Pandemic Ponderings #11

This week started with bright shafts of sunshine. That special Spring sunshine that manages to illuminate dust and cobwebs even in the homes of dedicated cleaners. Obviously this week started with more serious restrictions regarding Covid-19 . Stay with me on this these two things are connected. Spring cleaning catches me just like any human, for a brief time dusting and tidying seem almost a pleasure. On top of this in these bizarre circumstances I feel the need to get rid of anything around the house that reminds me of what I’m going to be missing in this uncertain time. So artwork and ‘stuff’ associated with the Exhibition I was involved with next week needs to be put away. As did our grandparent kit of yesterday’s blog . The washing line has been strung up in the trees ready to blow fresh Atlantic and country fragrances into clean clothes and all the domestic linens that will fill the rest of my week of cleaning madness

After all these chores were achieved me and the dogs went out for our one permitted exercise walk.

The sun was beautiful and keeping our distance was easy for the few humans about. The dogs of course went about their usual social greetings.Not that you would know this from these photographs.

Pandemic Ponderings #6

Life really does have a way of taking you in unusual directions in these rapidly changing times. Earache or not I had to go out today, observing social distance and cleanliness at all stages.

For some time now doughnuts have loomed large in my imagination, not just any doughnut, nothing fancy, a fresh ring doughnut or indeed a perfectly simple jam doughnut.

It has been a back burner kind of fantasy, perhaps a little enhanced or made more presient by the current restrictions on life. It was those very restrictions that enabled doughnuts to feature @theoldmortuary today. Parking in our local High Street (We are in Cornwall so it’s called Fore Street) is normally impossible but less people around gave me the Golden Ticket of parking spaces. Right outside Rowe’s Cornish Bakery.

Not somewhere I usually go for no other reason than the parking is tricksy.

Their doughnuts were perfect and the staff had been fully trained in no touch techniques and tonging. It was impressive.
https://www.rowesbakers.co.uk/

But it didn’t stop at Doughnuts…

Long ago in a large NHS hospital on- call and long shifts were sometimes fuelled by a Gregg’s Bacon Tasty, truly the comfort food of Health Professionals who know a lot about diet and Cardiac health.

It’s been 12yrs since I was close to a bacon tasty. Rowe’s call it a ‘Bacon Bite’ for complete accuracy. London Hospitals of my aquaintance did not offer such things. More worldy offerings certainly, equally bad for the general health but not Bacon Tasties.

The picture tells the story. The very best thing for a virus that induces earache is a Bacon Tasty. Served by someone well versed in the art of tonging.

Followed by the perfect doughnut. Also delightfully tonged.

I won’t bore you with the lovely fresh vegetables I sourced today, or the fish or other healthy comestibles.

What’s the point, this is Bakery Porn. You were warned that I had no idea where this restricted lifestyle would take us.

By complete coincidence a gift of bakery was also delivered to @theoldmortuary.

A man, unknown to us but connected made us a loaf to help out with the earache.

We are feeling plumptious and unrepentant.

Libraries and bookshops, journeys to somewhere else.

Saltash Library

All my reading life I’ve loved libraries, as I got older bookshops took over because library opening hours are not always convenient for working people. We always visit libraries whenever we travel to cities. Birmingham and Seoul stand out as two of the best. Yesterday I was in our local library doing some admin for a book group. Not planning to get anything for myself I had a quick wander around in case something irresistible caught my eye. Two books leapt out at me, not because they would take me on new journeys but because they reminded me of journeys already taken.

Alan Johnson’s In My Life will be the second Alan Johnson book I’ve read. The first one The Long and Winding Road was the third book of his memoirs. I have yet to read the first two parts. The Long and Winding Road was significant to me because during the period it covered we were neighbours, not close, but some of his roads were my roads and when his days of secure chauffeur driven cars were over we shared our regular commute into Victoria or London Bridge. Obviously like proper London commuters we never made eye contact.

Looking down Gipsy Hill
© theoldmortuary

Alan Johnson is not the only recognisable face seen on the platforms of Gipsy Hill Station.

One stands out as the ‘ most’ famous. Fanny, the Gipsy Hill Cat. Famous throughout London for her duty of care to the commuters of South London. She has her own station waiting room.

and is nearly always on hand for cuddles or ticket checking.

