I am very lucky, one of my responsibilities within an art group is to manage the groups social media output. Part of that role is to keep an eye on the groups Instagram page. Another friend does the same for Facebook. During the Pandemic, Social Media, Zoom Meetings, a Newsletter and a fabulous new website have been the groups only way of keeping in touch and sharing their creative outputs with members and the wider community. In normal times there would be Workshops, Drawing Days, Exhibitions and Open Studio events.
Checking the Instagram page of Drawn To The Valley daily is an absolute pleasure. Our members and other artists work appear on our feed. It took no effort to find these great images from todays feed.
Our Social Media team meet monthly to plan what we need to promote for the group but we also work out ways to increase engagement and attract followers to our pages.
For 2021 each month will have a # that brings the art created in that month together in a grid. #januaryinthevalley, #februaryinthevalley and on for every month of the year.
So far #februaryinthevalley is looking good.
We’ve really had to reconsider how best to use social media to support our members during the Pandemic. We are lucky that Drawn to the Valley adopted social media early and effectively a long time ago, we have some vibrant and effective wisdom in our team. Zoom meetings are never dull.
The pandemic has forced us to shake things up a bit.
I’m not even sure which day of Lockdown 3 we are in. The day is probably irrelevant and can, of course be fact checked later. A daily blog in a time when we are not supposed to do very much might seem something that could be a struggle. But as a writer or recorder of things my bar is set extraordinarily low. Todays ponder is officially about the boundary between Devon and Cornwall, very specifically either side of the Tamar Bridge. Which is why the pretty image of the bridge heads up this blog. Before that however I wanted to share a side ponder not truly worthy of a full ponder. One that really would scrape the boredom level if I were to illustrate it. Lockdown 1 was the lockdown of some personal and public anguish and a lot of getting things done.
Lockdown 2 . Anguish accepted as a way of life on a sliding scale of severity depending on the day. Beyond that it was full on-prep for the Christmas that never was.
Lockdown 3 . Eat all the food puchased for the Christmas that never was. Emerge from that lifestyle to one that is not normal and also doesn’t feature a lot of getting things done. Stuff still happens though, no day is a void.
Over the weekend we watched a Christopher Plummer film. Not the Sound of Music but Beginners. The implausibility of The Sound of Music would have gone unnoticed but watching Beginners felt implausible not because it was the story of a 75 year old man embarking on his true life as a gay man but because the film featured almost impromptu parties. It felt so unbelievably wrong in a way that a family saga involving the Third Reich and clothes made from curtains never feels.
A small point I agree but this side ponder is about small points.
Small point number 2, in the mornings I wake up and am excited that the first cup of tea with caffeine is about to happen. Since the insomnia of Lockdown I , I have become tediously fastidious about no caffeine after 1pm. Were I to have some after 1pm , I could get giddy and throw a party. No I wouldn’t , but you get the picture!
If there were to be a party, I would almost certainly wear new thermal underwear. Today was a red letter day. New thermal leggings arrived. Essential for getting my 10,000 steps during my permitted, outdoor exercise. Such excitement!
Back to the Bridge, I have used this bridge regularly for nearly half of my life. I only realised this weekend that travelling west I am welcomed into Cornwall.
Welcomed in this instance is a loaded and slightly disingenuous word. I was not born in Cornwall, I have been a second home owner, I do come from ‘ up the line’ and for a long period of time I was from ‘ down London way’. The likelihood of me truly being welcomed by everyone in Cornwall is extremely unlikely but entirely livable with. Devon in the easterly direction offers no such welcome, genuine or otherwise.
Halfway across the bridge drivers or walkers enter the City of Plymouth. No mention of Devon, no warm welcome. At no point on the A38 are travellers welcomed to Devon. Most skirt Plymouth on the Devon Expressway. Once they have left the environs of the Plymouth City Boundaries they are left uncherished until they cross the county boundaries of Dorset or Somerset when other counties offer them an unconditional welcome.
The far South West of England, one welcome, not as whole hearted as you might think and one completely absent one.
Thermal underwear can make you do crazy things. Yesterday was a day of sunshine with a side order of mud.
Everywhere here is pretty sodden with rain and winteriness. Some regular dog walks have been abandoned because they are just too muddy. The arrival of unexpected sunshine coupled with thermal underwear made walking without a warm coat entirely possible. My choice of walk has a semi-permeable surface that drains well, all should have been well but the dogs did not stick to the path. Beyond the confines of the path the parkland was a riot of quagmire and fascinating smells. Some of which the dogs felt obliged to roll in.
It was such a sunny day , two circuits of the park were completed. I was feeling toasty but the dogs were two muddy sponges, filled to capacity with moisture and mud. The ecstatic cuddles when we returned to the car were a mixed blessing.
The second walk of the day involved Tarmac and water contained in its proper place.
Blue Monday is a strange concept in a World Pandemic where, to use the same colour qualities, the United Kingdom is currently in deepest Navy Blue.
Our hours exercise took us to a quiet beach where I got three pictures of an annonymous surfer. There was a bit of blue to carry on the colour theme . Hopefully, with the arrival of a vaccine, we can all ride a wave of recovery.
