Buds/Justice, the usefulness of an abstract image.

I took this photo yesterday, not expecting to use it today. But the prompt word for the Instagram account I’m managing, this week, has led me down such a rabbit warren of thoughts and philosophies I’m quite exhausted.

#justice such a big word, so deep, so complex, so personal.

I’ve read some amazing quotes and read some fascinating stuff but is my theoldmortuary pondering mind right to share anything on an arts group Instagram page that is beyond the simple image of the scales of justice.

The simple answer is ” of course not”

What I have comfortably shared is this photograph of Daffodil bulbs, because it makes me think; and for me, today, it illustrates my hopes for justice if not always the lived experience of the word.

Dozing with a good book Gangnam Style

My favourite place to read is at home in the World’s Most Comfortable Chair. It is not always the most effective place to read.

My particular ‘World’s Most Comfortable Chair’ was bought on eBay from Penryn . It was in a sorry state but was an original from the 1960’s, the deep chocolate brown velvet was faded to an unattractive lilac . Reupholstered and recovered it lives in theoldmortuary with other bits of mid- century modern furniture.

The chair is the problem. It makes any book soporific. Not for me sleeping on hard surfaces with a book.
This preamble is a shameless lead-in to share two of my favourite book related images. I captured them within the same few hours in Seoul, South Korea. The first was a wall mural in Bongeunsa Temple, Gangnam-gu.

I imagine this photo would have rested undisturbed in my Seoul photo archive had it not been reconstructed in a contemporary way just a mile or so away at the Kyobo book store. I love the peace expressed by the relaxed hands in both images.

I had completely forgotten these two book related dozes were captured in Gangnam district, so more shameless image sharing and with it, hopefully, an earworm. Seriously, you’re welcome no problem at all.

Party Night at theoldmortuary

©The British Hedgehog Society


Last night, unknown to the humans at theoldmortuary, was party night. Our resident hedgehog got up early . I’m not even sure he’s been asleep all that long . All the signs were there during the day, both dogs doing excessive tracking in the garden , following tiny complicated tracks obsessively suggesting hedgehog activity the previous night. Quite how the actual wake up party is announced I don’t know, maybe Hedgehog annoints himself in a particular smell for party night. Toad and slug body spray is entirely likely in this garden. By midnight the party was in full swing, Hugo and Lola paid 6 different visits to the the garden. Despite their excitement they just like to look at hedgehog as he does his thing. I’m pretty sure the canapé provision in our garden is deplorable in February so we provided cold snacks of cat food once the wake up was official. The probable reason for the early wake up, storms Ciara and Dennis,was marked by the guest appearance of Hedgehog Stormzy an old friend from their South London days.

This morning it is quite a different story.

Lola back in her own Hibernacula

Sputnik,cheese curds and me + a little art.

I was known as Sputnik during my childhood , conceived and delivered in the same year as the first artificial earth satellite named Sputnik.Things could have turned out so very differently. Had my parents lived in Quebec, I could have been called Poutine.

Considered one of Canada’s greatest inventions, it was created in the same year.

It evolved in rural Quebec when a customer regularly asked a chef to add cheese curds to a plate of chips, gravy was added later to keep the whole dish warm.

The chef involved declared “Ça va faire une maudite poutine!” (“It will make a damn mess!”)

It has become the perfect comfort food. Crispy chips, rich meaty gravy and squeaky curd cheese. Textural, gustatory ecstasy for mouths and minds.

I discovered Poutine in Toronto, at a bar overlooking AGO, the Art Gallery of Ontario.


It was a day of great discoveries. AGO was full of wonderful but unheard-of, to me, artists, none of them ever mentioned during a British Fine Art degree. There was something really thrilling about discovering new-to-me contemporary 20th Century Western Art. It was refreshing not to have the opinions of art historians,critics or lecturers already seeded into my head before viewing the works.

There were so many that I loved but this vivid work is the first to come to mind. Beyond the colours it is the certainty of mark making that gives it such impact.

This work is by Rita Letendre one of Canada’s best known living artists, she is 91 as I write this. Known for her bold visceral style, her images are created using many techniques, printing, painting, scraping, bare hands, knives.

This one is called The Joy of Living.

I’m not sure I get ‘Joy’ from this image. Energy, powerful passion or excoriating pain are my immediate responses.The work has creative exuberance and I love it but I think I feel joy more calmly. Maybe it was the carb overload at the time of viewing!

After researching her many works I realise that one of my earlier synesthesia images painted to a piece of Jeff Beck music has some of the qualities of a Letendre . ( Who do think I am! )

I will add an image of my painting to this blog at a later date once I’ve contacted the current owner.

So much pleasure and knowledge gained in one day. A good amount of calories too.


I’m running an Instagram account for an arts organisation again this week. As these things often are,it is led by a hashtag +prompt. Today’s prompt is #nuts. To be honest the arts organisation is a million miles away from my daily ponderings on this blog. I’m not even sure I’ve mentioned it in any posts. However my personal response to the word ‘ nuts’ was so very typical of the ponderings of theoldmortuary I thought I would share it. I am constantly intrigued by what makes stuff stuff and why people do what they do. Some of my painted abstract landscapes have a similar specificity, they might be massive but in fact are only representational of maybe a square metre of actual ground

Beast From The East © theoldmortuary

Beast of the East is 1.5 metres square but was inspired by a tiny piece of frozen mud during the winter cold snap of 2018.
Similarly the photograph of nuts on wooden piles near the Staten Island ferry terminal, although only an area of a couple of metres, has come to represent the whole of New York and it’s development. A simple representation of construction without all the glitz and glamour that is the usual depiction of the city.In part this image was also created by one of my favourite books.

