#232 theoldmortuary ponders

I found this bunting high up in a tree yesterday, while I was walking in the rain. A soggy reminder of a busy weekend, not particularly Jubilee themed for me, more arty really with a side serving of jubilance Three paintings went off to their forever homes over the weekend and another will go to a permanent gallery space later this week.

Lester Longwool goes to Devon

I have always loved the unintentional glamour of agricultural shows. Farm animals given the red carpet treatment for their moments in the judging ring. I used to like to photograph them as if they were celebrities. Painting them in Watercolours is a recent fun thing to do. Lester Longwool in the style of Marc Bolan is the first of these I have sold. As it was a group exhibition he was sold to someone unknown to me. I hope he makes his new home happy. I wonder if he did actually go to Devon, that was just his working title. Below is the unsold, version with him going to Cornwall.

Lester Longwool goes to Cornwall
Silver Birch Plantation

The Silver Birches, above, went to a friends house. I know I will see this one again. As for the last one, well it was never planned to be for sale. It is a large A1 watercolour project planned to be the backdrop for some digital work. For use as a source for a theme, background, marketing and website for some musicians. Once the project was over I had thought about cutting it up and repurposing it but the client did not want it destroyed and so just like the other two it left the cost confines of the studio. When all the creative work is done with it I can write a whole blog about the experience.


There was one charming image that came out of the Queens Jubilee. It is just something cute to end a blog with before I knuckle down to some maths, the unpleasant side of todays studio work.

Jubilee Ma”malade Tea by Eleanor Tomlinson

Please take a moment or two to look at Eleanor’s website, lovely art is good for us all


#227 theoldmortuary ponders

Welcome to the Thursday that thinks it is Saturday. The Queen has been on the throne for seventy years, so in Britain we have a four day weekend with today, Thursday,being the first of the days off.

The Queen as Ziggy Stardust, both great British institutions.

My head has been incapable of adjusting to a Thursday Bank Holiday.I can’t help but be puzzled that this is not Saturday. Our usually quiet week day walk was enlivened by huge numbers of tourists. The dogs took their time reading all the pee mails that the unknown holidaying dogs have left, almost making us late for our usual, free, two hour parking spot. A big celebration in London with us not visiting is unheard of, but we never considered going this time. We no longer have our own Welsh Guardsman performing for Her Majesty.

Not because we have lost him, but because he has retired his Bearskin. To be fair his instrument of choice made him one of the men in the back row so we have spent many events of great national significance waiting for a glimpse of his bottom.

We often got front row seats, again really very lucky. On one occasion the seats were so special we had a slightly awkward sartorial moment. We had taken some South African friends, with us, who were dressed amazingly, I suppose we were dressed well enough for normal but as it turned out our tickets were anything but normal. London, on these occasions, is also far from normal so when our tickets, being checked at pinch points, sent us nearer and nearer to Downing Street we were not particularly perturbed. Alarm bells were slightly raised by the fashion and style of all the other people who were being gently directed with us. If we were dressed to an OK standard the others in the queue clearly had a different dress code. Men in Morning Dress ( three piece suits with tails) women in fabulous outfits with high heels and hats of the most fabulous sort. What sealed the deal for the strangeness of our ticket allocation, was the last part of our journey which was through the gardens of Number 10 Downing Street. The home and Office of the British Prime minister. We had randomly been given tickets on the same stand as International Diplomats. We diplomatically stuck close to our South African friends, who looked more dressed for the  occasion than we did. We took our places in the stand and had fabulous views. No one noticed us at all,  apart from those moments when our friends caught a glimpse of a black Welsh Guards musician and ululated with joy. Having done it once, those diplomats and their families, who could ululate, joined in on on every subsequent occasion. I suspect that is not the normal behaviour from the Diplomats stand, but it made the days events joyful and memorable.

Thursday as the new Saturday, a Platinum Jubilee is unlikely ever to happen again. My confusion is unlikely to be repeated. Probably just as well!

#226 theoldmortuary ponders

The dogs have a new beach of choice for one of their daily walks. It is a river beach that lies on the Devon side of the Hamoaze , a sort of watery border area, the sort known as 4 corners in some parts of the world. To the west is Cornwall, the east is Devon, north is the Tamar River and to the south the Atlantic, or Pymouth Sound. For the dogs the beach is a collection of freshly changed fascinating smells. At high tide the beach doesn’t exist but at mid tide a treasure trove of smells for them and treasure for their human companions is there for anyone to pick over. It is hard not to be fascinated by little pieces of sea glass and pottery. This handful was gathered in about ten minutes

The dogs love the area because even the most time conscious human loses all sense of time while picking up treasure. This allows them to sniff and track all manner of fascinating fragrances without interruption by a human anxious to get home. We go there so often I have created an indoor collection of ‘treasure’ that has definite boudaries. A box lid that can only contain a finite amount of bits. As new and more colourful bits are added, less interesting ones must be returned to the beach to continue their journeys.

