Pandemic Pondering #340

Casting a long Shadow. Part 1

I could, of course, be talking about the effect of the current Pandemic. Absolutely it has, and will, cast a long shadow on all of our lives. Not all the long shadows will be negatives. @theoldmortuary, in common with everyone, we’ve had some absolute shockers of negative experiences associated with Covid-19 but there have also been some life changing positives.

Casting a long shadow. Part II.

But today , I’m talking about the long shadows cast by our fish sculptures. The bright sunshine caused, George, our 22 year old cat to bask on the stairs. As the afternoon progressed the fish shadows started moving towards her. At the same time her own particular sunbeam left the stairs and started tracking up the wall. She was not impressed.

Being a predominantly black cat George rarely features in photographs, which made todays impromptu photo shoot all the more lovely. It also gave me the chance to consider long shadows.

Pandemic Pondering #339

There was a time when Thursday blogs were based on my experiences as a gallery guide at The Box. A Pandemic put a stop to that but here we are on a Thursday and this blog will be distinctly Boxlike.

Not Real World of course. Another new tech experience .

The Box Quiz

The people with all the questions and all of the answers.
Two of many categories

The low tech answer sheet.

What I can’t show you are my fellow competitors. Microsoft Teams was new to me and I had failed to download the system . In consequence only the hosts/quizmasters were visible to me eveyone else was just a disembodied voice as I was to them!

The questions were fired at us at speed, all the better to thwart googling cheats. It was a fabulous quiz and reassuring that I could actually retrieve random facts from my pandemic befuddled mind.

As it happens @theoldmortuary did quite well. Which just goes to prove that straddling the digital/ Analogue divide is entirely possible, especially if you have your comfy pants on. Or even if you don’t. No video evidence!

So thats it, another Thursday Box Tale.

Thanks to everyone who made the magic happen.

Pandemic Pondering #338

I am very lucky, one of my responsibilities within an art group is to manage the groups social media output. Part of that role is to keep an eye on the groups Instagram page. Another friend does the same for Facebook. During the Pandemic, Social Media, Zoom Meetings, a Newsletter and a fabulous new website have been the groups only way of keeping in touch and sharing their creative outputs with members and the wider community. In normal times there would be Workshops, Drawing Days, Exhibitions and Open Studio events.

Checking the Instagram page of Drawn To The Valley daily is an absolute pleasure. Our members and other artists work appear on our feed. It took no effort to find these great images from todays feed.

Our Social Media team meet monthly to plan what we need to promote for the group but we also work out ways to increase engagement and attract followers to our pages.

For 2021 each month will have a # that brings the art created in that month together in a grid. #januaryinthevalley, #februaryinthevalley and on for every month of the year.

So far #februaryinthevalley is looking good.

We’ve really had to reconsider how best to use social media to support our members during the Pandemic. We are lucky that Drawn to the Valley adopted social media early and effectively a long time ago, we have some vibrant and effective wisdom in our team. Zoom meetings are never dull.

The pandemic has forced us to shake things up a bit.

Below is a link to our website.

Home

We can also be found on Instagram and Facebook.

There is some lovely art.

Pandemic Pondering #337

Nearly There Trees

The Nearly There Trees get a second outing this month simply because ‘Nearly There’ is my bonus point on my game of Boris Bingo . A game played by matching words used by the Prime Minister during a press conference.

As it happens ‘ Nearly There’ didnt come up! I don’t have a painting called ‘Some Way to go still’ Not as prepared as I thought I was!

By contrast our sea swim was a huge success . Blue, twinkly with plenty of sunshine.

© Debs Bobber

We had a fabulous half hour in the water and the sunshine on our faces was a massive boost.

© Andy Cole

Our Vitamin D harvest took very little effort today. The water was still a bit grubby from the weekend storms but calm enough that we were joined by paddle boarders and Kayakers.

Not too bad for the middle of February.

P.S my failure at Boris Bingo can probably be explained by the Prime Minister taking on a new team of advisers. I had planned for the Cockwaffle Protocol. I was not prepared for the change!

Pandemic Pondering #336

There has been a good bit of pondering over this blog today. No standout trail of random thoughts stood out yesterday ready for publication this morning. The tomato figurehead was a late arrival, its significance will be revealed later.

