Every week I see famous folk sit on programmes at the Beeb and talk about their latest book. I turn to my wife and assure her its ok they’ll be doing a special feature about my book(s) tomorrow. But as you know tomorrow never comes. I decided to do something about it instead of moaning all the time. I shall write to a book programme at Beeb I thought. So I prepared this letter:
To “Open Book, BBC Radio 4, Broadcasting House, London W1A 1AA
I am an artist/author and have recently written, illustrated, designed and published a new book, The Shrewd Idiot. I would like to have it considered for a slot on your book programme. Below are two blogs about its launch in Colchester Arts Centre. I shall be doing another (London) Launch at the Book Art Book shop near Old St station on 26 January 2018
This second one has some great photos of the gig but you’ll have to skip all my mention of a Van gig I went to see in Birmingham. I live near Colchester so can get into London easily if anyone wishes to see my book(s).
Then I went on th’Internet to get the email of someone I could send it to. Their page politely informed me that they don’t review books but I could join a writers group and write to a title then submit it to see if I could gain a commission for a play or drama etc. But that’s not what am interested in. I’ve done the writing, laid out the pages and published the book to my own high expectations and I just want a couple of minutes on The One Show or Graham Norton to talk to the viewers about my efforts and the books’ contents and the beautiful (I think) art in them. But like you, I know it’s never going to happen.
*[I know, you know, we all know my chances of getting ‘exposure’ in any institutional outlet; galleries, TV, radio, shops etc is about as possible as hens growing teeth…and I mean big teeth like a lions! But I like to embarrass them by having the temerity to arsk to be let in. In fact I have had considerable ‘success’ over the past 50 years since I began my work as a thinking adult and am not complaining.]
And The Tate too!
Each time I publish a book with an ISBN number I show it to reps of the Tate bookshop, the most recent being of course The Shrewd Idiot the guy got back to me and said, “I can see great effort has been expended but it’s a pass from me I’m afraid.” I can understand his reluctance because afterall they wouldn’t sell at Tate cos am not famous. It’s not just Tate that’s hard to get a foot in the door to. It’s most all of them, I know, I have tried for 50 years. I had to learn to do without them. I survived. I already had more than 21 solo exhibitions in my adopted homeland, Essex. In some quarters they call me Burnley Pete. But I only lived in Bly for 15 years, 1954-69 and I have lived in Essex since 1973, that’s 44 years and counting. However you can take the boy out of Lancashire but you can’t take the Burnley out of this lad. I still speak in th’dulcit tones of ma home town and am proud to have spent my formative years there where I learned a lot.
The story in The Shrewd Idiot predates the start of Rough Trade’s trading (1976) as the book’s about my days between Burnley & Exeter & Bournemouth between 1969-73. And I have it on good authority that the book takes you back to the early 1970s, like a time machine.
After my gig to launch the book at Colchester Arts Centre I had a debrief with the Honorary Doctor who runs tha place and he said I should cut it to 20 minutes and he’ll consider finding it a slot sometime. That gives me incentive to go back to my drawing board and tighten the whole thing up. I learnt a great deal doing it there and I know what not to do next time and what I’d aim to do to improve it.
Talking Colchester there’s an exhibition of work by the members of The Colchester Art Society on at the Minories and I had two prints accepted and hung. They did not hang my surreal portrait of John Atkins talking about UFOs with Ken Campbell cos it was rather big, which is a shame, cos John was one of the town’s favourite authors ever. The bloke smoking is the ghost of Dylan Thomas who John used to play darts with in London when he was editor of Tribune. Here’s the obit I helped prepare for the Guardian.
Ken appeared at Colchester Arts Centre several times and was one of the HonDoctor’s favourite ever performers. They’re both up in the clouds now talking to their hearts’ content. Bless them both, I loved them both.
Someone else we loved, Pauline, a friend for most of the years we’ve lived in Essex, (who used to teach in the Maldon area before moving to Colchester), died last week from the effects of cancer. Pauline was renowned for her dry wit and for ‘calling a pot black,’ because she pulled no punches when commenting on hypocrisy and false values… she also called her black cat Boudicca. Sadly she won’t be able to go to her second daughter’s wedding in a few weeks’ time, which she was hoping to do, but she was there to help her daughter choose the dress. Bless her too. She’ll be watching from a safe distance.
That reminds me of a lovely story about the great physicist Richard Feynman. He had married a woman who was the love of his life but she contracted a life shortening condition whilst still quite young. Feynman continued to communicate to her after she died and eventually sent her a parcel on which he put, ‘Address unknown’. Saying,
“My darling wife, I do adore you.
I love my wife. My wife is dead.
PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.”
That’s beautiful, like Feynman was too. He makes science seem possible, he enthused me to look at science AND he played bongos. On that bong I shall finish.
And as the snow takes over throughout Britain, if you find yourself hunkering down with not so much to do, why not go back to look at this blArt I did summarising my year of 2015 in which I became an OPA (Opsimath Performance Artist). https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/lookin-back/
I spent all me life avoiding London but London’s Calling me nowadays.
I find I like wandering wondering about the streets attractive in me old age. Last time I found it like that wer when I were about 20 year old but then I used to wonder what I’d do with me life. Now I wonder what I did with it! But once again London seems to beckon with opportunity. I know from experience that she beckons falsely. Or rather she appears to offer stuff and rarely delivers the goods. Or maybe it’s me? Maybe with my vivid imagination I get all excited and imagine maybe I’ll get that long yearned ‘big’ break’? But almost 50 years of experience has proved the break never comes. Only small, gradual, arduous, hard-earned breaks come, which often made me look like an overnight success. And often that’s how long the opportunities lasted, overnight. Break of day and they’re gone, and I missed ‘em.
