Pandemic Pondering #501

©Nicola Beaumont Detail from Sunset over Bodmin

After 4 days of a glorious Summer Exhibition at Tavistock the sun has set on one part of the Drawn to the Valley #greatsummerofart. The next event will be Open Studios, a very different experience. Group exhibitions are a chance for artists to come together and show what a diverse group we are. Open Studios are the chance to visit individual artists or small groups in a variety of spaces. For this last blog of the summer exhibition I chose blue as the theme. Once again featuring details rather than the whole picture. There is actually a practical reason for this, many pictures are framed with glass which causes reflection problems for photographs. By choosing details I can crop reflections off and widen my choice. So off we go on a blue journey. From a blue sky at sunset ( above) the next picture has a blue sky reflected in water. Just to prove not all reflections are bad!

©Clare Law

Exhibitions are also a chance to meet other members, artists mostly work in their own little hobbit holes and just like the whole world we havent got out much recently.

©Geoff Dodds Detail from White Horses at Port Gaverne.

Geoff was an artist I had never met before and we had a little natter. Another coastal blue came from Gilly Spottiswoode someone I meet often, she gives fabulous nattering.

©Gilly Spottiswoode Detail from Breakwater

Gilly’s print leads me to another print, something a little more abstract from Stefania D’Amico.

©Stefania D’Amico Detail from Plantlife.

Abstraction returns me briefly to water with Janet Brady’s Drypoint.

©Janet Brady Detail from Nymphs at Play.

And finally a blue bird with a knowing look brings this blog to a close.

©Beth Munro Detail from Shoebill Stork

Pandemic Pondering #499

©Lesley Hoffman Detail from Freddy at Sunrise

Unashamedly another Drawn to the Valley Summer Exhibition blog . This one welcoming Saturday with the gorgeous colours of sunrise by Lesley Hoffman.

The colours of sunrise are all over the exhibition. Colour and texture combine in this lovely piece by Lyn Edwards.

©Lyn Edwards Detail from Seed Heads

Another flower head that grabs attention with the colours of a vibrant, stormy sunrise rather than a peaceful one is this.

©Jayne Ashenbury Detail from Seduction

These are the sort of pulsating colours that absolutely suggest seduction, assignations and fecundity. As this blog shifts from sunrise to symbols of fertility I am struggling to think quite how to link the last two pictures. While pondering that, I realise that all these works are by women. This is entirely accidental. Seed heads and passionate colours take me towards the last two pictures of this blog . Serendipitously hung together at the exhibition, these are the works of two Tessa’s

©Tessajane
©Tessa Sulston

Why did the curators of the exhibition hang these two works close together? For me it would be hard now not to see them together. They both take the dark colours of fecundity and also demonstrate the meaning of the word ” the ability to produce many new ideas” so perfectly they both include bright white that fizzes with potential. Together they have given me an earworm and the chance to share a favourite line of a chorus from a lyric.

” Til morning comes lets Tesselate”

The track ” Lets Tesselate” by alt-J is below

https://g.co/kgs/CLokiB

Rather a blogging rabbit hole today, enhanced by art from Drawn to the Valley. The Exhibition runs for two more days at Butchers Hall, Tavistock.

Pandemic Pondering #498

©AlanDax. Detail from Dartmoor’s Timeless Spirit

Life imitating art as I drove through typical Dartmoor weather to get to the Drawn to the Valley Summer Exhibition at Butchers Hall. Alan Dax captures the meh of Dartmoor perfectly. I have had nothing to do with the summer exhibition beyond some Social Media posts. So it was with a fresh pair of eyes that I made my first visit to the exhibition today. There really are some stunning pieces of work to be seen. This blog just contains snippets of some of the work. For people local to Tavistock you can pop along for the next three days to see the full glory for yourselves. For the sake of this blog I collected some images that can tell a story. The one above obviously tells the story of crossing the moor in the rain.

© Peter Davies. Detail from 8 minutes 20 seconds

How I wish this image was an album cover. I’m not sure what leads me to make this statement, but if I had a vinyl collection and this was an album cover this image would always be visible. Truth be told in my Vinyl/Album buying days I did just buy albums for the artwork.

©Sally O’ Neill Detail from Through the gate softly

I love the acidity of this painting It reminds me of home made lemonade on a hot summers day. I might not choose to pass through the gate softly, I could rest a while in the cool shadows, slowing down the day to a complete standstill.

©Simon Young Detail from Still Morning

Still morning is an image so familiar to me,until recently this location was my regular morning dog walk. I’ve seen this stretch of water on the Tamar in so many different moods, always busy and rarely still. Once I thought I saw a porpoise, cleaving the water in a distinctive way, no-one else was around to corroborate or simply tell me I was imagining things. Another time I slipped twenty feet on the slipway nearby( warning in the name that I failed to acknowledge.) I landed in the silky mud that the small orange boat is resting on, a friend who tried to save me toppled in headlong after me and we laughed like mad women because we could and because it was the only sensible response to two grown women doing something daft.

