Tag Archives: lennon

Somme Whelp In The Wilderness.

The Whelp In The Wilderness.(c) pete kennedy 2016

The image at the top is an incredible piece of synchronicity. I was planning this blArt and sitting early morning with my pen in my hand and I looked up at the fireplace, We have a crystal in the widow which sometimes sends rainbow patches of light across the room. THEN this apparition appeared. A gentle glowing on the candle which looked like it had lit up inside. As if i had lit a candle in memory of those who died, on all sides, in that onslaught known as the Battle of the Somme. I could hardly believe my eyes. This lighting effect has never occurred before. Eerie but beautiful. Bless them all.

candle eerie glow sm

This week the Burnley Express, the local paper which along with the Burnley News reported on the war at the time (1914-18), carried these words this week:

‘On the morning of July 1st 1916 men and boys from Burnley were among tens of thousands of soldiers ordered to go “over the top” only to be cut down by German machine gunners. More than 100 soldiers from the town were among the 57,000 British Army casualties suffered on the first day of the battle alone.’ (John Deehan john.deehan@jpress.co.uk 27.06.2016)

http://www.burnleyexpress.net/news/local/remember-burnley-men-killed-in-battle-of-the-somme-1-7983991

Throughout 2016 I have been working toward a commemoration for those who fought in the horrendous human waste that was called the Somme battle (1July-18Nov 1916). I create images & words which I use in my own hand made ‘artist books’ and in my own ‘performance art’ pieces (PAP) where I create scenarios and enact ideas + events using my body, masks and other props to illustrate a story. I wanted to do my PAP around 1 July in somewhere like Burnley my home town, or Newcastle, my mother’s home area where her parents lost (my grandparent aged) relatives two years before she was born in 1918 and I met survivors of the conflict in 1961 or Colchester which is my adoptive home of culture. I did put feelers out but, like Paul Simon in his song The Boxer (hear a beau rendition by Mumford & son- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAl-vZsswb4 ), ‘I get no offers’, not even a come on from the whores of 7th avenue!

The way I see it I have ‘til Nov 18 2016 to do a piece for it to carry true resonance for those slaughtered as a result of the total incompetence of the ‘leaders’.  Because these things take time to organise I don’t believe it’ll get done this year but then I have ‘til 11.11.2018 to at least fall within the compass of the century after WW1. I shall continue to find the venue and any backing to do my PAP but I am not holding my breath. I even approached the 14-18now group but I get no answer, maybe cos am not very famous, or maybe not very good! https://www.1418now.org.uk/

That’s no sour grapes of wrath it’s just a forlorn whelp in the wilderness!

Oh how history repeats itself; the ‘leaders’ of Britain’s government, Euro MPs (particularly Farage who rarely turns up to do his job and when he deigns to does so only to undermine the institution he was elected onto to represent the English people), the Labour(ing) and the England FA + their latest ridiculed manager all exhibit those same incompetencies today!).

I am going to blArt some of the words from my research and ideas about the Somme + the issues around those years of unnecessary carnage on which I would base my PAP. If there’s anyone interested out there please get in touch.

I found this startling blog called ‘In The Dark’ in which the writer mentions that the men were made to continue running towards machine guns-  “Rather than calling off the attack in the face of the horrific slaughter, the powers that be carried on sending troops over the top to their doom for months on end. By the end of the battle (in November that year) the British losses were a staggering 420,000, while those on the German side were estimated at half a million.”  https://telescoper.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/the-flowers-in-the-field-the-somme-remembered/ .

The imbeciles who organised these ‘battles’ (no, let’s call them mass murders) were the same social group that ‘led’ soldiers into battle in Africa against the brave Zulus at Rourke’s Drift and Isandlwana 37 years earlier, only in that case it was the Zulu leaders who sent their warriors in waves unprotected against the barrier of guns with the consequent carnage that ensued. (‘Isandlwana, the battle that rocked Victorian Britain; at which the Zulus wiped out a substantial British force’) Despite victory at Isandlwana the Zulu forces never recovered and they had to capitulate to the Europeans, who brought concentration camps to Africa during their internecine Boer War the victors of which then introduced apartheid.

Here’s the ideas I would base my PAP on BUT whereas the topic is of the greatest seriousness I do intend to add an element of sardonic humour, livening up the topic with surreal reflection as the famous sketch by Blackadder did, using the maniacal monarchs as objects of derision. I won’t say exactly how but think of fairground games like ‘ring toss’ and ‘bean bag tossing’ at tossers:

I have been reading about the Ancient Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians who all were involved in internecine wars and all succumbed to the Greeks (of Alexander The Vainglorious) who themselves eventually fell down under the inhumane slaughters that emanated from Rome. It seems to me (it’s not rocket science) that, like disease, war is a human condition, it goes with the patch!