Recently I had the privilege to be invited to Bryan & Mary Talbot’s book launch at the Cartoon Museum. On my way there I donated four photos from my 70’s & 80’s photos of ‘rock stars’ to that lovely camera museum/café called The Camera Museum at 44 Museum which they have been kind enough to exhibit downstairs. My first London photo exhibition, London beckons!
So, Bryan & Mary’s book launch at the Cartoon museum proved to be a regeneration of old acquaintance and a finding new folks to share time with. It is great to see how successful they have become and it was lovely to see London mayoral candidate Lee Harris talk about the good old days when he published Bryan’s work (and mine, in BStorm 2) in the seminal graphic novel on Chester P Hackenbush in Brainstorm Comics, mid 1970’s.
Bryan, Mary, Richard “Chester” West, Glynis West, Lee Harris.Lee reminiscing
I only had ma little mobile phone ‘camera’ with me so these images are tiny and poor but I reckon I might do a page of ‘comic’ with them sometime? That’d be nice but right now I ain’t got much time as am working on 3 different books simultaneously (there’s reasons for that I cannot go into here), stupid I know but someone’s got to prepare my books and that pleasure befalls to me.
Here’s some low res snaps:
Bryan stands alone
Comic book heroes never grow old
Sweet tattooed lady looking like Minnie the Minx.
Not only the best tattoo but also a PhD in Maths she had.
A wonderful work by Dave McKean.
It was nice to speak with James Bacon who came from Forbidden Planet to write about Bryan & Mary’s book launch (and his companion, the tattooed lady). You can see his report here:
People came from afar to this event and I was lucky to meet, momentarily, another of Bryan & Mary’s accomplices in the world of graphic novels, Kate Charlesworth who had come by train from Edinburgh. Kate collaborated with B & M on Sally Heathcote. http://www.katecharlesworth.com/
A week later I turned up at Colchester Arts Centre for one of the Wednesday gigs and boy was it ‘special’, thanks again Ant. Liz Aggiss presented her ‘Slap & Tickle’ show. Liz, an old friend of Ken Campbell’s, who seemed to me to be the female Ken Campbell (she took that as the compliment it was intended), was scarily AAAA-Mazing!
I loved her show in which she literally had (juggling & pingpong) balls in her bloomers. I won’t try to explain, just look at this: https://vimeo.com/151371749
I done a flurry of London visits & reported them in my last couple oblArts; Poetry Library (A Happy Man) & Keifer (Books of lead fly in the R.A). This week I saw the new Rembrandt show at National Gallery (which was the first London gallery I visited as a kid of 10 years in 1961 and I sent my dad away so I could just sit and look at the Leonardo cartoon fer an hour or so). Of course I love his self portraits but the best in show are the etchings, the way he works the surfaces of the different takes and the surprise that he printed them on Japanese paper which was being imported by the Dutch East India Co. in the 1600’s! despite her overt military history epitomised in their fascination with the sword there’s been ages of producing beautiful pots, paper & calligraphy there. For me Rimbrandt is unequalled in the fields of oil paint & etching. F H Haagensen was a great etcher who was probably inspired by Rembrand’s technique, as was most certainly Picasso. Funny how ‘great ‘ artists get access to collections of work that many of us never see. Auerbach http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/aug/29/frank-auerbach-painters-painter-freud-tate-retrospective and Lenkiewicz http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Robert-Lenkiewicz-s-estate-settled-decade/story-17699462-detail/story.html in their separate ways took inspiration from the Dutch Master too and so did I, take a look at my Van von Maan painting below
Van von Maan
We live in an age where the ability to ‘draw’ is almost scorned (by some prevalent ‘successful’ artists and their agents) but it is deeply embedded in my psyche and I love drawing in the different ways I do. Over the years I’ve sat and drawn Keifer, Josef Herman, Steve Berkov, and others with Lord Bath, Feliks Topolski and Ken Campbell amongst my ‘sitters’. Oh and by the way, I do love rembrandt’s self portraits which put him up there as probably the best chronicler of the process of aging with their insight into his very soul, that goes without being said, burram saying it. And you know i do a fine line in self portraits misen th’ knows:
d’y mean pete kennedy?
The skill was hard earned and am reluctant to desist. I shall draw til I die (drawing?) I draw cartoon like with my Apulhed-man, in surreal sketches with my Squidgerats. I draw inspiration too from the work in many media by those who have achieved before me. So I read folk like Philip K Dick, Vonnegut, Mervyn Peake & Brautigan in the hope that some of what I see may rub off on my outputs.
And it’s the same with poetry, although I write my ‘poems’ from a deep sense of apart-ness I don’t try to write ‘like’ anyone (else). But I am inspired by some. I write intuitively I write what comes and I don’t try to write in any grammatically ‘correc’ way. Interestingly when I wrote the ‘poems’ for Inside This Earthen Vessel they had little or no full stops nor commas. As I began the collaboration with david Jury some punctuation crept in but often I do not have it in my writing (like I do not adhere stricktly to ‘correct’ spellinks). Both of these avert-tions allow me to be free(er) and (more) inventive.
