#375 theoldmortuary ponders

Today is another cupboard tidying day. Writing a daily blog can be a little like waiting for paint to dry, and between cupboard tidying there has been a little paint drying @theoldmortuary. I had rewarded myself with some new watercolours and inks following good artwork sales at a recent exhibition. One of my procrastination tactics is always to create a colour chart of new paints to the collection.

I have not actually bought 19 new colours. My order was lost in the post and the vendor very kindly added quite a few extra pans by way of an apology. Not colours I would have chosen but very lovely additions. The inks were a slightly different proposition. The trouble with artistic procrastination is the sincerity with which it is included in the creative process. I realised I did not have the correct dilution fluid for the inks but persisted with making a colourchart. Substituting gin to extend the flow of the ink.

Gin may make creativity flow, in moderation,but it does nothing for ink, in moderation or excess. Despite urgently needing to get down to some real art,my colour charts amply filled my available free time.

Procrastination 1- Creativity 0

Procrastination does not only apply to creativity, as I write, this largely non-essential blog, another cupboard lays empty. Stuff taken out, but not yet sorted into keep or charity shop piles. Blog and colour charts the enemies of productivity!

Procrastination 1- Domestic Admin O

#373 theoldmortuary ponders

©Angela Moritz-Smith

On reflection, I should not have been so worried about the repurposing of Battersea Power Station. It has been transformed very sympathetically into a shopping and entertainment hub. A really lovely new destination for our shopping alter egos. My beloved vision of it as a monolithic structure on my daily commute has been altered forever, but that commute has not been mine for quite a while either. My friend Angela was at Battersea the day before me and got the lovely shot that is the header for this blog. Like her, we also went in broad sunlight but the wind ravaged any chances of a reflection.

My reflection shot was taken on the backside of an Airstream food truck.

Inside was a brick-lovers dream. The architecture more fitting for a modern Cathedral than a Power Station.

There was even some carefully preserved flaking paint.

Our trip to Battersea trip was brief bit informative. Definitely somewhere to be revisited. I even managed to buy a favourite brand of coffee. The one that used to keep me going on long on- call shifts in the City of London. All I stay awake for now is small grandchildren, Black Sheep works for that too!

Serendipity and Facebook gave me a lovely coincidence. 10 years ago exactly I was finishing two paintings in my garden in London.

Two pictures that represent either end of my journey today. Nana and Nona duties completed in London we are heading home to the West Country. Not that this is the last blog inspired by our visit to London and the South East. Some retrospective pondering will happen next week I’m sure. For now I will leave you with a turbine room, full of shops and some glass bricks. Another of my mid century passions.

#372 theoldmortuary ponders

Tallow Pot

A great day out yesterday with a few more blogs to come but this is the tale of a tallow pot. Our travels took us to Weald and Downland Museum at Singleton in West Sussex. I was last there more than 30 years ago with my parents and small son. The Museum preserves ancient buildings and the crafts and skills that are needed for their continuous care.

My dad was an engineer but his great love was carpentry. Despite living in Essex the museum, briefly, became one of his favourite places to visit.

I had forgotten that, but the smells and tools of the Carpentry work shop brought decades old memories and grief sharply to mind. How strange that it would be a stinky old tallow pot that would be my trigger.

With apologies to anyone unfamiliar with a really popular TV programme, this blog goes off on a tangent now. I suppose the link is the curious importance we give to things that are linked to people we have loved and lost. FYI I do not treasure my dads old tallow pot, that really would be a tribute too far. A quick sniff yesterday was a fabulous treat though.

The repair shop is filmed at Weald and Downland Museum. I believe the programme can be seen around the world. The premise of the programme is that an ensemble of very talented craftspeople have the skills to fix almost anything the public can bring to the picturesque barn.One of the original buildings in the museum grounds, the ban has been set up as a multi- functional work-shop studio. Inevitably for good T.V the objects chosen for refurbishment are often associated with someone who has died or that have a good back story. It is a rather gentle, slow programme and the talents of the craftspeople are genuinely impressive. Coincidentally they were filming yesterday so we could not visit the barn too closely.

