Pandemic Pondering #140

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.

Pandemic Pondering #133

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

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000l7zh

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.

Sunshine in poster form

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.

March, how lovely to see you.

Bright shaft of sunlight.

This morning the sunshine demanded to be noticed @theoldmortuary.

It highlights.

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.

4. Phalluses

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.

Buds/Justice, the usefulness of an abstract image.

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.

Social Media, a lesson learned

©instagram

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.

©instagram

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.

#rivertamar

©instagram

A quick #tamarriver search on Instagram shows I am not the only person to make this error.

©instagram

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.

Heralds of Spring

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.

Traces © theoldmortuary

Yellow

Daffodils from Rising Sun Nursery, Cornwall

Yellow

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.

©Cornwall Live
©Amazon
©theoldmortuary

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.

Artist of the month.

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.

Meeting Mrs Marvellous

I first met Mrs Marvellous at a Drawing Day, in the Autumn, organised by Drawn To The Valley, an art group based and inspired by the Tamar Valley. The Tamar, running North to South, forms the boundary between Devon and Cornwall. We arranged to meet again but work and life commitments got in the way until today.
https://www.mrsmarvellous.co.uk/

This is not the blog I had expected to write but like all the best conversations at theoldmortuary it swirled and grew organically taking us in many directions, some of them sad but mostly hugely positive.

Mrs Marvellous uses appliqué, embroidery and quilting to create memorial quilts or pillows and dementia friendly aprons or lap quilts.

” I take the material fragments that embody the most priceless of times- the milestones, the adventures, the hurdles conquered- and stitch them into something magical to preserve memories”

Mrs Marvellous likes to meet the families who commission her quilts or aprons, just receiving a bag of anonymous fabrics wouldn’t feed the creative process for her at all . Engaging with families or friends who have lost someone to death or dementia must be tough, there are often tears but also pleasure in sharing stories. I know that when I have been sad and grieving Mrs Marvellous and her magical stitchery would have been just the uplift I would have needed to shed a little light into the gloom. After consultation, the families or friends collect clothes and textiles together for their bespoke item. All washed by the family they are delivered to Mrs Marvellous.

” Every parcel has its own fragrance, in part a vestigia of the person to be commemorated but also the fragrance of their washing products and home”

So much more than stitchery goes into every creation. Mrs Marvellous has had personal experience of both dementia and loss, but beyond that she is involved with Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance. She says Plymouth is a hotspot of dementia innovation and research. She advocates the need for protection of pride, respect and dignity for those living with dementia. Her lap quilts and aprons are designed to keep people warm and engaged, with pockets, textures, familiar fabrics, perhaps samples that are representational of their old life and loves. A brilliant techy addition to the magic of the creations is a tag sewn into its own pocket.

The tag activates recordings of favourite music or voice messages.

Three images of a dementia lap quilt. All completely washable. This is a man’s lap quilt. Apparently keys are hugely significant to men , equivalent to a woman’s handbag. Who knew?

The bottom image explains just a tiny proportion of the memories, textures and love sewn into this quilt.

I guess that’s more or less the blog I thought I’d write .

You just never know when you meet someone new how a conversation will flow. This one travelled like the Severn Bore. It surged in places, gently rolled in others and quietly crept where appropriate. Appropriate really as Mrs Marvellous grew up.in Clevedon, and played in the grounds of Clevedon Court.

©MrsMarvellous

We found people we knew in common, many that we didn’t. Talked at length about Drawn To The Valley, the art group we both belong to. Podcasts, Social media, Saltash all took a turn in our nattering. Finally. Finally! We ended with my Ice Breaking Questions. Clearly no Ice to break with Mrs M.

Mrs Marvellous favourite place in the Tamar Valley.

Mount Edgecumbe by the Folly overlooking Plymouth. Especially when fog hangs near the water, snaking up the river.

Mrs Marvellous best place to take friends.

The footpath walk along the river at Newbridge near Callington.

( I have to add a note of caution. Otters have been seen here. Good. My dogs love to roll in Otter poop. Bad)

Mrs Marvellous Sunny Day Outing

Devils Point Plymouth with a packed lunch.

( Another warning, don’t try this at night.)

Mrs Marvellous Rainy Day Outing.

Not one to share.

Her bedroom overlooking the Tamar through massive windows. Great accoustics with rain clattering on Velux windows and properly cosy apparently.

Mrs Marvellous best cafe.

Away from the Tamar for this one.

Inkies Cafe at Golitha Falls.
https://m.facebook.com/inkiessmokehousebbq/