The Shrewd Idiot
By Pete Kennedy
Maldon, Essex, England: Apulhed Publications, 2017.
Deluxe Edition of 10 + AP.
17.5 x 12"; 175 pages. Ten full page images on translucent paper. Typewriter script from 1970's for text. Bound in red book cloth with titles and illustration of the Shrewd Idiot debossed on front cover. Signed and numbered by the artist.
Pete Kennedy: "The content does get saucy in parts but mainly it's the thoughts of a trainee teacher of Art as he grows into his art and adulthood.
"There are deliberately lots of alterations and corrections evident throughout the document because it was originally meant to be a manuscript to attract a publishing deal. In the 1970s the publisher would take this document and hand it to the typesetter who would follow the instructions which I had put over the type and any which were added by the publisher. This 'manuscript' was never intended for public consumption hence the need at one point to go through and change all names when I thought maybe I'd self-publish as a normal book which would be typed into a modern form where all the corrections and changes could be implemented so the viewer never sees them. However, I decided not to have it re-typed, that would have made my job a lot easier so it was a must to avoid, NO, better to really really struggle with the original typed pages, scan them in then alter them as required in Photoshop, then design the layout in Quark (I know, Quark is so out of vogue now and it'd be much easier in Indesign, so I stuck with Quark, you know me.)
"It's purportedly about a male student's life between Exeter, Burnley & Bournemouth from 1969-73 but really it's about awakening & initiation, Awakening of Consciousness and the Acquisition of Skills to be an artist/teacher, Initiation into many life-skills and social habits/taboos. In the end the book is not about that fella back in the early 1970s, it's about his older version now in his mid-sixties and how he never gave up on his dream of showing folk the quality of what he found in all those initiations and revelations and how it took more than forty years to bring them out in a public format.
"By the end of the book the idiot has a lot of disappointing outcomes but they are really just more revelations about how hard life can be especially when you have a penchant for making life difficult."
Gary Malkin, Artist's Book Archive at Baltic, Gatesheed, review: " Whether it was his intention or not, Kennedy has given us a perfect snapshot of Britain in the late 60s/early 70s. Many books published about the cultural landscape of this period are so tinged with nostalgia and selective memory that they only mythologize the past. But this is a book that offers a gateway to that era by simply telling it like it was, even the bits we’d rather forget, or pretend happened differently. The artist’s candidness is clearly displayed by the use of the typewriter text with hand-written corrections. This isn’t fake news or over-editing. It’s a journey that we’re all welcome to join.
" Aesthetically the book works well to keep the story engaging. The beautiful type is richly peppered with the artist’s drawings and paintings that feel like an essential part of the journey and not just an illustration of it. Semi-transparent pages lift key artworks out from the rest of the book with a sumptuous tactility that gives a sense of having gained access to the artist’s own private archive. "