Tag Archives: jackie leven

Yes Am luckier than I thought

Building up to my next book NewSI.

pk as si smThe Shrewd Idjet c. 1979

This book is about those heady days when the creator of Big ‘Ead (at junior school age 10)

big ed 1st frame 1960Big ‘Ead drawn in year 5 at Tod Road primary school

and dreamed up Apple-Head-Man (in Bournemouth aged 20)

ahed burnley surfer

and whose Celtic name meant Ugly Head odork sheriffwent to college from his 18th to his 22nd year in the very early 1970’s. He began in the 3rd class carriage and by his graduation had scurried into the 2nd class seats. As he watched his fellow travellers he realised that despite his best efforts he was still a complete idiot, so that’s what we’ll call this first part of The New Shrewd Idiot which is going to be released in a series of short sections.

(*I may even call it An Altered Shrewd Idiot ?)

I saw a film the other day o boy, the film being A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence which is about two men who spent their lives going round selling crap artefacts like rubber masks of a one-toothed man. I see this as a parallel to my going around trying to foist the world with an Apple-Headed mask to the sound of the Doors song,

Life is strange when you’re alone

When you’re strange

Faces come out in the rain

When you’re strange

No one remembers your name

People are strange when you’re a stranger

Faces look ugly when you’re alone

When you’re alone

Women seem wicked

When you go walking

You’re unwanted

Streets are alive when you’re alone.

It was interesting talking with Saradha Soobrayen in the Poetry Library at South Bank this weekend and she has this idea about ‘The Long Poem’ which is not a long poem like say Hiawatha but more a lifetime’s effort on the part of the poet, to find the voice and realise the potential. My NewSI ‘book’ is such an effort. It began at the beginning of my self-writing and continued throughout the next forty odd years as I wrote and learned about writers & writing. The resulting work, which is still in process, will be the long poem in the way Saradha is thinking, I think. I am excited by the possibilities. I just need to discipline myself and put them together for real rather than just in my mind’s eye.

And the long poem also includes the artworks and the ‘performances’. They add to the words with a moving feast, oh yes and the dance, which adds the moving feet. I dance because I still can. I LOVE those old films of those ancient blues dancers doing the soft shoe shuffle which prove to me we should shuffle as long as we can. Life is a dance which the words, images and ideas just feed. Two perfect examples of this ‘long-poem’ are the life works of Patti Smith and Leonard Cohen.

And I saw the big show of Joseph Cornell’s work. Cornell influenced a lot of ‘artist’s book’ makers in recent years was himself influenced, like me, by key dada artists like Max Ernst who I believe to have been a greater creative thinker and practitioner than the much vaunted Marcel Duchamp. Another big influential European who taught in the States Moholy-Nagy did his early creative experiments in poetry rather than the visual arts which flags up the cross fertilisation between the arts, so much so that I now see that my own writing, painting, drawing and printing along with performance events are interlocked for the past 40 odd years. Like Moholy-Nagy I was effected by ‘Dada’s irreverence which aimed to offend middle-class notions of good taste which taught Moholy-Nagy [and moi] to refuse to accept the limitations of the traditional definitions of art’.

And my ‘art’ encompasses many media, many ways of saying the thing.

I know we live lives capable of





Let us find The Lion Inside– (hear Sir Van Morrison on utube).

Inside This Clay Jug– (listen to Jackie Leven Inside This Clay Jug).

Buddha Nature-Tibet

Our True Selves- Hindu

Hidden Essence-Sufi

Matter, Energy, Meaning-Bohm*

Let us avoid Infinite Confusion (My Quagfog^) and live in Peace-Full Earth Together Endlessly.

*See Sogyal Rinpoche on David Bohm pp356-9 in The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying where he’s writing about ’An Unfolding Vision Of Wholeness.’

^ I coined the word Quagfog in my writings t’ward The Shrewd Idiot in the mid1970’s. It means that dark space we inhabit when we are down, lost and unsure where to head. Our feet seem to be bogged down in a quagmire and our heads are seemingly in a fog.

The Staggering Effulgent Effrontery of The Frockwearer Man.