I am reading Beckett’s translation or transmutation of Apollinaire’s poem ‘Zone’. I don’t exactly agree with his changes, great writer tho he was, but I do note that Apollinaire has used no punctuation. A WRITER WRITES WORDS. So my punctuation in Inside This Earthen Vessel is the gaps I left. I write this thought then I stop & drop to the next line. Often in poems they start each line with a capital. OK that’s fine, that’s OK, I can do that, but sometimes I refuse.wrtiting for me is to do with the jist, getting the gist, of things (tings) of ideas, notions, suggestions… my writing is not scientific like Wittgensteins is was etc.
For me writing is communication, getting what’s in my mind, spirit, soul, experience or view over to others. Some may say that I might communicate better if I spell by convention, punctuate & grammaticise my pieces. OK you’re entitled to your opinions and your conditionings. I am free of those constraints. And I hear you laugh or snigger and say ‘Yes, free of income, free of distribution through official channels, fields etc. But see this face, AM A BoVVad.
(can’t he even spel nay reight?)
he neighs like a donkey
nay not never
tha’s not ritten
an udda poym
who fetched the cow?
nay not eye
Next weak am in Oxferd to see a bloke gie a tork abArt William Blake, now there’s a proper poet bloke man. And an etcher?
*I bought an lectric typewriter t’other day, I just decided that this will be the first poem I type using it. I thought I’d try my fingertips at tie pin sum concrete poyms. Just like what Henry Chopin and his lot did. Vache dis spaced oot. https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/henri-chopin-and-others-who-got-forgot/
No. 1 in a series of the work of pete kennedy, artistwriter bloke, b.1950
Painting by Pete Kennedy
With notes by PK & DW
So, I am starting the offering up of my images from 1968 to now for y’all to see. I shan’t be so mundane as to put them in chronological order. There’s so many of them and the quality is not dependent on age, neither mine nor the works. Some of my best work was done in the first few years of my life after I made a conscious decision that making my art in my own way, or so I thought. My output was often then and still is now really effected by my circumstances. So, the availability or lack of availability of resources would temper my technique. Time has been a big element in my output, for all the reasons you may imagine. (If you click on the images they will pop up bigger so you can peruse them better.)
This portrait was created at the height of my ability, it is undoubtedly one of the best. The sitter, Duncan Walker, I had known since we were thrown together in the first team in the first week at our secondary school. We had drifted in and out of each others lives. This was me deliberately creating something which held all my values and skills in one image. It’s a triple portrait. A photo which I took and developed and printed, an oil in my style which had taken several years to reach and a ‘squidgerat’, one of my weird creations which were often an insight into a sitter’s deep essence. There is also an appropriation of a Dali egg cos I knew DW had in one stage of his development really loved Dali’s work but more importantly it signified the crack in the cosmic egg, something which we would have discussed during our alcohol filled ‘discussions’. That search for meaning behind life’s charade had been going on for both of us in separate ways and this was a coming together.
The figure on the left is Duncan in intense meditation, looking inward, considering and knowing the other stages in his life. (I sometimes see light hitting my images and adding more to them than I had put in to them in the first place. One day I shall incorporate light into finished works physically.
The figure in the middle is Duncan enjoying worldly delights, with a mischievous, knowing smile about his inner self. (Note the notes in handwriting collaged onto the image!)
The figure on the right is Duncan’s inner self, achieving a crack in the cosmic egg of worldly reality, at the point when his spirit is flying out at the top of his head from a lifeless shell.
This is the story of releasing the spirit through a dual life of the meditative inner self and the electric worldly extravaganza of his outer being.
And about the same time as I did that portrait I wrote and published my little book, The Dull Jodrell. This was an account of some of the writers who had impressed me like Gurdjeff and Hesse. It had quite a bit about ken Campbell in too and accounts of my stays with DW in his ‘London’ house. The cover is a remake of my illystration of Hopi peoples dressed in their kachina outfits standing on the rock dwellings at Mesa Verde. In the book I talk a lot about the ideas of the pre-colombian populations of the Americas. The character in the centre at front of the cover is ‘Lighteyes’
(this is the original sketch)
one of my squidgerats who I drew before I came across the Hopis who in fact have a character in their kachinas with almost identical stance to my man, uncanny! The Hopi kachina which is so similar to my Lite-Eyes was a human gifted with god-like characteristics whose previous human status is represented by him having cross-legs. The round thing on the Hopi character’s head is repeated almost identically in the round thing on the head of my Liteyes. I drew him prior to seeing any Hopi images, ever. It is truly uncanny to me. The strange head gear, which again, was drawn with no reference to Hopi, I had not yet heard of them, also bears a remarkable resemblance to some other Hopi headresses.
The book also had some squidgerats drawings in as well as some I did of Ken Campbell.
This book and the image of Duncan show how my progress thru life has been accompanied by my ‘researches’ into real life characters and thru readings of books on Hopis and Gurdjeff which still continues today and indeed my recent work with the Jug poems is only a different way of trying to present my discoveries to a wider audience. Below is my new image of Duncansquidgespirit zooming across the lake next to a slow swan.
Thank you DW for instigating this first of many(?) reports on my images & artefacts, and tanks fer the fotos of the work.
