Tag Archives: heroes

Peter the Prancing Prattler

PETER THE PRANCING PRATTLER says, ‘I make it 7 weeks to go to the BABE weekend!’ (you just can’t shut him up). Expect to see him on a table, well he’ll not actually be on the table, alongside his collaborator, David Jury. Now David is not a Prattler no, not at all, not likely, but he’s a darned good printer of letterpress and he’ll have some of his sheets which we collaborated on last summer, for weeks on end.

Let me tell you about the ‘poem’ that David letterpress printed , (which is shown in the featured image at the top of this blArt in situ at the Slack Space exhibition in Colchester until 28th February), because it has a history and even a follow on after we completed the DJ version.

So it began with Destination Dust, a series of ‘poems’ about 6 men of ideas and actions who had impressed me on my journey thru life and art and literary stuff and exhibitions and dances and cosmologies and more. I’m not going to list them here, that’s done elsewhere. I am going to take one of them and try to show the different incarnations of my ‘poems’ about him and some drawings and other forms.

So, to begin at the beginning, Hermann Hesse. A German Nobel Prize writer. A thinker. A poet. A pacifist. A lot of my work is directly influenced by his works. Destination Dust is influenced by his books Siddhartha and also Journey To The East. In my ‘book’ G BATCH the first ‘poem’ is about Hesse.

Hermann Hesse

Whilst following the winding road toward the village of Montagnola

Near Mount Saint Salvatore a footloose exiled pilgrim full with wanderlust

HH encountered a mendicant monk named Dhona chanting a mantra

Dhona said that when he had met Sakyamuni way back when

He asked the beloved one

Sir would you be a human?

Sir would you be a Gandharvan?

Sir would you be a Yaksa?

Sir would you be a god?

To each the Bodhisattva’s reply was No Dhona

What then would you be?

I am a Buddha, brahmin, a Buddha. … All composite things decay…Strive diligently.”

 

As he watched Dhona walk his quiet way HH had the idea

To write a story called Siddhartha

So that people in the West might learn about the Enlightened one.

 

I did some readings from that poem and found it difficult to read out loud so I set about a new version which I planned should be simpler to read.

 

Dhona the Brahmin was a mendicant monk

Who asked Siddhartha

“Are you human or one from Gandharva

Are you a god or maybe a Yaksa?”

 

“Brahmin everything that’s created passes,”

“Go peacefully to your destination,

Strive diligently t’ward your transition, Dhona

Which is escape from Samsara’s wheel of Suffering

 

There was dispute after Guatama’s passing away

Dhona intervening did say,

“The message of the Blessed Buddha

Is still peace and forbearance today.”

 

Thereby the Malla chieftans of Kusinara

On whose soil Shakyamuni died

Reluctantly released the relics

To be divided into eight domains

 

Each claimant built a monument

Which every time turned to rust

Confirming Buddha’s message that

Everything 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 called Siddhartha

 

Shakyamuni saw how we can escape

Samsara ’s spinning wheel

Shakyamuni said, “Namaste.

The Light in me

Greets the Light in thee.

I Am a Buddha, Brahmin, I Am a Buddha Now.”

 

I am unsure if it was any easier to read but I then decided to publish it in a ‘book’ in which the poems would all be laid out in the shape of a pot. The word in a vessel so to speak so I designed Inside This Earthen Vessel and proceeded to print some copy so I could fold the cover come folder in which to drop the new set of poems. Funnily enough recently I mentioned to Gary at the Baltic that there is an illustration in the book whereas all the pages bar one are ‘illustration’ where the words become the pot. Then DJ saw the book with its pots as poems and liked them enough to adapt them for his own summer project. He was careful enough to show me any changes or edits he made and slowly but surely his version arose. I am happy to say the Saison poetry library at Festival Hall bought a copy and featured it in their Open Day show.

 V1 hesse sm

You’ll notice there is now a subtext. Where I had left dots DJ wished for words and asked that I write a set of poems which would be appropriate but of a different ilk which I did by writing about my life in the northern town of Burnley. So here is the new ‘poem’

And now, the end is near

I prepare to claw

My way through

And this

I call it bliss

Has come to me

The hard way

But one thing I know for sure

One thing I want you to know

That thing

That thing is this

I did it my way

I found that bliss

Not just a kiss

I went all the way

I did not turn

I ceased to yearn

I found it my way

And now

At last I say

I have the key to untold wonder

The only way for you to find it too

Is to do it your way

I Am I say

I Am today

I was then and I Am now

I Am Real

Now and forever more

I found out my way

A bit far removed from the cultural philosophical grounds of the main poems but NOT! In fact Burnley is overlooked by Pendle Hill where the founder of the Quaker group George Fox experienced a vision in June 1652 (slightly before my time there). http://bcw-project.org/biography/george-fox

A couple of weeks ago I decided to attempt a reading of the content of the DJ version of the poem which is in some ways influenced by the typography of Kurt Schwitters and I saw that a reading would bring in some of Schwitters’ sound poetry ideas. In fact it became a very liberating and creative experience with great potential for its future.

