Tag Archives: my books

D. McKean is D. Best!

In the past two weeks I have been to the Imperial War Museum and the House of Illustration in London to watch Simon Armitage then David McKean talk about and show their respective works on WW1 respectively. Armitage in his poem referenced Virgil’s use of the bees and it made me think, ‘Yes, tings like bees would continue to try to survive despite human folly’.

McKean was altogether more comprehensive in his use of insects and birds in his INCREDIBLE graphic-novel-BOOK called Black Dog inspired by the First ‘World’ War and work of Paul Nash. I shall dedicate a full blArt on DMcK later when I have had time to digest all he said and created in the book alongside some great photos of his face and limbs moving thru the discussion of his work.

I must offer that Black Dog by Dave McKean is, for me, the best! It’s such a powerful piece, incorporating such hugh delicacy, that I feel as if I am in the company of a giant in his field who makes the BFG seem tiny. I have had long-standing admiration for the Underground comic art of Rick Griffin since the 1970s but this Black Dog has stolen his place at the top of my thinking. Here’s my rendition of D Mc in a drawing I did of him then played with in PShop.

DMc is D Best image-man
So, here’s me playing with a drawing I done of DMcK at the House of Illustriousness

I am busy working the photos I took into a series of ‘portraits’ which I shall add words I wrote taken from what ‘Dave’ was saying and hope it gives a graphic story of the evening worth looking at. Here’s another image I have worked up. At some time I shall print them off and work into them with other media like pen and paint, but meanwhile this is done in photoshop where I still haven’t worked out how to draw with the natural flair which comes with my years of crafting my turn of hand.

I must tank DMcK fer allowin me to tek snaps and do ma skitches too whilst he tried to consecrate on his words & tings. Here he is troyin to concentrated milk:

d mac + mi werdz
The chance to carve imagery out of the great image carver was amazing for me

Now for someting com-peterly diffrunt:

Latest update on my Shrewd Idiot book:

I have now completed the layouts of my Shrewd Idiot book and in the good feeling that has dawned as a result of the culmination of what amounts to 40 years work I have been self-reflecting. My printman says he can give it his attention come august 22nd which gives me a bit of time to dig out about 40-50 images I am going to add to it in colour, the bulk of it is B&W wid justa modicum of red, on drafting film which wiil add both the images and a palimpsest [The noun palimpsest originally described a document, such as a page from a manuscript written on parchment, that had been rubbed smooth so it could be used again, with traces of the original writing showing through. The word still carries that meaning, but ancient manuscripts are rare these days, so you’re more likely to hear palimpsest used to describe something that has traces of early stages showing through…Vocabulary.com, which seems appropriate for my SI pages in which I am re-using (scans of) typed pages from my 1978 manuscript along with handwritten additions and alterations and a few comments from the older me what is now. In fact only a Stupid Idiot like what I am would bother to ‘publish’ the work in the way I have laid it out. It has indeed been a very arduous process in which I scanned the typing, then cleaned up every page so the cut & paste line didn’t show and dropped in copies of the drawings I used to do in my ‘notes’. It would have been infinitely easier to have had the whole of the words re-typed digitally and then worked into a new layout but I had to suffer for my art! Trouble is it’ll also make the potential reader/buyer suffer too and many will be put off by its form. I have chosen to ignore all those considerations, I’ve always been stubborn with an inbuilt determination to make things hard for myself, in the name of ‘authenticity’. I should really heed the words of Walter Matthieu (born Matuchanskayasky on October 1, 1920, in New York City to impoverished Russian-Jewish immigrants) in one of his final films, Kotch(er) 1971, where he says that sometimes it’s best not to be so honest and that honesty can be and is sometimes too brutal, but, I never learn do I?….Do I ? On the contrary, I am learning all the time; I take things into consideration then eject them for my better plan, which more often than not seems foolhardy, hence the Shrewd Idiot! I am hoping that the beautiful presentation of the book will invite scores of punters to pirchase it, yes that’s pirchase as in pirspire (try doing that without wordcheck killing it!). One of my heroes, Brian Clough, before the demon drink took his judgement, used the same strategy as me when he said he would

  1. listen to his player(s)’ points of view, then
  2. carry on and do what he intended to do before they expressed their differences of opinion.

Hero! He won the Euro-Cup twice with a load of  players most of whom had passed their sell by dates and a few greenhorns at Notts Forest. That was no fluke, Forest never did anything worthwhile after his demise.

So buy my buk you pirfec puntas cos I knows warramonabArt!

Postscript:

Choreographer Rosemary Butcher, who has died recently aged 69, once commented: “I’m not particularly interested in accessibility. Staying easy isn’t going to move anything.”

In 1965 the liberal arts college at Dartington, in Devon, launched a new theatre and dance studies course and she enrolled as its first dance student.

In 1968 she travelled to the US on a two-year scholarship and, studying at the schools of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham, received a thorough immersion in the mainstream of American modern dance. But it was when she returned to New York and began working with members of the radical dance collective Judson Church that she found the aesthetic that inspired her own dance-making.

The Judson philosophy was encapsulated in the opening line of its manifesto “NO to spectacle, no to virtuosity … magic and make believe”. But, just as important to Butcher, the Judson choreographers were closely involved in the experimental strategies of new music, film and visual art, and it was within this crossover culture that she saw her own career taking shape, rather than in the world of pure dance. (Guardian 20 July 2016).