But we got a very cheery wave from the main presenter, Jay, just moments before we took this photo.

Harpooned a bit by decades old grief, we had the most glorious day out, grief really is a part of normal life for many people, it is not always unwelcome. Happy memories are life affirming.

#367 theoldmortuary ponders.

©Sue Rigg Instagram @sdrigg38

Our days in Wimbledon are a blur of activity and stasis. Our adult timetable rescheduled to the needs and desires of a two-week-old baby. Her timetable runs on four hourly shifts, adult activity continues on our 24-hour night and day schedule. The two do not run in an entirely compatible format and the one that shifts is the adult one. Slowly we are gaining more adult achievements. Walks to coffee shops, supermarket visits, a farmers market and yesterday an art exhibition. Charging my phone is one of the adult activities that sometimes gets out of synchronisation, so my apologies to Worple Art Group, I didn’t capture every artist in my hour long visit of a fabulous exhibition.

©Jeanette Carr

There was a good crowd of visitors when we called in and some of the artists were there to talk with. The great thing about visiting a group art exhibition that is completely unknown is the anticipation of what you might see. Not all Art groups are capable of putting on a great show but the Worple Group were showing some really interesting work. The group consists of 20 artists of which 14 were exhibiting.

©Kevin Williams

Kevin was the artist I spent most time talking to, although being an artist in Wimbledon, just 6 miles from central London is a very different proposition from the rural/ urban mix of the Tamar Valley where I live and create art. He expressed the same changes and challenges of being an artist in the Covid and post-Covid world as The Tamar Valley Artists have experienced in Devon and Cornwall.

From being a plein-aire artist he was forced to paint indoors. His subject matter became what he dug out of his garden.

©Kevin Williams
©Kevin Williams

We are a very small family, our other portion of family live in Hong Kong so the painting below caught my eye too.

©Mark F Lodge

Far too soon the needs of our small family member and my lack of a camera battery drove us out into the streets of Wimbledon but I will be sure to be back in time for the next exhibition.

#366 theoldmortuary ponders

For a mad moment yesterday, we considered going to the re-opening day of Battersea Power Station. I have loved the hefty 1940s monolith all of my life. For many of my London living years, it was a welcome sign of heading home.

I also liked to sketch it in the years when all the outlying buildings had been knocked down for the redevelopment.

Maybe visiting on the first day of the reopened building was a bit foolhardy but as it turned out we ran out of time and the Evening Standard ran stories of massive crowds.


We were slowed down in other parts of Battersea, by sourdough pizza and Turks Head Pumpkins.

And wonderful retro items, an old phone and a VW Beetle.

Which are both a similar vintage to Battersea Power Station. Which makes the day rather retro. Our afternoon plans altered by a shortage of time took a different and unexpected turn.

Our afternoon dog walk was going to be in Putney Vale Cemetery doing a guided tour of Notable People’s graves, but our early morning care of a new baby grandaughter combined with the convenience of a bed in our camper van meant that as soon as we arrived in the cemetery an afternoon nap occurred, honestly the first time we have ever slept in a graveyard.

Who Knows Where The Time Goes.

Not just a random quote but a rather appropriate lyric for this blog from Fairport Convention.

Sandy Denny is one of those notable people who is buried in Putney Vale Cemetery. Her lyrics on this song are also poignantly appropriate for an afternoon spent kicking autumn leaves around in a peaceful corner of Putney Vale.

#365 theoldmortuary ponders

Just a regular day with a walk in the village. For Wimbledon this flamboyant cyclist is just a regular cyclist. You can see his London adventures on his Instagram page.


Flamboyance can be the picture theme of the day, although the rest are totally natural. There is nothing like the pleasure of Charity Shop shopping in the more affluent areas of London. With three hours to spend out of the house we were very happy shoppers. A brand new cashmere scarf for £20 and the same price for a Cos dress we were very sartorially satisfied.

The vegetables also felt a little flamboyant.