 

Dhona the Brahmin And now was a mendicant monk the end is near Who asked Siddhartha-(Gautama-Shakyamuni-Tathāgata)  I prepare to “Are you human, one from Gandharva? Claw My way through Are you a god or maybe a Yaksa?” this And this I call “Brahmin everything that’s created passes, Strive diligently into your transition, it bliss Has come to Go peacefully t’ward your destination, me The hard way Escape from Samsara’s wheel of Suffering.” But one thing During a dispute when Guatama passed away Brahmin Dhona, intervening, did say, I know for sure One “The message of the Blessed Buddha

Is still peace and forbearance today.” Thing Thereafter the Malla chieftans of Kusinara I want you to On whose soil Shakyamuni had died know Reluctantly released the relics To be divided into eight domains. That Thereby, Each claimant built a monument thing Which every time turned to rust. Confirming Siddhartha’s message that Every That thing thing passes is to truly ashes this and I did it my way dust. On the road near Montagnola And now A Wandering Writer named Hesse heard the tale from a mendicant monk I found that Then he recounted the story to you bliss Not just a and to me In a book called ‘SIDDHARTHA.’ Tathāgata showed how to escape The Spinning Wheel of Samsara  Tathāgata said, “NAMASTE.  The Light in me greets the Light in thee. I Am a Buddha, Brahmin, I AM A kiss BUDDHA Now.”

 

And it doesn’t end there. I have written yet another version for BABE alone which will be published in my new book especially for BABE.

 

There is Hermann Hesse

A nomad exiled from his native Germany

(because he mistrusted insolent might)

who was heard to say

‘There is no reality except the one contained within’

 

Perambulating the Apennine mountains

A Wanderer searching the Door to renascence

His mind a Magic Theatre

A ‘Journeyer To The East’

He bumped into ‘mystic travellers’

Like Dhona the Brahmin

 

Dhona told him of the time

(It was around about 400 BC)

When he asked Shakyamuni

Sage of the Shakya clan

‘Do you come from Gandhara?

Are you a god?

How did you stop clinging on?

How do you emanate so much Love?’

‘Because I am no longer a Brahmin Dhona

I am a Buddha now’.

 

Hesse was inspired to write Siddhartha

Which in turn inspired the back packers

Beat poets like Ginsberg and Dean Moriarty

And Burnley beat nit Daniel O’Dourke.

Later on Jack Kerouac came to greet him

On The Road from the Wild West

 

Dance little sister dance we pray

Twirl and Swirl the Dervish way

Skip along that road with a little sway

Rolling on down to Destiny’s Day

Now you see what keeps me busy. I think this last version positively sings and dances. Hence the monicker, Peter the Prancing Prattler.

NAMASTE TO YAH

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

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

chris rushton sm

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

slac 020

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

keif bukbird merged

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

ves 6 sm

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

the book of gnolidge
the book of gnolidge

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

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

 http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/babe-2015-bristol-artists-book-event

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

cast in arranged order:

 2pm Judy Kravis of Road Books

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

3pm, Field Study International – Emanation action.

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

cover of six mystics intro
cover of six mystics intro

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

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

Namaste

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

The True Artist Will Never Be Satisfied.

D’Arcy Bussel, the beautiful ex-dancer with the longest legs, said, ‘The true artist will never be satisfied.’ Which I have found to be true, then she adds, ‘But you know when you come close to perfection,’ myself, I don’t know about that. Well actually I do, am just not saying nowt.