Footnote:My previous blArt aboot Oxferd toon got SIX ‘likes’, unprecedented in the history of this blaggArt! It sure signals up that some folks are getting someting frae the werds & images of this clown. Also you know if you press ‘follow’ you’ll get notified (not certified) of all my future blArty bits. Tread carefully won’t you. It appears 34 folks out there follow this heap o’ thorts. Tank yez all, makes me feel good too. Makes me feel that all the effort what goes into doing this weekly blarting is getting thru, at least to 34 folks in this wide wonderous werld.
And finally, nobody, yet no-one, ever ‘comments’. I can only assume that everyone agrees with all I say OR, more likely, all who dip into the blArty Bloke unexpectingly are numbed into a somnambulant state and then wake up several hours later wondering what hit them?
Rhody O’Dourke once asked me, ‘Where do I stand-sit now in the world of mice & men? How’m I doing Now?’ I just told him shut up whilst you still can O’D man.
Well am reading Ezra Pound (£) (Agenda 21st anniversary issue) which made me smile where it said his name in Japanese made him smile as it means, ‘This picture of a phallus costs ten yen.’ That made him a Ten Cent Dick Head? Now when I try to read Pound I feel like some folk must do when they try to read me (poems like ‘Six mystics’). But. Nothing comes from nothing. So, to read my work you need to have done some, work. We begin (our development as ‘readers’, writers, artists) at the beginning and layers are laid as we progress or digress or impress. I believe seeing people who are ‘good’ at what they do doing what they do is vital.
On seeing Ken Campbell on stage, back stage, and elsewhere was like watching a diamond glint. His story about a rose by any other name is similar to that one above about Pound’s name. I saw him at Brentwood theatre where he would run thru his one-man shows first before moving on to bigger venues like The Cottesloe, Festival Hall, London. It was called ‘Violin Time’ and he featured a beautiful Vietnamese violinist called Teo-Wa Vuong. He asked me to do a picture which he used as the climax of his ‘hilarious and mind-boggling trip’ but he gave me no notice and I didn’t even have paper the size he wanted so I stuck together several sheets of A4. He wanted an image of Teo-Wa with a rose between her teeth and one of himself bending down with a rose emanating from his person. He said ‘You are the artist, you can do this for me’. (I had done a drawing which he posed for at the Philip K. Dick convention a few years earlier, sold it to John Dowie at a knock down price) So this master story-teller built the whole show up and it ended with the revelation that Teo-Wa Vuong, when spelt correctly meant something like ‘A face like a beautiful rose’ but if just one or two letters were mis-placed it could mean, ‘A rose sticking out of my backside’. So he said I should draw him with a rose coming from his derriere. I said ok, you bend doon over thur and draw you I shall. So, he did bendoon. About 3 minutes later he said thet’s enough and stood up leaving me to finish it off from memory. I hadn’t completed it when his show began so I snuck in when it were fini and passed it down to the stage from the back of the theatre. He saw it coming and said, Oh, the post has arrived and put it down onstage til he were ready. Then at the end of his gig he delivered his punchline, ‘Here’s a picture of a rose sticking out of my backside’. It brought the house down as all of Ken’s shows in his later life did.
(Image of Ken Campbell outside theatre)
Talking of roses, Umberto Eco wrote The Name Of The Rose and funny as it may seem the book is not about Sean Connery and a young apprentice who chooses not to become a monk. It really is about Eco’s fascination with language. He is first and foremost a linguist and a great writer in the field of semiology (he makes Ferdinand de Saussure almost comprehensible!). His ‘Open Work’ is seminal in understanding the place of the arts in our world.
Now, what is so fascinating about the works of Ezra £, Ken Campbell, Eco, Joyce & me is we all ploy wit werds, make witwit wirdz and we cheep-cheap wit littul burds. As also spracht me ole mater matey, ‘If wit were shit you’d be constipated’, or was it consternated? Or complicated? Who me? Not likely me old tatoe-heed. Not that olde chessnot. Brendan O’Carroll (friend of O’Blart & O’Dourke!) what wrote ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ said, ‘If I kept me mustache. I’d look like me mudda.’ And strangely, Mrs Brown’s Christian name is Agnes, The Name Of My Own Long Lost Birth Mother.
And even stranger than that. I was thinking earlier today about a lovely song I heard whilst driving a few weeks ago on the radio, wondering if I would hear it again and it came on Steve Wright in the afternoon. It happen to be by a certain George Ezra (Not £) called ‘Budapest…a bidio’ or sumtin.
For those of you who don’t know my ‘what I do’, I once was an artis onceuponathyme, but am all reight now, now I want to make the words rythme too, but they rarely do, that’s so true. I am just designing a new ‘book’, ‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’, which should be ready for the artist’s book fairs coming up down south in September and Octembre. (At ‘In The Chapel’ & ‘The Wayshegoes’ respectively, may see yu thur?) My printer did a copy on cream paper today, looks wonderful.
But that’s six poems about six mystics, a re-write of the ones I did in my previous ‘book’ G Batch. I’ll get them right one day. They are kind of traditional poems in that they ‘make sense’, have a ring to them and use not a little esoterica. I have written more ‘mundane poems’ over many years, since 1969 in fact, ‘poyms’ which adhere to no rules at all really. Just words jotted together according to moments in my life. They look quite simple and they are. Mostly. A bit like an artist’s sketchpad where they try things out; colour, marks, textures. Just playing with the components, often getting things off my chest. The Mystic’s poems are so much more considered. I gone back to them and redrawn them many times and am still adjusting them. When you see Dylan Thomas at work, or just peep thru the window of that little shed hanging over the cliff side in Wales you see aman obsessed with words and their order and getting it right. Obviously I am not obsessed. I am not sitting here at 05.31 hrs typing up my thoughts on poetry, not me, that’s my nuisance Danny O’Blarty, he’s blooming well insane anyways up.
