Tag Archives: gnostics

David Jury has completed the letterpress version of ‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’

They tell me that ‘social media is most popular tween Mon-Wednesday? That’s not what hits on my blog tell me, Saturn & Sunday were by far the best shots this past week. And anyway, am on a mission. Am preparing folk to see the books at the London bookfair. Now Last time I covered the first 3 poems in letterpress versions by David Jury. I have now written on the next three, but I got busy and there’s a lot o stuff so am gonna spread it over tree blogs. That’s anutha ting they say, folk don’t want/go to blogs etc what have loads o stuff on em. And I am not finding that true. Folk seem to like the stuff watti rite.

OK sunday 14th, BANG GOES the idea that social media is most visited Mon thru Thors-Day!! This post which was put up yesterday, note a Saturn-day notta M-Thday,was ‘visited’ 44 times before sunadae began, with hits about even frae the USA and Britland. plus one or twa frum India and Aussidownthur. In my stats, it’s sat thru Tuesday what gets most visits. wed an thurs were lowest with 1 and 6 respectively. (Used to buy 10 woodbine with one and six (pence) forgive me young folk you don’t remember the old coinage, forgive me god fer smoking, luckily I givved it up when i wer 18, it slowed me doon on th’pitch!

One lady walked past me yesterday and she said, ‘I really enjoyed your blog this week.’ Somewhat taken aback, I didn’t realise she read it, I was able to show her DJ’s wonderful work, and she loved that too. Sorry I cannot shew it to you in the real form, only digital, but then you don’t feel the feel which is so vital. How can a digipic give the feel, the scent, the breeze of satisfaction as you look at something so tactile? Difficult one that. And tactility is a big part of an artist’s book book, innit? It’s a big part of what makes an artisbuk DIFFERENT from an normal book, even a normal book on a artis. I mean, some normal books are lovely. I am a book addict, book is my ‘habit’, I buy book everyday, mostly from charity shops as I cannot afford to pay shopnew prices. I have hundreds nay thoosands of books. Somebody suggested this week I should even be a ‘social media slut’ (slut, an interesting word) but am already a bookslut, I have a glut o buks. Many of them my own what avent sold (yet). I done this drawing a while back of an artisbloke wat looked like me pushing a barrow of remaindered books. Wonder if I can find that to show yez?

a idjet pushin books smkban idjet at large

Soon after i posted this blArty bit an ole fren sent me a little poem, notice how it takes the shape of a pot. Is everyting gon potty? :

Wheeliebarroh Man
D Walker

Wheeling and whirling

round an around,
the wheelie boy
with house on his hed
moves slowly and serenely
across our mind,
so smooth and silent
that we wonder if
he was ever there.

Anyway, different or not you still need to sell/promote yer output, no matter how good it is cos it won’t shift from yer shelves iffen yez don’t. So bear with me on this prolonged sales pitch.

DJ has now completed his letterpress version of my book Inside This Earthen Vessel which shows his exquisite use of what he calls in his most recent commercial book ‘the visual language of graphic design’. http://www.davidjury.com/various-publishers/before-graphic-designers.html  and we have series of postcards, poster and all ready for Whitechapel nex week, 26 – 28 September 2014. http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/book-fair/the-london-art-book-fair/the-london-art-book-fair-2014


It would be a good idea if you read my previous blArt first before this. https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/the-letterpress-version-of-inside-this-earthen-vessel/


In it I mention ‘spirit’ and I need to start this blArt with a little (?) question about existence and spirit, don’t I? Some may tink this has nowt to do with DJ’s beautiful letterpressed book, well in fact my original (little, not letterpressed) book of the same name is all about spirit really. It’s a metaphor for what is inside the jug which is a metaphor for the human body, or is it? I think it is.

*Spirit- there is a debate about ‘spirit’, whether it exists? Could exist? etc Of course in a material way it is impossible (for spirit to exist) without a body or some physical ‘system’/substance. There has to be some material sunstance for proof of ‘being there’. The human has blood, heart, eyes etc. A mountain has physicality too, some say it has spirit, like the spirit of Apu in the mountains of the Quero peoples of Peru, Mount Fuji and many other examples of the local folk attributing ‘spirit’ to a mountain. And then there is the Question about existence before the Big Bang? Was there a Mind? Is there a Mind? Is Everything a Mind? Mind you, I’m not so sure. Yet I think therefore Am I? And inside this body, this jug-headed entity I call me, there seems to be a mind, a thinking entity, which will undoubtedly, without exception, stop operating in the physical world when I die. The big Question is, will it continue elsewhere, to somewhere else? To Spirit on, that is the Question?


Poem 4, The Silesian Angel, Johann Scheffler.

Like William Blake and C G Jung after him Scheffler seems to have had access to the hidden knowledge sometimes known as Gnosticism. http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/heresies/a/Gnosticism.htm

These had become, ‘secret’ or underground when the Christian church was changed in the 4th century AD and organised like the Roman army under Emperor Constantine who had been converted to it. Men previously competing in the groundswell of ideas which milled around the Middle East in 300-400 AD found their ideas had become ‘heretical’ after the Romanised church declared that they had selected (only) 4 of the many extant gospels, the rest were ‘binned’ so to speak. In the case of Pachomius who lived in a community of hermit monks (sic) their ideas came in the form of books collected from the then known world including places as far away as India. Like all pogroms* this new (Nicene) Creed outlawed thinkers whose idea did not toe the party line. So  Pachomius and his mates felt forced to hide their ‘library’ in a place called Nag Hammadi in Egypt where it lay, in earthen pots, for near 2000 years until re-discovered in 1947. http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html

(*the word pogrom comes from a russian word meaning like thunder, pity, if you subject a group to a force like thunder it’ll backfire, natural law)

David Jury has enlarged words like Nag Hammadi, and Logos to emphasise their importance in my text. He also makes the songline ‘Are We Humans Or Are We Dancers’ big. To do this he was real pleased to be able to utilise wood font which he had collected but never printed with over the years. David’s eye for composing the page is marvellous and we have done a full colour ‘poster’ with the layout so folk can see the masterly way DJ wields the letterpress tweezers.

The words Scheffler uses in his epic poem The Cherubinic Wanderer certainly have a Gnostic ring to them flagging up his ecstatic direct link with his god. This god he sees as the source of all things which is lodged in the centre of the human and the human is lodged in the centre of the god, the two Sheffler says are inseparable, they are One.

ves 3 sm

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’.


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?


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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.

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.

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.

my new book!

Hey , did you know i have just published a new book?
Hey , did you know i have just published a new book?

I have recently completed an MA ‘Art, Design & the Book’ with David Jury as the main tutor. My main project was about knowledge in clay pots. It started as an investigation into the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library and developec into a study of the habit of communities in the past of placing treasured documents into pots and hiding them in caves to avoid persecutors etc. It became a study on anthropological sources in many cultures dating back several thousand years. The main area was the Middle East from India to Iran.
Anyway, my book called G Batch is an introduction to the whole project. I shall be putting more about it up on my blog as and when.
I have 2 exhibitions coming up near Witham and Colchester in Essex soon and I shall endeavour to keep you posted.