In my last (Moanie Lisa) blArt I were moaning about my never making hay from my crop o’ crap done over 47 tears. Well, the new year has brought a new insight. I don’t need to ‘make it’, a fact I knew instinctively over the years, just look at the debris left by many of those who did get fame & fortune. If you don’t got nuttin yerse got nuttin to live up to. Don’t ya? To add to D’Arcy’s view (Hey I live near D’Arcy, Tolleshunt D’Arcy, I wonder if they’re related?) I was reading a book by one Duncan Regehr who says he’s an artist too, as well as an actor and a poet, but I like this what he ses, ‘I am more aware of art-making as a constant state of becoming- a way of life where the growing up never ends’, like him, I’m still growing up. On reading Duncan Regehr I realise that my never having sold hardly ought in 47 years stands for nothing, or very little really. Obviously my pride and my pockets have suffered by the void, altho my pockets have been less worn, but I still own 90 odd per cent of my output so in a sense I am well off. even if every one of em is only worth a £ or a yankee dollar or a yen then. More importantly I have my vision(s) and my accumulated skills that I’ve acquired to render them in various media. I’m still growing up, I am unsure if I’ve even come of age yet. My work has passed thru several phases and, as in yoga or Tai Chi, there’s still a lot to learn left. Maybe my most creative and productive was my Nonogon phase which was heralded in Colchester but elsewhere few have seen it. Few have seen my work from any period and am using this blArt to get some out to places like Argentina and Vietnam, I know someone in those countries has been in and viewed my blog of late. I heard someone in the Hermitage documentary say that art is more important than property or money. I tend to agree, but when you are ‘groing up’ thru life, when you have a rent to pay a wife and some kids to support and all it don’t seem that way. Most of us, even Richard Hamilton and Albert Irwin and L S Lowry had to hold down a day job too. So we all had two jobs. No wonder I look tired.

byron streetmy very own Lowry

Just to finish, that old curmudgeon Samuel Beckett was writng about his gravestone when he said:

In ‘First Love’ Sam writes:

“Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards, I take the air there willingly, perhaps more willingly than elsewhere, when take the air I must…Yes, as a place for an outing, when out I must, leave me my graveyards and keep—you—to your public parks and beauty-spots. M[y tomb epitaph] I composed long since and am still pleased with it, tolerably pleased. My other writings are no sooner dry than they revolt me, but my epitaph still meets with my approval. There is little chance unfortunately of its ever being reared above the skull that conceived it, unless the State takes up the matter. But to be unearthed I must first be found, and I greatly fear those gentle¬men will have as much trouble finding me dead as alive. So I hasten to record it here and now, while there is yet time:

Hereunder lies the above who up

  below

So hourly died that he lived on till

  now.

The second and last or rather latter line limps a little perhaps, but that is no great matter, I’ll be forgiven more than that when I’m forgotten.”

Some artists are harder to please then others. The nice ting is we artists are always creating new stuff. So below are some nonogon nomads and a new creature in wood what I made, it’s be nice to make it in bronze, or even in lead, or maybe in chocolate like me old German mate Diter Rot.

SquiKg b an wNonogon Master

bvwB V Wise 1

draghedsholda maskDragonhat

knut O2Knewt Hoboken

liteyesLite-eye

ernstlog smernst log

Happy New Yearns 2015

My old mate DW who has been watching my arts grow up since 1961 sent a comment in today about my new blArt. You must remember that wee come from the same northern toon, we seen the same stuff over the years (except I wer a bit quieter and more controlled then im). So, when he mentions the Lone Ranger, he’s talking about the one we saw in the mid 1950s on B&W tv. His observations are very informed as he has been to many of my shows over the past 30 years. Also, he has supported my development, my growing up, in many ways, more than most any of my old mates frae that Northern Town. Ta feller. He said:

“But, I as a viewer of your art, Pete,  am very satisfied. What a great exhibition on your blart, today, they are lovely works.

I love the Dragonhat, it has an energy in the pen strokes and is as striking as a Dürer  soldier, but more alive. Knewt Hoboken is fearsome. Lite Eye I look at again in detail and I wonder are the pipes in the face, pan pipes; Is the halo and rotating bank of stage lights; Is the mask like the lone ranger; is his top of head a revolving whirly top you got in lucky bags. The Nonogon Master has all the mystery of a shamen and it’s dark colour reminds me of a dark etching a bit like your Hopi indian drawings. Ernst log must be triggered by Max Ernst texture paintings.
 
It would be interesting to give a short synopsis of each subject matter, who the characters are and why, how and when.

I like what Duncan Regehr says  ‘I am more aware of art-making as a constant state of becoming- a way of life where the growing up never ends’. I have used the phrase ‘creative process’ instead of art-making to best describe the driving force  in my life, it applies to all my passioned activity through my career and life. I am attracted to that aspect of artists like yourself, I can sense it very easily, it is the spark that drives the art making in some.
 
Keep showing your works Pete, they are fantastic.”
It would be interetsing to hear from some more of youse out thur, maybe you from Argentina? or one of the other many places where my ‘views’ and occasional ‘likes’ come from.