©Charlotte Sainsbury. Detail from Southdown Marina

I’m not yet hugely familiar with Southdown Marina but it is a planned walk in the future with the friend who accompanied me to the exhibition today. We are going to catch the ferry across from Plymouth and explore intriguing places. Helen is known for many admirable qualities and for the flash of turquoise in her hair. She is a Bobber and she loves turquoise, so this picture is particularly apt.

Maybe turquoise is a good place to stop this meandering. More tomorrow.

©Suzy Billing-Mountain. Detail from 1121 Ripples

Pandemic Pondering #452

©Suzy Billing-Mountain

It would be true to say that for many of us the last 18 months have not gone to plan . @theoldmortuary this weekend has not quite gone to plan but where unplanned gaps in my schedule appeared I was lucky enough to fill some gaps with art. Drawn to the Valley are supporting an Art Trail that shows the work of both members and non-members.

©Sue Coleman

The trail has also had its own unplanned moments and was postponed because of Covid restrictions. Suffering the same fate as the Open Studios event that is was organised to replace for the same reasons. In consequence it has been some time in the planning. Sadly one contributing artist has died between the planning stages and the actual realisation of the trail.

©Glenis Blakiston

The widower of Glenis Blakiston had decided to open her studio just as she would have done.

Pandemic Pondering #223

Today was Vernissage Day at Butchers Hall in Tavistock. It was a triumph of creativity over Covid – 19. The excited buzz of a well attended Private View with vividly dressed artists and guests it was not. No canapés, no music, no performance poetry, however in its own quiet, socially distanced way it was a celebration of hard work and achievement. What impressed me was the texture of the experience.

The Mayor of Tavistock opened the exhibition with words that by now, in 2020, we are all too familiar with, unusual, difficult, unpredictable. She noted that many of the 70+artists were experimenting with different styles because of the experiences and challenges of 2020. For this blog I thought I might just choose a few uncredited images to illustrate some of the textures and colours that I experienced today. A more formal blog of the exhibition can happen after it has opened to the public.

In sharp October sunshine even the building got into the texture category.

Butchers Hall – It’s Complicated.

Exhibition of Drawn to the Valley Artists. Wednesday 28th October – Sunday 2nd November 9-30-5-00 except Sunday when it closes at 2, Butchers Hall, Tavistock.

Bright shaft of sunlight.

This morning the sunshine demanded to be noticed @theoldmortuary.

It highlights.

1. Tissues, we have been bogged down with a shocking virus this weekend. Not the headline grabbing sort just one that saps the strength and deadens the creative soul.

2. Hidden books, I have no idea how they get there.

3. Shadows, we have cast metal fish in our windows . In spring as soon as the sun comes out the fish shadows swim all over the ground floor.

4. Phalluses

Today is Ash Wednesday, an important date in the Christian calendar and #ash is the prompt for the social media account of Drawn to the Valley an artist collective I am involved with.( I used David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes lyrics to fulfil the prompt) I mention this only in passing to illustrate that although I am not an active Christian I do have a good grip living opposite a church and being culturally shaped by Christianity, the gentle moves of the Christian calendar and it’s feasts and rituals are integral to the shape of our daily lives. Weddings, funerals and baptisms shape the way we park if nothing else. Paganism too plays it’s part in todays blog about Bright Shafts of Sunlight. There is almost an eponymous characteristic to those words. #4 explained

Our garden traps confetti, even after a winter of harsh storms and few weddings, today’s ‘ bright shaft of sunlight’ has its own special meaning @theoldmortuary as the garden twinkles with golden phalluses.

Social Media, a lesson learned

©instagram

Yesterday was the end of my week long ‘shift’ running the Instagram account of an Artist Collective in South West England. Drawn to the Valley is a collaborative support network and promotional organisation based in the Tamar Valley, a beautiful and often overlooked part of Devon and Cornwall. The members of the group work in and are inspired by vastly different landscapes and environments. The maritime port of Plymouth forms the distinctive Southern point of the group’s territory. The point where the River Tamar flows into the Hamoaze, Plymouth Sound and then finally flows into the Atlantic . In keeping with the mythic and folkloric emergence of any river the Northern boundary is less definite. Unromantically I would say somewhere in the post code EX 20. Specifically of course the Tamar arises out of the ground at Woolley Moor, Morewenstow.

©instagram

The area has many significant titles relating to Geography, History and Aesthetics.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Throughout human history the area has been exploited for minerals. It has a unique archaeologicaly significant mining heritage stretching from the Bronze Age to the present time.

European Special Area of Conservation.

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The last category is represented by the Tamar Valley AONB. Drawn to the Valley has a particularly close association with this organisation

The Makers and Artists in this group are as diverse as the landscape in which they work.