February is watercolour month @theoldmortuary . Not this year, the studio is partially packed away. I’ve not painted anything since a commission was finished before Christmas. Not able to quite control creativity I found something I can keep in a small bag, Lino printing is likely to become a method of illustration for these blogs once I get going effectively.

For similar reasons watercolour is my medium of choice in the dark months of January and February. It doesn’t require studio space, just a dining table which happens to be in the actual old mortuary, which is lovely and warm. ( Not a sentence associated with real mortuaries)

February is often about experimenting. So linoprinting is not such a great leap. Watercolour portraits, fascinate me. This one is of Fred, one of my schoolfriends. Painted a couple of years ago. I enjoyed the discipline and probably need an excuse to do more.

February is also about buying new art materials and getting to know them. The quickest way for me to do that is to revert to my earliest artistic endeavours and one that I only truly revisit on holidays ( no time soon I think)

Watercolour landscapes, a fine way to relax and experiment a bit. As a holiday activity it is unequalled, although many of mine are not truly watercolour as it is all too easy to dip a brush in my gin and tonic in error. This last watercolour will feature in tomorrows blog too, as it is a painting of the ‘Nearly There Trees’ a famed Landmark on one of the routes into Cornwall.

So back to the tomatoes. Inspired by The Lighter Side of Science on Facebook a page published by https://www.iflscience.com/

This site is perfect for the strange old mashup that is me. Part artist , part scientist, part ponderer.

I’ve reused and paraphrased their quote of today onto my painting. When else would l get the chance to use a painting of a tomato!

Pandemic Pondering #335

Illuminate 2019

The storms keeping us out of the sea have abated , but only just. Overnight the rain has been torrential. There is a plan, this Sunday morning, for us to have a swim . I’m fairly freshly out of the dream state , illustrated above.

On waking I have immediately landed into the Procrastinate Zone. The, nearly year long, series of lockdowns and life restrictions have given me the luxury of time  and in turn that has allowed procrastination to become a decision process. An alternative or extra option to add to any decision making moment.

This morning the cogs are turning slowly.

Shall I have a shower before I swim?

Can I actually bear to get out of bed and get into a hot shower?

No , there might be a moment of chill before the shower gets really hot.

Ok, I will just lay here. Procrastinate a bit and think about it in 5 minutes.

There is no logic to this thought, in an hour or so I’m going to be stepping into the sea for fifteen minutes of swimming in water that is about 8 degrees. It is unlikely to be as beautiful as the picture below, but this is the mental image that will get me out of bed and into the shower.

If thats not enough then at the weekend there is the added promise of good coffee.

None of these lovely images are actually persuading me to make that move into the shower. Writing about it , has of course given some legitimacy to procrastination. I could have just posted a different blog and got on with the shower but burbling on about procrastination has kept me in bed for an extra fifteen minutes and now there is no time for a shower.

Sometime soon I’m going to be back in a real world.

This cannot become a way of life!

Pandemic Pondering #334

A micro blog today, the storms hitting the Tamar Valley have made outdoor activities almost impossible for the last couple of days. Regular walks are taken with our heads bowed against 50 mile an hour winds coming up from the south. Bobbing has been abandoned for safety reasons.

Being focused on just keeping upright has had two bonuses. Firstly this tiny daffodil , who against the odds, is growing through tarmac, near a busy cut through. In normal times the views here are spectacular so no one looks at the ground. I cannot imagine he will be here long.

Close by on the outside wall of an old pub, that is now a coffee shop, there is some old carved graffito. The wall was offering precious shelter from the worst of the weather. Again under normal circumstances the landscape and architecture of this area would grab anyones attention. Just like the tiny daffodil the graffiti shouldn’t exist. The old pub is built of very tough stone but there is this one random stone that is soft enough to carve on.

Just a tiny search on Google brings this little nugget up.

An Ernest Deves was born in a house at the red marker position. The old pub is currently known as the Hutong Cafe.

A chance finding in the London Gazette shows us that Ernest Edward Deves was a skilled labourer in Royal Naval Dockyards.

© thegazette.co.uk
© thegazette.co.uk

The Royal William Yard, a former Royal Navy Dockyard is less than ten steps from the Hutong Cafe.

Even micro ponderings can be fascinating!

Pandemic Pondering #333

Today did not go to plan. There is a fair old chunk of domestic admin to do currently, some of the admin filled nearly the whole morning and I had an afternoon Zoom scheduled. I planned a socially distanced take-out coffee and walk with a friend in the small gap between commitments. The walk had the same restrictions as yesterday, quiet and dog free. Low tide offered the chance to walk further along the riverbank than usual.

