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.

Pandemic Pondering #414

Yesterday was a drawing day. A chance to sit out at a beautiful location and sketch. May in Cornwall has been a bit lack lustre. Cold and wet. By now I should be boring you all with pictures of vibrant poppies growing wild and wilful at the side of @theoldmortuary, it has not yet happened. Similarly the Wisteria at Pentillie Castle yesterday was pretty much still in bed when I sat at the arch, pencil in hand.

I managed to sketch in the bare bones of the arch before two, or three forces of nature sent me scuttling indoors for shelter. Two beautiful dogs took a huge liking to my fat Posca Pens and joyfully stole them, only to return them , directly onto my sketchpad with the addition of copious amounts of dog slobber.

A fine sketch of weaving, mostly bare, Wisteria branches and metal supports was never going to happen on a sketch pad pre soaked with dog juices. Then the rain arrived! Time to retreat to shelter and deploy a vivid imagination.

Time also to consider an alternative strapline for Posca Pens.

Posca Pens.

Work well with dog dribble.

Link to Pentillie Castle website-

Pandemic Pondering #409

Things are warming up on the creative side of @theoldmortuary . This cunning device is squeezing the air out of greetings cards that I packed yesterday , ready for the Spring Exhibition of Drawn to the Valley. Who could have guessed that a fan annual from the seventies would create the perfect size to support a heavy weight to exclude air in the wrapping envelope. In the interest of honesty and with respect to Mr David Essex this annual has not been under my pillow for ever. That would just be very strange.

An old friend sends me gems like this from time to time. I could also have used a David Cassidy Annual from the same era and source but yesterday I chose David Essex to spread the load.

Added to my current domestic admin, of which there is lots, I now have Exhibition Admin, which is much more pleasurable.


The closing date for the exhibition has passed and now myself and the rest of the organising team have the pleasure of sifting through the entries. Some of which are featured on the #mayinthevalley Instagram posts above from the artists_of_the_tamar_valley Instagram page.

All this activity and business is an exact replica of the work we did last year only to have to cancel the exhibition at two weeks notice.

This years exhibition will be unimaginably different . 50 artists who have lived through a pandemic. 50 diverse experiences of love, loss, isolation and change. There is an amazing energy exuding from the works we are unwrapping ( currently in the digital sense )

The Spring Exhibition is always about new beginnings but the Spring Exhibition of 2021 is promising to be an altogether more zingy new beginning than usual. On a more self interested level I still haven’t got the gold leaf on my little pictures or even started the large one. It is a theoretical picture right now.

New beginnings are one thing, just getting started is the current problem!

Pandemic Pondering #408

I’ve spent the day immersed in Tranquility Bay. Not actually, of course, but it has filled my mind a lot. The next exhibition I am taking part in is called Resurgam.

The work we offer for selection should reflect new beginnings after the last year of Pandemic restrictions and lockdowns. I am planning a series of paintings to reflect the sense of calm that sea swimming has created while the world has been a little crazy.

4 mini pictures are on the go at the moment.

They feature the rocks at Tranquility Bay at High Tide. They are resting overnight to be finished later in the week. The best way to clean painty fingers is to take a dip in the actual Tranquility Bay. The sunset was bright and I was feeling bold so I took the phone into the water to catch some waves.

A touch of increased saturation in the camera settings makes the photography quite painterly. Really cold fingers meant that this camera moment couldn’t last long .

The one above has an abstract sparkly heart. The paintings are also waiting for some sparkle, I’m waiting for some gold leaf to put in Drakes Island.

Pandemic Pondering #402

A bit like this spider , I’ve been immersed in Wisteria today. I had an urge to paint Wisteria in a walled garden. In truth wisteria is not quite blooming yet in Cornwall so I had to work from photographs. Infinitely easier as apart from the spiders the pollen also doesn’t agree with me.

Here we are, another Friday and I have an action packed three hours before noon. 9:00 second vaccine dose. 10:00 first haircut with a stylist for five months and then a swim with the bobbers at noon.

Here is the wisteria painting, I did not include spiders in the composition but if this walled garden were real there would almost certainly be a few lurking in these blooms.