 

William Blake (part 2) The Ghost of a flea chez John Varley

William Blake was round his old friend Varley’s house when he saw The Ghost of a flea, no camera at his disposal he quickly called for his drawing implements, or so they say, and proceeded to sketch the darned thing:

 The Head of the Ghost of a Flea. Verso: A Profile and a Reduced Drawing of Milton's First Wife circa 1819 by William Blake 1757-1827

(some images not my copyright, hope that WB doesn’t mind me used it)

How good is that then? What I saw in the Oxford Ashmolean exhibition of Blake’s work is that he was not averse to satire and he did ‘take the mick’. It’s what we boys do when gathered together, we may do a little caricature of someone we all know, and maybe dislike, and then we have a little giggle. Am not saying Blake did this here, I’m surmising. In fact F. W. Bateson in an article in 1957 explains that Blake had a way of looking upon things with what he called ‘double vision’. He saw it for what we see it as, say a thistle, and he would also see it as ‘an old grey man’. A more Blakean example would be that he saw the sun as the sun AND as ‘Los in his Might.’ Reportedly Blake was once asked, ‘Does a firm persuasion that a thing is so, make it so?’ and he replied, “All poets believe that it does, and in ages of Imagination this firm persuasion removed mountains. But many are not capable of a firm persuasion of anything.”

This blArt is looking at one or two other things that he did which have been clarified by Michael Phillip’s (& others) wonderful selection of work for the unique gathering of images in this collection. I have been glancing at Blake’s words & images for over 40 years now and always felt so small, so inadequate, because I couldn’t get the overall ‘feel’ of the man nor his work. There was always something more I had to read, go see, ask about. I think Blake was a highly intelligent, talented, practitioner who was much, let us say, ignored, maybe maligned, by his contemporaries. And I know from personal experience what that type of man does sometimes he stretches the limits. He looks at what’s happening and says to himself, “Now then, I understand what they are doing there, I can do that, only when I do it I shall do it better. And if possible I shall find new ways to do it, better ways.” Now the problem with being an initiator, an original, is that many folk out there neither want anyone to rock the boat/status quo nor do they understand innovation. Most people like it to be explained to them by ‘someone who knows’ before they can adapt to anything ‘new’. So when some of us are dissatisfied with the ‘norm’ and wish to move it on and some of are built that way, for whatever reason, we push, we discover new ways and we are not always the best ones to ‘sell’ the new ideas to , anyone. Well I believe Blake was like that. So he received scorn but was unaffected at being ridiculed. As Samuel Palmer said, “he was…one of the few who cannot be depressed by neglect and to whose name, rank and station could add no lustre…He enobled poverty…”. He rattled boats like Joshua Reynolds’ craft when he disdained painting in oils. He made powerful enemies who would not wish to find ‘good qualities’ in his work and who may (as such is the nature of the human being) even have quietly declared the ‘new kid on the block’ to be insane. It has been a title I have noticed about my own efforts, “You call that art, you must be kidding, my monkey can do better” and other pleasantries. But you see Blake had no desire to convince any of the status quo of his genius, he knew he was rocking boats and continued to do so. His mentors were proven already; Milton, Dante, Botticelli, Durer and his mentor, John Varley whose beautiful water colours must have impressed both Blake and Turner. The nice thing about having mentors who have been there and done it who appreciate from experience the qualities in your work, you don’t need everybody else to give you credit. Blake even disputed Dante with Dante, his late work on Dante is in fact not an affirmation but a disputation! Blake did not agree with Dante’s take on Heaven and all and he satirises his own hero, but such wonderfully illustrated satire, I don’t think Dante would include Blake in Purgatory.

Let’s look at some of the other incredible revelations in this exhibition. I knew before I went in that Blake had had an interest in Swedenborg. Blake’s own parents were non-conformist Christians and in their day that meant REALLY none conforming and Blake had obviously been influenced. Swedenborg in his book ‘Heaven & Hell’ and other writings had us believe he had been taken by angels to other planets and introduced to beings of non-human origin. Obviously to ‘believe’ him we would all need to suspend our understanding of what is real. Blake came to the conclusion that Swedenborg was a fraud and went on to satirise him in, wait for it, ‘Marriage of Heaven & Hell’.

swed alone

This work is astounding in its introduction of new techniques of print but more so in its mentions of Swedenborg by name, he was not disguised as a flea. I have dipped into Swedenborg’s writings but came away more confused by his work than by that of Blake. Blake had annotated Swedenborg’s ‘Wisdom of Angels’ on p56 earlier, ‘Good & Evil are here both Good & the two contraries married’. I knew of ‘Marriage of Heaven & Hell’ as one of Blake’s works BUT, idiot that I am, I had not realised he had used Swedenborg’s title within his own ‘Marriage of Heaven & Hell’. He is using it as pure satire. Taking the mickey out of the Swedenborg title by incorporating it in his own title. One of Blake’s disputes with Swedemndborg, maybe why he condemned him (?), was that the latter had not really dipped into ‘hell’. That he was only familiar with heaven. Blake considered that the incumbents of hell had a right to their opinions and had a right to be represented, so he married them. Brilliant. How better could you rectify an omission? And I believe this also gives a deeper insight into the way Blake’s mind worked. He was like Peter Cook & Spike Milligan combined into one. Almost as important he represented Swedenborg in the guise of his first draft of his later larger print of Nebuchadnezzar. He had him crawling on hands & knees. Then the technique he used was also new and it heralded his later larger version of Nebuchadnezzar in technique.