Today I made the Beatles age of 64, never thought that song may apply to moi! I am posting an old foto of this old fart wherein I still got as much hair as I want and all me tooths, that’s the tooth. As reglia followers of this blArb know, I don’t look the same man now!

pk larfin birtdae bouy

Pete aged about 22

Also, on me boithday, I had choices and I chose to do my classes as usual; I got a great mat for doing Vinyassa Yoga with Sam in th’morn, she really push us thru our paces but so gently you hardly notice what yer doing til you suddenly find your left toe in your right ear and Master Ch’n returned after several weeks away to try teaching me Tai Chi. His patience with me is astounding as I am such a thick-head when it comes to taking in anything which is repetitive and ‘form’. But they say it’s good fer ya as ye gits older and older, Tai Chi that is. It’s a funny ting but when i try persuade my kids in their mid-twenties to take on the challenges and benefits of tai chi & yoga they just mock me. They don’t know what they’re missing.

SEEE– The  Staggering Effusive Effulgent Effrontery of Grayson Perry and His Smashing Pot on Channel 4 really impressed upon me this week in the ch4 show wherein he talked to several people who had had life-altering activities in recent times. I must apologise for grouping him, in a recent blArt, alongside Ermine & Berst, I was really really wrong, he is an extremely good artist which I already acknowledge (even though he draws unwell or rather ham-fistedly his imagery is ‘different’, it is worked and it is interesting) but the sum of his output, which must now include being a television presenter, is quite stunning. His broad reach of technique (and his knowledge of different arts and cultures) is impressive. His way with people and his calm questioning of their motives and self-view are also highly informed and seem very natural, maybe coming from his real-lating-ships with his cross dressing and his sessions together with his wife’s psychotherapeutic knowledge?

I done a phew wrong tings this week like on Thursday I posted my first video on utube http://youtu.be/OUkrryYo8AU and getting excited at actually having done it I then posted two more before gaining reaction to the thirst. Gavin said, ‘There’s a thin line between deep & dull’ and my videos aim to be deep but came over rather dull. No bounce, no dance in the words as I read them with some difficulty. The words in the poems are put together and re-manipulated over a prolonged period of thinking and study and consideration and changing and re-moulding and all. the video was slapped together impromptu-ly and doesn’t do justice to the words. However, I must thank my friend Dave Doughty for pushing me into doing the thing to the ultimate aim of posting up on utube which now I have cottoned on to how to, I shall do it some more. Whether I need to use utube or not is a different question? I can probably upload video to my blArtspot on wordpress, we’ll have to see. I don’t think my utube video is about to get as many hits as Susan Boyle did, is it. Her voice on the first day after her stunning performance on X Factor was a revelation, my voice on the vids is just, dull. I have sent it out to about 20 folk and the resounding silence seems to say sumptin to me and I shall be back, that’s not a threat it’s a promise, am working on them, I tink I know watti need to do. My old mate DW has made it very clear.

As it happens I got a copy of Jackie Leven’s The Mystery Of Love Is Greater Than The Mystery Of Death cd http://www.discogs.com/Jackie-Leven-The-Mystery-Of-Love-Is-Greater-Than-The-Mystery-Of-Death/release/1106041 with the beautiful track Inside This Clay Jug on with Robert Bly, American Poet, reciting Kabir’s poem. NOW THERE’S A VOICE! WOW. Bly tells the poem in such verve & enunciation, so articulating the simple words, so describing them with his mouth instrument. There’s something to live up to, to aim for to aspire to and I have a very very long way to travel. I cannot even recite my own words, the readings had no life in them. I hope, like when alcoholics realise their dependence, now I have realised my crap skills I shall begin to rectify. Watch this space if you can bear it. watch this too for a lovely mention of the three harmonious faiths of China; Buddhism, Confusianism & Taoism. I sometimes, recently, have wondered if i am barking up the right tree with my new works on the clay jug theme. this wonderful trip down the yangtse says YES, yse pete you are on the right trail.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04mj989/sacred-rivers-with-simon-reeve-3-the-yangtze

They say Wilko Johnson has had his cancer taken away, ‘Big as a baby’ he said the growth was. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-29727632 They had only given him only a few months to live then Addenbrookes found it was a rare form which they could cut out and they did. Hoe excellent is that, int that gud? I took some great photos of him back in the late 70’s, in Chompsferd of all places!

 wilko hands in waistcoat sm

Also Simon Bacon, whose sculptures have been on at Sculpt Gallery Tiptree and with Debra at the Affordable art fair in Londres is gud news too. Simon did his MA at the same time I did mine and I loved his work then. I am so glad he’s started to sell.

