#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This one by Jane Athron sold really early on but has been replaced by another vivid picture from Jane’s studio.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.

#350 theoldmortuary ponders

©Anne Crozier – Golden Hills. This image can be seen at Drawn to Cotehele Art Exhibition.

My early morning walk had gusts of biting wind and brilliant sunshine. This whole blog could have been about the early signs of autumn getting a firmer grip on our daily lives, but between then and now I have attended a committee meeting and one word that I heard there knocked fading summer out of the blog for today.

Salmagundi in the context of our committee meeting was used as a word for a potluck supper. A meal or feast,for many, created by everyone attending bringing a plate of food to share.

Google suggests that the primary meaning of Salmagundi is of a mixed salad. But the words use to suggest a mixture in many different scenarios is also well established.

This, in a funny way also describes the weather between Summer and Autumn arrivng from all directions and a huge variety of textures; and the process of holding committee meetings, the opinions and experiences of a variety of people. In both cases different things come together to create a group experience.

A new word, for me, is a huge excitement, one that I am happy to share.

#348 theoldmortuary ponders.

Yesterday was a surprise. Dawn was mighty fine and then I went to work at a gallery/exhibition that had been running for nearly a week with no publicity. I definitely anticipated a slow start but was pleased to see that there had been a few sales.

Red dots at a gallery signify that a piece of art is sold. The work is either taken away at the time or left in the gallery until the exhibition ends. A mix of both greeted me when I arrived and soon after we had a steady stream of visitors through our, quite remarkable, door.

There must have been something in the air because both myself and the other steward each sold a piece of our own work within an hour of being there.

Obviously, we couldn’t do the traditional artist happy dance of backflips and somersaults because we were in such an old and precious building. But the sentiment was the same without risk to life or limbs. I have a feeling this is going to be a memorable exhibition.

My plan for when the exhibition was quiet was to take loads of photographs to share our beautiful location on this blog. Now that has to be a job for another day. If you live anywhere near the Tamar Valley a trip to Cotehele in the autumn is always a colourful experience. Our art group has just added a little bit of extra interest.

https://drawntothevalley.com/

#347 theoldmortuary ponders

©Mark Fielding

There is an irony to this blog. For the last ten days I have had loads of time to do Social Media for an art exhibition at Cotehele, a National Trust Property on the Cornish side of the Tamar Valley. The National Trust asked us not to do any Social Media during the mourning period for HRH Queen Elizabeth II. Today I am actually at Cotehele and free to do Social Media and I have two problems. Firstly we are really busy and secondly there is hardly any signal. This blog will be published by me visiting the bowling green, hopefully, or perhaps by waving my arms at the Dovecote. Another touch of British eccentricity if the last ten days have not seen enough of it.

©Peter Ursem

Working at a National Trust property is always a treat, I am sitting in a room that was a bed chamber in 1485 or possibly earlier as that date is the first of the recorded redevelopments.

©Gilly Spottiswood

All of the work here is inspired by either Cotehele House or the Tamar Valley. The website of Cotehele is below.

https://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/place/cotehele#:~:text=Cotehele%20House%2C%20a%20rustic%20house,their%20principal%20residence%20near%20Plymouth.

For now my lovely readers I am off to wave my phone on the bowling green. Failing that, who could begin to guess, this is a medieval house there could be somewhere even more delightful to get a signal.

©Michael Jenkins

#70 theoldmortuary ponders

Sharp December sun was a gift that just kept giving. Even Miss Spearmint was not going to miss a moment of it.

I took a trip up the Tamar to Cotehele, a Tudor Mansion on the Cornish Bank of the river. Cotehele is a regular pre Christmas trip. Rarely in such gorgeous sunlight though. The Christmas Garland in the Tudor Hall is a longstanding Advent tradition. COVID has had its destructive way with the Garland and things are not as colourful or vibrant as in a normal year. The home grown flower heads could not be grown in such enormous quantities, with lock downs and lower numbers of available gardeners on the estate.

The Garland is still pretty impressive, but because it was less grand and attention seeking than normal it was easier to notice the smaller decoration details of the Great Hall. Simple Honesty bunches captured in the last, bright, shards of the afternoon sun.

A great picture to give a little digital tweak to.

And just like that it was time for the sun take its leave.

Pandemic Pondering #368

This is the last photograph I took in March 2020 before the first Covid-19 lockdown in Britain. It was mid afternoon at Cotehele and I was recovering from a nasty virus. My last virus as it happens, a welcome benefit of adhering to Covid restrictions is that @theoldmortuary we’ve been virus free for a year now despite doing public facing/touching jobs.

In colour this picture is nothing much. Reeds on a managed flood plain on a typically greige day in the Tamar Valley. What the colour picture would never have shown was the amazing sound that was produced as the wind blew through the reeds. I took the picture just to remind me of that sound. True Whispering Grasses.

