#353 theoldmortuary ponders

Despite declaring the arrival of autumn yesterday.

#352 theoldmortuary ponders

Autumn put in a very summery face, today, for my visit to Cotehele, despite being in the midst of Drawn to Cotehele, two more exhibitions are in the pipeline. We sat in the bright autumn sunshine planning a winter Portrait exhibition. It was our inaugural meeting, time for the curatorial team to get together and set a schedule. As if on cue, as we were discussing 3d art, we were visited by a chap called Alfie.

A very fine example of flesh and blood 3D.

Cotehele was looking gorgeous.

But you can see from peoples clothes that the seasons are on the turn. Spring and autumn sunshine is sharper than baking hot summer days. The clarity of light gave me one of my favourite ‘ it’s complicated’ shots.

The exhibition we are currently running at Cotehele was bustling with visitors and the red dots, signifying sold work, are stacking up. The art is constantly restocked so the exhibition looks fresh every time I visit.

©Jane Athron

This one by Jane Athron sold really early on but has been replaced by another vivid picture from Jane’s studio. Another Jayne, Jayne Ashenbury is also selling well.

It is such a pleasure to have Cotehele as a base for Drawn to the Valley for a month, I am not sure when I last looked forward to meetings quite so much. Maybe I wouldn’t feel the same if it was raining but I am really excited to see their pumpkin harvest display towards the end of our time with them.

Yesterday was just so lush, bright sunshine and glorious pools of shadow to give contrast and relaxation after the stimulation of early autumn colour.

Zoom meetings were never like this.

#352 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunrise but looking west.

It, has happened in Stonehouse, the last vestiges of summer have slipped away and there is a chill in the air. Today was my first day in tights and a jacket, other clothes were worn. I was not just prancing around like a principal boy in a ballet. Walking around Stonehouse often involves random conversations with strangers. Today it was all about the weather.When the bobbers gathered at 6pm many layers had been added to our summer casualness of a towel, a costume and some summer clothing. It’s not the swimming that has particularly changed but getting out of the water is decidedly cooler.

Sunset looking west.
Sunset superimposed on sunrise

#351 theoldmortuary ponders

When this book was recommended to me a colleague warned me that I would need to take a break every now and then to calm down.

She was not wrong, I am only a quarter of the way through. Suddenly some things are blindingly obvious but not perhaps in the way I expected. From a historical perspective women often appear invisible because men took the credit for their work. I did not expect that simple fact to appear in my contemporary life this weekend. I was searching on line for a range of bone china that was designed a few years ago by a woman in collaboration with some art students. The design was easy enough to find using her name but when I thought about ordering some I noticed her name was nowhere to be seen. Instead the whole range was branded with her husband’s name. I am pretty certain I would have noticed this without being immersed in this wonderful book but now I am acutely aware and can’t quite bring myself to order the china.

Then today I was at a training afternoon and the course leader was trying to upscale a philosophy for children scheme * to engage with adults. I’m not entirely sure his plan was quite working as well as he had hoped, for anyone, when I also realised he had customised a visual aid by putting words in the shape of a male face with a moustache. The default male face as I now know these things are called.

So the warning on the book turned out to be a good one. Unfortunately real life is every bit as capable of winding me up now this book is my bed time reading. I also have the sequel. This could be a long week bookwise!

*P4C. Do not attempt to use on adults unless you are really sure of your material!


#350 theoldmortuary ponders

©Anne Crozier – Golden Hills. This image can be seen at Drawn to Cotehele Art Exhibition.

My early morning walk had gusts of biting wind and brilliant sunshine. This whole blog could have been about the early signs of autumn getting a firmer grip on our daily lives, but between then and now I have attended a committee meeting and one word that I heard there knocked fading summer out of the blog for today.

Salmagundi in the context of our committee meeting was used as a word for a potluck supper. A meal or feast,for many, created by everyone attending bringing a plate of food to share.

Google suggests that the primary meaning of Salmagundi is of a mixed salad. But the words use to suggest a mixture in many different scenarios is also well established.

This, in a funny way also describes the weather between Summer and Autumn arrivng from all directions and a huge variety of textures; and the process of holding committee meetings, the opinions and experiences of a variety of people. In both cases different things come together to create a group experience.

A new word, for me, is a huge excitement, one that I am happy to share.

#349 theoldmortuary ponders

Mine and Lola’s first time in a department store for 3 years, if you don’t count M and S, which I don’t.

The target items were kitchen items but here we are relaxing in the shoe department. Lola having the best time chewing a disposable sock.

In other news paintings are flying off the wall and this afternoon was spent framing two more to go to the exhibition.

Green Man

Low Cloud over Calstock

Saturday’s are fabulous things but as I write this late blog we are almost in Sunday!

#348 theoldmortuary ponders.

Yesterday was a surprise. Dawn was mighty fine and then I went to work at a gallery/exhibition that had been running for nearly a week with no publicity. I definitely anticipated a slow start but was pleased to see that there had been a few sales.

