#55 theoldmortuary ponders

I’ve spent the last couple of days with fellow Gallery Guides at The Box in Plymouth. The picture above is three of us standing in the North Hall of the museum within a video installation which is part of the Songlines Exhibition.

One of those unusual moments when illumination does not make something easier to see. I haven’t really written a blog about Songlines yet, I am still finding more to learn and appreciate every time I spend a few hours in the galleries. By the end of February when the exhibition closes I will have distilled my thoughts. For Gallery Guides it is not just about the installed artwork, the reaction and questions from the public also forms a vital part of our perception of the exhibition.

Yesterday I had many different interactions with visitors and some of them really do set me thinking. This exhibition has brought people from all over the country to Plymouth, some of them with vast experience of world travel and Indigenous Culture.


Talking to strangers is something I took for granted before March 2020 when Covid shut the world down. Now it is something I only really get to do at Art Exhibitions. Thank goodness art expands the mind.

#46 theoldmortuary ponders

A timely reminder that to chose working in the arts is not without its crtitics. But once the scientists have done their bit and pulled or pushed us to the other side of our recent pandemic it is artists and creatives who will give us the good things that add sparkle and embelishment to life.

My Wednesday Ponder, brief and to the point. Enjoy it with your coffee.

#29 theoldmortuary ponders

Another tale of the riverbank from Tuesday. This is the rail bridge linking the Bere Peninsular with a suburb of Plymouth. On this occasion it is viewed from a boat, for 20 or so years I could see this view just a few steps from my home. A long time ago I painted it during my Fine Art Foundation course, it is impossible to tell from this old photo but it is on a super chunky frame that I built myself.

Once again this week this is a late blog. We had a morning filled with friends and family and an afternoon filled with wallpapering.

A Sunday well filled but not with blogging!

#17 theoldmortuary ponders

©Debs Bobber

How wrong could I have been yesterday! The fog and mist cleared quickly, by the time we had done our swimming the sun was up. Not only was the sun up but someone lovely had put up coat hooks at our normal swimming spot.

©Gill Bobber

It took no time at all to fill all the hooks with our swimming stuff.

What a kind thing to do.

When we moved house recently we gained a garage, which in some ways has replaced an art studio and two brick storage sheds in the last house. Inevitably it became a bit of a storage area and dumping ground during the move. It will never actually house a car.

Somehow during the move our cordless drill became disassociated from the charging port. The last place it could possibly be was the garage. And just like that the autumn project revealed itself! I can’t say it will be the most exciting of post-move projects, and would certainly have been better done before quite so many spiders had moved in, before the winter. An hour or so of reorganisation yesterday revealed the missing charger. That small victory became reason enough for me to stop the process. More effort and diligence is going to be needed to see this particular project through. Perhaps next week is the time to really sort it out…

For now I have an exhibition to prep for. How many times will I have to scuttle into the garage today to find missing art stuff!

Pandemic Pondering #536

© theoldmortuary, Pollen II

Mid to late September is habitually the time of year when @theoldmortuary are getting ready to set off for a holiday. Holidays always involve some painting, or sketching in the sun. Usually in Greece because that is the destination of space and relaxation.

Pollen II , above was sketched in Greece and then painted at home. A roadside plant possibly a weed bursting with pollen. The paintings that emerge from holiday sketching follow no real theme or style.

©theoldmortuary, Naturists at Paleochora

Last September our usual holiday time was filled with non holiday activities at the height of the pandemic. There was no random sketching. It seems a shame to have given up my regular September sketching habit just because a pandemic has blighted travel and relaxation plans.

©theoldmortuary, Phospherescence on an unknown Greek beach

Last year was such a muddle of Lockdowns, Eat Outs, Stay ins, that September passed without any thought of what a normal September was like. This year I am a little more mindful of what I am missing. There is no reason not to take some time out to randomly sketch just because the pandemic still has travel and many other aspects of our lives twisted out of all recognition.

©theoldmortuary, Elefonisi

We have some holiday booked this year, no big trips and possibly a good bit of home maintenance but I might just pack my self a little sketching kit and take inspiration from closer to home.

Pandemic Pondering #527

The sun was out yesterday. I was out yesterday. All was well with the world. Have a wonderful Sunday.

I’m not actually planning to stop there. Yesterday was full of lovely people and great art which I will share as the acceptable face of Saturday. Because nobody needs to see pictures of, or read about, my ranting on the subject of traffic blockages and crazy redirections. Or framers who haven’t framed. The pursuit of Art is not always comfy but it always repays with gorgeousness. Thanks to the artists of Drawn to the Valley for soothing a grumpy driver. The amazing print below exactly represents my head after more than two hours of road congestion. Except my busy head was not filled with such beauty.