I was fortunate enough to attend a number of classes in the Martha Graham technique run by Molly Penn when I was looking for something to substitute for football at St Luke’s college in Exeter in the summer months of 1972. Molly accepted me in altho I was pretty damned useless. It did lead to her asking me to design the dance production of her take on Catulli Carmina wherein she used the same structure as the Black Mountain college had with 3 people doing the production; a artisbloke (me) a dance person Molly, and a music person whose name I forgits nah (Peter O’Brien you goofball). cf Rauschenburg/Merce Cunningham/John Cage. This event is chronicled in ma Shrewd Idiot buk and this will be one of the big images in it, innit!

cat car poster
my design for the poster created and screen-printed par moi in 1972
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Visit 2 da the New Tate

London dream on

Photo taken of some idiot dreamer as part of a Uniqlo gig at opening days at Switch

Wa doo eye kerno? (That’s ‘What Do I Know?’ in real Englitsch. Not much! I’ve only been making ‘art’ since ’68 now, 48 years later am 65, 66 on 27 Oct!. So I tink I knows a bit about ‘art’.

I visited the Switch (aka New Tate build) twice this week. I LOVE IT!

I got an overwhelmingly positive feel in the place, despite LONG queues, big crowds and the obvious commercial success of art (something which fro 48 years eluded me work & still does, I’m not represented in the Tate butti don’t mind cos am represented in this blArt…I’m in the Tart!

I could already write a book about the value of the New Tate (Tate Modern & Switch). It employs thousands of people, some on a wage, some for free, some just ogle at Great Tate.

I first went to Tate in 1967 and it were a massive part of my Art Education. Now I am working on 3 books about my life & work. Two are already written; The Shrewd Idiot and Genie Ass. Its taking time to lay them out, so you have to be patient cos they’re on the way.

borgeoise switch hse
Enter a caption

a little Bourgeois sculpture from the Tate collection .

bgwmn cleen s
a portrait I done o LB earlier, holding a Tate Member with her best friend on her shoulder

“Louise Bourgeois is the Godhesse!”

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=louise+boureoise&id=E697774EB2F4FA54F3BFB9C7D852C3EA0677DBFD&FORM=IQFRBA

I thought that as I looked thru the new room dedicated to work she did which Tate now owns! https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=Louise+Bourgeoise

borgeoise switch hse5
another gem

I’m sad to say Andrew Marr on the BBC2 kept harping on about the £260 million it cost.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07hk12j/new-tate-modern-switched-on?suggid=b07hk12j

borgeoise switch hse3
This is getting to be the Bourgeoise show (they won’t let you snap Mona Hatoum!)

Marr’s underlying take on it was poor but Waldemar Janacek’s was even worse, but I have about as much respect for his views as I do the woman who got up and walked from mher bed when Saint Saatchi told her to get up & walk.

borgeoise switch hse4

This woman who got out of her bed to talk to Marr has been involved in ‘art’ for less time than me (but should be more articulate cos she is paid millions to practice) said a work by Louise Bourgeois is a ‘mindfuck’.

bourgeois bed 1991 get lost sm
I photo’d LB trying to rid the rats from her bed, but to no avail, they stole it!

I think anyone with a ounce of intelligence may see what she was getting at but I’d have thought she could have been more descriptive and constructive about that great artist who actually tolerated her more than I do even though Bedgirl stole many of her ideas and methods.

angel gormley sm
I took this photo of an angel flying over Gatesheed in 2015 when I went up to the Book Fair at BALTIC

Anthony Gormley talked well about a work he did with 5 eyes on it (it’s very good).  He got lucky back in 1981 when Serota at the Whitechapel consented to show his early sculptures. I never had that big a break, yet, well accept it I never will, ‘Never say never’, I just did! Compare my Billy No Breaks to Gormley’s big bits breaking waves near Liverpool, albeit he’s done some good stuff, his angel still flies north  and I saw his 2003 show at Baltic.

http://balticplus.uk/antony-gormley-domain-field-installation-shot-2-c10436/

I still keep making my art, this blArt is pArt of it too.

borgeoise switch hse6
one last bourgeoise

Mona Hatoum’s show is wonderful too.

I posed for these photos in her ‘Corps Etranger 1994’

mona hatoum (2)
good looking pensioner gets inside Mona

I love her utilizing mundane, nay ubiquitous, materials; weaving it into her clever metaphors. I love her glass grenades, her toy soldiers arranged as an infinite loop. Worth seeing. As is the work called (or by) Tarek Atoui in the basement at Switch.

It’s several musicians make sound out of instruments designed to emit sound electronically (or sommat like that!). It’s part of the Tate Live Art stuff. One day I may be able to do ma ting there too cos I am a live artisbloke as you know.

Actually over the years I have performed at Tate in many ways. I first entered as a raw-would-be-artibloke in the 1960s. In the 70s I frequented it as I became a teacher. 80s I took my own audiences in the shape of coach trips from my night classes and i drew Paulozzi. 90s I took my own childers one of whom is now a curator and i drew Miriam Patchen and then Bruce that Scottish fella. Noughties I stood in a massive derelic  buildin and thought ‘they’ll never make it work, then on opening day I saw a surge of folks walking like Pina Bausch dancers into the Turbine Hall. In the 2010s I couldn’t afford the member’s pass until my state pension kicked in this year and I re-joined. Glad that I did, a good year to do it.

