theoldmortuary has been a blog for about five years. It has evolved into an almost daily event. Pondering on the things that are inspired by my daily life. Often mundane, sometimes repetitive I swerve from hyperlocal activity to big and small thoughts without blinking an eye. I am an artist and writer. My hometown is Plymouth in South West England, part of me will always be connected to London and another part loves to travel.
It was 2:30 today when I completely realised that today was Wednesday and not Thursday. By then I had achieved most of the things that needed to be achieved by Thursday on Wednesday.
So tomorrow stretches ahead with nothing more taxing than a hair cut. By tomorrow November will be over and December will be on it’s glitzy slightly camp match towards Christmas so today’s miscalculation has inspired me to share some old photos. November is a great time to take photos if the weather is good.
If the weather is not good then November can feel like an endurance. So farewell November see you in 2023.
I am not entirely sure how @theoldmortuary will mark Advent+ 2022, but as I write this I am below this year’s window dressing. Up somewhat temporarily because today is cold but extraordinarily bright so I have no idea how this looks from outside. Outside looked like this at 8am.
Personally I am on the countdown to the shortest day on the 21st of December. I am not one for short days. I like to maximise my outdoor time in December and January just to prove to myself how utterly useless I would be any further North in the Northern Hemisphere. Last night I delayed my afternoon walk a bit to catch some luxury yachts that were moored up nearby,to facilitate visits by prospective purchasers. An interesting sales drive specific to those who have a Christmas wish list considerably different to mine. But ever the neon-loving human that I am, a walk involving twinkle and glitz,is a walk enhanced. Lola was having no part in me photographing extreme luxury and reduced several million pounds worth of spending,to an abstract light-show by robust ear scratching as I pressed the shutter.
The dogs interest on a walk is always more olfactory than visual. They appear to not notice the short days as long as their regular haunts are visited several times a week. Perhaps I should be more dog about these dark months.
But since my sense of smell has once more deserted me I am spared the lamp post sniffing rituals of my canine friends, which possibly only leaves snuggling on the sofa which is the only other preferred or acceptable winter activity for our dogs. Perhaps ‘Be More Dog’ is not really a great idea for health and productivity.
This was quite the morning for a bob. Not that the water was quite like this when we were in. Half an hour before this picture,while we were in the water, it was bumpy and grey, 13 degrees in the water and 9 out.
Rainbows were an added bonus. This is how all winter Mondays should start. Then lunch out and an afternoon spent with a carpet cleaning machine, I’m not sure that necessarily is the way the day should have gone but any artistic endeavours involve a man relieving himself in a back street. So the options are not great.Last Monday we were leaving Dublin and a week on I still haven’t nattered on about The Guinness Storehouse. One of Europes best tourist attractions. It was the only truly tourist haunt that we visited. Not exactly the worlds most hardened drinkers the building was definitely the most intriguing aspect of the visit. The whole point of the building is to turn lime green hops and water.
Into black and white porter, in this case Guinness.
The finer points of brewing passed me by but the magisterial building was wonderful.
People who know a whole lot more than me believe that Guinness tastes better in Dublin. At the end of our tour we got a pint each. That is a lot of something to base an opinion on and yet I remain quite unable to tell anyone if a Dublin Guinness is significantly different from one served anywhere else, but regardless it slipped down very well in a very beautiful building.
It is a misty murky weekend in the Tamar Valley. I’ve been overwhelmed with a virus and have had to watch on as my fellow bobbers took to the water on the one day that our swimming zone was not treacherous.
But out of the gloom came a red dot indicating that I had sold a piece of art at the exhibition where I caught the virus earlier in the week.
I am super pleased as it was one of my experimental pieces with alcohol inks. Alcohol is also involved in other art projects this week. My ongoing urge to draw a Dublin back street complete with inebriated man having a pee. He is not so much the focal point, more a piece of street furniture as nearly every historic back street had at least one man relieving himself in a pool of light. I will spare you the Google images that I will be drawing from but there are days when I am glad my artistic researches are no longer tracked by the NHS IT department. There is a funny old system of on- call where you are only paid for emergency work that you actually do. In theory it can be done from home but often it was just easier to stay on site and do self interest work/ study in between cases. Mostly I did work related study but sometimes when I was doing arts courses. I would knock out a Fine Art essay. Me and IT got particularly close when I was researching ‘ Finding the Erotic in Nature’ . The nature of work in the NHS means that almost nothing except actual porn gets stopped by their filters. But fleshy looking plants really set the IT logarithms on me. Thankfully I had a good relationship with IT mostly because some of my colleagues could not keep their fingers out of the Porn Sweetie Jar that is the Internet, even at work. So they alerted me when my colleagues had transgressed. The quiet ones are the worst!
This plant, which makes beautiful tea was a very awkward search.
I suppose the picture above would be fairly typical of a night scene in Dublin. We only visited the infamous Temple Bar once, always preferring less busy options. This was the view from our airbnb. The illuminated Viking ship was quite a draw for ultra late night shenanigans. Friday night was packed with working people celebrating the weekend to the max they were only chased away at dawn by road sweeping vehicles and street cleaners. Saturday night bustled with jubilant Irish rugby supporters celebrating a win over Australia, trumpeters at 4 in the morning was both jubilant and joyful, curiously melodic when leading happy chanting. Sunday night was calm. Every daybreak marked by the sound of road sweepers making the city pristine.