Kahil Gibran mentioned that poetry is where we juggle with words. And Walt Whitman was adding to and changing his Leaves of Grass all his days. I sometimes associate Whitman (Witmun) with A. Ginsberg as the latter would have read the former (the former would not have read the latter but he did address his poems to him, and all of us future readers). Also, it becomes apparent Ginsberg was present at at least one of Dylan Thomas’s New York readings and I bet his Howl was aware of Thomas. Nothing comes from nothing or as Blarty said, ‘Nuthin cums frum nuttin Nutini!’.
Having seen the ‘copy’ of ‘Inside This Earthen Vessel’ from my printer yesterday i think i shall be doing my ‘final’ print off soon as it does look great in that form. Later today I shall take the one he did yesterday and cut and fold it. I may need to tiddle about with where the ‘pots’ are laid in page but i think it’s almost ‘done’.
Arcade Fire did a wonderful show at Glastonbury. Magnificent. Inspiring. That mix of tight tension in their beat and the zany additions, altho I wish he would enunciate his words more, all I hear is sound, the lead ‘singer’ or should I say ‘drawler’ of Elbow also needs some sessions in speech therapy*. She had a bit of Bjork in there, and as hard as she sometimes is to ‘get’ Bjork must be a top ‘marker’ when it comes to performance.
Now there’s one who enunciates well, so well he pulls his mouth contortedly, Paulo Nutini. His set was sadly cut short but he is incredibly good.
*I had to have some sessions misen back in my teacher training days. They thought I mumbled too much to teach. Luckily the lady what took me had worked in Accrington#. She knew that in that area, they either bark their words seemingly quite aggressively or they speak in a soft mumbly way like what I did at that time. My daddy came from near Mumbles in Welsh Wales so no wonder I mumbly do or did. She taught me to enunciate like a brown cow now. But insisted I keep my accent. Sad that, I never was good at selling my wares.
# Accrington is part of greater Brunlea you know, they say they were all ‘pals’ during the First World War, I am preparing a little artisbuk on it for 2016.
And finally, I wer reading an old sanskrit poem and I thought I’d nick some ideas from it. It says, ‘the realities & truths of existence, the joy of growth, the splendour of action are there in one day’. I want to take that and apply it to some images I made from leaves this week. ‘The realities & truths of existence, the joy of growth, the splendour of action are there in just one leaf.’
And that’s Graham Nash who went off and lived the dream in Los Angeles (?).
Shortly after I posted this blArt Brother Mungus* sent these kind words and a little poem: “I love the image of pottihed holding the membrane of the vessel, it is so modern in cartoon form and yet so ancient as well, you could imagine it also having been scratched on the clay 2000 years ago. Here’s a little ditty”:
Pottihed stands ajar
inside the earthen jug
his six-limbed body
holds the membrane tight
between spirit and form.
He sends out
his messenger bees
to learn and relay
the spirit from mind inside
to man outside.
Interesting, cos I related to the ‘jugheaded man in the pic. I see him as the man inside the pot etc. But he is also the man who made the pothis. Pothi man. Last year i mimicked the Eastern way of making books which they call potis or pothis. The difference with mine instead of using daphne paper shaped like papyrus leaves, I used clay with the words inscribed as they did in the earlier cunieform tablets thus combining two ancient writing forms.
and Mungus was an airy man. Funny, as i mentioned my birt-mama had me in Glasgui, which was the name given to it by its founder St Mungus and it means dear green place, which it is I remember.
This is a re-blArt of an old bloggart it’s like a ghost of tings to come.
the original posting was 2014 but it’s still pertinent.
Way back in 1960, when I wer 10, I won my first prize, maybe my last too, in a flower show. I came 4th in a scone cooking competition. Above is an image of my tercificate. About 50 years ahead of the game what with all these celebrity chef tings going on nowaday. I never won nowt since, but I may still win sumting, never give up hope do ya?
Sometimes I do ‘get lucky’ and today FEBRUARY 21, 2014 I found out Red Lion Bookshop have extended the exhibition of my work until next Saturday. (see flyer below) And another ting, I had my first visitor to my blart from Russia today. Welcome comrad.
It wer all downhill after such heady heights, I just knew it would be because like Seasick Steve, I can’t lose what I never had!
Failure is a familiar friend, but not too familiar please.
‘don’t remind me of my failures … I have not forgotten them’ Sang Jackson Brown, who is second only for sad, tho surprisingly not depressing, lyrics after Len Cohen but the latter is the best ‘poet’ by far (Neil Young came therd). And he wears a hat like me.
I do have a bee in my bonnet and it’s coming out, in this and my next blArt.
Theodore Zeldin says on p16 of his book An Intimate History of Humanity
‘The Renaissance [mine of which I Am about to announce] was based on the new idea of the importance of the individual. [and it led to Modernism] but this was a fragile foundation because individuals depended on constant applause [don’t we just?] and admiration [give me more] to sustain them. There is a shortage of applause in the world, and there is not enough respect to go round.’ He continues on p17, ‘A good part of the process has been the process by which artists have been recognised as expressing the feelings of people they have met….When individuals have looked beyond their familiar surroundings…they have discovered many strangers share their emotions and interests.’ And ‘To find a new sense of direction (we) will need to incorporate the certainty of failure, if failure is expected, and studied, it need not destroy courage…humans may have more options than they currently believe.’