‘ere’s a bonus poem:

The Beauty of making my art today

 

The Beauty of making my art

After 50 years of trying to make it

I finally made it, good.

 

How do I do it now?

It’s easy after all these tears

 

I cried many many years

As they ignored me, all ways

Now I come into my own

Do it my own way I do too.

 

 

Finally, here’s a sign i saw on a London Bus as I travelled to the Tate

london farts logo

 

Team of trophies.

 

Real Madrid have eleven European Cups in their trophy cabinet now. (Liverpool have 5, Notts Forest won it twice & Man U av 2.)

That makes Real Madrid (Ray-Al some say) historically the greatest club in Europe, by far. Even back in 1961 when I was ten years old and playing for Tod Road Junior team in the Hartley Cup Final Ray-Al had already won the Cup 5 times, in fact every year since its inception in 1955 and we all fought to be Di Stefano, Puskas or Ghento in kickabouts in Burnley’s backstreets. I go to two finals as a 10 year old and we were joint winners of both. That’s the closest I ever came to winning a cup. Where does that place me in the ‘greats’ of football? About the same place as I am in amongst the greats in everything else- Nowhere Man.

But Don’t Give Up I hear Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush & the Dalai Lama sing. I may never have won a cup but I scored many wonderful goals and had some great achievements. Oh be Thankful!

sennacheribs prism BM image

The Sennacherib Prism 691 BC rests in the British museum for all of us to fascinate over. Their comment is:

‘Hexagonal clay prism, foundation record lists campaigns of (Assyrian king) Sennacherib until the start of his final war against Babylon, and includes a description of the tribute received from Hezekiah, King of Judah in 701 BC’. See this fascinating (despite having subtle leanings toward a biblical bias) article about the prism et al:

http://www.bible-history.com/empires/prism.html

 

I discovered it (The Sennacherib Prism) was there (at the BM) in the final week of my MA in ‘Art & the Book’. I had just about completed a major project in which I had used six men of ideas as the focus for my idea of placing ‘knowledge’ in clay pots. The project pivots around the concept of ‘six’, which in fact was a pragmatic reduction on Gurdjeff’s use of nine, nine would have increased my workload by another 50% and I had enough with six. Luckily six sided shapes tessellate as any bee will tell ya and bees also feature in the ideas of two of my ‘heroes’, Gurdjeff & Beuys.

 

For me the ancient hexagonal prism was and is tantamount to a book and at the time vowed to make a book(s) influenced by it. I love it. I cannot read cuneiform so must rely on the experts to tell me what it records. It seems to me that the view of history which we received in schools was so jaundiced against Assyria & Babylon, for reasons I shall not try to mention nor explain here, suffice to say that the region in which it was made has been at war with itself and others for millennia.  Assyria & Babylon and Persia for that matter had truly great civilisations for their time and those people arose out of a cauldron of activity in which their cultural and technological skills grew exponentially. I just love this prism. For me it represents (not in its words which are about wars and conquests but in its skills of the art of writing and making) a great human achievement. Compare it to an ipad. If in 2,000 years time a being stumbles upon an ipad & this prism I think it will be the prism which would communicate more once that being deciphers the content into its own language. The ipad will communicate little because the waves (of the internet?) which inform it will no longer be around, so it’ll be just a piece of plastic with a few words like ‘ipad’ marked on it.

My first real opportunity to make a book(s) influenced by the prism came recently when I saw an ad in Sarah Bodman’s BAN p49  http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/pdf/newspdfs/103.pdf

‘Call for artists’ books: The Great Silk Road International Artist’s Book project Organiser: International Association “Artist’s Book” Curators: Vasily Vlasov, Mikhail Pogarsky Project theme: Artists’ Books unite the world! The art of communication The international art project “The Great Silk Road” is aimed at the development of communication and cooperation between countries and peoples. Two thousand years ago, the Silk Road united the Far East and Europe and has been the main channel for the exchange of goods, technologies and knowledge. Today we offer to renew the exchange on a new level of art’s message, ideas and images through the artist’s book. The Great Silk Road is primarily a metaphor. We do not limit artists in the methods of the interpretation of this theme. We are open to any bright images and ideas aimed at communication between East and West, North and South, art and society; on building productive dialogue between countries and peoples. If politicians cannot find a common language for each other, they will have the help of the international language of art.’

BANG off I go again. I don’t have time to create any artisbuk right now, but anyroadup am gonna! And I did and I sent it to Moscow and I shall shew it to yez when I get a message from Russia saying they gorrit and they’ll have it in the show. Why did I bother to do it when am so busy working on other books like my long awaited (by at least half a dozen long term suffering friends + one or two masochists) New Shrewd Idiot? Well.

I may win a trophy like Ray-yall Madrid did? [Idjet! there’s no trophies to be won. The real trophy is being able to participate, innit?]