a blake socty neb

Back in 1978 I had stood and admired his larger works with their mottled surfaces but I waited to hear from Michael Phillips last week to see/realise that Blake was hundreds of years ahead of his time with his technique which predicted that of Max Ernst’s ‘decalcomanie’. Or behind the time, depending on which way you view it. ‘Tempera painting was an ancient form executed with pigment ground in a water-miscible medium.’ Tempera was the form he was mimicking because he disdained oil. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/586515/tempera-painting

Image038

So he put water based inks onto his plates but allowed the colours to permeate and intermingle, so each ‘take’ was different from the last and all of his takes were in fact monoprints, each unique in itself! So am lifted from the hell of not-knowing into the heaven of finding out how he did it and more importantly that should be reflected in my own future work. This is a massive injection of inspiration into my willing to be influenced by Blake hands. I did a series of etchings during a recent Master’s degree and I, deliberately as I have always done, made each print I took from the plate different from the last. What I did not do, which Blake did, was add more layers of colour. So, watch out prints of the six mystics, I’m coming back to see you.

So, inspiration, that’s what I will finish this little blArt with, how Blake has inspired so many by his work. Blake’s graphic revolutionary technique of ‘illuminated printing’ and his other innovations were so ‘far outside the ken’ and were not picked up on by the print trade of his day except maybe in Samuel Palmer’s adaptations and one or two others of the ‘Ancients’ group directly influenced by Blake. The fact is few would have had Blake’s tenacity, his dedication to task (for little immediate remunerative reward), his technical dexterity and his DRIVE to create in every area; print, write and make image. Blake would also, like Rembrandt after him, change images as he took different pulls from the plates.

This is shown amply in three prints of The House of Lazar on show. One recumbent fellow’s hand moves from limp to ‘splayed in tension’.

up face gulp face

One face changes from a toothful grimace to an open mouthed gasp. The long length of paper (?) which straddle across the top of the page in the hands of the bearded character changes in each print. In two there are arrows and in one the ends which curl in the other two become as a scroll.

a flash a whorl a scrol

Blake was using visual imagery to show fluctuating ideas and meanings which themselves changed as a result of the imagery shifting. It’s a self-perpetuating wholistic creativity, a process in which the most of us are mere dwarfs compared to the Master, Blake.

Also three versions of the title page of Europe A Prophecy show how Blake experiments with creating difference. First he did a trial grey monochrome proof, then on another he added some water colour on the snake and added a figure beside the snake. In a third version in ‘relief etching with colour printing’ which in fact shows as textured like tempera. So Blake was really working surfaces for effect and for the difference that visual creativity brings but he always maintained a tight grip of the textual printed outcome, so they can be read, except that is in instances where he obliterated the title words Europe & Prophecy maybe to enunciate the figure? Blake was giving his customers individualised visual feasts. I see similarities in the modern artists Frank Frazetta http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/fantasy/Frank-Frazetta.html & Richard Corben’s work http://www.corbencomicart.com/gallery.html. He could never have been still. Even on his death bed he created over 100 images to Dante’s writing. Samuel Palmer who became one of the so called ‘Ancients’ who followed after Blake reported on visiting him, “ …’tho 67 years old but hard working on a bed full of books sat he like an Antique patriarch, or a dying Michael Angelo. There he was making in the leaves of a great book the sublimest designs from his Dante.” These were no acolyte’s acceptance of the words of another genius, no, Blake disagreed with some of Alighieri and he satirized him too, even expressing his own alternative views one of which was his belief in a form of Christianity which believed in a merciful god which would allow forgiveness for all sins, rather than a vindictive one.

Blake’s experience and imagination was one of the most developed ever witnessed in the western world and his dexterity in making word & image remains unrivalled. He has inspired including, in my view; William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites, Kahil Gibran, Baum, Tolkein, Kenneth Patchen, Phillip Pullman, J.K. Rowling and myself (Pete Kennedy), plus many many more, maybe even including the children’s favourite in the 1950’s Tiger Tim.

I wonder what he might have done with modern technology at his fingertips. He would be fascinated with the luminosity that emanates from our computer screens and of course we know Blake had no access to Photoshop, did he? All the changes he made were rendered by hand. Bless him and his ever helpful wife Catherine.