All this is a bit of waffle to make our night tours of back streets more interesting. Dublin has so many historic back streets, untouched by redevelopment that it is like walking in a city 300 years ago. The streets felt safe but there was a recurring theme that I felt compelled to sketch from memory.
Nearly all back streets held the same night time characters. Chefs on their phones, taking a break from cooking with a cigarette and a sit down. An inebriated man taking a piss in a pool of light. I decided to do my first sketch with Charcoal, a messy few hours later. I had the beginning of something that had the flavour of all the back streets we visited. I just need to find a way of getting more colour in.
The chefs face needs to be blue and the peeing man needs to look more drunk and there should be some essence of coloured lights just reflected on the brick work. A project for next week.
After two days of Tamar Valley art @theoldmortuary is going to double- back to Dublin for a quick whizz through some street art. Dublin being Dublin there is also some great wordage included. Starting with the Love Wall on Love Lane.
There was not exactly a plan A or plan B for our trip to Dublin. There was one fixed item on our itinerary but the rest was left to chance and the weather. As things turned out the weather was perfect for just wandering the streets. Our wanderings for Saturday and Sunday were about 20,000 steps each day divided into two sessions, longer daytime adventures and then after a rest an after dark trip out.
Sometimes the quest for good coffee and baked goods brought us an unexpected extra of street art.
Alongside great coffee, cardamom buns, fuel for more walking and a sticker pole.
Other street art was more commercial and directive.
But street artists also get in on the act.
We found a lot of work by Oriel.
Too much lovely street art to share it all here but this James Joyce quote on Harman Street sums up our two day visit.
Joy is a friend and model for the artist and printmaker,Annette Wrathmell. Annette was doing a lino print workshop at Face Value the current Drawn to the Valley exhibition at Gunnislake in the Tamar Valley.
Joy was the subject matter for the print demo but she also appeared in an oil painting by the same artist.
Annette started the demo by showing her early sketches from which the link cut was created.
Annette explained how she creates light and shade with her specialist cutting tools.
What really thrilled me was the accuracy with which Annette carved into her lino. I superimposed one of her prints on a head shot that I took of Joy at the demonstration. The fit was almost perfect.
As luck would have it Joy was wearing the same earrings, which enabled me to register. the two images easily. It was a small jump to add some digital magic to this image.
Annette is a very charismatic printer who shares her knowledge easily. Her audience were inspired to get on creating Lino prints for themselves. That seems like a morning well spent. I have shared her artists profile below and a link to her website.
I left the world of science to embark on a Fine Art Degree and found my home in printmaking. A world with endless possibilities and not unlike science open to experimentation. Etchings and the more painterly carborundum prints led by natural progression to painting and I now use both in response to the many subjects which inspire me. A keen walker, I love the landscapes which surround me, the Cornish coast, Dartmoor and the trees and forests in the Tamar Valley. I have also spent many summers in Greece and wherever I am always carry a sketchbook and a camera. Many of the sketches are of people and consequently another interest is portraiture. However life is full of interesting sights and ideas and it’s wonderful to be able to explore anything that comes my way to incorporate into a painting or a print. I am a member of Drawn to the Valley artists’ collective and take part in most of their exhibitions and annual Open Studios.
It was a flat-cap kind of day at an exhibition in Gunnislake today, and not because of this excellent print by Annette Wrathmell.
Mark Fielding was giving a portrait sketch demonstration and his sitter was Andy Spry.
Andy is a daffodil grower with over 300 varieties of daffodils nurtured in his fields. Mark is a member of Drawn to the Valley and a well known portraitist. I was keen to watch Mark at work but my attention was caught, not so much by the sketching, as by the easy conversation between the two. How often, if ever, do you get the chance to watch the natural ebb and flow of a conversation between two people who have not previously met. I had thought I was there to witness one thing but became absorbed by something else altogether. The conversation between the sitter and artist was fascinating, sweeping from Daffodil varieties to the legacy of local artist Robert Lenkiewcz. Mark Fielding, was once his pupil. On the way the conversation touched on the hands of working men.
Andy talked about the wisdom of generations of flower farmers.Mark shared some of the wisdom of Lenkiewicz.
Sunday in Dublin found us going unashamedly touristy a trip to the Guinness Storehouse Experience followed by Dublinia a museum dedicated to Viking Invasion and Medaeval Dublin. There was, perhaps, some over-optimism in achieving anything after a trip to the Guinness Brewery.
Local street art suggests the slight unfocussed effects that might occur after drinking a Guinness.
Not to be outdone by street artists I took a suitably unfocused photograph of one of the pony and trap taxis that are on hand to spirit well imbibed visitors back to the city centre.
The Guinness experience will get it’s own blog in the fullness of time.
The Viking experience was somewhat overshadowed by our slightly enhanced sense of humour, maybe the fault of a perfectly poured Guinness direct from source.
The exhibition was billed as immersive with sound and smells of the period. There were no discernable smells unless damp tourist exactly matches Viking fragrance. The only sound beyond the chatter of damp tourists was a regular quiet groan. The exhibition was hugely interesting, perhaps a little dated but we learned a lot. The groaning grew louder with no obvious source until we discovered a Viking taking a dump and preparing to wipe his bottom with lichen. Either lichen is the very devil on tender parts or the Viking diet was not conducive to smooth elimination. Either way we were very amused by it.