 

The Silk Road is what I DO! It features loud in much of my work since my MA studies in 2013. The Silk Road was much frequented and writ about by my old mate Gurdjeff (Gurdjieff or Gurdzhiev if you like) who talked of the Remarkable wise men he found tucked away in places like Bokhara and Samarkand on the old Silk Road. So I just cracked on and did it.

silk rd buk 2 sm

The result is my first hexagonal prism book. Using binds and words and artefacts together to indicate my fascinations which my bookbinding mentor Mike Sullivan kindly said, ‘…they look very exciting…’.

Everyone who sees them seems to like them. I have made 3 slightly differing versions each of which can be shown in different placements, all of which are reminiscent of ancient stupas built by various peoples moving out of India onto the Old Silk Road trail to China taking one of the most valuable of human commodities with them, ideas. And creative, beneficial, positive notions are, for me, the best.

What else happened this week?

Well I turned up at Firstsite for another impromptu lesson in break-dance from ‘Isaac’. He runs classes there as part of the YAK youth project. He’s so tolerant and patient and I have now nearly ‘got’ the first six steps in the basic break-dance form.

Blu Bella sm

I have installed the Quark2016 package and am working thru some teething issues with one of their engineers. Well I think I am, I hope she didn’t get back over the weekend cos they don’t work over (British) bank hols in India, not cos she’s given up on me as a dead loss. Hopefully once solved I shall rapidly (I hope) put my 1970’s illustrations into the New Shrewd Idiot. I got to get it finished and finally out. I have a new idea for the wrap-over cover. I have a self portrait what I done just before I left my home town for college days.

a self P 1969 v sm

I may use that with three flower picture above it representing three young women who play important parts in the book; a bluebell, a rose and a camellia. It’s wonderful where an unshackled mind takes you innit?

and in tribute to those who drowned at The Battle of Jutland, both sides.

a first poppy 2016 sm

 

Twinkle Toes Walker goes Walken

Chris-Walken

Watch this GREAT dance by Christopher Walken https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6ta5Y3xAhk

“I tink OI’ll do dat dance misen.”

step dancer2

And here’s me old mate Duncan Walker mimicking him.

Twinkle Toes Walker does a Walken.

a tinker sm

Then advises me,

“Nah then lad, tha’s gottu git thar olde buk owt.”

OK 19.4.16

So we all experience self-doubt and of course as I work thru the final prep of the final version for print of the SI sometimes I wonder if it’s worth continuing? My old pal IEPWoolard says, “Yes, you have to Pete”. Another friend, whose opinion I take very highly, talks of the ‘yes to carry on’ but also the need to make sure that when copies are ‘thesis-bound’ that there is also some stitching along the bound end to preserve it for not just 20 years but for 100 years plus when, ‘It’ll be of even more interest (because of its context)’. That’s not to say he’s saying my ‘writing’ is of a great importance, no, it’s the statement/evidence that the work brings with it of a time, a time in the early 1970’s. Now, that time is already gone, it’s history and my ‘book’ is (further evidence) of life then.

19.04.2016

I had a nice little fillip today when a member of the staff at Firstsite said of my Outlaw Pete gig, ‘It was an out of body experience.’ She had not watched my whole gig. Said what she saw was very strange. I retorted, ‘That’s good cos I never want to be perceived as ‘normal’.’

20th April 2016

I just laid page 70 into my Quark* layout for my ‘Shrewd Idiot’ (SI) buk. It happens to be 3 drawings I done back in 1971 (December) of the character I had realised that I had just ‘invented/created’ AppleHeadedMan aka Apulhed. Well in fact two of ‘him’ and one of PearHeadedWoman. The sketches fit nicely over the two pages of the SI manuscript which lay over one page of the new version. There’s lots of different links there, including the visual link of the two intersecting on the page. In fact I never again drew Pearheadgirl, never ever even to today, which is fascinating, cos Applehead could have had a constant ‘fruity’ companion thru the past 40 years. In fact in the notes on that same page I am forlornly saying that my then erstwhile girl-friend was not replying to my letters and that when we were to meet up again, as planned around my 21st birthday, it would only be ‘as friends (not lovers)’. In fact we never were to meet up again, not so far anyway. Maybe the slipping away of Pearheadgirl is a living analogy of that aspect or sequence of things which happened then did not happen in my life? [An analogy is ‘a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects’.] The disappearance of Pearheadgirl is synonymous with the non-re-appearance of ‘Rose’ in ma life.

Quark* is one of the two big packages which offer design strategies for print layout. Although I found them difficult to make contact with I went up to their address in London and did find a human being who was very helpful. So much so I have decided to stay with them and move to their new ‘2016’ version despite the fact that my printman’s company uses a rival design package, which will cause some difficulties because one system is not compatible with the other. I am relatively unschooled in ‘graphic-design’ and have a lot to learn but I always did find ‘learning on the job’ my preferred route to skills and knowledge. Creating this new version of my SI buk is arduous, mostly because I insist on using scans of typed script from the 1980’s manuscript when re-typing it into a modern digi-form would be much much easier. All my life I tended to do things the hard way, as my SI buk still shows. Its form & content show an idiot (idjet) at work but he end result he knows will be, well let’s just say, very different. And ‘all me own original werk’.

Authors’ Authority.

 

Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent is a good mantra.

I was born Peter D. O’Kennedy (http://blogs.transparent.com/irish/an-sloinne-o-cinneide-the-surname-kennedy/ ) in Glasgow Royal Infirmary most definitely of Celtic descent. My paternal grandparents came from Cork & Limerick.