As well as he does.
This is not a perfect surfers beach however . The skill shown in these pictures is all the more impressive when some of the harder geographical features of the same beach are revealed.
A fine Blue Monday metaphor for the current situation.
I’m not certain visiting a new part of the coast is entirely sensible at dusk and low tide, particularly in late November. Despite being fairly close to home, Hannafore Beach is completely unknown to me. After a walk towards Talland Bay and back I thought I would give the dogs a low tide rock pool scamper. They loved it.
I’m just not quite so sure myself. Apologies to the many people I know who really love this place and find it restorative. Alone on an incongruous concrete pathway leading out to sea at sunset I felt a sense of foreboding and menace. There was a sense of dead seafarers souls winding round my ankles like silken slippery manacles.
Having thoroughly spooked myself, with fanciful imaginings and uncertainty about how the tide would come in, we called it a day. Two exhausted dogs and an overactive imagination. Time to research shipwrecks in Looe Bay and put my mind at rest , or not.
P.S. I found this dog centric page on line. A much more positive vibe! I’m clearly just inventing my own ghost stories for these dark days around the winter solstice.
Naturally occuring hearts have been a little thin on the ground.
This one is not on the ground nor is it particularly naturally occuring. The bright blue heart is just an accident of light reflection.
Nothing in this picture shows how windy it was during this walk. Maybe the picture below gives a sense.
Dog walks in weather like this are for one reason only. Elimination. Picking up a dog poo in such winds is unusually difficult. It was hard to stand and open the plastic poo bag but once I had grasped the evenings offering the wind whipped one little nugget and blew it away before I could tie the bag up. I did not chase it!
Another day, another afternoon dog walk and another sunset. Portwrinkle was a very fine reward for a day’s work that failed to live up to expectations. It was nowhere near as dull or difficult as I had imagined.
Clearing a shed sometime this week was a plan that required reasonable weather and some sort of reward. As it turned out clearing the shed was not so bad. Two big bags of miscellaneous ‘stuff’ was whittled down to one small bag in a surprisingly interesting afternoon. Quite how the content of those two big bags had ended up together is a big mystery but ultimately the sort out was not so onerous that it required a beach trip afterwards. The dogs, however, insisted. Not that they helped in any way with the shed clearance.
We had the beach and harbour to ourselves which is always an extra pleasure. the dogs exhausted themselves on the black sand and I watched the sun set.
Yesterday I said that dog walking could be repetitive. But today blogging is repetitive. Yesterday I was out early to catch the dawn and today was the same, strengthened by the knowledge that yesterday, dawn was about the only time the sun showed it’s face.
Forder Creek, at dawn. A wonderful place to walk at low tide.
True to form the sun rose and was briefly beautiful but soon the ghastly greige of a West Country winter set in. My morning was filled with delivering this month’s books to the Bookworms reading group. Lunchtime however brought a very bright surprise. I went for a dog walk with a friend in Victoria Park, Plymouth, followed by an impromptu visit to a wonderful interiors shop. But it was the exteriors that chased away the greige of the day.
It’s not only sunshine that chases away the greige.
Dog walking can be repetitive, particularly the walks closest to home or favourites. London Park walks became meditative but also made me really appreciate the subtle way the seasons shift and change. Walks in Cornwall have a bigger diversity even if they all start more or less in the same area. In 12 hours I have done the same dog walk twice. Into the town and then off for a run by the river. I wasn’t lacking in options for other walks but I needed to do other things in the same location and not everything was open at the same times.
Last night’s walk was brightened up by our local towns festive project. Winter Wanderland. Local people and businesses were encouraged to make illuminated window displays, using sillouettes to brighten up walking about town, in place of the usual Christmas Carol Festival
The was no worry about avoiding crowds. We didn’t meet anyone else doing any winter wandering. Ours is not a town that gets giddy with excitement at the best of times. The promise of illuminated windows did not tickle anyone’s giddygland in this Tier 1 destination, despite many of the windows being really good.
Less than twelve hours later , nature threw a visual sillouette party of its own.
Still no giddiness or excitement or even any other people , but definitely something good to look at on a dog walk.
Today was Vernissage Day at Butchers Hall in Tavistock. It was a triumph of creativity over Covid – 19. The excited buzz of a well attended Private View with vividly dressed artists and guests it was not. No canapés, no music, no performance poetry, however in its own quiet, socially distanced way it was a celebration of hard work and achievement. What impressed me was the texture of the experience.
The Mayor of Tavistock opened the exhibition with words that by now, in 2020, we are all too familiar with, unusual, difficult, unpredictable. She noted that many of the 70+artists were experimenting with different styles because of the experiences and challenges of 2020. For this blog I thought I might just choose a few uncredited images to illustrate some of the textures and colours that I experienced today. A more formal blog of the exhibition can happen after it has opened to the public.
In sharp October sunshine even the building got into the texture category.
Exhibition of Drawn to the Valley Artists. Wednesday 28th October – Sunday 2nd November 9-30-5-00 except Sunday when it closes at 2, Butchers Hall, Tavistock.