And by the way the Ashmolean’s catalogue is a great read so thanks to they for doing it and to Michael Phillips, Colin Harrison & Martin Butler for the insights written into it.

Well done, I nominate all three o’yez Honorary Ancients!

Above are my own views and they are not necessarily all based in worldly reality but I believe they give added insight into the marvellous man whose feet did indeed traipse upon the streets of London and it’s hallowed hills which would ‘assume a kind of grandeur from the man [passing] near them’, as Palmer would say of this fitting companion for Dante, this man without a mask!

blakeman in my card

Another blArt composed by Pete Kennedy MA (Art & the Book), Adv Dip Ed (Cambridge), DMS (Danbury), B/Ed (Exeter), RA Doubtful. Thorsday 11.12.14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’ Poem 6 Shaman Beuys

The LABF at Whitechaple begins this evening. http://www.londonartbookfair.org/

For those of you who have been following my recent blArts I just had a realisation. In the page about the Dalai Lama David Jury in the subtext picked up on the parallel between my being an expat from Burnley and the DL having been exiled from Tibet a notion which reverberates thru that print. I now see most all of the six men in my poems had to run from something. We are all are just passing through.

 

  • Gurdzhiev was a Russian Orthodox Christian native of Kars which was caught up in a fight between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. His father, a peaceful story-teller, was murdered by Turks during the Armenian massacre which some call a genocide.
  • Hermann Hesse was exiled from his native Germany for standing up against the Prussian military swing to arms which manifested in world war 0ne. Hesse was already famous and the authorities did not like his stance, he felt obliged to shift over to the mountains of Italy.
  • Tenzin Gyatso is still exiled from Tibet after fleeing from Maoist force in 1959.
  • Scheffler was a monk from Silesia who switched from Catholicism to Protestantism and back to avoid the attentions of the Inquisition after he wrote his inspired poem called The Cherubinic Wanderer.
  • C G Jung spent most of his life investigating the nature of humankind in its dreams and distant past. He was an advocate of the i ching and a Gnostic.In some ways Jung was an exile from his contemporaries and his own daimon. ‘Since my contemporaries understandably could not perceive my vision, they only saw a fool rushing ahead. A creative person has little power over his own life. He is not free. He is captive and driven by his daimon.’ (Memories, Dreams & Reflections, p356) Jung + pipe
  • Pete Kennedy is just an Idjet in a Jug hiding from the ladies in Burnley what want to talk to him about all sorts of promises he made in his youth and did not no way never keep and who looks a bit like old Jung but hasn’t got his pedigree!). a odorkapul sans dork
  • Joseph Beuys, a Celtic son of Cleves, was running from his Luftwaffe past.

 

Poem 6 Shaman Beuys

‘Don’t mention the war’ said another satirist who, when he Cleese…d, his hair shot off. Joseph Beuys had a life before he became an artis. His first life, in the Luftwaffe, ended as he catapulted thru the glass between him and the outside. David deliberately paralleled Beuys bursting thru the screen with the pot bursting as it hit the ground in his final page of the poems. The subtext mentions no safety belt. A pot don’t wear a safety belt so the mention seems odd, but it refers to the fact that Beuys said had he been strapped in, according to orders, he would have been annihilated like his companion was. So once he recovered from a broken jaw and a burst skull with the help of (allegedly) some Siberian peasants who covered him in grease and wound him up in felt he forewent the Nazi cause and spent the rest of his days, not wearing any safety harness, attacking the powers that be and trying to establish a better world through the example of his outputs which, like dada after the WW1, totally rejected the maxims and mores of the previous ‘leaders’. (Phew that’s a gobful! Innit?)

Last but not least that Celt Showman what is called Jo Beuys. My mention of Halstatt & La Tene refers to large Celtic communities that dominated the landscape in Europe around 3000 years ago. He hails from near Cleves, where the Swan Castle (the Schwanenburg) still has a golden plated swan as a weather vane. http://celts.etrusia.co.uk/celtic_cultures.php I find their art & artefacts are a beautifully robust craft. http://www.pinterest.com/viziglar/hallstatt-and-la-tene-cultures/

 

