Advent#8

Some days ‘popping’ into town takes a bit longer than planned.
https://www.santasonabike.org.uk/

Hundreds of Santas rode into town at 1pm. Raising money for Little Harbour Children’s Hospice .
https://www.chsw.org.uk/our-care/our-hospices/little-harbour

The town, already closed to traffic for a winter fete, was soon bursting with bikers in red, astride throbbing engines with fake fur on their faces.

Saturdays are never normally this vivid in South East Cornwall.

Advent#6

Why an advent blog? Actually why not, theoldmortuary blog is a flimsy insubstantial thing. A daily pondering of no real significance, so why not ponder productively whilst the evenings are long.

Advent is not solely the possession of the Christian Church, like many things considered to be Christian, it was a pagan tradition beforehand. Advent in the Northern hemisphere belongs to December when the days are short and the weather intemperate. Some days feel as if almost nothing is achieved within daylight hours. The long dark evenings are good for cosy activities like reading or indeed pondering. Advent ponders are whatever crops up in my day that makes me think…
Today it’s baubles.

These amazing baubles hang in a local garden centre. These particular ones have travelled from Slovakia, others from the Ukraine, but most come from China and in particular Yiwu.

This article from The Guardian in 2014 explains their production.
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2014/dec/19/santas-real-workshop-the-town-in-china-that-makes-the-worlds-christmas-decorations

Gisella Graham is a bauble designer and wholesaler. theoldmortuary has loads of her baubles, some from the Garden Centre and some from Liberty, London. The ones we mostly buy are London inspired, they also make great gifts for our family and friends abroad. I’m unsure where I thought baubles came from, but it wasn’t factories in China or wholesalers near the Elephant and Castle. Like Yiwu, Elephant and Castle is not a remotely Christmassy location. I only mention this because I once got lost nearby and discovered this bauble Mecca. Just as in China, normal people work there. No Elves. Shame.
https://www.giselagraham.co.uk/contact-us/

I’m sure the baubles of my youth came from Poland and Hong Kong. They were fine and fragile. None have survived my many moves. These random thoughts have inspired me to research the history of the bauble.

Germany was the home of the first blown glass bauble in the 16th Century. Hans Grenier produced glass beads and tin figures in the small town of Lauscha. In the next two centuries, the growing popularity and commercial success of his original decorations inspired other glass blowers in the town to make baubles. By 1880, F W Woolworth had discovered the German baubles of Lauscha and started to import them, despite bauble manufacturing beginning in New York in 1870. This German business grew and flourished until the end of World War Two.

After WW2, the Lauscha bauble factories became state owned and production ceased. However, after the Berlin wall came down most of the companies re-established themselves as private companies. They positioned themselves as high-end manufacturers, not competing with mass production and continue to produce baubles of very high quality.

Meanwhile, to fill the gap created by the closure of the Lauscha producers after WW2, mass production of baubles started, in the second half of the twentieth century, in Poland, other Eastern European countries, Mexico and China.

My recollection of Hong Kong baubles proved to be correct. During the Korean war, there was an American embargo on China. Hong Kong quickly increased its manufacturing capability not only to produce the products it would normally import from China but also produced enough goods to export to the rest of the world replacing China’s output. Glass blowing had been established in Hong Kong in the 1920’s, so inevitably baubles became another mass produced item that Hong Kong could export all over the world.

Bauble pondering, a journey of changing destinations, sometimes caused by war. Fascinating.

Advent#5

This time last year we were wandering the streets of Hong Kong looking for the location of the military hospital that Hannah was born in. On the way we walked streets with amazing neon signs.

Like so much in Hong Kong, a year has seen a lot of changes. Beyond the well publicised protests, there are other alterations to Hong Kong’s heritage afoot. Neons, in particular the ones that hang over roads are being removed. Health and safety and energy economics are the reasons given. Hong Kongers see it as another sign of Hong Kong culture being crushed by China. Their loss will alter the night- life street- life scene massively.

© Juliet Cornell Watercolour

Advent#3

December Sunset at Churchtown Farm. This works in two ways , it is a brilliant December image for Advent and the location fits nicely into the Memorial Bench category. This bench is not the one that inspired my memorial bench writings but it is the one that I see the most often as it’s on my regular dog walk. It often gets a mention on the Churchtown Farm Facebook page, because people get such peace and solace from perching here. It is placed overlooking a beautifully peaceful stretch of the River Lynher. Jupiter Point, part of HMS Raleigh is the silver twinkles at the far left of this image. Beyond the Navy the water here is pretty quiet, troubled only by sailing boats and the occasional gig from Caradon Pilot Gig Club based in Saltash.A17EB3BB-A74D-4FD2-8A4D-713A9B76BE6C

This bench is unusual because it is so solid and the commemoration is carved into the wood, it’s solidity increases the sense of its permanence in the landscape. The location is so beautiful and the seat so comfy it’s hard to walk past . Not necessarily efficient dog walking but perfect for pondering. It’s what3words location is react.sometime.breeze

ECAADEEF-5F3A-4027-AD3F-998BC8EC3796

Advent #2

Tree of memory Xavi Bové Studio and Onionlab

https://illuminate-festival.co.uk/

Illuminate 2019

Iluminate 2019’s first night was scheduled for United States Thanksgiving Day, the 4th Thursday of November. It was also the first public event linked to Mayflower 400 in Plymouth.This was the the third Illuminate event to be hosted in the City. The previous two were held exclusively at the Royal William Yard. 2019 saw the action shared with Mount Edgcumbe and the Barbican. I am interested to see if this was considered a successful idea.