I’d read New York by Edward Rutherford, twice before I visited New York and found my self fascinated , not by the traditional tourist things but by the awesome engineering and construction that has created this amazing city.


The image of those four nuts basking in the sunlight on wooden piles has become my personal iconic image of New York.

Trawling my image archive to find this picture has given me a huge amount of inspiration for future blogs . I’m excited to ponder all that I picked up in New York in future blogs. Which I suppose is the point of a blog of no great significance.

Tate Modern is Twenty

Impermanence © Tate Modern

Anya Gallaccio had an installation at her recent exhibition at Tate Modern called Impermanence. A massive pile of oranges were left in the gallery . Viewers were invited to eat an orange, those not eaten would inevitably rot. It makes you think.

Tate Modern has been stimulating the artistic taste buds and making people think for twenty years.
It has become one of Britain’s most visited institutions.
When I did a Fine Art Degree as a mature student, Tate Modern became my 3D immersive text book. So much so that my nine year old daughter spun round the Turbine Hall declaring it was her favourite place in the world. There are some amazing works of art there.

My current favourite installation.
By Yinka Shonibare

The British Library

British Library © Tate Modern

I’ve pondered a lot, on this blog about Tate Modern. Some of them will appear below.

Leviathan #valentinesdaynohearts

The Leviathan is a prominent sculpture, by Brian Fell, situated on The Barbican Plymouth. Locally it is known as the Plymouth Prawn . The Leviathan is set to become famous Worldwide as the Mayflower400 celebrations build up in Plymouth. The Leviathan is close to the commemorative Mayflower Steps.Leviathan has its own Twitter account , not that it’s particularly active or has many followers. Strange really. Leviathon lives in a lively location.Leviathan was installed in 1996 and is made of patinated steel. Leviathan is a sea monster created from regular sea creatures. Cormorants feet, the fins of a John Dory ,the tail of a plesiosaur, lobster claws and the head of an Angle fish. Despite this callaloo of body parts Leviathan is majestic.The Leviathans location is on one of my regular dog walks. There is a fabulous circular walk around the harbours and quays of Plymouth taking in both historic and contemporary port buildings and activities. I’m tempted to photograph the sculpture almost every time I see it , sunshine is the very best weather for Leviathan snapping, not unlike life really.I used the fishy subject for a watercolour subject, minus the drumstick! Although a competent image of a skewered Leviathan kebab eludes me.A little bit of printing magic and I’ve created a psychotropic Leviathan. At night The Barbican is nightlife central. Who knows if the Plymouth Prawn partakes.And then just one little move to create a completely abstract image with no hint of sea creatures.Not such a romantic blog as the date would suggest but to my regular blog readers a simple message, thanks for all your comments and feedback.This blog is linked to a social media Instagram project. The prompt for today was #valentinesdaynohearts.https://drawntothevalley.co.uk/I believe Leviathan has a heart. It just needs to find its Sole Mate.

Love Tree/Jelly Shoe

There are only so many days that you can wake up to another grey, Cornish day and feel inspired by the stark bleakness of it all. Yesterday I walked the dogs in very quiet country lanes looking for a specific tree that I had read about in a local magazine.

Known as the Love Tree , I caught it in a rare moment of brightness. It interests me as I want to produce a simple tree image in the style of Art Nouveau for a project I’m working on.

It is a monumental Elm tree and the trunk is carved with initials, some of them very old. My photograph is not the best for showing this.

Because my eye was taken by a much more contemporary action. A child’s jelly shoe has been slotted into a woody crevice.

The remoteness of the rural location suggests this is a deliberate act. I am intrigued.

Quickie #17, or maybe not.

Darwin Day . 12th of February. Charles Darwin, aged 22, spent 2 months in Devonport waiting for HMS Beagle, a survey vessel, to be ready to sail in 1831. He was travelling as a scientist although at the time he was training to be a vicar.
” It was the most miserable time of my life” he claimed .
Training to be a Vicar may have been the problem as Devonport, awas particularly skilled at entertaining young men with time on their hands, money in their pockets and testosterone drenching everything.
Perhaps he was ” keeping himself nice” for a family member. Somewhat ironically the Darwin’s were not averse to Consanguineous marriage.

He may have regretted finding Devonport dull, having set sail on 10 the December bad weather forced them to anchor at Barn Pool, just a mile or so west of Devonport, for a week with nothing more exciting to do than look at Devils Point.

In the kitchen sink.

Yesterday my painting life was mostly about doing Prep. Preparing and indeed finishing canvas with Black Gesso. A Matt black paint used to coat canvases to create a good surface for other paints to cling to. My Instagram feed for the day expressed my attitude to the days work.My Gesso pot is at the end of it’s useful life and requires unsticking for every use . I turn it upside down in a bowl and pour boiling water around the lid. This warms the paint making it easier to twist the lid off. On this occasion a minor incident occured as the lid was entirely held on by goop and not the thread, as I lifted the pot out of the water Gesso poured freely into the bowl. Gesso is like blood it spreads widely and creates micro splatter. I won’t bore anyone with the clear up story but the following image is a lovely, temporary, serendipitous mix of Gesso, Water and the residue of clearing up from breakfast.The painting below is the one that needed finishing, the cause of my disaster.

Traces ©theoldmortuary