Pandemic Pondering #258

Leaf Peeping is a North American term for tourism in Autumn. Visiting outdoor locations to view the spectacular colour changes of tree foliage. 

Tourism is pretty much off everyones agenda as Covid-19 intensifies its grip around the world. Time to peep at leaves locally. These pictures were mostly taken at The Garden House near Tavistock. It helps massively that on the day I visited there was also very bright sunshine.

The original idea behind the visit to The Garden House was a sketching day with my art group. Most of us had only seen each other on Zoom since February so not a lot of sketching got done, there was a lot of socially distanced nattering and a good bit of photography.

I spent plenty of time researching my latest project of depicting isolation and annonymity. That’s a pretty arty farty way of saying I engineered some ‘ Aloneliness’ time. See Pandemic Pondering #256. I’m at the sketching and ideas stage so not a huge amount to show for my research yet.

©theoldmortuary

On a lighter note I found some of the stars of the Leaf Peeping day taking a break on a bench or just lying down in the sunshine.

Unaware that just around the corner devices were to hand to clear them up and consign them to an entirely different world.

© Kevin Lyndsey

I’m not sure I have ever felt quite so threatened by a wheelbarrow and I’m not even a leaf! Have a good Sunday.

©theoldmortuary

Pandemic Pondering #257

Today’s planned blog was knocked off the agenda by a day of glorious weather. I’m a big fan of autumn sunshine, my dad called periods of good weather in autumn “Indian Summers” I never really questioned this title , I’ve just googled and this is the answer and it’s not what I thought at all.

” Although the exact origins of the term are uncertain, it was perhaps so-called because it was first noted in regions inhabited by American Indians, or because the Indians first described it to Europeans, or it had been based on the warm and hazy conditions in autumn when American Indians hunted.”

Plymouth Hoe, was gorgeous today which is an interesting coincidence given the links between Plymouth and the First Nations people of North America. Our walk did visit a significant Mayflower 400 site. More of that later.

Lola basking in sunshine and hiding a lighthouse

We stopped for a while near the official but not genuine Mayflower Steps. There was a momentary rainbow on the water.

Our next stop was a genuine Mayflower heritage location. Jacka Bakery, Britain’s oldest working bakery, supplied the Mayflower with baked goods. Today we pondered on how history could have been changed.

Would anyone have set off for the New World, 66 days of a tricksy voyage to an uncertain future if the alternative was staying in Plymouth and enjoying such plumpscious doughnuts. Ships biscuits v Jam Doughnuts, no contest. No New Worlds

Pandemic Pondering #256

The positivity of aloneliness, a very different thing from loneliness. A love of aloneliness does not protect from loneliness. Like many things my love of aloneliness is an accident of birth. Not mine exactly, more the non birth of any subsequent siblings. My mother was an ardent provider of contraception to the women of Essex in the sixties, seventies and beyond. “To make a mistake once is acceptable, twice is a mistake; three times is stupidity” was her mantra. Her child bearing stopped at acceptable and I was set on a path of embracing aloneliness.

Before life started dealing me tough stuff I would glibly have said that I didn’t suffer from loneliness. In truth I think I had just adapted and learned to enjoy aloneliness. Which is a very different creature from the bone grinding, mind numbing loneliness that can appear in anyone’s life.

The Pandemic of 2020 has given everyone a little more time to think and evaluate all sorts of stuff. Sadly it has also created far more loneliness.

I’m unsure where aloneliness bleeds into selfishness. For the purposes of this blog my own definition is this. I can be quite content on my own and I often enjoy the experience ( Who wouldn’t enjoy having a swimming pool to themselves)

I do manipulate circumstances to create aloneliness. This morning, for example, I chose to walk on a beach after the before-work walkers/swimmers and before the regular every day walkers/swimmers. The images in this blog of Wembury Beach are an illustration of fabulous aloneliness. Nothing about this is selfish because I didn’t chose to deliberately exclude other people, I just gave myself the best chance of being alone. Having a private beach would be outrageous selfishness.

Even writing this has made me realise that the familiar trope that ‘only’ children are selfish is more utter nonsense than I already thought it was. I’m sure some are, but it is more likely that they have just adapted positively to a situation way beyond their own control.

Having the beach to myself allowed this blog to be written. The dogs are away having their regular wash and brush up, which is why these pictures do not feature dog bottoms. Just to prove I really do love other people, here is the beach as it was just one hour later. This too makes me very happy.

Finally, every artist loves a bit of red in a seascape, thanks Mr Turner and thanks to the man in a red jacket.

Pandemic Pondering #255

https://www.thegardenhouse.org.uk/

Goodness me, pondering is never predictable. Today was about a bit of outdoor sketching and some social nattering with other artists. The location was always going to be spectacular at The Garden House perched, as it is, on the edge of Dartmoor. The weather was very kind , a brilliant sort of day, bright with sunshine and dark with marvelous shadows.