Since I left school in 1969 I been trying to ‘make a name for myself’. But I already have a name, so really there’s no need to make another (anudda). Once again I have to tell maself to STOP, just be your-self. And that’s what I am best at.

Recently whilst negotiating an article for JAB about Dieter Roth and how he far outstrips most all other ‘artist-book’ makers they suggested I focus the writing around my own work. POW, off I went into a piece about some of the great German artists and writers who have impressed upon my work which was published in JAB 38 http://www.journalofartistsbooks.org/current/ . I watched Bob Geldoff’s tele-piece on W B Yeats last night. It was very revealing and helped me to understand the poet/writer better than before. I went to bed thinking, ‘Well that explains some of my own passion and drive…It’s the Oirisht in me…it’s a cultural ting’. I slept a couple of hours and at 02.30 hours came down and wrote this, “I was born in Glasgow Infirmary of Celtic descent. I have 3 books I must achieve:

  • The Shrewd Idiot (SI)
  • Squidgeratscrawls (Sqasc)
  • Genie Ass (G.ass)

I am collating SI. It’s a labourious process but that’s by choice.

Sqasc should be more joyfull.

G.ass is going to be done in 5 or 6 parts, should be ‘fun’.

Then I can re-lease my-self to do the other books that I wish to achieve, some more spontaneous, others from already existing notes & ideas. I don’t care about the audience, just want to achieve them. ASAP.”

Then I returned to bed til about 7.30 am.

a title page for si
an unusual page from SI cos it’s actually typed into the manuscript, most pages are pcopies of old typed pages.

Last week I spoke about my work on the new SI. Am onto page 22 of 252 jpegs to vire over into ma layout. It is quite slow. But I do keep doing other tings. On Saturday I ran off to Tate Britain on a mission where I was surprised to see a painting by Tagore done in 1939! I would like to show you it but, as usual, you cannot take photos in these exhibitions, so everyone loses. I wished to suss out the Susan Philipsz very touching and evocative sound material made on instruments damaged by wars. I had an idea to ask the Tate if I can use a space there to do my Somme Boys Performance Art piece, but you know what it’s like, they’d say who are you/ are you already famous? And there’s no room at the inn fer yo laddie. I have approached the set up that supports Susan Philipsz installation, 14-18now, but am not holding ma breath. Here’s what I sent em:

 

“A Commemoration of the Somme

haunted warrior ww1
ww1 veteran

Performance Art Proposal from Pete Kennedy

I have an idea for a piece of PA which I would like you to consider.

I visited Susan Philipsz’ lovely sound art at Tate yesterday and I noticed lots of empty spaces which I could use to do my piece. I am not thinking it could be done just at Tate but anywhere, in any town or city. I understand that you back things which commemorate WW1? I have also got an idea for an artist’s book about the Somme.

I have chosen the Somme because hundreds of men from my home town of Burnley were killed there.

I am an artist aged 65 who recently acquired an MA in Bookarts and have moved into Performance art after doing a course with Jurgen Fritz & Vest + Page at Glastonbury.

I shall make the book and do the performance art about Somme come what may but I would much appreciate it if you would support my work.

It can be done very simply with few props or a big BLOW-OUT version which would involve a mound of (something like) mud and a structure to represent a trench with inter-connecting ‘tunnel’. I have musicians who can create site specific sound.

This is developing daily as I realize more. For example, when I worked with Jurgen last October I realised I must not make it just a memory of the British losses, the Germans suffered too.

Yesterday at Tate’s ‘Artist & Empire’ I saw a double portrait by Philip de Laszlo of two Indian (Sikh?) officers, Jagat & Man Singh, who were painted shortly before they went to the Somme. It said that 1 in 6 of the allied force came from India. So now I must play ‘Tommy’, ‘Otto’ (and maybe ‘Singh’?) in my PA.

Namaste”

Then I moved on up to the British Library to see if I could find a copy of the Burnley Express that I saw in 1970 which was from c1916-18 and every page was full of obituaries to the dead men from the town. I want to use those pages in a ‘book’ I want to make for my tribute to those who fell at the Somme form all parts of the planet. I can’t trace the darned ting, I know it’s out there. If only they still had hard copy I could go to a library and rifle thru! I shouldn’t be considering doing books and performance art about the Somme, I got enough to do, but It’s The Way I Tell ‘Em!

Footnote to Joey B. “I was always told ‘Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent: The Arsenal.’”  David Rocastle ex-player. I think young Joey Barton should listen to David. Concentrate on playing good football Joey not jumping all over the opponent’s leg.

Kentish Town PA

I drove 120 miles

And got lotsa smiles

Yesterday at the Society of Bookbinders Book Art day in Kentish Town.