We basked in sunlight and enjoyed our drinks while the dogs snuffled around. We talked and talked and walked until we reached the most distant town slipway.

Slipways are areas of sloped concrete to launch or reclaim boats.

We discovered a whole new world of slipway. Unknown to us the dry looking green area was a slippery slope of doom. I was the first to go down. Six to eight feet of sliding down on my bottom took me beyond the dry looking area straight through the slippery looking stuff and into the seaweed coated riverbed. Meanwhile Steph had leaned forward to catch me and also lost grip joining me very swiftly on the riverbed.

This was our view, the dogs had also been dragged down the slope. They managed to stay on their paws. We checked that we were not too badly damaged and then laughed loudly for five minutes or so. The riverbed was impossible to stand up on. The only way out of our predicament was to scramble back up the slope on all fours. More mirth!

The view as we scrambled up!

We returned home to medicate and clean our wounds. Zooming came and went and it was time for another walk, the river was once again the destination but this time I kept myself out of it.

Just as well, as mud is the stand out feature of the afternoon walk.

My favourite patch of mud.

A blue sunset and as the sun goes down my bones are aching a bit. Tomorrow needs to be a bobbing day. The cold water is wonderful for sorting out aches and pains. I will avoid slipways!

Pandemic Pondering #332

I’m not sure what happened this morning. The tide was high and our usual beach was off limits for safety reasons. Our ‘bob’ was lumpy and choppy but exhilarating. Maybe all the negative ions in the air made us super positive.

Bobbing is absolutely a positive change for all the ‘bobbers’, not one of us have ever swum through the winter months before. This is not a habit that any of us would have anticipated this time last year. None of us plan to give it up when the Pandemic loosens its grip.

We ‘bob’ to the North of The Narrows a prominent sea channel used by bigger vessels crossing Plymouth Sound . This morning we were joined in the water by two cement mixers.

Despite us bobbing two or three times a week no bob is ever the same . Our bobs are planned around tides, weather and sunrise/sunset times but even being mindful of these there is no way to predict the success or pleasure of any individual session. This morning the bob was a brilliant experience. No buoys were reached but everyone left the water with a smile on their faces. Even the bobber who inadvertantly went into the sea in her trousers. We all thought she had bought a new long legged wetsuit.

Usually she looks very elegant…

Pandemic Pondering #331

Pondering may just have taken a new turn towards dull. Miss Lola is in season for the first time in any lockdown. Not only are we restricted geographically by Covid restrictions but now I need to find walks with no other dogs. It always surprises me that men, and it is always men, moan at me for taking a bitch for a walk when she is in season when their own dogs are running off the lead with a pair of massive testicles swinging in the breeze. My unusual walks today have taken me to very familiar spots but in a part that I rarely visit.

Low tide at the Waterside exposes beach that is rarely seen . It’s not particularly picturesque. There is a hotchpotch of tatty old boats that definitely look nicer floating on a full tide. But there are some lovely things to see.

A terracotta pipe that spends most of the time submerged in the tidal waters of the Tamar river.

A gathering of old ropes.

Moist seaweed fronds hanging below a pier.

Some ever watching eyes.

And a lone trainer. I could ponder on about a missing trainer on a beach. The red laces are a gift to a photographer and the unusual design caught my eye. Who is the person who lost this shoe? The location below the Tamar Road Bridge is infamous because, sadly, successful suicide attempts end up in this stretch of the river. Of course this shoe is far more likely to have been lost during a leisure pursuit, but shoes lost in desolate places do have a poignant aura.

Anyway we managed to avoid any other dogs and went home for some domestica and then returned later for the evening walk. Elwell Woods is just above the river where we walked this morning. Somewhat cut off from the town this was a historically significant area with a freshwater spring that provided water to the town , first documented in 1284. For nearly 100 years there was a brewery here . More recently there was an electricity generator but ultimately the Tamar Bridge was built in 1961, the access road has isolated this area from the rest of the town. However a recent Celtic Cross has been erected in the area.

It is supposed to be a significant sculpture to mark travellers entry into Cornwall. It is beautiful but the scale makes it fairly insignificant. Angel of the North it is not!

Meanwhile Lola would rather just be snuggled up.