Last night, unknown to the humans at theoldmortuary, was party night. Our resident hedgehog got up early . I’m not even sure he’s been asleep all that long . All the signs were there during the day, both dogs doing excessive tracking in the garden , following tiny complicated tracks obsessively suggesting hedgehog activity the previous night. Quite how the actual wake up party is announced I don’t know, maybe Hedgehog annoints himself in a particular smell for party night. Toad and slug body spray is entirely likely in this garden. By midnight the party was in full swing, Hugo and Lola paid 6 different visits to the the garden. Despite their excitement they just like to look at hedgehog as he does his thing. I’m pretty sure the canapé provision in our garden is deplorable in February so we provided cold snacks of cat food once the wake up was official. The probable reason for the early wake up, storms Ciara and Dennis,was marked by the guest appearance of Hedgehog Stormzy an old friend from their South London days.
The Leviathan is a prominent sculpture, by Brian Fell, situated on The Barbican Plymouth. Locally it is known as the Plymouth Prawn . The Leviathan is set to become famous Worldwide as the Mayflower400 celebrations build up in Plymouth. The Leviathan is close to the commemorative Mayflower Steps.Leviathan has its own Twitter account , not that it’s particularly active or has many followers. Strange really. Leviathon lives in a lively location.Leviathan was installed in 1996 and is made of patinated steel. Leviathan is a sea monster created from regular sea creatures. Cormorants feet, the fins of a John Dory ,the tail of a plesiosaur, lobster claws and the head of an Angle fish. Despite this callaloo of body parts Leviathan is majestic.The Leviathans location is on one of my regular dog walks. There is a fabulous circular walk around the harbours and quays of Plymouth taking in both historic and contemporary port buildings and activities. I’m tempted to photograph the sculpture almost every time I see it , sunshine is the very best weather for Leviathan snapping, not unlike life really.I used the fishy subject for a watercolour subject, minus the drumstick! Although a competent image of a skewered Leviathan kebab eludes me.A little bit of printing magic and I’ve created a psychotropic Leviathan. At night The Barbican is nightlife central. Who knows if the Plymouth Prawn partakes.And then just one little move to create a completely abstract image with no hint of sea creatures.Not such a romantic blog as the date would suggest but to my regular blog readers a simple message, thanks for all your comments and feedback.This blog is linked to a social media Instagram project. The prompt for today was #valentinesdaynohearts.https://drawntothevalley.co.uk/I believe Leviathan has a heart. It just needs to find its Sole Mate.
There are only so many days that you can wake up to another grey, Cornish day and feel inspired by the stark bleakness of it all. Yesterday I walked the dogs in very quiet country lanes looking for a specific tree that I had read about in a local magazine. http://cornerstonevision.com/the-love-tree/
Known as the Love Tree , I caught it in a rare moment of brightness. It interests me as I want to produce a simple tree image in the style of Art Nouveau for a project I’m working on.
It is a monumental Elm tree and the trunk is carved with initials, some of them very old. My photograph is not the best for showing this.
Because my eye was taken by a much more contemporary action. A child’s jelly shoe has been slotted into a woody crevice.
The remoteness of the rural location suggests this is a deliberate act. I am intrigued.
Darwin Day . 12th of February. Charles Darwin, aged 22, spent 2 months in Devonport waiting for HMS Beagle, a survey vessel, to be ready to sail in 1831. He was travelling as a scientist although at the time he was training to be a vicar.
” It was the most miserable time of my life” he claimed .
Training to be a Vicar may have been the problem as Devonport, awas particularly skilled at entertaining young men with time on their hands, money in their pockets and testosterone drenching everything.
Perhaps he was ” keeping himself nice” for a family member. Somewhat ironically the Darwin’s were not averse to Consanguineous marriage.
He may have regretted finding Devonport dull, having set sail on 10 the December bad weather forced them to anchor at Barn Pool, just a mile or so west of Devonport, for a week with nothing more exciting to do than look at Devils Point.
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.
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.
A quick #tamarriver search on Instagram shows I am not the only person to make this error.
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.
This is a lovely historic, Victorian, example of a “bossy” sign. It’s in Great Guildford Street, Southwark, London. I walked past it every day on my way to do Jury Service at Southwark Crown Court, which was a little ironic. No high tech crimes for me to struggle with. Just Ruffians, Pickpockets and Wankers. Exactly the sort of people this sign sets out to deter.
For the last ten years of my working life I was either based in Marylebone or the City of London. On-site, On-call was a requirement of my job. Sometimes depending on the rota I was lucky enough to be on- call with people who would be travelling in from home. That gave me some freedom when there was no actual work to do. Depending on the type of on- call I could be out walking, with the bleep, and as long as I was either 15 or 30 minutes from work everything was hunky dory. In normal hospitals this time would be spent studying, reading, or watching TV but in the centre of two historic locations walking the urban environment was a bigger pull for me. Bankside and Tate Modern was well within the half hour walking time from the City. Bankside became a favourite late night walk. It felt very safe. Historically this was not always the case.
Bankside was as well known as Amsterdam for its red-light district in the 16th and 17th centuries. The area had been historically linked to the sex trade since the development of the Roman city. Slaves of both genders provided a full menu of erotic services to military men and sailors. The area was effectively legalised in the 12th century. The Bishop of Winchester was granted the responsibility for the area.
The Bishops of Winchester made themselves the surprising benefactors of immoral earnings. They granted licences to operate for the brothels and taxed the money earned. They lived well on this income.
Prostitutes here were known as Winchester Geese. Clients travelled to Bankside by boat or horse, a dangerous journey, not only urologically but also because the area was a general dumping area for criminals and chancers who were not welcome in the city. They would happily rob or murder a man whose mind was not fully on his own safety.
Despite the luxurious life that the Bishops court maintained, thanks to the business, the prostitutes were not welcome in consecrated ground when they inevitably died. Winchester Geese were buried, or dumped on unconsecrated ground not so far from their workplace.
During early works in the 1990’s for Crossrail or the Elizabeth Line as it has become known, a graveyard was discovered just off Redcross Way. Crossbones as it is known holds 15,000 skeletons , predominantly women , one third are foetuses or infants and some older children. http://crossbones.org.uk/
The industrial wasteland at Redcross Way has become the focus of remembrance for the outcast dead. Vigils, performances and other acts of observance are regularly created here. The gates of the site are a shrine that has become a place of pilgrimage.It is likely that a permanent Garden of Remembrance will be created here. The property is owned by Transport for London . The first recorded mention was in 1598 and the last body interred in 1853.