I would have hoped (European) wars would have ended after Napoleon was incarcerated, or after WW1 or after WW2 but it never did. To name but a few; Burma, Korea, Vietnam, Biafra, Bangla Desh, Iraq & Afghanistan and now Syria’s war which is reminiscent of the carnage of the two ‘World Wars’. A triumvirate  of my heroes, the present Dalai Lama, G I Gurdzhiev (G.) & Lennon, (illus)all advocate(d) that Ubeings (my word for Humankind which is gender absent or all equally inclusive) stop doing conflicts, which G. called mutual self-destruction.

lennon war is over sm
Look what happens to you if you talk too much about ending wars, ask John.

The First World War was fabricated by monarchical maniacs who ‘ruled’ various ‘Empires’ which had been created by stealing land from and enslaving various indigenous populations throughout the world in the previous 3-400 years. When they turned their corporate venom onto their own peoples the carnage was incomprehensible. These “leaders” all thought they could use their mass-populaces as ‘cannon-fodder’ and they proceeded to do so and nobody was able to reverse, nor prevent, the carnage. The populations were led into the conflict believing it was for god & country when it was obviously for the dim-wits who ‘ruled’ them and the so called privileged ‘upper-class’ of each country to maintain their status quo, which many still maintain even in 2016, the present government of UK being a prime example.

 Their Moronic Majesties Maniacal Madnesses; Wilhelm II Kaiser Bill Frederick William Victor Albert of Prussia, George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert)GB, Nicholas II , Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov Russia, Franz Joseph I Austria- Hungary, Mehmed V Reshad (Ottoman Turk Sultan), & President Raymond Poincare (France).

Their Moronic Majesties Maniacal Madnesses led to the start of WW1 and its continuation despite the obvious insanity and mass murder it exhibited in battles like; Ypres, Verdun, Somme, Passchendaele & Gallipoli! The incompetence of the generals and the blindness of the political morons who manoeuvred the Brits into the mayhem and used the population’s (mostly) men* (from all around the ‘Empire’) as if they were like subuteo players, only this was no game but it was a deadly reality! Now I understand why I feel I was driven.

*I believe thousands of women also took part as nurses tending to the horrific injuries. “Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). It was founded in 1902 at the time of the Boer war and in 1914 was less than 300 strong. At the end of the war four years later it numbered over 10,000 nurses.” from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26838077

My Performance Art about the Somme is a tiny but explosive reminder of the destructive power held by military forces. The ability to decimate has increased a million fold in the hundred years since 1916, so beware taking the armed solution.

haunted warrior ww1
ww1 veteran

[I have an ally in the German artist Otto Dix whose inspiring work I wish to incorporate into this piece. http://www.ottodix.org/catalog-prints/  On same website is explains most of his images are now in public domain. See http://www.ottodix.org/copyright/ ]

 

In my PAP (Performance Art Piece) A hundred yearns ago

I have ‘Tommy’ in the trench at the Somme*, July 1st 1916.

Ironically the word somme comes from a celtic word meaning ‘tranquil’!

Tommy gives a monologue in which he talks of finally having won this horrendous war.

‘No more maniacal leaders cos we won’t let them rise again! About a hundred years ago we fought Boney Fart & his Grenouilles in a war to end all wars. We have the Russians who beat off Boney attacking Gerry on the eastern flank and they’ve never bin beat and they forced General Prittwitz to run but they lost a million men. Someone has to halt the Huns and today is the day with God’s blessing it will be done. Today, this very day, we’re bombarding Bismarck & Bill the Bosch. There’ll be nowt left o’n ‘em. Later we go over the top to clean them up and this damned war will be over. Then I’ll go back home to my sweetheart and see ma little babe. There’ll be no more wars after this one.

Some madman called Lenin has urged our allied troops to turn their rifles against our officers and start a ‘socialist revolution’, but he’s no leader is he? I know our generals have made mistakes but now they got it right and this nasty trouble will be over by tomorrow. Listen. The bombardment has stopped……There’s the whistle, Over the top to victory!’

Over the top he went on July 1st 1916…and the rest is His Story.

