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.
Borders are the subject of today’s art group prompt.Borders have always fascinated me. I am a blurred borders sort of person, grey scale rather than black and white. Curiously a border is the underpinning geographic feature that defines the art group that these prompts are set for this month.The Tamar Valley divides and is the border between Devon and Cornwall. Conversely it divides Cornwall from the rest of the World.What creative things will the Artists of the Tamar Valley be inspired to create or share when the word Borders drops into their Instagram or Facebook feed today.It’s very difficult to predict. August is traditionally both quiet and busy for local artists. Quiet because the creative work is mostly done and busy because it’s open Studios time. Open Studios is a big deal in any art group , a time for artists to throw open their studio/workshop spaces to welcome in the public. Or to arrange a public space for groups of artists to show their work.Open Studios has been going on for years.But not this year.August will pass in the Tamar Valley without its usual artistic flurry.Time to sit in the sun and consider the word ‘ border’ or indeed any of the 31 words on the prompt list.PSI’m aware this is not the most scintillating blog but this little post script might make you smile. I’ve just finished reading this month’s book club choice. Post shower there was a visual joke.
Some days, pondering takes place beyond the blog.
This morning I was pondering or puzzling over a conundrum of my own making. Prosecco was involved.
I’m running the social media presence of an art group throughout August.At an informal planning meeting, I may have drunk a little prosseco.
At the meeting we were planning the August social media activity. I am not enlivened by prompts.In the art group world, prompts can be considered- helpful, inspiring, bonding, stimulating. I find them the reverse, Stifling, controlling, enervating .
Prosecco led me to be particularly blunt about prompts. Understandably, after I left, the others ignored me and went on to plan prompts.
Suddenly this morning I realised the prompt hater (me) would be managing a month of prompt related posts.
Not awkward at all.
Luckily I caught a programme on the radio. Serendipity had struck. the dogs are big fans of BBC Radio 4.
I caught them engrossed, listening to a woman talking about being creative.
In half an hour she cured my awkwardness over prompts. She is someone who embraces and creates from uncertainty.
I completely reccomend sitting down and listening,
30 minutes of down time listening to someone so much better than me at expressing a love of serendipity, or uncertainty and how it can be a positive thing
More importantly, while listening to Caoilinn a lovely way of coping with prompts has revealed itself. I will embrace my awkward and consider the unwanted structure of daily prompts as my uncertainty and some days even use the prompt to inform and structure the blog.
These two morning events and the bees on the Artichokes are a fine example of a blog falling, unexpectedly into my head and then into the blog world.
All over Cornwall, daffodils have been raising their heads, looking for sun, in the darkness of winter in preparation for a big Spring reveal. Similarly artists and makers have been using the snatches of winter daylight to create work for this art exhibition in Gunnislake, Cornwall. The first visible sign that an exhibition is beginning to come together is the arrival of boxes of posters and flyers.
@theoldmortuary also has two pieces of art featured so that is another reason to feel zippy and spring- like this morning.
1. Tissues, we have been bogged down with a shocking virus this weekend. Not the headline grabbing sort just one that saps the strength and deadens the creative soul.
2. Hidden books, I have no idea how they get there.
3. Shadows, we have cast metal fish in our windows . In spring as soon as the sun comes out the fish shadows swim all over the ground floor.
Today is Ash Wednesday, an important date in the Christian calendar and #ash is the prompt for the social media account of Drawn to the Valley an artist collective I am involved with.( I used David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes lyrics to fulfil the prompt) I mention this only in passing to illustrate that although I am not an active Christian I do have a good grip living opposite a church and being culturally shaped by Christianity, the gentle moves of the Christian calendar and it’s feasts and rituals are integral to the shape of our daily lives. Weddings, funerals and baptisms shape the way we park if nothing else. Paganism too plays it’s part in todays blog about Bright Shafts of Sunlight. There is almost an eponymous characteristic to those words. #4 explained
Our garden traps confetti, even after a winter of harsh storms and few weddings, today’s ‘ bright shaft of sunlight’ has its own special meaning @theoldmortuary as the garden twinkles with golden phalluses.
I took this photo yesterday, not expecting to use it today. But the prompt word for the Instagram account I’m managing, this week, has led me down such a rabbit warren of thoughts and philosophies I’m quite exhausted.
#justice such a big word, so deep, so complex, so personal.
I’ve read some amazing quotes and read some fascinating stuff but is my theoldmortuary pondering mind right to share anything on an arts group Instagram page that is beyond the simple image of the scales of justice.
The simple answer is ” of course not”
What I have comfortably shared is this photograph of Daffodil bulbs, because it makes me think; and for me, today, it illustrates my hopes for justice if not always the lived experience of the word.