10 acres of arboreal beauty makes it very easy to lose your fellow artists, not that that was the plan. I was lucky enough to find the heart of the garden.

There were so many pictures to capture and many stories to tell in future blogs but this lovely heart image deserves a blog of its own. It was really comforting to be able to gently natter to people I haven’t seen in reality for 8 months but it was also comforting to be alone but amongst friends in a beautiful place. Our conversations were blissfully honest, when they happened, so many shared stories of Coronovirus hardships and disappointments, but also the sharing of creativity and optimism in a beautiful place.

Pandemic Pondering #254

Warping Sunset. Sunset at Rame Head , on Sunday, was beautiful. It needed nothing to enhance it. So PP#252 presented sunset just as nature intended but the picture below, taken by Hannah on our return to the van, exploits nature and the benefits of having a clean bottom.

Warped Sunset.

The clean bottom in question is our beloved VW Camper. It takes us to some amazing places.

Hugo and Lola love it because the chances of being in bed are greatly enhanced.

And they get to snuffle within spectacular scenery.

And when the day is done, exhausted by fresh air and long walks.

They can snuggle up together without the usual bickering.

Pandemic Pondering#253

Two sentences, part of a poem by Amy Rafferty stopped me in my tracks yesterday.

http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/

Here is the whole poem.

Here Come the Crows

I drew a sudden dark line under it all.
Emphatically,
and with the fulsome flourish of a full stop dot.
Knowing that this was not what I wanted:
the rows of chimney pots, red-rouged and boring
in the dreich, mossed and encroaching in sombre lines.
The antennae and the satellite dish,
mournful and grey faced,
desperate to spill the beans of bad news and scandal.

I ignored it all, and ploughed on regardless,
watching the neighbours’ windows for inspiration,
waiting for the curtains to rise or the blinds to roll,
a patchwork of frosted tiles diminishing as sun rises behind buildings,
the shadow of the cloistered tower sliding slowly down the roof.

And with these words you now have the tools to orient yourself within the poem,
to settle down with a cup of tea,
and wait for the tropes to arrive, uninvited and well worn;
here come the magpies,
here come the crows,
that speak of dead fathers and family heroes
The seagulls, who glide and circle through the ghost smoke,
heralding rain,
the offspring of the offspring of the offspring
of those before them, who bore witness to my childhood days
and my insomnia, staring into the endless grey window of mornings.

Amy Rafferty is a writer, photographer and musician based in Glasgow. Her writing has been published in Magma, Envoi, the Interpreter’s House and From Glasgow to Saturn.

She is currently working towards finalising her two collections, Tenement and All Songs in Order

Amy is friend in the digital sense, I’m sure we would also be friends in the real sense too. Facebook tells me we have three friends in common. Amy owns one of my paintings and I love her poetry. It is as simple as that.

Inksweatandtears describe her as “Enigmatic, unnerving and rather wonderful”

http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/

I can’t better that, I don’t have the words. Those first two sentences exactly describe my current feelings towards 2020. It is a year, just like any other, that needs to be lived through, experienced, recognised for what it is, both good and bad. History will underline it. Individuals will be able to give it the fulsome flourish full stop dot. And then we will move on.

Pandemic Pondering #252

What is the meaning of morsel?
A morsel is a small amount of something, a tid-bit, a sliver, a nugget usually of something of high-quality and much desired but not truly needed, like a morsel of dark chocolate or a morsel of gossip. Originally it referred specifically to food. It is something that gives a disproportionate amount of non- essential, exquisite pleasure.

My morsel for Pandemic Pondering #252 is an evening dog walk a couple of fields behind Rame Head. A snippet of the day. Morsel is a word we use, mostly at Christmas time, when the day has already given so much but self control is non- existent and you just desire that little but more of something. Today was unexpectedly gorgeous, fabulous sunshine and not too cold for an autumn day in Cornwall. Long walks on the coastal paths and outrageous laughter with friends as we rested on wooden benches overlooking the sea. Perfect conditions for fifteen minutes, or indeed, a morsel, of time, for a glorious sunset.

Setting out
Dog faces in the gloom
Peak Morsel
Back to the van for supper.

Pandemic Pondering #251

Primary colours are the support mechanism for this blog. In truth I was at The Box again today, as a regular visitor. I couldn’t possibly write about it for the third day running, so I thought I would share some pictures from the last 24 hours .