After Sarah Bodman had mentioned the 5th of March as the anniversary of the car bomb in the Al Mutanabbi street in Baghdad (https://en.qantara.de/content/al-mutanabbi-street-in-baghdad?page=7 ) I asked the following question but didn’t find the chance to give my reply so here it is:

What are these 3 countries famous for? Iraq? The Sennacherib Prism, cuneiform hexagonal prism with a story on six sides in the British Museum.  http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=295077&partId=1

Afghanistan? Gandharan scrolls of birch bark in pots. http://www.washington.edu/uwpress/search/books/SALANC.html

also  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cJtMBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA109&lpg=PA109&dq=Gandharan+scrolls+of+birch+bark+in+pots&source=bl&ots=lB5rvlZ7ga&sig=IorCCBOdH174U_cpldg3W2gclW4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipkp3BzKXLAhULWBoKHYJ0DzYQ6AEILTAD#v=onepage&q=Gandharan%20scrolls%20of%20birch%20bark%20in%20pots&f=false

Syria? First alphabet- Ugarit ( The golden age of Ugarit. The most prosperous and the best-documented age in Ugarit’s history dated from about 1450 to about 1200 bce and included periods of domination by the Egyptians (c. 1400–1350 bce) and the Hittites (c. 1350–1200 bce). That age produced great royal palaces and temples and shrines, with a high priests’ library and other libraries on the acropolis. After the discovery of the temple library, which revealed a hitherto unknown cuneiform alphabetic script as well as an entirely new mythological and religious literature.

The art of Ugarit in its golden age is best illustrated by a golden cup and patera (bowl) ornamented with incised Ugaritic scenes; by carved stone stelae and bronze statuettes and ceremonial axes; by carved ivory panels depicting royal activities; and by other fine-carved ivories. Despite Egyptian influence, Ugaritic art exhibits a Syrian style of its own.

The excavators of the site were fortunate in the number and variety of finds of ancient records in cuneiform script. The excavations continue, and each season throws some new and often unexpected light on the ancient north Canaanite civilization. The texts are written on clay tablets either in the Babylonian cuneiform script or in the special alphabetic cuneiform script invented in Ugarit. Several copies of this alphabet, with its 30 signs, were found in 1949 and later. A shorter alphabet, with 25, or even 22, signs, seems to have been used by 13th-century traders.

Scribes used four languages: Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, and Hurrian, and seven different scripts were used in Ugarit in this period: Egyptian and Hittite hieroglyphic and Cypro-Minoan, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, and Ugaritic cuneiform. These show clearly the cosmopolitan character of the city.)fromhttp://www.britannica.com/place/Ugarit

I felt privileged to be first speaker out of the blocks and did a rapid show of the several books that I have made following Joanna Drucker’s introduction to the history of the written word  in her Alphabetic Labyrinth which really inspired me to make books of many different historical types and ultimately to do this PA piece (https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=alphabetic%20labyrinth)  Since I started the project it has taken on a life of its own and led me to much new knowledge.

The PA took place at 3pm and I did give a short intro to what some of the moves meant.When I referred to the fact that there’d probably have been copies of the Kabir poem, which I use as inspiration for my project, in the shops that got blown up I felt myself starting to cry unintentionally. Doing PA does touch a chord.

a pete + treeking at SoB black
here’s me about to start my PA piece on 5th March 2016 in Kentish Town. Photo taken and provided by Sonia Serrao.

Happily my Performance Art piece went down well [‘Thankyou Pete for an awesome performance’], even converting several folk who had been sceptical about its fitness for purpose. The attention to detail is quite startling. Whilst watching my PA I realised in the mime about making letterpress print I had forgotten to ink up the  ‘chase’ so I went back and did it (in my mime) and sure enough one lady said afterwards that at the time she thought, ‘He’s not inked it up’, which shows the concentration of the audience. Apparently you could hear a pin drop, probably when I mimed holding the needle to sew the book sections together?

Some members made pleasant remarks about my little new binding of David Jury’s prints of my 6 poems in the Vessel. Well, not so little cos it’s about  20” x 18” and some were amazed at how I had managed to keep such a big surface area from bending. Actually so am I and I told them, ‘It’s beginner’s luck, follows me everywhere.’

In fact it is the result of many years of only sporadically making traditionally bound books, partly because I like ‘alternative’ but partly cos I was always frightened of being judged incompetent. The confluence of my increasing self-reliance and a perceived need to bring David’s beautiful rendition of my words made me so determined to overcome my personal weaknesses and get the darn thing done and done well. The book took a few weeks of research, seeking advice from DJ and ace bookbinders Mike Sullivan & Son (Robert), doing trials and buying the right materials. And taking lots of time and consummate care! So when I finally released the book from under heavy boards last week this was my reaction, “I have just taken the new ‘Vessels’ book out from under the weights and in my eyes it is dang near ‘perfec’. [However, remember the compere in ‘Cabaret’ who sang ‘If you could see her thru my eyes’, whilst looking at a gorilla!]I am over the beautiful waning moon I can see out my window this morgan. Wow. It’s taken several days of tears & sweat but I am glad to say it is good (enough for me, and that’s ‘good’.” Here’s an image of it.

a vessels bound sm
This is the ‘Vessels’ series of letterpress print made by David Jury from my words in 2014 which I have now made into a codex book.

And for those interested here’s my work towards the day:

Visions of Joanna The Ideas behind and Script for S o B.

In a recent interview Yan Martell said he thought that art can bring about changed perceptions by altering your perspective, “to posit a different reality” [to that/those with which you’re familiar]. All my life in art this is what I have tried to achieve. I always looked for a difference. Now in my Performance Art I have discovered a way to animate my vision.