I shall be offering up one option a few folk have already anticipated in my next blart, watch this space (between my ears? For surely, ‘Only a fool fights a battle he knows he cannot win’ (Ghengis Khan is attributed with that.) And I am about to embark on such a battle, Fool that I appear to be. But, there’s method in my madness.
On the back of my first buk, Apul-One it said ‘testimony from the greatest failure of all time’ or something stupid like that, stupid cos yours truly wrote it, the crit that is, as well as the buk. Well I didn’t exactly write the buk as cut and paste it from my own existing journals written most days of my life since I wer about 19 year old. The only bit I ‘wrote’ for Apul-One was the first couple of pages which in fact are possibly the best pages? And it weren’t really a ‘novel’ or nowt like it, the writing was indeed testimony, testimony about my life up til then, well a small part of it. The testimony was like a piece of ‘art’, it testified my doings and thoughts and ideas, very much like my self-portraits in oils at the time would testify to where I was ‘at’. And my Apulhed ‘comics’ testified my more focussed thoughts on ‘issues’ to begin with and later on a ‘zen’ approach to life with the Happy Apulhed strips. Happy Apulhed is lodged in Tate artis buk arkive alongside Apul-One, thanks Maria White for your long-sightedness, thanks to you those two publications were the first tings Tate bought from me.
I tried desperately hard to be a ‘success’ even tho’ Georgia O’Keefe says being a siccess is unimportant. I gave up the day job in 1976 to pursue my various arts only to return to the (teaching) fold 5 years later, broke, no nearer my declared aim of being ‘recognised’ before I die, attempting to spit in the face of the classic mantra, ‘an artis’s work is only recognised after (s)he’s dead’. But the mantra still engulfs me. Sod it. In my awaiting-to-publish masterwork, ‘I Tole Yu I Wer A Genie-Arse’ I kill me off, or at least ‘disappear’ my alternate ego Rhody O’Dorke, but again to no avail, nobody wants to puberlisht it. Well if I were you I’d buy the stuff now cos when I killed O’Dork off it was a metaphor but I swear before I die I shall burn all of my extant artworks and notes fer buks and all. Maybe blow the whole bloody kybosh up? and some young up and coming artist can film it, from a safe distance, then sell it to Tate to replace Ermine’s bed.
Say, call it, ‘Kennedy’s Deathbed Throes’ (throws) cos they like beds in Tate.
They (Tate et al) certainly do not like any artis with a bit of originality in ’em. Apparently ‘originality’ went out of fashion with the ‘Mothballing’ of the Modernists, cos in case you don’t know, the Brit Pack and all the stuff Saarki bought is called ‘Post-Modernist’ (Pr)artwork. I’ll say it agin, am not bitter, just broke. And a Prartwork must copy Duchamp, The Pratwork Paradigm is – don’t tink you can shift from the Duchamp paradigm just Do Dee Do Duchamp time and again til yer blue in the face.
In fact I wrote the crit on the wrap-around sleeve of Apul-One as a spoof, cos the kid wot rote Apul-One had not failed, far from it. Altho he wer a snot-nosed ‘avenue-urchin’ (the 50’s built housing estates dint av streets, itwer avenoos it was, and they wern’t back to back terraces, they wer built on muddy (yellow) hills, and it wer always raining cats and dogs) brung up in poverty. The writer, or collator of Apul-One couldn’t afford penny lollies on the way to or from school nor dinky cars (at two and sixpence ha’penny) like the slightly better off working class boys, their dad’s being plumbers, decorators and small factory owners. No, his daddy wer a steeplejack-cum-demolition man, contrary to popular opinion they didn’t get ‘danger money’ and when it rained they couldn’t climb up 200 foot chimbleys and then they dint get paid. The lad wat rote Apul-One just scraped thru the 4th year at St. Luke’s on a meagre part grant, left college and got a teaching job near Chompsferd then spent his first year’s wages on beer and self-publishing Apul-One. Publishing was not his big success but writing the werds, creating the necessarily B&W images that went into Apul-One with his pen & camera, were his great success.
When he wer 11 year old he had wanted to learn how to develop and print photos, he bought the DIY book, but couldn’t afford the chemicals etc., had to wait til he wer 21 when IEP Woollard showed him the process. He couldn’t draw fer toffee aged 11, 16, 17 then at 18 the miracle began, Burnley artist David Wild, Slade Prix de Rome winner, led him into his first paintings of nude models and whoosh, off he went inventing Appleheadman & all. it was only for the sake of keeping cost to a minimum that he didn’t put any colour work in Apul-One cos there wer plenty of colour in his art back then*. Even so, a self-published book with images in was pretty rare back then in 1975 making him a pie on the ear. Hollands pies went on to sponsor Burnley F C, ask Pete to show you the shirt. Indeed Apul-One has been quite a success over the years and has opened doors for its auteur.
*Now you can see the works in glorious colour in my new A3 bespoke bound artisbuk- Pete Kennedy 1968-73.
Here’s two significant reader’s quotes about Apul-One:
‘There’s not many books that I’ve read from cover to cover, honestly, very few, but Apulhead (he meant Apul-One) 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 2013
Miriam Patchen widow of American writer Kenneth Patchen wrote, “Apul-One is a marvellous tour de force. Your spelling is a wonderful way of helping people not to slide over words. This is truly delightful slowing the reader so he’ll think a bit. Teaching^ and writing! How do you manage both?” August 1998.