Spiri Tsintziras book Afternoons in Itheka is the second book that grabbed me and is the second based in Itheka that I have read.The first was North of Ithaka by Eleni Gage, a book that fueled a trip to Itheka last summer.

The trip to Ithaka was serendipitous and wonderful. It is such a peaceful island.

We had a huge rustic supper in a general store and occasional cafe.

Some of the artwork was surprising.

The food was everything you would expect of Greek hospitality. Comforting, delicious and never ending.

Reading is my favourite pastime, it gives me time and location travel. Sometimes backwards like these two books but often projecting me forward to adventures as yet unknown.

Random(eyes)

For reasons that are unknown to me my smartphone selected a group of photos of eyes this afternoon. I assume I had inadvertantly selected a voice control search when discussing someone with shifty eyes. I suppose it could have been worse.

Not one of the following eye pictures, apart from perhaps the first, is remotely shifty.

I’m going to share them in the order they appeared and try to remember the location and event they represent.

Above is me on a New Years Eve looking shifty.

The next is Hugo and Hannah with almost perfectly matched profiles.

A dragon at Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

Graffiti near Waterloo Bridge London.

Lola in February 2016.

Che Guevara, graffiti just outside Havana.

Three cows at the Royal Cornwall Show 2012.

A judge at The Royal Cornwall Show 2012.

Two more cows , as above.

Two @theoldmortuary paintings.

And finally a barely-there eye from the Lambeth Country Fair at Brockwell Park.

Now none of these seem to me to be remotely shifty but since I had inadvertantly confused my phone I thought I would look up ‘ Shifty eyes’

shifty-eyed in British English (ˌʃɪftɪˈaɪd) adjective. informal. having the appearance of being dishonest, esp as signified by a lack of eye contact. He seemed evasive, shifty-eyed and vague.

Apart from words it seems the internet is not too clear on exactly what a shifty eye looks like. Beyond cartoons shifty eye seems to be intangible so maybe my phone can be forgiven for giving me pretty normal eyes. However I never did ask it to search for eyes of any sort so that action still remains a mystery.

It’s not every day one of these drops into your hands.

I could have had a glove stretcher, a warming plate, a penny lick. What I actually got was the cheeky Coca de Mer.

Yesterday I was at an event hosted by The Box, the soon to be open contemporary cultural space in Plymouth.
https://www.theboxplymouth.com/

I was handed a mystery object to talk about.

The Coco De Mer , a giant seed pod from the Seychelles was not unknown to me, there is one growing a tree at the Eden Project and there is a shop of the same name just North of Covent Garden
https://www.edenproject.com/
https://www.coco-de-mer.com/

The seed is known for its erotic appearance, something that has hastened the trees demise in its native Seychelles.

It’s name means Coconut of the Sea, a name given erroneously because floating seeds were found in the seas of the Indian Ocean and were believed to come from underwater palm trees. In fact they had dropped into the sea and sunk because of their immense weight , only floating to the surface when the decay process made gasses and gave them bouyancy.

The Box specimen is blackened and has a glossy finish with a hole drilled into it. It was very tactile, not particularly heavy. It has obvious visual female charms but the surprise was how calming it was resting on my lap. The curves just nicely fill your hands and the smooth surface of the Plymouth specimen encourages fingers to make journeys around its form.

The tree is endangered because it’s seeds are the way they are and surrounded by erotic folklore. They are protected by law in the Seychelles, but can be sold in a more controlled way to tourists and institutions. Historically gathered examples are sold for massive prices.

©ebay

Since meeting the Plymouth Coco de Mer, yesterday, I’ve read a bit more about it on another blog site, a good read if you are interested.
https://seychild.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/coco-de-mer-symbol-of-seychelles-mystery-of-the-garden-of-eden-explained/amp/

This is why Instagram matters to Artists and Makers

Yesterday was an interesting day. A coffee meet up with a friend serendipitously introduced me to an artist and jeweller . Then an unexpected printing hiccough gave me some water colour scraps to create a new image.For interest I though I would use the Instagram Grids of the three people I met to illustrate this blog.

©tessajanedesigns Instagram

Coffee was with tessajanedesigns at Ocean Studios. We were just having a social catch up after teaching a Social Media workshop earlier in the week.http://www.tessajane.co.uk/Mark Wiggin saw us nattering and came to join us.

©. Mark Wiggin instagram

https://www.markwigginart.com/Then we popped upstairs to see Val Muddyman. Her current work recreates the tiny details of the beauty of a beach really close to her workshop at Devils Point.