We all know about books. Many of us make beautiful books. But do we all remember the way the word was first turned from an aural thing into a physical thing? At first it was inscribed in clay then a variety of different grounds were tried. We are embarked on the digital age and who can dream of where that will take the book? I look at different book forms and try to create them and their makers using my body and some props and specially composed music. The bark mask is typical of my creative process. I conceived the idea and began to make it using materials I had saved from my work in my garden. As I moved through its making I allowed the mask to dictate to me some of its form hence some rather unusual asymmetrical results with the elements of surprise and a degree of shock.

Part 1

I am standing still, wearing black vest & suit (no shoes), hold up the bark mask, looking at the audience. “I am the book”

“We are all aware that paper is made from trees. But in Gandhara they made scrolls from birch bark and buried them in pots. These are the oldest surviving Buddhist texts ever discovered. (pick from the pot show my scrolls and place as start of the ‘sculpture’ which will be feature of the Part 2.)

As my tribute to those early pots I made my own pot with words around the neck and scrolls hold my words and images. I need to mention Jackie Leven here. He sang a wonderful version of a poem by Kabir which I shall recite as I cannot sing”.

I use music specially written and played by Luke Walker for my Clay Jug.

“Inside This Clay Jug there are canyons…”

Now

“I am doing my piece in 2 parts of 15 minutes each.

This first part I shall introduce a series of books to you and tell the background which is really the history of the book through my own book-making. Then in part two there’ll be no explanations just enactment.

I have produced a book, G BATCH, which explains the project and contains the first version of six poems that I wrote feature which throughout the series.

Whilst doing my Masters I was amazed by Joanna Drucker’s Alphabet Labyrinth book which goes into the way the first words were put onto a surface, the first writing. This was on clay tablets, which I made but not using cuneiform, just English. (Show my yellow one & place in sculpture)

I also made a clay poti, (show and add to sculpture) which is a book form used in the East. Tibetan monks like the Dalai Lama still read from daphne paper potis.

I shall be referring to my Leaf Books here. Which are in codex form. (show and add to sculpture) Later the letterpress was invented and books became more available. I did a collaboration with David Jury with my Earthen Vessel books.

 Part 2

The instructions

Wear black vest & black ‘dance’ pants. Also I shall be using a shawl to add the ‘outfits’. For each part first pick up relevant ‘book’.

(with this movement in between each book:

Foot forward, back, move left, hands up

Move right hand out to right and back

Move left hand out to left and back

Foot forward, back, move right, hands up

Pull hand over hand to left to signify pulling back time)

The PA piece:I was going to recite this but I forgot:

‘Have a care

Beware, it’s best to be wise

If you go down to the woods today

You’ll never believe your eyes

Be careful what you do to the trees

The guardian is in his guise.’

 

Everyone knows paper comes from trees but did you know that in ancient Gandhara  they created scrolls from birch bark? These were found hidden in pots and are the oldest records of the life if Buddha.

The Tree-King is slightly scarey and gives warning that we should care for and treasure the tree.

Performance Art has an unsettling aspect here shown by the Tree-king who sets the tone of the scene. Using an invisible cord I connect with past times and I trawl through different book forms from the past 3 thousand years; clay tablets, scrolls, pothis, manuscripts, letterpress and eventually codex. I attempt to create various historical book forms and their makers using my body, mime & movement with music created by Luke Edward Walker and mark Newby Robson. I shall exhibit and refer to several of my own books influenced by; clay tablets from Ur, pothis from Tibet, scrolls from Gandhara, illuminated manuscripts, letterpress pages and codex. Watch me become the book-makers and the books. Meet the scribes, calligraphers, printers and book-makers from bygone ages.  

 

bark-mask the bark-mask covers most of my face, stand tree like to start. unmask

begin Luke Walker music

‘bow’ to Pot from which I take

Move thru the books-

clay tablet- use one of the clay tablets from poti or the yellow one shawl becomes ‘kilt’, sit upright like the scribes from ancient Ur. Become a clay tablet

 scroll- Take a Scroll from the pot and unravel it, ravel it, unravel it– shawl becomes Tibet style robe, sit cross-legged. become a scroll

 codex- show one of the Leaf Books shawl becomes ‘hood/cowl’. Sitting at a desk become the medieval monks who created illuminated manuscripts. Be a codex book. Here I lay down and ‘turn’ like a book then stand and do it standing, foot out front, to side, out front, down.

Show Earthen Vessel books

 Letterpress-

I become the printer using a letterpress method?

The David Jury collaboration prints first.

Show my new bound book of DJ’s prints.

End pose

Return to the pot, go down into child pose.

I think Sonia Serrao who organised the day did a great job and there was a really happy bustle throughout the proceedings. I met and made friends with a whole new bunch of people. My mate Dave Doughty came up with me and his being navigator got us both safely thru the streets of London. Had I been on my own I wouldn’t have reached the show.

I hope to be able to add more images to the one Sonia sent me when anyone who got a good shot sends them to me.

Now that’s over I can shoot back to London, this time on public transport, to see the Auerbach at Tate. And return some books to the Poetry library.