©Beth Munro at Ocean Studios

Looking and talking about art is very soothing, by the end of the day the traffic and complexities of the day were all forgotten, my life view was much calmer!

©Melody James, at Isambard House, Saltash Station.

Pandemic Pondering #525

Friday in the first week of September in the second year of a pandemic feels like a strange place to be. The end of another summer of uncertainty with summer traditions modified or cancelled. One regular event of late summer that is going ahead with appropriate Covid-19 precautions is the Drawn to the Valley Open Studios event. 9 days of art and making locations, open to the public throughout the Tamar Valley.

Locations and opening times can be found in the virtual brochure on our website.


There are 3 more days to visit studios. I’ve spent my free time this week calling in on artists and catching some beautiful art and conversations along the way.

All the artists have been very welcoming but one welcome was very special.

Pippin in Bere Alston gave the most enthusiastic welcome so far.

Pandemic Pondering #523

Wednedsday already. September already. How did that happen!

My current art project is exploring the crafting of previous generations of women. The stuff that often ends up in charity shops when people downsize or when families have to clear homes following a bereavement.

Hours and hours of work end up in the fabrics areas of these shops, for sale for tiny amounts of money. For obvious reasons I don’t buy all I see, despite really wanting to assemble all the lovely work of these amazingly skilled women into one place where they can anonymously mingle in a safe place. Maybe the auras of the women creatives could share techniques and admire one anothers skills.

With daily blogging I’ve become a story teller of the mundane. 523 days of weaving words and pictures together. Often with no great story to tell, mundanity has become my unique selling point. My raison d’etre if you prefer.

It is the way I am beginning to create my 2d art.

Anonymity and chance are the two words that I have been keeping in mind since the Pandemic hit the world and started killing so many people.

There are two anonymous women represented in these photographs. The first created a small circular dressing table thingy using fine cotton to crochet and wonderful sewing skills to roll the edge of a damask circle and then attach the crochet and work a spiders web of crochet to create a small but beautiful mistresspiece of crafting.

The second anonymous woman wore costume jewellery, a string of specially coated crystal glass beads.

Chance brought their artifacts together in the same charity shop. By sewing the beads onto the edges of the crochet I am bringing the two unknown women together to create something new. Something useful even. A beaded jug or bowl cover to deter insects.

So far so good I feel. You may disagree. But however am I going to move this into the realm of 2d art! The first stage is probably writing about it…

Mundanity, my USP!

Pandemic Pondering#456

Visiting artists in their workspace is a multisensory experience. One I always have mixed feelings about beforehand but nearly always come away enriched in so many ways. Not always arty embellishment of my soul either. My mixed feelings are caused mostly by an inate shyness and reticence about walking into someone else’s creative space. Yesterday I visited three creatives participating in the South Tamar Art Trail. All in a small hamlet in the Tamar Valley known as Rising Sun.

My first visit was to Gudrun’s fused glass studio. A buzzy place with a bead making workshop going on.

Bead making is mesmerising. Fire, dexterity and concentration are significant factors in the magic of fused glass bead making. Gudrun also fuses ideas and creativity with her neighbour John who creates his craft in a woodshed filled with equipment and wood for recycling into wondrous objects.

Gudrun walked us over to John’s workplace. The smell of freshly drilled or cut wood was intoxicating as we first entered. John recycles wood from all sorts of places and the fragrances from unusual woods create a heady brew. From John’s workshop we walked to Suzy Billing Mountain’s unit on a small industrial unit nearby.

Suzy has been making fluid art for a couple of years. Walking into her unit blasts your eyes with colour. It is everywhere, including on Suzy. She gave us a demo of her style of working and we nattered a lot. Having said that our eyes were blasted, I’ve chosen a really subtle piece to show her style. Mostly because it sums up the colours of walking in the Tamar Valley in early summer.

South Tamar Art Trail runs until Sunday 27th June.

Pandemic Pondering #423

Today was spent setting up this exhibition with a fabulous team of artists working hard together with the mundane, but essential, tasks of making an exhibition space out of a multi-purpose room. The weather, a wind speed of 45 miles an hour did not help with the delivery of boards.

Later in the afternoon artists were blown into the venue to deliver their work. Canvases turning themselves into sails propelling them to the door at speed. Friday is hanging day so tomorrows blog will be filled with wonderful works of art which were all delivered by the end of the day. It was lovely to work with a large group of people sorting things out and collaborating together, in person, for the first time in a very long while. I pinched the image below from a poetry brochure, but it sums up well the idea of the artists of a valley working well together.