Illuminate is a festival of light based art installations, projections and interactive displays. Local, national and International artists take part.

Regeneration Nathaniel J Hall

theoldmortuary made two evening dog walks more interesting by visiting two of the locations. The Royal William Yard was a great experience. The Barbican less so.

Atmosphere is a magic ingredient, organisers do their very best to create by delivering spectacular content and experience, it’s the publics reaction to the artwork that makes the fizz and energy of a successful event. The buzz at the Royal William Yard on Thursday must have been everything the organisers wanted. Plenty of happy people enjoying contemporary art in dry winter weather. Lovely street food, great coffee and live music.

The Art was spectacular in every way.

Diva Thomas Voillaume Apache Creation with Jeremy Oury for Video Mapping

Friday night saw us walking the dogs to the Barbican. Curiously quiet for a Friday, there were almost more event volunteers than art lovers.The harbour in front of The Ship pub was the location of a beautiful installation.called Baitball by The Media Workshop. A video projection onto mist.

Sardines swirled and shapeshifted in the mist just above the surface of the water. The work was mesmerising.

Not so great was Her Voices also by The Media Workshop. Located in the Elizabethan Garden.

The installation was broken in some way and no effort was being made to make a repair. Disappointing in many respects particularly as it must have been one of the premier locations, of the festival. Not really good enough.

Curio- Trigger Stuff by Savinder Bual and Elena Blanco was intriguing . A series of doors with letter boxes that allowed the viewer to peep into tiny interiors that showed artifacts that hinted at local people’s ideas of home. I wasn’t convinced that this was in any way more interesting by being illuminated but maybe the complete lack of atmosphere on the Barbican had jaded my artistic edge.

On a positive note for the Barbican, Sunday night saw the Christmas lights turned on in addition to Illuminate . I’m sure the magic more than made up for Friday.

Advent #1

Christmas Scene at Jacka Bakery

This morning was sunny and beautiful. The sun was out and the temperature was down, time for a long walk and a hot coffee as a reward.

Jacka Bakery is the oldest working Bakery in the country. Coffee here was our half-way, warm-up and sit-down reward.

theoldmortuary wrote a blog a while ago that mentioned an earlier visit to Jacka.
https://theoldmortuary.design/2017/05/12/what-a-difference-the-sun-makes/

theoldmortuary meets enthusiasts.

The blog writing course by The Gentle Author, founder of Spitalfields Life, encouraged course members to do many things. Visiting small museums, was one of his top tips,        “Because they are always full of enthusiasts” were his exact words.

https://spitalfieldslife.com/

Saltash has a Museum, which I have never visited, a shameful admission. I do know, however, that it would fit the description of small.

http://www.saltash-heritage.org.uk/

I did a little pre-visit research and discovered that the museum themes the exhibition space annually. This year’s theme is Grannies Attic, Grandads Shed. As a new grandparent, it was quite exciting to think I could pick up some attic tips.

As a side reason for visiting, I wanted to check the local archive and see if there was any information on the past life of theoldmortuary.

What I also found, just as Paul ( The Gentle Author) had predicted was enthusiasts. Upstairs above the small museum is the Local History Centre. This is where the enthusiasts hang out. So many of them too.

Bruce Hunt, the vice chairman applied himself to my research. To be honest we didn’t find anything specific to theoldmortuary but loads about the locality. Intriguingly just 10 steps from our front door was the location of a now non -existent pub called The Church House Inn, owned by the church and run by the vergers. Their signature beer was called Church Ale, The war memorial stands in the pubs exact location. 10 steps from our front door makes the current 30 steps to The Cecil seem like a marathon. The church, St Stephens, features frequently in the photographic archive and about 2,000 St Stephens wedding photographs are held there. The wedding picture at the top of this post is James McIntire and Susan Lanyon in July 1937.

The Local History Centre was buzzing with activity on the Wednesday afternoon I popped in. People sorting photographs by hand and others transcribing paper data onto computers. Terry, the archivist was everywhere and when he wasn’t obviously somewhere his name was being called.

Bruce pulled up a couple of maps that showed theoldmortuary. One, the 1841 Tithe map, showed two dwellings on the site of theoldmortuary, 60 years before our home was built in 1902 or 1903 . The same dates that the Cecil Arms, the current pub was built, sounding the death knell for The Church House Arms which was demolished as soon as The Cecil was open.

My time upstairs took me beyond closing time of the museum, so another visit is needed. All I could manage was a quick peak into Grandads Shed. A perfect recreation, including the politically incorrect pin ups. Shame it didn’t have the fragrance of Old Holborn tobacco and wood shavings.

All images courtesy of Saltash Heritage.

Thanks to Bruce Hunt for information and research.