Beuys refused to engage in painting onto canvas and other traditional methodologies preferring to make installations & personal appearances with demonstration and talk about his nutso crazy ideas. He used metaphor and analogy to convey his ideas which were often embodied in his materials.. he attracted attention by wearing a wardrobe which defined him and in which he could carry a lot of his artefacts, and chalk, for doing his blackboard talks.He used fat and felt as sculpture material breaking the codes of traditional materials like carved stone and moulded bronze tho he did use these materials too but more in juxtapositions of ‘found objects or objects totally out of their usual contexts. He often referred to vortexes, energy streams conducted by various materials like honey, messages carried by bees, he communicated with dead hares and live coyotes. He tried to make amends for Nazi atrocities by joining Eurasia up with his actions and outings and somehow over-riding the fact that he had been a Luftwaffe airman who survived an plane crash. DJ parallels Beuys bursting out of the plane with the Buddhist story of the broken pot which I mention in the sub-text when I said ‘I let go and this humble vase returns to dust’ ‘it bit the dust’, which is not all used in the text. This was a completion of the circle as the six poems begin with a title, ‘Destination Dust’ a reference to the fact that everything eventually returns to the original source, energy. So even the subtext move around, whereas in the first pages it is flippant and mundane by the final page it has grafted in to the main text and apart from the black humour of Beuys bursting thru the glass has become serious, considering human frailty and mortality.

ves 6 sm

The chant from the terraces which I heard as a young teenager brings the subtext into the main text inasmuch that my home town Burnley reached the quarter final of the European Cup and we did thrash the Germans, in the first leg, but Uwe Seeler and his bigger brother knocked us out in Hamburg. But McIlroy really was better than Eusebio, well nearly, he was part of the team from Northern Ireland which got to the quarter finals of the World Cup in 1958 and (not a lot of people know this) their manager Peter Doherty was my dad’s hero and I were named after him.

As manager in 1958 Doherty took Jimmy McIlroy and N. Ireland side to the quarter finals of the World Cup
As manager in 1958 Doherty took Jimmy McIlroy and N. Ireland side to the quarter finals of the World Cup

Here endeth the intro to our new books.

This was a meeting of two minds who have been ‘doing art’ for 90 odd years. Well, odd in my case, meticulous in DJ’s. For David is an ‘artist-dervish whirling around at the wayzgoose with his tweezers teasing new meanings from my words’ when it comes to working a press

For those newcomers to dis blArt the ‘poems’ in ‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’ were inspired by Kabir’s poem ‘Inside This Clay Jug’ sung by the late Jackie Leven https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfiKUhS1cnI . Someone asked if my writing (in the book G Batch which underpins these new versions) deserves the title ‘poetry’? Well, it’s a beautiful question. A real poet would not have the temerity to call their words poetry, that is for history to decide. Catullus, Patchen, Angelou, Blake, Bukowski & Stevie Smith all deserve (in my book of tings) the nomenclature. No, I write, I set out some of my words as prose, some as attempts at ‘poems’ or as I used to differentiate them ‘poyms’. There is a debate about whether folks like Bob Zimmerman, Mark Knopfler or John Lennon’s words are ‘poems’? Ask Picabia or Jarry about what makes up a poem, don’t aks me.

So, if I were aksed to put what the six ‘poems’ are all about I’d say first and foremost they are an appeal for humanity to live harmoniously in peace. They show six men who represent the cultures of most of the prominent human groups. They are against dogma. The poems all represent human beings who had the balls to look at the human situation and to be brave enough to stand up and say their piece almost always standing up for the individual and their right to think and make up their own mind. The poems are my personal insight into mystical knowledge as represented in six different thinkers whose lives and work had impact on a fair number of others to this day. My poems say that, contrary to the widely held view, mystical insight is an expansive subject open to everyone. Also inside the pot (earthen vessel) is Joy & Humour, Music & Dance. Mysticism runs like veins of gold (Blake’s golden thread) through human cultures and can bring many people together when they understand we are all striving for the same thing, which is to understand why we are here and to appreciate the beauty which surrounds us on planet Earth. ‘Stop The Killing, Stop The Killing NOW’ said John Lennon before some tramp shot him. Imagine that, where is John now? He’s out there following his vision of ultimate reality and laughing his cosmic chuckle just like the Dalai Lama does. Namaste.

Let’s waltz again with Lenny:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-E53gmeO-8&index=5&list=RDye6JssTdnvw

Peace Be With You.

My Next Blog, how the 2  ‘vessels’ buks (mi littul one and DJ’s Big Y’in) and paraphernalia were received along with several other David Jury gems at the Whitechapel, 26 thru 29th September? Maybe see yez thur?

And writing not typing today

OK, so you’re a guinea pig, or a monkey, anything that indicates experiment. This is a trial run. I am not waving I’m drowning said Stevie Smith in her wonderful poem. So, I’m not typing I’m writing! I often spend too long at the keyboard typing up, (tie pin) my notes. Yes I do prepare this drivel. I hand write it foist den toype it up. (Up what I cannot imagine) Anyway today I thort, just scan the notes cos you can. So here goes, it’s in the can. Hope you can read it, this is an experiment, and am not calling you a ginee pig nor a mankee, just making an analoogie.

ps I’ve had several regular readers contact me today and say they find my hand-writing rather difficult to decipher. It’s bad enough for them, and you maybe, but iI got to live with that inarticulate hand! I have to read it, you choose to try. OK, so, I am going to type it up, but not tonite. I shall do it during the week. So, maybe come back Wednesday for a deciphermentationally better reading. Sadly, it’ll be the same old stuff, but legible. Before that i have to type up some notes about my new two ‘artist book’ projects as I’d like folk to know a bit more about what they are about before the Whitechaple book fair, what I dint gerra table at, but i know someone what did.

