#225 theoldmortuary ponders.

Curating and managing group art exhibitions is a rewarding experience. The positives are really valuable to working artists. Seeing what other artists submit is a pleasure and inspiring in equal measure to artists and our visitors

So much frenetic work goes into these temporary exhibitions and yet there are also moments of great calm, often when there are no visitors. Time to really concentrate on one or two pieces of art created by someone else is a real treat.

Listening to visitors comments within their visiting groups is also real guilty pleasure of mine. So much to be learned in a creative space. Spring and summer are the time these fleeting amateur art exhibitions pop up in neighbourhoods all over the world. Don’t just drive or walk past, if you have the time, pop in, for just a few minutes you can step into multiple other worlds. It won’t make the world a better place but it might make you smile.

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Our impromptu visit to North Somerset took us to a gem of a small seaside town, Clevedon on the Bristol Channel. Like everywhere in Britain, things are getting titivated ready for the Queens Jubilee next week.

Tiffins Cafe

Clevedon is a town that swelled in popularity when the Victorians fell in love with fresh air and coastal holidays. The jewel in its crown is the Grade 1 listed pier.

Which managed to get into every one of our photographs during our brief visit.

The pier is very well cared for and is blissfully free of all the amusements tat that usually accompanies sea side entertainment. If fact this pier is very well balanced, with a coffee shop at either end.

All this loveliness failed to completely impress two members of our family. Hugo lowered his centre of gravity firmly to the decking boards of the pier and refused to move. Hannah got the sort of nausea that could only be alleviated by having coffee at both ends of the pier. Both of them affected by seeing the beach and sea far below them between the gaps of the decking boards. Hugo had to be carried, a favoured luxury not lost on Lola who made no fuss at all. Her face says it all in this picture.

The weather was not particularly kind, the one aspect of the pier that we failed to explore was the Port Hole room. We would have had to hang around a bit until a private function ended so I’ve pinched a couple of pictures from the Pier website.The porthole shows off the engineering beauty of the structure.

With the weather turning rather wet we turned for home. An ebay bargain stowed in the back of the van and a new destination explored.

#223 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday was a fine example of planning v serendipity and also a lesson in observation. We had planned to meet some friends for an early morning dog walk and breakfast. We were very surprised when we arrived , the cafe, which we had never noticed before, was very close to the end of one of our regular dog walks.

The end of our walk is between the double lines, we walk until there is nowhere else to walk. Quite how we have missed the Waypoint Bar and Bistro is beyond me. If I have an excuse it is that there is always loads of things to look at.

The actual Waypoint, itself demands attention. Yesterday the breakfast demanded attention.

There was also a pretty, camp, figurehead to catch the eye.

And pretty yachts, prepping for the Round Britain and Ireland Yacht Race.

Round Britain and Ireland Yacht Race

No wonder the chatter around the other tables at breakfast were in so many different languages and so animated. When we left to do the gardening, , I almost wished I was going on an epic journey requiring skill and courage. Then I remembered I have neither of those attributes and that my potbound spider plants would not thank me for going off on an unplanned adventure. Later with the gardening achieved we waited to see if a cheeky offer on Ebay would be successful.

It was and the unplanned part of the day began. Our purchase required us to be in Bristol with the van early on Sunday morning. Supper and breakfast and a few clothes were popped in the van and we drove to a  farmers field between Bristol and Bath for the evening.

Once we left the traffic jams of the motorways we found a different sort of hold up.

Paella in the sunset was our reward for gardening and driving.

The evening dog walk brought one more surprise for the day.

Definately a day that taught us to be more observational.

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©Michael Jenkins

Not exactly sunrise to sunset, but not far off. The curating and hanging teams for the Spring Exhibition, including me, worked hard all day to hang all the 2d and 3d work submitted for the Spring Exhibition. 12,000 steps on a hard concrete floor are enough to make your feet shout for a break, but that was not an option. All the works were hung and the space beautifully tidied up by the time the doors opened for the Private View. Then the owners of the same exhausted feet made sure that our guests had drinks in their hands and delicious canapes in their mouths. Lovely conversations were had and sales negotiated. Gilly our treasurer had her hands full with Pimms and payments all happening at once. All in all a good day was had.

©Michael Jenkins

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©Mark Fielding

Setting up a group art exhibition is exhausting but the thrill of unpacking other peoples creativity is an enormous treat. The other great pleasure is meeting and talking with the artists as they arrive, weighed down by their precious creations.

©Sue Richardson

After the last two days of setting up and installing we have a week now of being open to the public and plenty of time to chat. Anyone local to Gunnislake or the Tamar Valley, we would love to see you, there will always be a warm welcome.

©Sarah Grace.

#220 theoldmortuary ponders

The mackerel are gathering, this can only mean one thing.

An art exhibition is about to be constructed over the next couple of days. As usual I am not quite ready.

Another artist had delivered her work to my house last Saturday all beautifully wrapped and bagged up. My work, in comparison, was all over the place. I also need other essentials like cable ties and S hooks to enable the construction of the boards,that hold all the artwork, and give the Artists plenty of space to show off their work.

It is always a surprise scrabbling around in my studio. Things that are put away unfinished come to the surface like this abstract of Silver Birches that needed just a dusting of silver to be finished.

Silver Birch Plantation

This next one needed framing and he looks magnificent finished off with a frame. It is a cheeky picture of the return of Nightlife to The Barbican. He is also finished with High Gloss Resin which makes the image almost impossible to photograph.

Nightlife Returns

Just one last picture to share from my contribution to the group show.