Yesterday was the end of my week long ‘shift’ running the Instagram account of an Artist Collective in South West England. Drawn to the Valley is a collaborative support network and promotional organisation based in the Tamar Valley, a beautiful and often overlooked part of Devon and Cornwall. The members of the group work in and are inspired by vastly different landscapes and environments. The maritime port of Plymouth forms the distinctive Southern point of the group’s territory. The point where the River Tamar flows into the Hamoaze, Plymouth Sound and then finally flows into the Atlantic . In keeping with the mythic and folkloric emergence of any river the Northern boundary is less definite. Unromantically I would say somewhere in the post code EX 20. Specifically of course the Tamar arises out of the ground at Woolley Moor, Morewenstow.
The area has many significant titles relating to Geography, History and Aesthetics.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Throughout human history the area has been exploited for minerals. It has a unique archaeologicaly significant mining heritage stretching from the Bronze Age to the present time.
European Special Area of Conservation.
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The last category is represented by the Tamar Valley AONB. Drawn to the Valley has a particularly close association with this organisation
The Makers and Artists in this group are as diverse as the landscape in which they work.
Social Media is a valuable tool in keeping this diverse group of artists aware of what they are doing as individuals or groups but also and perhaps more significantly it is the group’s everyday shout out to the world.
Social Media has been a ‘thing’ for 27 years. It attracts bad press,deservedly, because like everything it is fallible.
But in benign hands for arts organisations it is invaluable. Persuading individual members of this can be a hard sell in any artistic community. As a group we run workshops and support groups to encourage our 160 + members to launch themselves safely and confidently into the Social Media Pond.
Which rather circuitously but hugely importantly brings me to the title of this blog.
I’ve been associated with the Tamar Valley for a large portion of my adult life and have only just learnt that River Tamar is the correct term for the river and area I’m talking about. Whilst #tamarriver is a completely different place in Tasmania.
A quick #tamarriver search on Instagram shows I am not the only person to make this error.
There is also another lesson to learn, I fail to remember this one too often.
When operating a social media account on someone elses behalf always log out before waffling on about your own stuff.
My mind will be much taken up by the Heralds of Spring for a while. Living in Cornwall and specifically the Tamar Valley the term is applied to the Daffodil.
It is the subject of an art exhibition at the end of March.
There are other Heralds of spring even in the Tamar Valley. The first to arrive were the Snowdrops.
Closely followed by Crocuses.
and finally the Daffodils
Creatively, for the exhibition, I’ve been working on some Daffodil yellow abstracts and some fantasy birds with a yellow theme all finished and framed up today. Freeing me up to paint my own personal Heralds of Spring.
Everything about this painting is the opposite of my yellow creations. The painting is big. 2 metres by 50 cms. The yellows are 60×60 or 25×25. This dirty,big, grunge image has been playing with my head whilst I painted in shades of pastel yellow. Yet without the constraints of the yellow images their dirty blue sibling would not exist. A couple more days of tinkering and the Big Blue will be released. A Herald of Spring also.
Yellow is the most easily perceived colour. It is seen before other colours especially when it is next to black.
Yellow on black or black on yellow is used as a sign of warning in both the human world and nature.
Yellow as a title was inspired by a trip to a nursery today. I want to paint some abstracts using shades of yellow as the only or principal colour, not really a colour I’ve ever had much success with.
These beauties are pretty inspiring, photographed using a normal lamp to uplight them gives quite an abstract look.
Talking to Alan Elias and his daughter Georgina who welcomed my art group to their family run nursery was fascinating and inspiring. Their company has passed through four generations and their tales of horticulture in the Tamar Valley have given me plenty of thoughts to create a painting. It helps that their nursery is called Rising Sun.
Daffodils are quite dominating this Yellow blog. It was a stroke of luck that the only photo of a bee that I had in my archive was doing his bee thing on a purple artichoke head, complimetary colour matching at its serendipitous best.Not so much serendipity more a way life, radiation signs are or were a big part of my life. Cornwall Rugby Union black and gold shirts. Both obvious and a warning.
The colours and conversations of the day inspired the abstract below.
No need to blog today. I’ve just lifted these two pages from the Drawn To The Valley Artists Newsletter.
It’s been quite a week of chatting at theoldmortuary all of it with other artists from the group Drawn To The Valley. Artists and bloggers live a singularly isolated working life so nattering around a table is a real treat. I think we’ve done some good planning and my Mrs Marvelous natter formed the Meeting Mrs Marvelous blog. https://theoldmortuary.design/2020/01/27/meeting-mrs-marvellous/
Tomorrow we are all off to a Daffodil Nursery , more arty nattering, sketching and learning. Tomorrow’s blog might well be yellow.