 2si 5

On Sunday I popped into Londin toon and did a dummy run for when I have to get to the RA for 08.30 hrs in November. I dropped into the Poetry Library, Southbank, London (they recently bought my latest book and one I did in collaboration with the world-renowned author on ‘typo’ and a mean letterpress printer himself, David Jury) and I checked out some E E Cummins. What I find interesting, altho I know little about his background I expect he must have been fairly well off to get to Harvard in 1911, what I find interesting is that I (who were poor) went to college for 4 years and in a way I was therefore given the time to think and write. Which would have been a rare commodity to a working class boy back in the time of WW1 & 2. So, in the 1960’s when there seemed a lot of hope that our world would grow out of wars and become a better place, despite Vietnam, I was allowed to stretch my mind in philosophy and art etc. I retired from my day job in c.2009 and have since returned to my dreams, as a writer artist (altho I must say I never stopped ‘making’ my outputs). The reason I mention it is cos therefore, I had similar opportunities to much more ‘privileged classes’ of previous generations. I think my book of 1975 was in fact a pioneering piece;

ap 001

totally my own work, self published and with altered spellings. The pioneering was not so much in the content as in leading the field in artists book, I published around the same time as some significant players whom those who study artisbuk  in the States will be aware of were self publishing etc.

I used altered spelling in the above book (1975) as you can see from its title attached, the yellow cover, title in handwritten ink. Recently I have returned to use altered spellings, which in my private journals I never stopped doing, but I now find that there is a whole range of possibilities with its use. Miriam Patchen commended me on that book, made some reference to her friend E E Cummings. If you go into my ‘about’ at the top of this blUrt you’ll find her comments.

Watch out for my next BLART, it’s gonna be a big appropriation from Neil Young, John Peck and others. the ubu site is all about appropriation nowadays but Picabia appropriated Neitzche in the early 20th century and i appropriated Picabia in the recent collaboration with David. Hee Hee.

Artasblag. Blagasart.It’s a Big Blart.

I’m Bloggin, just Bloggin and I Know you like blogging it too! Thank you Bob Marley. (In about 1972 we stood and watched him at Rolle College Exmouth play about 3 hours before he became ‘famous’, there were about 30 of us. We were lucky, I just kept downing my pint and wiggerling to the sound, went to the bar, gorranutha pint, wiggled back to Bob and his wailing alongsters. I never thought to bring my camera nor invite him and his boys to play football in the afternoon. Talk about missed opportunities.

Now I am taking the blog line, I still take photos but I had to stop playing football about five years ago. Not before I had the chance to play with my veteran side against Jobserve at Upton Park, twas like playing on a billiard table. Lovely.

Now am changing the name of what I do in this blog. It’s a Blart. Blog-blag art. It’s mine, It’s my art as blogs. Artasblag. Blagasart. Back to blart. I blurt my blart!

So, I drop the name blag, too similar to brag, I don’t like to brag but I do like to celebrate achievement. My blart creates and celebrates. Ok, so, I did some articles and may do some more, I got some in the pipeline but they are a distraction from my real creativity. That happens as I paint, draw, write, print etc. My creativity is a happening process, it’s in process. Compiling a blart is a process in which I bring together old and new ideas and ideas come in the process of the bringing together.