^I once was a art teacher and folk would ask me, ‘How do you relate so well with these (mostly working class) kids, particularly those who struggle?’ well, I was one myself, a working class struggler, “I started off a struggler and I still got most of it left.” But I understand the field, having been through it and out the other side, I understand it better than yer below average education minister or any Oftdead inspector.
That lad went on to have over 21 solo exhibitions (he wasn’t too keen on group shows) tween 1977-2013. Every one a failure financially but triumphant in terms the propulsion of folk thru the doors who really appreciated admittedly his sometimes weird work with many who expressed their positive feelings in the various visitor’s books. Of course you have to consider failure if you stand up and be counted and the best trick I know is to look apparent failure in the eye and thank it, for the lesson learnt or the ‘I won’t be doing that in that way again’ etc. Every show I do shows me a light at the end of the tunnel which I can aim for. A light which beckons me on, trying to improve my output and the way I convey it. If you couldn’t get to the Red Lion Bookshop show I am sorry we didn’t get to meet. If you missed it don’t worry there’ll be more. What do you mean that’s what you’re worried about? Now you’re talking like a failure cos it’s too late to stop me now.
Bet you didn’t know one of this lot from Burnlea called Bacon Rind or summat went to the same gwamma school as moi meme (I learned French there and also got 20% in Latin in the second year (8) and they wouldn’t let me take Latin ‘O’ level). He wer there bit after I left tho, so I cannot claim to have been a direct influence, but he may have seen Apul-One inth’skewel library.
ps if you cannot afford to buy my buks apul-one and G Batchyou can order them from your local library. They have to try to get them if you put in an order.
I shall add the two new isbns for the A3 & A4 versions of The Shrewd Idiot soon to this grid.
Vindication at last for all of my jug ideas and my poems! wow
this flyer is deliberately blinding, inspired by mel bochner’s work:
27 April 2017- I was lucky to be in Londres on Thorsday delivrin a copy of my A3 Shrewd Idjet to my lifelong mate D. Walker and I stayed up to go to the launch at The British Library by Live Art Development Agency (LADA) of the online version of the erstwhile mag-
THE PERFORMANCE MAGAZINE. – http://www.performancemagazine.co.uk/
“The performances we cover have been called Fringe Theatre, Performance
Art, and Community Art. We are responding to…a vastly increased interest in these things”
In ISSUE (1 – JUNE 1979) I read Rob La Frenais’ Interview with the late greatKen Campbell and was fascinated to ‘hear’ Ken talking about the ‘conspiracy against imagination’. I had never heard of this alleged the conspiracy but the idea, which according to Ken was mooted by Aldiss, helps me to understand why (my) originality has been accepted byt artworld in almost all of its manifestations (as John Prine once said in a great song of his*), I was “About as welcome as a new Walmart Superstore” in their domain!
Let’s see how KC tells his tale to the first ever THE PERFORMANCE MAGAZINE:
RL: Why did you go into science fiction?
KC: Because of the conspiracy against imagination . . . begun in 1939.
RL: Where in 1939?
R L: What, at the start of the Second World War?
KC: Yeah, that’s right, the war started then as well.
What the conspiracy against the imagination will tell you, after 1939 you either wrote the so-called ‘serious novel’ which must know how things work, must not predict how things will go. Otherwise, after 1939 it’ll be placed in a lurid-cover SF death-camp and be sold on the railway stations and reviewed on the wrong pages of the Sunday papers. See what I mean? …we’re talking about a time when imagination is denigrated.
Talking about ‘Proper thought’, the conspiracy comes from Proper thinking, and all government monies, (like Arts Council subsidies) comes in an anti-imaginative direction since they ‘re part of the whole Proper vision of stunting the imagination, which began in 1939.
When the Arts Council closed down weekly reps, that was to stunt the actor’s art, I would think, wouldn’t you? Brian Aldiss hadn’t pointed out that the conspiracy against the imagination began in 1939 at the time I was doing ‘Pilk’s Madhouse’ I suppose I was training my mind to receive Aldiss’s words. I guess he might have told it to a few people. Perhaps he chooses who he tells it to.
Ken then went on to tell us the subject which was to become one of his big themes in future years:
We arrive with whatever faculties we are blessed or cursed with, then ‘life’ offers up whatever circumstances it happens and we learn or unlearn from them. I love that saying attributed to Arnold Palmer, “The more I practice, the luckier I get”. It’s so true. It’s not so much what you’ve got, it’s more the what you do with it that makes the difference. My old headmaster, for whom the lack of respect is mutual, thought I had very little to offer, although he tried several times to beat some sense into me from the bottom up, in fact the welts from one side of my thighs to the other which changed colour over the next few days from red to blue to brown to purple were a kindly premonitional introduction to Abstract Expressionists like Rothko. I have tried to make the best of the little I had according to him. Not done bad for a poor boy from a 50’s housing estate built to house the riff raff post second world war baby boom.63 now and I have had one article published and in a world where every little helps the editor saying, “…and it looks good. It’s a very entertaining read.” was like manna from heaven because affirmation is hard to come by, for a poor boy. Today I found a note saying that someone called Carla Saunders, in San Francisco area, liked my earlier blog called Hemmed-In. More manna from a mama? Oddly my birth mama lives or did in the San Francisco area, she’ll be in her mid-eighties now, and I think maybe I am still trying to please her though I never saw her since I was 2 but that is down to circumstance.