Really the original picture was nothing much, just a diary note to remind me of a lovely serendipitous sound on a walk that was being done more out of a sense of necessity and desperation than for pleasure.

I tinkered about with the image altering the contrast and then converted it into black and white.

Ta Da!!

A dull photo has turned into a sound. Not perhaps the gentle sound of whispering grasses, although I can hear them when I look at this with an imagined low volume. If I switch it up to medium volume I hear the interference on a television in the eighties or nineties when the signal was lost. Up a notch again and it is the feedback on a performers mic ( when ever have I felt nostalgic about that piercing scream ) it could also be, currently, two people having different Zoom meetings with their laptops too close together. My final auditory assault from one picture is this.

Imagine sketching it in chalk on an old school blackboard.

I’m fairly certain that last suggestion was not kind. The link below is a gentle salve to give you a good earworm for Friday. The mellifluous Sandy Denny.

Whispering Grass

Pandemic Pondering #290

Day 1, Lockdown III in England ( Cornwall)

I chose to take my one hour exercise on the Cotehele Estate in the late afternoon. I had slightly misjudged things and the sun had already left the valley. Everything was already in shadow and a little bit chilly. But once my walk was done driving out over the rim of the valley I caught the end of a beautiful sunset.

It seems really important to make my one outing of the day count.

In other news Ive started to knit a scarf on really small needles , I anticipate I might just finish it with this latest lockdown set to run and run. It will be a very dull scarf and will only feature in blogs when my mind is an empty echo chamber with dust in the corners and fragments of ponderings caught between thought and keyboard.

Pandemic Pondering #258

December sunbeams.

Yesterday was a glitzy sunshine glazed day. It was my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday, which sadly, no one could share with her. Luckily I have a photo of her bathed in sunshine enjoying an afternoon tea a little while ago

Afternoon tea will be a fine way to celebrate when we can all socialise again. Perhaps for once she can celebrate her birthday in the summer.

My day was spent mostly on dull tasks but the bright sunshine forced me to have a bit of a tramp around a National Trust Property in the morning.

As so often happens a lovely empty bench forced me to catch a photo of it basking empty in the sun. The luxury of sitting on a bench and nattering to people is something I will treasure hugely when we get the freedom to do it again.

There were little hints that the festive season is getting closer.

Sunlight and shadows on mistletoe.

Candles, smoky fire and a wreath on the door.

Everything looks sparkly in a sunbeam

Cotehele Garland

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The Tamar Valley can be a grey and dank place between November and January. Outings tend to need the right sort of clothes and a brew. A trip, at this time of year, to the medieval Manor House, Cotehele, provides numerous muddy walks along rivers or in the countryside and plenty of chances for a brew. It also alleviates the dankness with a fabulous flashback to the fecundity of Summer.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele

The tradition of the garland goes back to the 1950’s. It celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016. Because it appears in November and carries on beyond the new year. Many first time visitors are surprised by its colour scheme. It doesn’t shout Christmas with rich jewel colours  or bold glossy green foliage, instead it is a joyous celebration of summer colours. Everything in the garland is grown, dried and stored on the estate.

 

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My eye is always caught by the bright pink abstract wiggles of Limonium suworowii or Pink pokers. Tethered, as they undoubtedly are, in the garland, they look like horticultural escape artists waiting to break free.
The garland is the responsibility of the head gardener. Each garland takes 12 days to assemble but it has taken a full gardening year to grow the plants from seed and then harvest them to be hung and dried ready for the November assembly. Depending on the quality of the summer weather, between 23,000 and 35,000 flowers are produced. Volunteers spend 70 hours a week caring for, then cutting and stripping the flowers ready to be dried. Picking starts in April, once ready, they are bunched and hung to dry until November.

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Each garland differs slightly depending on the growing success, or not, of the various flowers that traditionally form the garland. Some years a theme is adopted that has a particular significance, for example, last year was the centenerary of the end of World War 1.
The green base of the garland is the product from fifty Pittosporum or Cheesewood trees, an evergreen shrub with small, shiny, leathery leaves. Ninety feet of rope forms the beginning of the swag, bunches of Pittosporum are then tied to the rope until it is covered.
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Photo credit . The National Trust. Cotehele

The swag is then ready to become a garland.
Scaffolding is erected indoors and the swag is hung in the Great Hall, gardeners clamber up to create the lofty design, the beauty of a years harvest of flowers and hard work are pushed into the greenery one colour at a time to ensure an even distribution.

sdr_vivid The Garland attracts 32,000 visitors to the estate. For some it is an annual visit, to rekindle the memories of past visits, for others, it is a unique experience, never to be repeated but wonderful never the less. The volunteer guides at Cotehele are a huge asset. This pondering was all gleaned from talking to a volunteer for less than ten minutes, I don’t think she missed a single thing.