There is a modern context to my PAP as well. War is still used by ‘leaders to attempt to gain ground physically and metaphorically. We shouldn’t ban the bomb, we should banish all wars.

ps if (& when) I get no offers to give a home for my PAP I shall hire somewhere and damn well do it out of my own devices. It’s the least I can do to commemorate the poor sods who were taken in that  horrific battle of the royal families and other elites of Europe.

Postscript

The recent ‘leaders’ who took nations into wars are still prevalent, some (or should I say Somme?) examples; Thatcher & Blair although they pale into insignificance against the Bushes snr & jnr, Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi, Putin, and maybe the worst of all, the man responsible for the mass of the population of his country leaving their destroyed cities to risk crossing oceans in small dinghies Assad. Believe me their moronic majesties’ bequest is still very very real!

In my old college town of Exeter I am impressed to see images of their commemoration of the Somme http://www.thesomme19240.co.uk/event/shrouds-of-the-somme-memorial/

This looks like a very moving installation. It gives a small powerful emanation of the hurt which must have been felt on all sides, in many nations.

Haig and the high command really messed up in more ways than one. They had intelligence reports that an area of the front was very vulnerable yet they attacked across the whole front. Ironically the war may have been ended and millions of lives saved if only Haig had been a more competent tactician and used that intelligence (gained from German POWs who told of a weakness in their defences) although it meant the Germans would have purportedly ‘lost’ the war (there could be no victors in that cataclysm!) the gain would have been an end to the carnage. Instead they added to it then added some more in many more such battles until 11.11.1918.

Also someone high up made a fundamental error at 3am that day by phoning a message of good luck for the impending attack. That message was listened in to and the German gunners were alerted across the whole front, with devastating consequences.

Haig and His Highly Incompetents must have seen the disaster unfolding rapidly but instead of calling the attack off continued it until November 18th. Men from all over the world deemed dispensable. Not to mention the many Germans who were massacred in the initial explosion (“A queer dull thud” as one soldier witnessed at the time.) from the mines laid by sappers deep under the German command at Lochnagar. The sappers were taken from those who worked in the pits of Britain, they dug down deep under the German line to lay the biggest store of explosives ever laid. The ‘job’ was fraught with danger as German soldiers were also digging deep.

http://www.greatwar.co.uk/somme/memorial-lochnagar-crater.htm

somme shrouds
Somme Shrouds in Exeter July 1st 2016

‘Thanks Pete

I think we need to make work about the war to help us understand the futility and the waste – and the fact that we never learn…’A Book artist from Australia

Thanks for your reaction ABafA.

I sent that out to about 100 folks, many quite good friends, since Thursday and do you know! You are th’only one that’s made any comment.(Ignore that I’ve had 4 now. Also my wife and son tell me I shouldn’t expect any reactions at all, ‘people don’t react to things they see in newspapers normally, so why should they react to your blog you old fart?’)

Just before i went to my computer i were tinking about my blog and my gripes about bad leadership and I thought, ‘d’y know, the same stupid stuck up twits are in charge today, and the same right wing thinkers (not, I don’t believe they can be called ‘thinkers’)) are i/c the Press. Nothing has altered’. In fact the 1960s seemed a time of HOPE. Atlee brought in the education act in 1945 which educated me, then I was taught to teach by intelligent humanists who said, let your students find their way to their passion and then take them to the top of the highest mountain and push them, LET THEM FLY. But since then it’s gone backwards and the public schoolboys (Like Gove, Boris, Cameron & Osborne) have a strangled-hold on the Asylum whilst Labour again display disarray and the LibDems are dead in the water, despite being instrumental in stopping the public schoolboys worst intentions whilst they were in coalition.  I think I’ll move to Australia, or Canada, or even France, anywhere to escape these clods! Pete

One friend’s reaction flags up a rather rude reaction to brrrExit: Look at these posters with Boris on by Billy Childish, be care full cos he used a word what is naughty. It refers to the sex organ on a pig and is originally from Old English (I think):

http://www.l-13.org/acatalog/BILLY-CHILDISH-RECORDINGS.html

 

 

 

‘and Lennon’s on sale again’

 

‘…it is the very presence of the performance artist in real time, of live performers ‘stopping time’, that gives the medium its central position. In the first decade of the 21st century PA is at last being folded into the history of art proper, moving from the margins to the centre…PA continues to be a highly reflexive, volatile form- one that artists use to articulate and respond to change. It continues to defy definition and remains as unpredictable and provocative as it ever was.’ RoseLee Goldberg in Performance Art (PA). From Futurism to the Present.