©Val Muddyman Instagram

https://www.valmuddyman.co.uk/shop-1

Hugo loved her workshop.

For completeness here is my Instagram grid.

©theoldmortuary Instagram

This is the future Palimpsest that is currently a collage and previously was three watercolours. I met all these people in just one hour, the images I found of their work on Instagram is such a simple illustration of why Instagram is a great piece of Social Media for Artists and Makers.

Leap Year

What to do with the extra day in 2020.

©Hong Kong Ballet

Obviously after just one lesson we are fizzing to leap around on Leap Day, but this young man does it so much better .

February always needs more red.

Leap Year attracts flimsiness and fun, see my efforts above, or read Guardian flimsiness.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/feb/29/leap-year-day-how-you-could-and-should-celebrate-29-february

But it exists to keep us all ticking along nicely in time. Introduced by Julius Caesar over 2000 years ago.

Leap day recalibrates and corrects time keeping because every year is actually 365 days and 6 hours long (one complete earth orbit of the sun) so once every four years those extra 6 hours are gathered together to make an extra day.

29 pictures in red to fill your extra day.

Red car Plymouth Hoe
Miss VV
Tywardreath rail crossing
Crystal Palace Rail Station
VV and Mum talk Rothko
Posters Devonport Playhouse
Redcurrants Butler’s Cottage
Red vase @theoldmortuary
Poppies @theoldmortuary
Jewel Salad @theoldmortuary
100 Homes Project, Plymouth
Chinese New Year , Hong Kong
Bowls South Korea
Hugo and Lola hit the Red Carpet
Gipsy Hill Brewery at The Lord High Admiral , Plymouth
Nasturtiums
Detail of painting
Street Art Haggerston
Chilli lights and cook books
Welsh Guards
Autumn Leaf Dulwich Picture Gallery
Beach plastic, Portwrinkle
Croxted Road, Dulwich
Detail from painting
Street Art, New York
Dodging the spray, Niagara Falls, Canada
Post Box, Barnes
Brixton Market
Hoi An

In the Pink, the morning commute and other stories.

theoldmortuary team has spent the weekend fixing fences ravaged by Storms Ciara, Dennis and Eileen. As garden party guests go these three are banned. In consequence we are a little jaded and completely over February weather. As inspiring, luck would have it, the Artists of the Tamar Valley Instagram prompt for today was #mondaymotivation. It seems Pink is a thing for me on Monday mornings. A simple search for Monday’s in my picture library bought up this 12 year old painting.

Battersea Power station was always my motivation on my journey into central London to produce radiographic images. Neatly demonstrated in pink by this piece of lightbox art in Hong Kong.

Making x-ray images used to involve dark rooms. One Monday I produced this image to demonstrate dark room illumination. It was a freak image but very pink.

For a while I produced the social media for an exhibition at Tate Modern, this also appeared in the Monday file.

Not all art images are hugely positive, the next image is a piece of commissioned work that was personalised with the addition of Slovakian poetry. Niche,for certain but the commissioning person ultimately refused to buy it.

A fabulous, pink, Monday image is the wildflowers in early spring that cling to the walls of Trematon Castle. Also sometimes a commuting journey.

Flowers fill the Monday Photo File. These Tulips were captured last February, caught in a sharp ray of sunshine.

2020 take note. Sunshine is permitted in February.

Less in-your-face pink is this February roses. I’m not sure I want to think about the air miles.

Finally to shine a little more pink light into the February gloom. Lightbulbs.

Hoping these pinks have perked up a February Monday, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Pink is so much better as a #mondaymotivation than black fences and quick drying cement.

Buds/Justice, the usefulness of an abstract image.

I took this photo yesterday, not expecting to use it today. But the prompt word for the Instagram account I’m managing, this week, has led me down such a rabbit warren of thoughts and philosophies I’m quite exhausted.

#justice such a big word, so deep, so complex, so personal.

I’ve read some amazing quotes and read some fascinating stuff but is my theoldmortuary pondering mind right to share anything on an arts group Instagram page that is beyond the simple image of the scales of justice.

The simple answer is ” of course not”

What I have comfortably shared is this photograph of Daffodil bulbs, because it makes me think; and for me, today, it illustrates my hopes for justice if not always the lived experience of the word.