Pandemic Pondering #288

There was always a plan to take a winter sea swim on my birthday. A stormy day made swimming impractical but just two days later things were a lot calmer.

Hugo and Lola never quite know which way to look when we swim in slightly different locations.

Today the beach was uncrowded.

There was even some time for some Land Art.

And because it was officially a birthday swim, there was a reward for us.

Plus a well earned sleep for our lifeguards.

Pandemic Pondering #287

Some days we commit to a dog walk regardless of the weather. Yesterday’s was a case in point. Our regular circular walk around Sutton Harbour in Plymouth was tied into the day by some chores that also needed to be achieved. Once the chores were done the weather had taken quite a turn for the worse, our walk from Commercial Street to the Barbican was definitely the sort of walk where you spend more time looking at your feet with your head lowered against the ice cold needles of rain. Pondering my feet as a distraction against rain gave me the topic of this particular walk. The Barbican area of Plymouth has more cobbles than any other area of Britain.

I am no expert on cobbles. I do know they can be lethal when wearing high heels or when out on work Christmas parties. Both things that the world has given up in 2020.

Cobbles fascinate me . I’ve even painted an abstract , still unsold unsurprisingly, that was inspired by the bright lights, happiness and occasional vomit on the streets of the Nightlife area of the Barbican. I called it Excressences. Even with a gorgeous title it didn’t sell.

Detail from Excressences ©theoldmortuary

In the time before Lockdown we would sometimes do Historic guided tours of Plymouth for pleasure. One of them taught us how to identify shrapnel damage to streets and buildings. I wonder if this is an example on the disused Railtrack on the cobbles of Tin Wharf.

As you can see, the weather did dry up and after a coffee we looked skyward only to discover Christmas had sneaked in early.

Maybe I should paint more unpopular abstracts!

Pandemic Pondering #273

It’s a red dot kind of day. By tradition when an artwork is sold at a gallery or exhibition it is marked with a red dot.

This painting has set off on a journey to Brighton with a new owner.

The picture started life in Marylebone, London. Strange things happen around the Mews Lanes behind Harley Street in the middle of the night. Famous people arrive under the cover of darkness and florists clear out the previous days blooms, near perfect they are dumped in the back of trailers to be replaced by freshly bought blooms from New Covent Garden.The Mews were my regular night time walk, bleep in hand, to clear my head towards the end of 24 hour on-call shifts. I took to photographing the discarded blooms. There have been several paintings inspired by these nocturnal wanderings.

I’m not sure where this one is off to. It is an early sketch from a new project. I’m exploring androgynous figures being both overwhelmed and enhanced by abstract fields of colour.

I suspect this is the last ‘red dot day’ of 2020. After yesterday’s announcement of a second national lockdown by the British Government there may well not be any more chances to exhibit until 2021.

Huge thanks to everyone who attended the exhibition in Tavistock, especially to those who bought original artworks. You have made many Artists very happy.

A celebratory ‘Red Dot’, the lid of a Pinot Noir

Pandemic Pondering #268

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.

Butchers Hall – It’s Complicated.

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.

Pandemic Pondering #264

This is the eye of a woman with a lot of responsibility on  her Woolly head .  Currently providing the Wow factor in the Mammoth Gallery at the Box. She is also a big part of the branding of merchandise for the museum.

Yesterday I spent my working time in the Mammoth Gallery . Mammoth certainly brings great happiness to the visitors of The Box. She is also the figurehead of the Natural History Gallery. The gallery has an abundance of specimens and information that is related to Plymouth and the surrounding area. There is so much to read, engage with and wonder at, that I’m sure one visit will not be enough for most people. It is not the purpose of these Box related blogs to describe in detail everything in the galleries but I can’t not tell you about the specimen jars which are displayed in something I think of as ‘Apothecary Chic’

Here they are reflected in some of the Audio Visual  presentations.

Back to Mammoth. She has a strong presence in the gift shop.