Social Media is a valuable tool in keeping this diverse group of artists aware of what they are doing as individuals or groups but also and perhaps more significantly it is the group’s everyday shout out to the world.

Social Media has been a ‘thing’ for 27 years. It attracts bad press,deservedly, because like everything it is fallible.

But in benign hands for arts organisations it is invaluable. Persuading individual members of this can be a hard sell in any artistic community. As a group we run workshops and support groups to encourage our 160 + members to launch themselves safely and confidently into the Social Media Pond.

Which rather circuitously but hugely importantly brings me to the title of this blog.

I’ve been associated with the Tamar Valley for a large portion of my adult life and have only just learnt that River Tamar is the correct term for the river and area I’m talking about. Whilst #tamarriver is a completely different place in Tasmania.

#rivertamar

©instagram

A quick #tamarriver search on Instagram shows I am not the only person to make this error.

©instagram

There is also another lesson to learn, I fail to remember this one too often.

When operating a social media account on someone elses behalf always log out before waffling on about your own stuff.

Meeting Mrs Marvellous

I first met Mrs Marvellous at a Drawing Day, in the Autumn, organised by Drawn To The Valley, an art group based and inspired by the Tamar Valley. The Tamar, running North to South, forms the boundary between Devon and Cornwall. We arranged to meet again but work and life commitments got in the way until today.
https://www.mrsmarvellous.co.uk/

This is not the blog I had expected to write but like all the best conversations at theoldmortuary it swirled and grew organically taking us in many directions, some of them sad but mostly hugely positive.

Mrs Marvellous uses appliqué, embroidery and quilting to create memorial quilts or pillows and dementia friendly aprons or lap quilts.

” I take the material fragments that embody the most priceless of times- the milestones, the adventures, the hurdles conquered- and stitch them into something magical to preserve memories”

Mrs Marvellous likes to meet the families who commission her quilts or aprons, just receiving a bag of anonymous fabrics wouldn’t feed the creative process for her at all . Engaging with families or friends who have lost someone to death or dementia must be tough, there are often tears but also pleasure in sharing stories. I know that when I have been sad and grieving Mrs Marvellous and her magical stitchery would have been just the uplift I would have needed to shed a little light into the gloom. After consultation, the families or friends collect clothes and textiles together for their bespoke item. All washed by the family they are delivered to Mrs Marvellous.

” Every parcel has its own fragrance, in part a vestigia of the person to be commemorated but also the fragrance of their washing products and home”

So much more than stitchery goes into every creation. Mrs Marvellous has had personal experience of both dementia and loss, but beyond that she is involved with Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance. She says Plymouth is a hotspot of dementia innovation and research. She advocates the need for protection of pride, respect and dignity for those living with dementia. Her lap quilts and aprons are designed to keep people warm and engaged, with pockets, textures, familiar fabrics, perhaps samples that are representational of their old life and loves. A brilliant techy addition to the magic of the creations is a tag sewn into its own pocket.

The tag activates recordings of favourite music or voice messages.

Three images of a dementia lap quilt. All completely washable. This is a man’s lap quilt. Apparently keys are hugely significant to men , equivalent to a woman’s handbag. Who knew?

The bottom image explains just a tiny proportion of the memories, textures and love sewn into this quilt.

I guess that’s more or less the blog I thought I’d write .

You just never know when you meet someone new how a conversation will flow. This one travelled like the Severn Bore. It surged in places, gently rolled in others and quietly crept where appropriate. Appropriate really as Mrs Marvellous grew up.in Clevedon, and played in the grounds of Clevedon Court.

©MrsMarvellous

We found people we knew in common, many that we didn’t. Talked at length about Drawn To The Valley, the art group we both belong to. Podcasts, Social media, Saltash all took a turn in our nattering. Finally. Finally! We ended with my Ice Breaking Questions. Clearly no Ice to break with Mrs M.

Mrs Marvellous favourite place in the Tamar Valley.

Mount Edgecumbe by the Folly overlooking Plymouth. Especially when fog hangs near the water, snaking up the river.

Mrs Marvellous best place to take friends.

The footpath walk along the river at Newbridge near Callington.

( I have to add a note of caution. Otters have been seen here. Good. My dogs love to roll in Otter poop. Bad)

Mrs Marvellous Sunny Day Outing

Devils Point Plymouth with a packed lunch.

( Another warning, don’t try this at night.)

Mrs Marvellous Rainy Day Outing.

Not one to share.

Her bedroom overlooking the Tamar through massive windows. Great accoustics with rain clattering on Velux windows and properly cosy apparently.

Mrs Marvellous best cafe.

Away from the Tamar for this one.

Inkies Cafe at Golitha Falls.
https://m.facebook.com/inkiessmokehousebbq/