So far this system has worked, only time can tell if discipline or hoarding will ultimately win.

#223 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday was a fine example of planning v serendipity and also a lesson in observation. We had planned to meet some friends for an early morning dog walk and breakfast. We were very surprised when we arrived , the cafe, which we had never noticed before, was very close to the end of one of our regular dog walks.

The end of our walk is between the double lines, we walk until there is nowhere else to walk. Quite how we have missed the Waypoint Bar and Bistro is beyond me. If I have an excuse it is that there is always loads of things to look at.

The actual Waypoint, itself demands attention. Yesterday the breakfast demanded attention.

There was also a pretty, camp, figurehead to catch the eye.

And pretty yachts, prepping for the Round Britain and Ireland Yacht Race.

Round Britain and Ireland Yacht Race

No wonder the chatter around the other tables at breakfast were in so many different languages and so animated. When we left to do the gardening, , I almost wished I was going on an epic journey requiring skill and courage. Then I remembered I have neither of those attributes and that my potbound spider plants would not thank me for going off on an unplanned adventure. Later with the gardening achieved we waited to see if a cheeky offer on Ebay would be successful.

It was and the unplanned part of the day began. Our purchase required us to be in Bristol with the van early on Sunday morning. Supper and breakfast and a few clothes were popped in the van and we drove to a  farmers field between Bristol and Bath for the evening.

Once we left the traffic jams of the motorways we found a different sort of hold up.

Paella in the sunset was our reward for gardening and driving.

The evening dog walk brought one more surprise for the day.

Definately a day that taught us to be more observational.

#222 theoldmortuary ponders

©Michael Jenkins

Not exactly sunrise to sunset, but not far off. The curating and hanging teams for the Spring Exhibition, including me, worked hard all day to hang all the 2d and 3d work submitted for the Spring Exhibition. 12,000 steps on a hard concrete floor are enough to make your feet shout for a break, but that was not an option. All the works were hung and the space beautifully tidied up by the time the doors opened for the Private View. Then the owners of the same exhausted feet made sure that our guests had drinks in their hands and delicious canapes in their mouths. Lovely conversations were had and sales negotiated. Gilly our treasurer had her hands full with Pimms and payments all happening at once. All in all a good day was had.

©Michael Jenkins

#220 theoldmortuary ponders

The mackerel are gathering, this can only mean one thing.

An art exhibition is about to be constructed over the next couple of days. As usual I am not quite ready.

Another artist had delivered her work to my house last Saturday all beautifully wrapped and bagged up. My work, in comparison, was all over the place. I also need other essentials like cable ties and S hooks to enable the construction of the boards,that hold all the artwork, and give the Artists plenty of space to show off their work.

It is always a surprise scrabbling around in my studio. Things that are put away unfinished come to the surface like this abstract of Silver Birches that needed just a dusting of silver to be finished.

Silver Birch Plantation

This next one needed framing and he looks magnificent finished off with a frame. It is a cheeky picture of the return of Nightlife to The Barbican. He is also finished with High Gloss Resin which makes the image almost impossible to photograph.

Nightlife Returns

Just one last picture to share from my contribution to the group show.

Nearly There Trees

I had lost this original for several years before finding it a couple of weeks ago in the final tidy up and reorganisation of the studio. Reproductions of it always sell well but the original had hidden itself away. As things turned out I am so glad I spent some time with it yesterday mounting and wrapping it ready for sale. The Nearly There Trees are a landmark close to the A30 on the Devon and Cornwall Border. Their proper title is Cookworthy Knapp. They are symbolic and significant to all who love Cornwall. Below is a link that explains more about the Trees.


Yesterday evening I learned that an artist friend, who lived in Spain, had died earlier in the week. She was born just across the water from where I live now on the Mount Edgecombe Estate. The Nearly There Trees are hugely significant because she chose to return to Cornwall for her last months. Artists are funny folk who mostly work in isolation, but when we flock together we shed and share ideas . My lovely friend and I met at the Arts University Plymouth. She introduced me to Elvis, I’m not sure what I gave her. She and I often pondered the subjects of these blogs, I am so glad she made it home.

#217 theoldmortuary ponders

This should be the high flying version of a blog. Over this last weekend Zip Wire Flying should have happened at the Eden Project but Covid afflicted one of our friends and the group activity has been postponed. Instead a weekend in coastal towns and on the High Sea has filled our days and indeed led to this late blog, colour and not location is the flavour of this late blog. Sunday Cornwall thought it was in Greece. We stayed in the village of Golant just two miles up the river from our family favourite Fowey, more of that later in the week. Fowey River Class Dinghies created the first kick of colour.