Now I am back on the main trail, being a bookman, making up my buk…s. They come in many forms. I have just started my new buk. It has images in it like this


I began making images like that back in 1968

I have been meaning to ‘publish’ them in some form ever since and now am as the Stones sang, ‘Just A Step Away’. In fact it’s coming thru quicker than I ever hoped it would, that first new squidgerat buk. I don’t think it’ll be in the shops by Christmas. Maybe by May it will be BABE? Am chuffed to bits. In a way it’s a getting one thing out the way so I can plough on thru to the other side, did Jim Morrison sing that? And by the way don’t nobody nick the name, It’s mine all mine. ©pete kennedy2013 and way back way way back. I wouldn’t say that but someone in Ghana has nicked my apulhed name, well they’ve temporarily borrowed it cos they can’t keep it cos I invented it, way way back.

Also you can get my recent book, G Batch, from the following link:


just open the link and scroll down it’s about the third book down. My friend Kevin at Allbooks in Maldon has kindly put the book up on his site. If you look at the image of the title page you’ll ‘get’ why I called it G Batch. Some folk have said that that name don’t reflect the contents, too mathematical, so when I do a wrap-around cover I shall re-name it something like, ‘Inside the jug’, what’s inside? The whole of existence. That’s inside the jug, but in my book it’s just an intro. Kevin is also doing a link to my 1975 buk, ‘Apul-One’ in the near future.

“There’s not many books that I’ve read from cover to cover, honestly, very few, but Apulhead is amongst that few. It still resonates with me 30+ years later, I don’t think you’re ever the same after reading it…and I mean that in a positive way!” Alan Williams said of it on Aug 10th 2013. But let’s move to the near past. To the spate of books which I did for my MA. I need to tell you about them:

G Batch, about which Burkhard Quessel of the British Library has said “Anyway, I found and opened it now and must say that it is really quite a beautiful book.”, was like my ‘commercial’ version of the etchings and prose poem I did for my reaction to Jackie Leven’s rendition of Kabir’s astounding poem, Inside this Clay Jug. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfiKUhS1cnI

Jackie died recently but luckily I had been able to catch up with him in a small folk club in Southend. He told me not to leave it 30 years before we meet again because we would both be dead. Sadly he didn’t stick around long enough for me to get back to chat some more. My whole Clay jug project is dedicated to his memory. I’m crying now just thinking of him and I have seen grown men cry listening to his stuff, other than clay jug. He really touches chords. Ian, IF you can watch this link it will show you Jackie as he performed in 2011 he uses that deep vocal growl from the depths of his Experience. His Experience was profound and he’d really been around.


It is a sad reflection of society that he was not more lauded in his own lifetime, but, that is the way it goes. He did skirt with fame as Doll by Doll and hated it so he spent most of his days as a troubadour. I admired his tenacity. When I saw him at Southend, I thought, where does he stay? Why does he do this? I never got to ask him. Enough people of quality, like Mike Scott and Robert Bly appreciated him. Anyway, he inspired me to do my clay jug stuff. The pot you see on the cover of the G Batch book was made at the start of the project when I intended my ‘book’ just to be six scrolls in a pot, reminiscent of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As I rolled thru the learning curve I came across such a vast body of knowledge and I learned so much, about my Self more than anything, and about all sorts of incredible ideas and their sources that I decided to make some ‘books’ which could also carry the ideas and which themselves would have beautiful qualities.

The first ‘book’ was a poti/pothi, a Tibetan style of book where they don’t necessarily bind the pages, altho sometimes they have holes in each sheet and the sheets drop onto metal spikes in a pile which is then covered on both sides with wooden supports. Sometimes they may bind the sheets with a thong of leather instead of the rod. I decided that my pages were not to be paper but fired clay like the cuneiform tablets the first alphabet was scribed into in Uggarit. So I created a clay poti with some symbols which I cut into the wooden top, a copy is on the back page of G Batch which you can see on Kevin’s site. This would cost you a lot of money to buy and as there is only one I decided to make a book of the writings on each of the pages in a card version, this is now available as a concertina book. The Chinese were making Buddhist concertina books hundreds of years ago so I thought that would be an appropriate way of presenting my pages which are each a condensing down of the ideas of six men I call ‘mystics’, those names represented in the title, ‘G Batch’ .