Nearly There Trees

I had lost this original for several years before finding it a couple of weeks ago in the final tidy up and reorganisation of the studio. Reproductions of it always sell well but the original had hidden itself away. As things turned out I am so glad I spent some time with it yesterday mounting and wrapping it ready for sale. The Nearly There Trees are a landmark close to the A30 on the Devon and Cornwall Border. Their proper title is Cookworthy Knapp. They are symbolic and significant to all who love Cornwall. Below is a link that explains more about the Trees.


Yesterday evening I learned that an artist friend, who lived in Spain, had died earlier in the week. She was born just across the water from where I live now on the Mount Edgecombe Estate. The Nearly There Trees are hugely significant because she chose to return to Cornwall for her last months. Artists are funny folk who mostly work in isolation, but when we flock together we shed and share ideas . My lovely friend and I met at the Arts University Plymouth. She introduced me to Elvis, I’m not sure what I gave her. She and I often pondered the subjects of these blogs, I am so glad she made it home.

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Sunflowers in Cuba

Todays blog is a little late due to holiday travel. Not mine, for certain, as I am still without a passport. But it did give me the chance to share one of my favourite holiday photographs. This morning I dropped some friends to the airport for their holidays and by coincidence several friends and family are travelling to Europe for weddings this weekend which makes my whatsapp notifications bright with happy holiday images.

©Debs Bobber

All of my adult life I have taken foreign travel for granted. Covid and now an inept passport office have kept my feet very firmly on United Kingdom soil for nearly three years. This has made me appreciate the similarities and pleasures of Britain that I previously would, perhaps, have not even noticed. After the drive to the airport this morning I went to Sutton Harbour area to have new tyres fitted. I heard a sound that would be well known to anyone who has spent time in the Mediterranean . A handbell being rung from the window of a white van carrying food items. Today was not freshly caught fish or locally grown vegetables but the humble pasty!

So, I am a little envious of my nearest and dearest sampling foreign sights and sounds. The minute a passport lands in my hands, foreign adventures will be planned. But today I walked past scenic lobster pots with a baguette under my arm, only the weather proved to me that I was not, currently, somewhere more exotic.

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Our garden designing , or now to be accurate yarden design, is nearly all copied or modified from things we have seen on the TV coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show. This year’s event started being broadcast yesterday. Some years we are lucky enough to visit in person. This year is a watch it on TV year. By coincidence we visited a garden centre yesterday that was primped and made perfect, ready to welcome all the inspired amateur gardeners who will visit hoping to create something magical on their own plot.

At first I thought this pairing of a silk scarf and flower was a serendipitous occurrence of lost property and garden pots. But the silk scarf and others I discovered later were deliberately and whimsically placed. I’m not sure our robust city yard has the chutzpah to be adorned by floaty scarves.

We were at the garden centre on a double mission. To replace a couple of casualties from the move and to avoid very heavy Cornish rain. We had also spent some time at an EcoLodge over the weekend and were freshly charged with sustainable ideas.

We like the idea of extending gardens with the use of garden mirrors. Our London garden had a series of arches leading to infinity at the boundary. In reality we had painted an old concrete garage black and stuck arched mirrors between the concrete supports. Within a couple of years the garage had disappeared beneath foliage and all that could be seen were three enchanted paths leading, who knows where, which were actually just reflections of our small urban plot. Since then garden mirrors have become a bigger thing with bigger prices, but like a bee to honey I am still attracted to them. Then I was struck with a thunderbolt of an idea. When we bought this house we inherited a large, very heavy mirror that has been propped up in our hallway ever since we took it off the wall. Advertising it locally at a very cheap price or offering to give it away has not shifted it at all. In part because it is cumbersome and heavy. Checking out garden mirrors at the garden centre I realised they were not as well constructed as the one we were trying to give away. As soon as we were home a space was cleared and the big beast was moved into the yard. Not what I would have chosen exactly, but the thrill of repurposing something that had been previously unwanted feels satisfying and we can design around it to make it look like it was always part of the grand plan.

The recycling gods must really have been with us yesterday. The evening walk on our local beach delivered up another piece of yard hardware.

While the dogs were scampering we found an old metal grid all caught up with seaweed that had been washed up onto the beach. Not too much of a clean up, and some curious looks as we walked home, it was soon installed as a support for our tomatoes.

Not too bad for a rainy day out in Cornwall.

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This should be the high flying version of a blog. Over this last weekend Zip Wire Flying should have happened at the Eden Project but Covid afflicted one of our friends and the group activity has been postponed. Instead a weekend in coastal towns and on the High Sea has filled our days and indeed led to this late blog, colour and not location is the flavour of this late blog. Sunday Cornwall thought it was in Greece. We stayed in the village of Golant just two miles up the river from our family favourite Fowey, more of that later in the week. Fowey River Class Dinghies created the first kick of colour.

We had over an hour to wait for the ferry to Mevagissy but being at the turning buoy kept us entertained and the sunshine was very welcome on our faces.

The slipway for the Fowey to Mevagissy Ferry couldn’t have been more Greek.

The ride was a little more lively than the average ferry.

We landed in yet more Hellenic vistas.

Meva harbour also joined in the colour project.

Two days with virtually no signal and no wifi does not a daily blog make. Normal service will resume tomorrow.

#216 theoldmortuary ponders

I expected a morning of birdsong and sunshine today. We are overlooking a valley not too far from home, with a very poor signal and no wifi. Somewhere, in this blanket of fog, there is the Fowey River.

Fog is funny stuff, often depicted as malevolent it alters the way we think. During the pandemic ‘brain fog’ was one of the long term negative symptoms that people described. We all understood that feeling, even if we had never experienced it. Fog is universally a weather phenomenon that no one has a good word for.  No positive spin exists for fog.

Photographers only love it as it is leaving the area. So far, today, we are not yet at the point of fog appreciation.

And then just like that, it happened.