I’d love to go to Zurich to see my friends Vest & Page, but I can’t. If you can you’ll have to go next week:

VestAndPage & Kollektiv Phantomschmerz kindly invite:

vest & page in their latex suits
Enter a caption

Verena & Andrea dressed up in latex. As Vest & Page they are astounding Performance Artists
in
YGGDRASIL
Fabriktheater Rote Fabrik, Zurich
9 – 10 – 17 – 18 March, 2016, 20:00h

YGGDRASIL, the second production of Kollektiv Phantomschmerz – in collaboration with the Italian-German artist duo VestAndPage and musician Marc Rossier – is the continuation of the search for identity started in their first production Highlight. Following the question “What do you know?”, now they inquire into “What do you believe?”. In a time of spiritual alienation, a journey between conscious and unconscious states ensues through a hybrid of performance art and theatre.
Shows at the Fabriktheater Zurich (Doors open at 19:30)
• March 09, 2016, 20:00 – Premiere
• March 10, 2016, 20:00
• March 17, 2016, 20:00 – Post-Show Q&A
• March 18, 2016, 20:00

Tickets: fabriktheater@rotefabrik.ch and 044 485 58 28

My bookart friend sent me this link to her beautiful contribution to the al mutanabbi street project. This is a beautiful piece.

http://www.chrisruston.com/al-mutanabbi-street-project.html

leaf-books + verdun anniversary!

See below for some images of my beautiful hand made books that I call my ‘Leaf-Books’. In fact they are both one-off/unique copies from the Clay Jug project. In each of them are six original etchings that I did plus one woodcut taken from a Tibetan woodblock. The etchings were made to illustrate six ‘poems’ I wrote about six men who contributed a lot to building our humanity.

So. I wrote, in preparation for a work I hope to develop thru 2016:

“07.21 hrs 21st February 2016 One hundred years and six minutes ago the German bombardment for the battle of Verdun Erich Georg Anton von Falkenhayn’s concept that attrition would bleed the French dry meant he used, ‘total, ruthless methods to achieve a limited aim,’ losing many Germans in the process of annihilating the French who tried to defend it. The scale of German losses brought Falkenhayn much criticism.  Indeed the failure to capture Verdun ultimately resulted in Falkenhayn’s removal as Chief of Staff.

http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/verdun_falkenhayn.htm

I am saying this not because I glory in war stories, on the contrary I abhor them. I have spent much of my life advocating an end to all wars and my series of books based around my Clay Jug theme are testimony, not so much mine as that of six equally anti-war men, about my point. The six men I chose all made their peace with man’s inability to stem wars. Each of them in some way made a significant contribution to ideas which promote peace and harmony. Even Joseph Beuys who was in the Luftwaffe spent much of his post war days trying to bring about a unification of what he called Eurasia. Like the Dadaists after WW1 his strange antics were anti-art-establishment actions which were designed to upset the status quo and allow for a more universal acceptance that the old ways of using bronze and marble could be ousted and any material can be used in ‘sculpture’, including the artist’s body.” Ironically the ‘art world’ adopted his work, sucked it in to the ‘establishment’, like they do with all the rebels they cannot tame- see sir mick jagggger abart that- they hike the prices up and now you couldn’t afford to buy one of Beuys half eaten marmalade tarts unless you were a Trump from Trumpingtown.

And that’s where I come in. In my Performance Art (PA) my body and its movement become the artwork, the living sculpture.

I did a big blog about my rightful place in the pantheon which also mentions Beuys and a ‘talk’ I did at the Minories, Colchester in 2013 which, for those interested in my Performance Art, you may like to visit, here tis:

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/my-claim-to-a-plaice-in-the-pantheon-with-my-pantstillon-my-2-recent-talks-and-an-oxford-visit/

Later this year I am planning on doing a piece of Performance Art about the Somme but that’s a big one and it’ll have to be designed for a specific venue, so if you have one where you’d like to see it let me know, especially if you have a venue that could be used

. I think it’s very relevant to remind folk about the futility of war. All wars have to come to an end sometime and there’s rarely any ‘winners’. The debacles in the Middle East in the past 20 years show that is still true.

Right now am working twards a small 15 minute piece (part 2) of Performance Art for the Society of Bookbinder’s bookart day.

Pina Bausch’s dance company came to Sadler’s Wells and I saw them on February 14th. I was there because of the Wim Wender’s documentary which galvanised my interest in their work and I was not disappointed. I was watching and I decided to add some moves into my planned PA piece for March 5th at Kentish Town. I have been working up this idea of telling the history of the book since clay tablets in Ur and I’ve managed to design a sequence of moves in which I mime the different processes with some small dance moves joining up the sketches.

Before I do my piece I shall be showing several of my own books in part 1. Here’s some images from them, as you can see my work is unorthodox

unique hand made, second in series
unique hand made, second in series

Front cover to Leaf Book Two

semi see thru Japanese paper with Tibetan woodblock print behind
semi see thru Japanese paper with Tibetan woodblock print behind

Intro to Leaf Book Two. You lift the tabs to see the woodblock print

My Gurdzhiev poem over my etching of G.
My Gurdzhiev poem over my etching of G.

Gurdzhiev page in Leaf Book Two

unique book, hand made
unique book, hand made

Leaf Book One

Leaf Book 1 has six etchings in a pouch, secured by leather straps
Leaf Book 1 has six etchings in a pouch, secured by leather straps

The pouch keeps the six etchings neatly together in Leaf Book One

intro leaf book 1 sm

Intro to Leaf Book One

Silesi in book sm

Silesi page in Leaf Book One