Along with some very prickly chestnuts.

Breakfast of Champions or in truth the Cheese Straw that all others are judged against.

Even the fungus on the way home got the flamboyance memo.

#361 theoldmortuary ponders

There are many different ways of marking time with a new baby. The traditional ones of time, meals or sleep, slip their responsibilities and shape-shift into tiny fragments of moments or infinitely extended versions of themselves. From the generosity of others there are new markers like flower arranging or cake eating and tea making. Gifts to be unpacked and WhatsApp groups to be kept informed, photographs to be taken and shared. The familiar world takes on a temporary and unusual shape. Bewilderingly everything looks the same and yet feels very different.

We do still have one unchanged routine; dog walking, which was done yesterday in Canizzaro Park where this sculpture is the centrepiece of a fountain, commissioned to mark the millennium. I’m not aware of the brief for the sculptor when this was commissioned, but in our break-out from the baby bubble, it seemed like a great metaphor for our days. The soft shape and multi handled, multi spouted form really resonates with our current daily routine. Punctuated as they are by the need to rehydrate, welcome, comfort or recover with a cup of tea (other drinks are available )

As luck would have it a fresh cup of coffee is just being served to me, and I am in no position to do anything useful.

I can research the sculptors motivation and vision for his Millennial Fountain. For me though it is about these, current, shape shifting sensations of newborn baby days. Welcoming, homely and slightly surreal.

There will be a PS later in the day…

Here is the somewhat disappointing PS. It seems impossible to find the original brief for the Richard Hope sculpture in Canizzaro Park. Costing £50,000 pounds in 2001 it attracted mixed reviews, of course it did!

What it had failed to do on Google is attract any half decent photos of it with the water turned on that isn’t copyrighted. I will go back on a sunny day and do one myself. Below is one from the Guardian and some links for further reading.

©The Guardian



#358 theoldmortuary ponders

This may be a meandering blog. I know what I want to express but the path may meander a bit. This calm picture was my start point. There is a strength from a three generation female line. I’m sure four or even five generations would be even better but that is a luxury denied to our little family. Following our morning cuddles I did the most enjoyable autumnal walk which seemed also to be full of glorious natural strength. Oak trees gave me the most lovely example of the circle of life. Three colours of Oak leaves on one twig.

Then serendipity gave me the circle of life illustration. Three English Oak Memorial Benches were being delivered to their new locations on Wimbledon Common.

So familial strength and the circle of life all wrapped up in Oak on an autumn morning.

#353 theoldmortuary ponders

Despite declaring the arrival of autumn yesterday.

#352 theoldmortuary ponders

Autumn put in a very summery face, today, for my visit to Cotehele, despite being in the midst of Drawn to Cotehele, two more exhibitions are in the pipeline. We sat in the bright autumn sunshine planning a winter Portrait exhibition. It was our inaugural meeting, time for the curatorial team to get together and set a schedule. As if on cue, as we were discussing 3d art, we were visited by a chap called Alfie.

A very fine example of flesh and blood 3D.

Cotehele was looking gorgeous.

But you can see from peoples clothes that the seasons are on the turn. Spring and autumn sunshine is sharper than baking hot summer days. The clarity of light gave me one of my favourite ‘ it’s complicated’ shots.

The exhibition we are currently running at Cotehele was bustling with visitors and the red dots, signifying sold work, are stacking up. The art is constantly restocked so the exhibition looks fresh every time I visit.

©Jane Athron

This one by Jane Athron sold really early on but has been replaced by another vivid picture from Jane’s studio. Another Jayne, Jayne Ashenbury is also selling well.

It is such a pleasure to have Cotehele as a base for Drawn to the Valley for a month, I am not sure when I last looked forward to meetings quite so much. Maybe I wouldn’t feel the same if it was raining but I am really excited to see their pumpkin harvest display towards the end of our time with them.

Yesterday was just so lush, bright sunshine and glorious pools of shadow to give contrast and relaxation after the stimulation of early autumn colour.

Zoom meetings were never like this.