So, below. Below is/was the new style ‘blArty  bits’ in my own inimitable  hand. Don’t despair if you can only see small ‘pages’, just move yer cursor over the page you wish to read and clik, it’ll open up as a full, readable (except where my hand has made a poor definition of the word!)  petes o prosidy (pitzaprozidy). In fact I am trying out this method in prep for a future, not too distant I ‘opes, artisbuk wattam werkin on (which am going to have to re-think now).

ritins p1 30814smkb

ritins 30814smkb

ritis 30814smkb

 

I did a little drawing in my notes. That’s what I done since 1969. That’s where i developed the first Apulhed drawings. They were always lodged into my written thoughts.

Words..werds..wurds..smiths.wordsmit..werdsmyth..wurdsmeet..

I play..I pley..I ploy..I emploi word.

A friend has pointed out that I have been making my blog stuff difficult for people to understand because of the combination of personal phonetics and stream of consciousness. I am doing my epistles in that form because I find it to be so user friendly, I love the immediacy and the way folk can make comment, interrupt, intercept etcetera. One of the reasons I can care-less in my use of words, apart from believing there is vast scope for play, is that as a newly elected 63 year old who no longer cares if and when he ‘makes it’ I felt the context was and is emancipating.

These blogs are written in a style which is meant to be playful and not constrained by (even my) editorial overseeing. I do not see my writing..ritin..wrightin as obstacle, rather I see it as crafting words, altho I accept my chisel may be blunt and my output more like an expressionist art than a pre-raphaelite. Obviously it goes against the grain. 3 artists I like who go against the grain; Alan Davie, Phillip Guston & Gaylen Hansen.  Davies was against the groan of modernist artists in Britain like Sutherland and Piper. Guston was against his own groin, against his Abstract Expressionist phase. And Hansen was against the whole of the artworld’s grange.

They follow their own stars. As a wordwright I too follow my own star. Yes there are pre-decessors like Joyce and maybe Kerouac both of whom I love their use of and abuse of word. My personal preference is a poet/writer/artist called Kenneth Patchen who was much admired they say by the Beat poets. I love the way he combines words and image. The trouble with being a groundbreaker is we have to break some eggs to cook our stuff.

Now a lot of us do it apparently intuitively, we appear to be innocent of what we are doing. During the past 40years I have deliberately employed ‘chance’ or ‘accident’ in my mark-making in the picutures I make or the letters I use in words. Although often these things are really not chance etc, they are either considered orbased in experience. As a maker of output for over 45 years you can imagine I’ve had a lot of experience of ‘making’ (some say making havoc). So nowadays when I play with words marks ideas paint print it’s grounded in experience. You cannot ‘try’ to be different, spontaneous, unusual, these things have to arise from your action. It’s not productive neither conducive to producing quality if you are forever thinking/fretting about your next action, it needs to be free of constraint. When I paint portraits from a model I use what I call ‘pull and push’, where I would begin with very liberal mark making and then pull them in tighter to reflect the subject. Same with words. This form I use in my blog is ‘free’ of constraint (mostly). I am not definitely doing every word as a personal phonetically changed spelling (just) to be awkward and stop your flow of reading or consciousness . If I were every word would be different from the norm, and that is not the case. I do edit my stuff before and during typing it. I don’t edit ad infinitum, like Beckett did. The blog is about release, I release my ideas, when it is no longer liberating I shall desist. I play with words, just that and that only now and then. I am building up to create a book based around my Squidgerats drawings & play with werds. I believe it will leave all my previous efforts standing, the best thing I ever produce. Creating the images , which are essentially linear, will give me a bank from which I can make more paintings, prints, animations even. Groundbreakers back to Leonardo and Michael Angelo invariably ‘do’ a lot which we common folk can’t ‘get’, ‘like’ ‘see’ etc. We all have a picture in our mind of say a Rodin, a Moore, a Miro but each creative does a thousand times more than that simple picture we hold in our minds. Isaac Newton for example, he did more supernatural stuff like alchemy than the ‘science’ which has been preserved. William Blake, he wrote thousands of often densely scripted poems and prose pieces but most folk just recall his feet on Pleasant Lands or his Tyger Burning or his Lamb so sweet.