Like many toys of this sort, these mammoths were made in China. Much as it grieves me to say this we bought one for our granddaughter and now it is further increasing its, already mammoth, air miles by flying to her in Hong Kong in time for her birthday later in the month.

The gift shop is always a vital part of any museum or art gallery. The Box shop has a range of products not available elsewhere in the city. It is a shame that Pandemic restrictions limit the footfall currently, I would shop there regularly for unusual gifts

And Finally.

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 #235

https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2020-09-23/opinion-divided-on-plymouths-new-sir-antony-gormley-sculpture

Our Staycation trip this morning took us to visit the new Antony Gormley sculpture , Look II on the Waterfront in Plymouth. A cultural dog walk on a blustery day.

Look II

If I were a sound artist I would record twenty second snippets of the conversations that occur as People get close to it. Then play them in the echoing paths near the Tinside Lido that overlooks the sculpture at a distance.

It is no surprise that a piece of contemporary sculpture would have a mixed reaction in Plymouth. The link at the top of this blog takes you to a selection of local opinions.

Look II

My creative head was lucky enough to share my first experience of Look II with a couple of people who I will call Twat I and Twat 2. I have precised the conversation to protect my word count.

Twat 1 ” Its a bit rusty for a million pounds”

Twat 2, thinking quickly, how can I uptwat him?

” Oh well it’s been here a week, I expect it’s the sea”

Twat 1, thinks, bugger I’ve been uptwatted! Best play my trump comment.

” My grandchild built something like that over the weekend”

Both get a little closer and kick the sculpture as if it were the tyre of a second hand car that they were giving an opinion on. Twat credentials fully exposed .

Far better the fishermen who demonstrate so deftly why this is a beautiful, thought provoking work of art.

Pandemic Ponderings #233

Reflecting on where we finished yesterday

Regular readers will have no problem with the order of this blog and the previous one. But if a reader is playing catch up and reading them in order as they appear the newest is always first. For clarity we are walking down Totnes High Street towards the river. From Fifty5a and the gorgeous assemblage from Lucie Swain in their shop window.

We love a bit of street Palimpsest , Totnes gives good Palimpsest. This assemblage of stickers and graffiti is not of the finest quality but it did grab my attention long enough to attract my attention to the piece that inspired yesterday’s search for Alice Oswald.

High Street Palimpsest
Beautiful Street Palimpsest

Slightly awkward as I’ve published this early in error. It’s not even finished yet! Carrying on down the hill we popped over to the public loos and found this little chap.

Is it a Banksy?

Googling ” is this a Banksy?” takes us down another rabbit hole, although, of course, rat run would be more appropriate. My mind is caught up in a trail featuring a Michael Shuman who , perhaps, created this graffiti and claims to have had his identity stolen by Banksy who is of course anonymous. Is it even possible to steal an identity if you are anonymous. The rudimental dickpic above the rat is unsigned. Let’s just leave the whole conversation there.

Things did actually go downhill from here both geographically and in real life. A large hairy lurcher dog flew out of a boutique and attempted to intimidate Lola with both teeth and size. He was 100% successful, she has pulled a shoulder muscle during the scuffle and is demanding cuddles with added diligence to gentle strokes.

Totnes turned out to be quite the adventure. Two last pictures a lovely calm Presbytery with just one perfect autumn leaf to give a flash of orange to an otherwise Lilac view.

Totnes Presbytery

Finally some chains , from Totnes, to show that in these blogs there is always a link. Apologies for scatterbrained blogging. Normal service will resume very soon.

Pandemic Pondering #223

September 13th often gives us the gift of sunshine. It was Hannah’s mums birthday and we were always able to plan a birthday picnic for her, safe in the knowledge that the sun would shine.

This morning we started the day with a sunshine yellow breakfast. Sweetcorn fritters, bacon and egg.

A morning spent doing Sunday stuff, including clearing up fragile, ageing, yellow roses.

Then a trip to Union Street for a Street Party, more about that later in the week.

Sunflowers bought on Union Street replaced the discarded roses.

Then an evening spent swimming at Devils Point!

Dog bottoms in the Sunset…