So I want to say something (summat) about my writing (style/process/ability) in this blog. In fact what I shall write below is the way I have kept a journal now for 44 yearns. My journals are full of these swopping my ideas back and forth (like that beautiful passage in the film Lord of the Rings where Gollum is squawking to his self) passages intermingling what I know already with new knowledges etc. Weighing and balancing up my take on things. So, developing the theme of circumstance, I may have said to myself oh kay had one published stop now when you’re (yor) winning, but no I carried on and there’s a second article coming out soon and am looking to do a third, 4th and on, but that leads to all the hassle and disappointments which go with the pitch. Heh Heh (said the mouse Ignatsz(?) in Krazy Kat – Herriman’s comic is still the beat EVER). So I make pitches and so many editors ignore them, don’t answer or say no. Bukowski must have felt like this? Well no, not really. But John Kennedy Toole (JKT) did and he felt so badly he took his own life purportedly cos he couldn’t find an editor willing to publish his manuscript for A Confession Of Dunces. His mother touted it around and one publisher loved it enough to publish it. I know the frustration of doing stuff and seeking backing etc in the field and not getting it in any meaningful way (see my track record with the arts council, oops sorry there is none). Luckily I believe in the Dalai Lama’s advice, ‘Never Give Up’, altho I did decades ago with the arts council and all of their ilk. I did weaken recently with a local landmark gallery and they declined my pitch for a paltry sum saying that it, my bid, wasn’t deemed to further my career, what career, so never no more will I darken the door of begging for backing. No thanks pleez it only meks me sneeze (ta Ringo). JKT’s title to his posthumous book was taken from one of the most influential writers of all time, Johnathon Swift’s “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that dunces are all in confederacy against him.” Which reminds me of one of my previous titles for a proposed book, “I Told You I Wer’ A Genius”, which will one day soon(ish) be coming out in a series of artisbuks^, or if not I want it on my gravestone!.
^I get so fed up of typing the words artit’s books, look see how hard it is!
I just realised…
I have realised the other day 14.12.13 how and why the late Layer based writer John Atkins couldn’t see how my writings didn’t need a narrative. (In fact the narrative in my writings is my life.) But. Reading Umberto Eco’s ‘Open Work’ has explained the fundamental difference between John and me. He worked from A-Z. I don’t. His narrative in his books is very much pre 20th century in concept; begin middle end. Mine is more an open work; rarely begins, all middle, sans end. I can bring his comments about narrative (how he suggested Apulhed in Wonderland & I can appreciate his realisation (which he had instinctively) that my work was (a bit) more like (say) the American ‘school’- Kerouac etc, whose poetry didn’t have capitals etc, more like the concrete poems of the late 19th century French and later Dieter Roth et al.
Apparently Ozick http://www.rtlibrary.org/the%20shawl.pdf said ”All writing is presumption of course, since no one knows what it is like to be another human being.” and I’ve been looking at the art of writing and giving speeches with some deep and fascinating discoveries. As is my wont I am reading many books at once which include Barthes, Eco and seeing Dot Lessing on ‘Imagine’ the other night, well not her her ghost, well it was her when it was filmed but the audience only ever saw a ghostal tv image and then she died so the ghost in the machine is ‘real’ (?). Anyway so here is what I found:
In Eco’s Open Work ed. Robey, ‘…to test Valery’s declaration “il n’ya pas de vrai sens d’un texte” (there is no true meaning of a text) Tindall eventually concludes that a work of art is a construct which anyone at all, including its author, can put to any use whatsoever, as he chooses.’
So, that makes my finding out that Barthes had ‘around eight hundred little notecards…containing bibliographic indications, some summaries, notes …the whole accompanied by several commentaries, cassettes…computer discs…on which are recorded…the totality of 26 hrs of oral presentation…in accordance with his view that written discourse should take precedence over the oral form’ most interesting. http://www.scribd.com/doc/36196704/Roland-Barthes-The-Neutral I do a ‘talk’ which is much more than a talk, it’s a piece of performance art, the likes of which I’ve been putting on sporadically the length and breadth of this fair country since 1973. What fascinates is the way real life situations as opposed to sitting in front of a computer typing in badly generate incredibleness. I was one of the lucky ones to see several times Ken Campbell’s ‘talks’. WOW, there was a GENIUS. Maybe I shall do a blog about him sometime, one of the greatest story tellers of all time, what influenced li’l ole moi meme self ‘ere, din’t ee.
My portrait (accepted but not hung by the RA) of John Atkins & Ken Campbell having coffee after west end production ‘Art’.
And then there is Bill, of the Drummond clan.Doris Lessing said, “…a writer…a machine for exploring experience, we plunge into experiences”. and A S Byatt says Lessing created a ‘Fragmented form’ thru The Golden Notebook.
(Watch out for my forthcoming article in The Blue Notebook) I would love to get all that material and create an artisbuk! More to the point it’ll influence or rather support my own ideas on such productions and on how one can present speeches. My work has always been fragmented, by life itself, and I am now ready to take it out, to have the experience of putting my words images and artefacts in front of folk and sharing their reactions et al. By the way for a small fee and expenses I can come to ‘talk’ to your group.
The activities of Pete Kennedy, Performance Artist Bloke, Book Creator & retired artist.