Red

Red is represented by an amazing autumnal tree and a life preserver at Calstock. I met with a few artist friends yesterday . We basked and drank coffee in the morning sun, planning an exhibition later in the year. Not wishing to jinx things but we’ve done this already in 2020…

Blue

Blue is actually represented by The Box and gives me the chance to thank everyone who responded on various platforms to yesterday’s blog and in particular the comments about the door furniture as a tangible link to the past and people we have loved, passing through those doors.

Yellow

Hand blown Murano glass at St Luke’s Plymouth. Not as pure a yellow as my choices for blue and red . It’s slightly off yellow gives me the excuse for another yellowish picture. This one is definitely towards the green spectrum but it was too pretty not to include. Bubble tea from Mr Wok , highly recommended after our trip to the museum.

https://www.mrwokthainoodlebar.co.uk

Pandemic Pondering #250

How to celebrate #250, maybe by a good old ponder that links some random thoughts and pictures.  Yesterday’s blog about my volunteer shift at The Box confirmed to my own rules of blogging about volunteering at the new Museum and Art gallery. Namely that I would only talk about the spaces as I experienced them, and got to know them well enough to natter usefully.

Steps and stairs at The Box

Small stairs rather than big steps. Illustrated here by the entrance to the all important shop. I like to know what I’m pondering about and it introduces the museum to the blog in bitesize chunks as I learn. There are some tough subjects in some of the galleries.

I was an avid attender of the old museum and art gallery and had some lovely times there with my children and also with my parents when they visited from Essex. I had a tiny moment of sadness yesterday when I saw this door furniture; all shiny, retro and, to many people, insignificant.

This door furniture would have been used by everyone who ever left the old museum. My dad would have used this handle to  proudly hold the door open while I manhandled, or woman handled, the pushchair holding his precious grandchildren, after visits to the museum on rainy days. Hannah’s parents would have visited and used this door on many occasions. I miss them all and wish we could share this new experience with them . I’m only pondering this sad connection because so many people I spoke to yesterday felt the same about the restored old parts of the museum. Many got glassy- eyed when talking about their love for the old building , reminiscing about past visits with families, now deceased. The magnificence and quality of the restoration inspired some lovely stories.

I suppose this blog is about the insignificant textures of a building and their importance. The bar at The Box has a beautiful texture and it was lovely to see small people touching it with such evident pleasure yesterday, even if in these Covid-19 times it is not to be encouraged. I hope visitors love this new museum as much as the old one was and that it too becomes entwined in collective family memories.

Pandemic Pondering #249

Another Box pondering.Today I was volunteering in North Hall. Originally the main entrance/ foyer of the old museum and now the hub of the museum. Everyone passes through North Hall and many people do exactly that, they pass through North Hall , noses buried deep in their museum plan, anxious to get to the gallery of their choice. Some pause for nostalgia remembering this hall as children or as the parents of children, revisiting the memories of the old museum. North Hall currently holds a piece of Contemporary Sculpture named Figurehead II by its creator Alexandre du Cunha. To not pay it attention is a waste of a revealing art moment.

Toe to toe with Figurehead II

From the picture above it is hard to even see a piece of contemporary art. And yet this picture really simply shows a relationship between contemporary art, craftsmanship, and decorative art.

I want to call Figurehead II a monolith, but it is not in one piece and not truly made of stone. It is Monolithesque and created from 4 mass produced concrete drainage pipes. It is an ordinary object repurposed as a sculpture , repurposed because it has holes gauged out of the sides of the segments of drainage pipe and a sculpture because it stands, out of context, within an art gallery. It is a ready made piece of art like Deschamps Urinal entitled Fountain, just a little further down the drain chain. It can never be a drainage pipe again. Set within the original Victorian entrance foyer and stairway, the sculpture captures attention. In some ways incongruous but actually a dominating, beautiful concrete tower. Tactile and interactive it invites visitors to explore it with hands and eyes. It teases the adventurously minded to clamber in and pose for companions to photograph them, framed by it’s grey concrete edges. It directs your eyes to the Victorian staircase and landing and in some views the circles pick up the detail of a fifteenth century ceiling panel.

Here is my humble opinion as to why this is such a simple art lesson. Explaining where this piece of contemporary art sits with decorative art and crafsmanship. The concrete pipe is a mass produced manufactured item. Where the holes have been carved out you can see the construction ingredients of stones and cement. Sitting, as it does, on the original museums Victorian decorative floor. It is immediately obvious how similar in construction the two things are, and yet the decorative floor just ‘ is’ a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Intriguingly the concrete pipe occludes the markings that gave the decorative star a purpose. It is actually the points of a compass but without the letters denoting direction being visible it has been stripped of any usefulness. Without purpose it doesn’t exactly excite your mind to think around it. Figurehead II , love it or loath it, makes you think in all sorts of ways and that,in my opinion, is the point of this piece of contemporary art.

https://www.theboxplymouth.com/