Pandemic Pondering #173

Insomnia and vivid dreaming are known side effects of the Covid-19 restrictions. I need to add an odd one to these but first a little about my blog writing. Most days, the next days blog is ready to publish by five past midnight. Occasionally I leave writing the blog until the morning, sometime before 8 am. Both methods work equally well. This weekend vivid dreaming affected the early morning writing of blog Pandemic Pondering #216. I already knew that it would be a brief blog with blue as the theme. A reason for confidently leaving the writing to the early morning. Imagine my horror when the pictures I planned to put in the blog did not exist in my phone. They had been part of a vivid dream!

PP#216 was about Wild Swimming and a much needed coffee afterwards. In my vivid dream, there was a beach just around the corner from Stonehouse where we buy our weekend coffees. I’ve managed to find pictures from my archive to augment reality.

This beach was tolerably pebbly but the best thing about the beach in the vivid dream was the option of renting a Beach hut by the day.

The texture of our beach hut was charmingly distressed.

It was two pictures like this that I searched for in the archive when I woke up to write the blog.

This is not the first time a morning written blog has been thwarted by my brain doing overtime at night.

I have a lifelong obsession with beach huts, starting with Frinton-on- Sea on the Essex Coast, followed by the South Coast between Brighton and Worthing, then the Kent coast at Whitstable. Interspersed by the beach huts of the Norfolk and Suffolk coast which are the ones I’ve substituted for the non-existent, in the real world, Plymouth ones. Plymouth does have beach/ coastal cabins which are built into the cliffs around Plymouth Sound and fabricated from concrete with sturdy doors, nothing like my fantasy but I’m sure gorgeous in their own way. The vivid dream even gave me a texture to its imagined doors. Knowing full well that I love a bit of distressed and weathered wood.

I’m not sure if these blog related dreams are in fact my subconscious berating me for not having the blog written before sleep. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could rent beach huts by the day. Even better if they were in Plymouth just round the corner from Stonehouse.

In real life I’ve probably not spent more than four hours in a beach hut, my obsession is built on pure imagination, gleaned from novels and looking into other people’s tiny coastal dream spaces with envy.

Pandemic Pondering#172


What a wonderful word. So much more exciting than Varnishing Day

I’ve received an email with the instructions for a Winter Exhibition that I will submit some paintings to.

Instead of a Private View the exhibition will have a Varnishing Day.

Each exhibiting artist will be able to take a friend/relative/Patron/collector to see the exhibition a day before the opening of the exhibition to the public.

It is an old tradition, associated with the Royal Academy in London, revamped for the Coronovirus era. Vernissage is the French word for Varnishing Day. A day when artists would visit the exhibition and varnish/finish paintings in situ and show their friends and patrons the new seasons work. Ultimately Varnishing Day turned into the more contemporary Private View so it is intriguing that with Coronovirus restrictions the only way to allow artists the opportunity to see the lay out of an exhibition is to revert to a more controllable format.

Not that Varnishing Day was always controllable in history. The Royal Academy in London saw Turner deliver paintings that required more than finishing off and his spot off with Constable is a notable art moment when he added with a flourish a red buoy to a seascape. Constable had taken 15 years to paint his picture painstakingly and felt the snub of Turner’s swift embellishment.

Knowing the cattiness and ill concealed competitiveness of the art world Turner and Constable cannot have been the only disagreeable moment in the Royal Academies long history of Varnishing Days. Nothing is recorded, it seems what happens at Varnishing Day stays at Varnishing Day.

Literature and in particular novels about real or imaginary artists portray Varnishing Day as a far more hedonistic event, which seems more likely given the heady mix of artists, wealthy patrons and hangers on. The proximity of The Royal Academy to Piccadilly, the pleasure centre of London for centuries makes it unlikely that Varnishing Day was ever a sedate affair.

Plymouths own Joshua Reynolds the very first President of the Royal Academy was known for leading quite a colourful life of excess. He probably preferred the word Vernissage too.