Red dots at a gallery signify that a piece of art is sold. The work is either taken away at the time or left in the gallery until the exhibition ends. A mix of both greeted me when I arrived and soon after we had a steady stream of visitors through our, quite remarkable, door.

There must have been something in the air because both myself and the other steward each sold a piece of our own work within an hour of being there.

Obviously, we couldn’t do the traditional artist happy dance of backflips and somersaults because we were in such an old and precious building. But the sentiment was the same without risk to life or limbs. I have a feeling this is going to be a memorable exhibition.

My plan for when the exhibition was quiet was to take loads of photographs to share our beautiful location on this blog. Now that has to be a job for another day. If you live anywhere near the Tamar Valley a trip to Cotehele in the autumn is always a colourful experience. Our art group has just added a little bit of extra interest.


#347 theoldmortuary ponders

©Mark Fielding

There is an irony to this blog. For the last ten days I have had loads of time to do Social Media for an art exhibition at Cotehele, a National Trust Property on the Cornish side of the Tamar Valley. The National Trust asked us not to do any Social Media during the mourning period for HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Today I am actually at Cotehele and free to do Social Media and I have two problems. Firstly we are really busy and secondly there is hardly any signal. This blog will be published by me visiting the bowling green, hopefully, or perhaps by waving my arms at the Dovecote. Another touch of British eccentricity if the last ten days have not seen enough of it.

©Peter Ursem

Working at a National Trust property is always a treat, I am sitting in a room that was a bed chamber in 1485 or possibly earlier as that date is the first of the recorded redevelopments.

©Gilly Spottiswood

All of the work here is inspired by either Cotehele House or the Tamar Valley. The website of Cotehele is below.


For now my lovely readers I am off to wave my phone on the bowling green. Failing that, who could begin to guess, this is a medieval house there could be somewhere even more delightful to get a signal.

©Michael Jenkins

#346 theoldmortuary ponders

And so after 10 days of Royalty, but not Royalist-tinged blogs I bring the blog gently back to randomness and repetition. This morning Tranquility Bay was exactly that, tranquil. Hugo set about clearing the bay of floating seaweed, Lola ingratiated herself with a very impressed toddler and I talked about local cockerel activity with friendly neighbours, one of whom I have never met before. It was as if the last ten days had never happened. September days with gorgeous sunshine are just so blissful. Nothing more needs to be said.

#345 theoldmortuary ponders

It’s complicated. As Britain packs away the Cosplay outfits for a few months, what happens next? When I took the photo of the purple, illuminated, entrance of The Royal William Yard in Plymouth I hadn’t planned to include the contemporary A-frame table but when superimposed on a shot of the dawn of a new day it looks pleasingly optimistic. The future of Britain will be resolved around tables like this one. People will sit at benches like this, cardboard coffee cups in hand and informally exchange ideas. The big decisions may well be made in grander or more formal surroundings, but tables like this are where the magic happens.

If the architecture looks familiar after 10 days of news bulletins from London, there is a reason. The same architect John Rennie, who built the Royal William Yard, was part of a partnership, with his brother J and G Rennie. They also built Waterloo Bridge, Southwark Bridge and London Bridge.

How affronted would J and G Rennie be if they had known that the, imagined, structural failure of one of their bridges was the code name for the Queen’s death?

“London Bridge has fallen down”

The bridge did not, actually, fall down and the sun rose so all is well.

#344 theoldmortuary ponders

Here we are, a £1:75 pineapple, my tenuously linked story, that brings a royal flavour to this blog.

We spent the weekend camping at Heligan. Loads of history and stories. The fruity one that stuck was the not-so-humble story of the Pineapple.

Between 1770 and 1850 growing Pineapples became the horticultural aspiration of the upper classes. An imported pineapple at the time would cost the equivalent of £5000. If you were rich enough to own one you could hire it out until it was virtually inedible, people so craved them as a centrepiece of their fruit bowls and as a sign of their wealth. However if a guest attempted to touch the pineapple security guards, provided by the actual owner, would step out from the dark recesses provided by candlelight and the host would be embarrassed that they had been caught out as hirers, not owners, of the precious fruit.

Wealthy landowners like the Tremayne’s of Heligan built pineapple pits in their kitchen gardens to grow their pineapples. Absolute mountains of horse manure were required to heat each pineapple pit and Heligan had 15 of them. When the restoration of the kitchen garden was complete it took 7 years to perfect the art of growing pineapples in Cornwall using centuries-old techniques. If you take into account all the research, labour and failure that Heligan has endured growing Pineapples each one still has a price tag of about £1,000. They are never sold, each one that makes it to the eating stage is divided among all the staff, who get to eat it.

Except for the 2nd pineapple ever grown in modern times at Heligan. It was given to the Queen and Prince Phillip for their 50th Wedding anniversary in 1997. Which just about squeaks me into my 10 days of Royal topics for the 10 days of Official Mourning. I wonder how long it will be before people start trying to touch my £1:75 pineapple?

This blog also explains why pineapples are so often seen as a motif in architecture, bling in the form of fruit.