headed

I no longer have compunction

Only Compassion

For my Self & Others

I Am Alive

& Well.

In 1973 my old philosophy tutor Bill Josebury and his friend Prof Daveney the Head of Philosophy at Exeter University both told me that I’d never make a fortune, not a penny, centime, dime nor yen. But I did get into zen.

NOW & ZEN

Am also looking back, way back to when I began ‘writing’ in 1969 thru the early 1970’s, in my ‘notes’ from way back zen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AACGQ0a7J0w  I am re-working my writings into The New Shrewd Idiot (same as the old one?). BUT I am going to add many images from the media of the early 70’s as accompaniment and background. Am looking to the great work of Dave McKean* as inspiration and example of ways to do ‘layouts’. I’m excited with the possibilities. I been waiting long time, now am embarking and it’s too late to stop…me NOW.

And I shall be starting to do my sculptbuks wherein am going to use all my collected detritus ‘Creetoors’ (that’s a play on the word creatures) and maybe typewriter write the werds (that’s a play on the word ‘word’)?

Now there’s a new ‘tingalingi’ thing, I think.

a postoffice full sm

Creetoors from an assemblage I did in the 1980s.

Don’t tell me you don’t understand it. We don’t really understand anything at all, only small parts of the whole of creation, our little place in the universe and even there we take years to ‘get’ what is going on, then the ground shifts or someone moves the goalposts. So looking at the above image where I used lots of materials; linen, feather, cockroach, beetle, bone, stone, pot and wood to make an assemblage of relationships between the objects. It’s not for ‘understanding it just is.

* Dave McKean shifts my ground & moves my goalposts! WOW, that man is good. His art is so good it almost kicks me into oblivion, sends me reeling. Once upon a day I gave up trying because I thought it had all been done previously and it couldn’t be improved but I learned my lesson then, DON’T GIVE UP, Keep on Keeping On, there’s a place for you, somewhere a place for you, peace and quiet and I’ll take you there… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x899P8en-qs