I also did a series of ‘banners’ which also have some words related to each mystic on. I deliberately made them really hard to read, more ‘word as art’ than word as message! I also used a style of layout reminiscent of the likes of Bochner whose exhibition I saw in 2012 at the Whitechapel. These and the clay poti book with the card replicas will be on display at my next show at The Red Lion bookshop, Colchester in February 2014. Watch this space for more details.

After the clay poti I decided that I wanted to make images of the six ‘mystics’;

G…iorgi Ivanovitch Gurdzhiev (more often known as Gurdjeff)

B…euys Joseph

A…ngeli Silesii

T…enzin Gyatso

Carl… Gustav Jung

H…ermann Hesse.

Which I did from various sources including photos I took of the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, when he came to open the Peace Garden in London and drawings I did of him whilst he was on television. The one of Joseph Beuys I did to put in a pitch to do a T shirt for the show at Royal Academy of his work but it stumbled on the refusal of his estate to allow images of him to be used. Funny that, a man who said everything is art and we can all be artists having his legacy so corrupted. I suppose that’s life, or death. Anyway, I did a series of collages from which I did some master drawings which you can see at Kevin’s site, as they are the main illustrations in G Batch. I then transferred these drawings onto zinc plates and did several etchings copies of each onto Somerset paper. I had to blind emboss a triangle to simulate a ‘folio’ for each print and a rectangle on each sheet for the prose poems I did about each mystic. Karen Harrison says of the ‘poem, “ It’s a brilliant transformation. Maybe it’s a prose poem. I can hear the musicality in the word sounds now. And it’s got a core, maybe like a pot. It must be the dance metaphor weaving through it. I found this version quite moving, (no pun intended!)”

The prints of the words I put onto kozo Japanese paper using an inkjet printer and then had to work out how to stick the extremely fine print onto the Somerset paper base. This I did using Japanese rice glue. And it wasn’t east to get the beautifully finished look. I lost several etchings because the wordprints crinkled. So, now I had 3 ‘good’ sets of the whole pages, two I kept as long sheets and one set I tore carefully in half so leaving a rough edge like you get on the other sides from the paper-making process. Now I had one set which I could ‘bind’ like a book. I tried several different cover ideas including my favoured one a ‘secret Belgian’ form which Mike Sullivan had said would allow the prints to sit flat as the pages were turned. BUT I decided that I did not want to stitch the prints together, they are lovely separate so, having seen many (many) ‘books’ were not stitched in the beautiful book, ‘A 1000 artist’s books’


I decide to build a pouch to hold my prints inside a book cover. I had a model of a small book I had bought in Bruges which had leaves covering the cover and as I had a lovely castor oil plant I decided to use the leaves from that on my cover. To stop the prints flopping around I created a way of binding them in using two leather straps and two little brass studs. I was also able to use a bay stick on the spine similar to the little stick on the spine of my Bruges leaf book.

bukartobjet 002the big leaf book

But that ‘book’ again would cost you hundreds nay thousands of £s  or $s or yens to buy so I did G Batch for the normal person.

I still have lots to say about my recent books and future plans but it’s sunny out and my fingers are aching from all this tapping of the type. So, I shall close for the day. Enjoy.

OOOOPs I fergot!

I fergot to tell you what I dun wid the other two copies of my etchings batch! So, here we go agen. One of em, the least good un or the one with most mistakes, I just rolled and scrolled them into the pot. They cum out at exherbitions and stand like tin soldjas..

north sea scrolls at JDD

And t’other lot, well I call them my ‘Flat scrolls’ a contradiction in terms cos you cannot get flat scrolls cos scrolls are scrolled up documents. Anyway they are in a claret colored burlap covered portfolio what I med. And they may or may not be a book and I don’t give a.. ducking and diving has always been my business.

jo2 042

I didn’t mention my ‘Enbuk’, well that’ll be the day said Buddy Holley. An udder day. My Enbuk is a series of ring bound books with all the notes I did on the run up to making the Big Leaf Book and the pot and all the stuff during my MA course year 2. It’s designed like a catalog I bought at the Dieter Roth show at the Hayward gallery in 1973. The books fit into a plastic box. Since making it in 2013 nobody yet no-one has shown any interest in buying one. Sad that. Mind you nobody has bought any of the work at all. I do it for love.