We had over an hour to wait for the ferry to Mevagissy but being at the turning buoy kept us entertained and the sunshine was very welcome on our faces.

The slipway for the Fowey to Mevagissy Ferry couldn’t have been more Greek.

The ride was a little more lively than the average ferry.

We landed in yet more Hellenic vistas.

Meva harbour also joined in the colour project.

Two days with virtually no signal and no wifi does not a daily blog make. Normal service will resume tomorrow.

#214 theoldmortuary ponders

A quick skim of some of the photographs of this week suggests a little bit of an accidental theme. I often re edit old photographs so my weeks output is not always chronological. This old picture of the rope bridge at the Eden Project is in this weeks archive because my daughter bought a print by another artist, which made me wonder what I could do with my own image. So on a theme of interesting journeys not to far from home I can bring you stairs at the museum I work at.

Two accidental early morning walks on the Barbican gave some more whimsical journey images.

The image above camouflages the image below. They all suggest time travel or indeed travel to a different time.

All four of these images have a lot of steps involved even if they are not seen. My final image is the fuel for travel.

Cardamom Cakes, a gustatory journey to unusual flavours, fuel for all the steps on an unplanned walk.

#213 theoldmortuary ponders.

Blue, blue, electric blue. The words that stick in my head from David Bowie singing Sound and Vision.

After nearly a year of living very close to the sea, I have a huge colour palate in my head that is the colour of the sea, I also have a lot of sounds and visions. I’m in the early stages of a commission that will reflect how the sea changes. I am taking a mixed media approach to the early work.

The Atlantic in my little patch of Devon can be many different colours, not always blue and sometimes quite grotty.

The sounds also change depending on the tides and the weather and the shapes in my bigger abstract try to show the sounds by shape and the interfaces between two different colours.

This is a big old piece of paper for a water colour. I have no idea quite how this project is going to play out, but for now, just charting blue/ greens is very relaxing.

#210 theoldmortuary ponders

Blogging reality rests on blogging fantasy

#209 theoldmortuary ponders promised the revelation of the weekends grand plan. Two long paragraphs were lost by inatentive fingers and no amount of searching in the nooks and crannies of my WordPress history or archive files revealed the missing links. I couldn’t quickly rewrite them and the grand plan itself required attention. The illustration above hints at the reliability of hard copy versus electronic.

The plan for the weekend was only decided on a whim on Friday. I’m not even sure I even thought about it before pronouncing. “I think I am going to remove all the fake grass this weekend” The job had been started 6 weeks ago when the first strip of fake grass was removed to give us a two metre flower bed. Then last week another four metre ‘L’ shaped flower bed was revealed. My pronouncement actually only involved a raised patio area but unlike the others we had covered it in container grown plants. What I had suggested was a monumental task with added unsavoury undertones.

The previous owners two pug dogs had used the fake grass as their toilet. The fake grass over flower beds had drained into soil, the patio area was a big old slab of concrete. When we moved in we were only renting the house so had to leave things as they were. We cleaned as well as we could and vowed to remove it as soon as we had bought the house. The house sale rambled on, delayed by the death of the descendent of Robert the Bastard who was given our tiny portion of land in 1066! Winter arrived and we did not have the appetite for a yucky job in the cold.

We are no strangers to yucky jobs. When we were rebuilding and repurposing the building that was the old mortuary next to our Cornish cottage we chose to clear out the undertakers workshop and Chapel of Repose ourselves, before the builders moved in to turn it into part of our home. 50 years of that sort of business, long before health and safety regulations and 50 years of neglect after it was closed because of health and safety, was a heady mix of bodily excrescences and vermin excretions. So we have some unusual expertise.

Obviously our dogs had taken to using the informal, low effort toileting area too. Saturday was spent moving full and heavy plant containers down to the far end of the yard, this meant that our energy levels were pretty depleted by the time we had to roll up and bag up the fake grass. It was every bit as grim as you might imagine and the urine soaked concrete slab was a pretty stinky thing. It has been scrubbed and hosed many times now. The plan was to allow it to dry off and paint it, but as it has dried off a curious thing has happened. The urine has discoloured the concrete and brought out the colours of the sands that were used in its manufacture. We may well be left with a slab of concrete that resembles a warm pinkish/orange marble or rock.

So yucky job done, there was a ridiculous number of plants to be either repotted or planted in the soil of the revealed flower beds. The job was just about completed by the time of the Sunday evening swim. Since then we have had heavy showers of rain. There has been no chance of taking a series of work complete photographs. This yucky job may well stretch to another blog!

To finish up, a picture of our neighbours chicken checking out the sweet new leaves of a Silver Birch that has moved closer to her strutting zone.