As the new year gets going the great news is that I shall be doing a short performance art piece at the Society of Bookbinders in Kentish Town in March.

SoB Book Arts Day 2016

London and South Region of The Society of Bookbinders

Book Arts Day

Saturday 5th March 2016  (10:30 – 4pm)

(£10 members SoB, £15 non-members)

The day will comprise:

 An illustrated talk on Book Arts by Sarah Bodman

 A book arts fair presenting a variety of emerging and established book artists (many works will be for sale).

 Demonstrations by a selection of the exhibiting artists.

 A spoken word performance by book artist Pete Kennedy.

 A mini exhibition of Sónia Serrão’s personal collection of artists’ books collected over the last 20 years.

Sarah Bodman is an artist and researcher at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), UWE Bristol, where she investigates contemporary book arts. She is also Programme Leader for the MA in Multidisciplinary Printmaking at the Bower Ashton campus, editor of the Book Arts Newsletter, Artist’s Book Yearbook andThe Blue Notebook journal for artists’ books, and writes regularly on artists’ books for ‘a-n’ and Printmaking Today.

 

I have chosen to do a variation of my Clay Jug piece because it resonates ‘book’ and I have several book projects I’d like to show anyone who turns up to see. It was originally done tward my MA in Art & the Book and I have ‘danced’ it at IPA in Glastonbury & Bristol where it was very well received. The books that grew into the project were greatly influenced by Joanna Drucker’s wonderful book on the Alphabet. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/790760.Alphabetic_Labyrinth I experimented with:

  • use of clay tablets like cuneiform,
  • poti like the Tibetan book form,
  • scrolls like medieval manuscripts and
  • the idea of knowledge being found in buried or hidden pots.

I use the music that Luke E. Walker created for Clay Jug to spark my movement thru this piece. Here’s a link to Luke’s music on soundcloud:

I also recite the words of Kabir and, maybe, Osip Mandelstam). I also intend to show a couple of my most beautiful unique copy books that I did to house my six poems generated from the project. PLUS David Jury’s version in letterpress with a surprise package.

I am also developing a piece which I did at IPA several times in Oct2015 based on the words of a song from the wonder-full cd  named still calm melancholy air brush hush by Colin Lloyd Tucker called Brush in which I have his words written and show them with movement as the piece progresses. I mime making a painting and in the end, in some venues, I actually brush an image onto a surface which can be paper and/or glass, perspex, wood, anything. I am looking to do it in shop windows, particularly art supplies places.

It fulfils my desire to follow in the footsteps of zen masters who write their thoughts in beautiful calligraphy and do drawings too. I may use Colin’s beautiful ambient music before I appear ‘on set’ but more & more I am working tward not having beautiful distractions as I move thru a piece, I am working tward playing the music in my head as I move.

see-   http://campus.poetryschool.com/follow-brush-making-zuihitsu-poetry/

another  new idea I am working on is:

 Somme Lads – Burnley Boys 1916

Designed as a solo work where PK plays two combatants, Tommy & Gerry. This is a commemoration and hopefully a reconciliation, of the horrific battle of the Somme July 1916. Tommy has a helmet like the one worn by Brits in WW1, but this also could be a cooking pot or wok like those we used to wear as children when playing war games.

My aim is to try to stop all wars on planet Earth, no pressure then Pete! My request is that the world works towards de-powering those perennial ‘leaders’ who create wars and create a planet where war is but a dim distant recollection. Can you Imagine that! Here’s Lennon my working class hero singing his song in a set which has all my favourite foibles in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2hvkPyiAFE  You see John dressed in apparel almost certainly designed to antagonise the obviously ‘privileged’ audience his band played in front of dressed in his red suit and black round specs.

And Lady Gaga, almost outdoing Lennon with her glasses pays tribute to one leader (Obama) who tried not to wage war and her favourite song writer in her version of Imagine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urjyP95H6vk

Here’s  Marianne Faithful singing another Lennon classic, Working Class Hero in which he lays it down like he sees it, quite lucidly I believe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2SDRQJrawU

Finally another working class hero David Bowie who sang ‘Lennon’s on sale again’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IftjxN_KJoM and whose outlandish dress-sense set the stage for Gaga.

I was hoping to do it in June at the book fair at BALTIC (Artists’ Book Market BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 June 2016) but haven’t been selected to do an intervention this year. So, if you have a venue in the North east area and want to see one or more of my pieces near the weekend of 18-19 June please let me know.

pete's earthen vessel