#415 theoldmortuary ponders

I’ve had a bit of painterly block recently, since visiting Dublin to be completely specific. The weather in Dublin was wonderful, even though the evenings were dark we walked through the city enjoying the historical layers of architecture untroubled by German bombs. There are many secretive back lanes that service the busy bars and nightclubs that give Dublin it’s famed nightime economy. These back streets have seen 300 years or more of the grubby underbelly of Irish nightlife. These would have been the places of sexual liaisons in less permissive times, now the back streets are left to inebriated gents emptying their booze filled bladders and resting chefs, their faces eerily illuminated by their mobile phones as they take a few minutes off their feet. We stumbled on this nocturnal pairing so often that I felt impelled to draw a scene showing the characters isolated in their own activities. Timeless, almost and separated from a vivid, contemporary nightlife that was happening just out of sight. The live music is muffled by closed doors and windows. Illumination is incidental, and the smells of booze, urine and cooking blend to create a fragrance that is both intimate and universal.

Drawing anything quite so figurative is unusual unless I am in a drawing class, but I know that once an image sets itself in my head, nothing else can be done until it is out on paper or canvas. There can be no gloriously colourful abstracts until this dark and dirty image, drawn in charcoal, is finished to my satisfaction. That moment is finally here after a week of sneaking into the studio and scraping away with stubby, brittle sticks of charcoal. Frantic dashes to the bathroom to grab the hairspray needed to seal the details on each session’s layer before they smudge and blur. More leisurely trips to the bathroom to clean my face and fingers of the sooty smuts of obsessive creating.

All because twenty-first-century men, unintentionally captured my imagination in 17th-century back streets.

#411 theoldmortuary ponders

Having stumbled on a theme for Advent+2022 ( I am sharing random photographs that have never found their place in a pondering before) I find them easy to weave into the action or inaction of a ponder. The image above is the title of one of the chapters in the Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin. If only Mulling was a verb, and not the name of the saint who is reputed to be responsible for this gospel pocket book, I could have written something witty about a book of pondering.

As it is I have to say that the Alexa moment mentioned in pondering #409 was just a day too early.

#409 theoldmortuary ponders

I had thought that being woken up with House music was not quite my early morning vibe, but I was wrong.

We have been sharing the care of our nine week old granddaughter. At 8-9 weeks she has added a new behaviour to her limited repertoire. Boredom! So when all the usual measures to make her happy and compliant failed, yesterday morning, Alexa stepped in and played House music at 8am. It worked an absolute dream. Swirling around the kitchen as if in the middle of summer in a Dance tent was exactly what a small person needed. Dublin again comes up with a picture to illustrate the exact scene in our kitchen. A stained glass window at Bewleys Oriental Cafe, a place that certainly deserves it own ponder one day. But for now in Advent+2022 the stained glass window exactly illustrates how I was feeling yesterday morning while loading the dishwasher with a small person happily gurgling on one shoulder and the Ministry of Sound remixing Iggy Pop on Alexa

#404 theoldmortuary ponders

This was quite the morning for a bob. Not that the water was quite like this when we were in. Half an hour before this picture,while we were in the water, it was bumpy and grey, 13 degrees in the water and 9 out.

Rainbows were an added bonus. This is how all winter Mondays should start. Then lunch out and an afternoon spent with a carpet cleaning machine, I’m not sure that necessarily is the way the day should have gone but any artistic endeavours involve a man relieving himself in a back street. So the options are not great.Last Monday we were leaving Dublin and a week on I still haven’t nattered on about The Guinness Storehouse. One of Europes best tourist attractions. It was the only truly tourist haunt that we visited. Not exactly the worlds most hardened drinkers the building was definitely the most intriguing aspect of the visit. The whole point of the building is to turn lime green hops and water.

Into black and white porter, in this case Guinness.

The finer points of brewing passed me by but the magisterial building was wonderful.

People who know a whole lot more than me believe that Guinness tastes better in Dublin. At the end of our tour we got a pint each. That is a lot of something to base an opinion on and yet I remain quite unable to tell anyone if a Dublin Guinness is significantly different from one served anywhere else, but regardless it slipped down very well in a very beautiful building.

#402 theoldmortuary ponders

River Liffey in Dublin looking towards Temple Bar.

I suppose the picture above would be fairly typical of a night scene in Dublin. We only visited the infamous Temple Bar once, always preferring less busy options. This was the view from our airbnb. The illuminated Viking ship was quite a draw for ultra late night shenanigans. Friday night was packed with working people celebrating the weekend to the max they were only chased away at dawn by road sweeping vehicles and street cleaners. Saturday night bustled with jubilant Irish rugby supporters celebrating a win over Australia, trumpeters at 4 in the morning was both jubilant and joyful, curiously melodic when leading happy chanting. Sunday night was calm. Every daybreak marked by the sound of road sweepers making the city pristine.

All this is a bit of waffle to make our night tours of back streets more interesting. Dublin has so many historic back streets, untouched by redevelopment that it is like walking in a city 300 years ago. The streets felt safe but there was a recurring theme that I felt compelled to sketch from memory.

Nearly all back streets held the same night time characters. Chefs on their phones, taking a break from cooking with a cigarette and a sit down. An inebriated man taking a piss in a pool of light. I decided to do my first sketch with Charcoal, a messy few hours later. I had the beginning of something that had the flavour of all the back streets we visited. I just need to find a way of getting more colour in.

The chefs face needs to be blue and the peeing man needs to look more drunk and there should be some essence of coloured lights just reflected on the brick work. A project for next week.

#401 theoldmortuary ponders

Stickers add to the palimpsest of Street Art

After two days of Tamar Valley art @theoldmortuary is going to double- back to Dublin for a quick whizz through some street art. Dublin being Dublin there is also some great wordage included. Starting with the Love Wall on Love Lane.

Check out more work from Anna Doran below.


There was not exactly a plan A or plan B for our trip to Dublin. There was one fixed item on our itinerary but the rest was left to chance and the weather. As things turned out the weather was perfect for just wandering the streets. Our wanderings for Saturday and Sunday were about 20,000 steps each day divided into two sessions, longer daytime adventures and then after a rest an after dark trip out.

Sometimes the quest for good coffee and baked goods brought us an unexpected extra of street art.

Alongside great coffee, cardamom buns, fuel for more walking and a sticker pole.


Other street art was more commercial and directive.

But street artists also get in on the act.

We found a lot of work by Oriel.

Too much lovely street art to share it all here but this James Joyce quote on Harman Street sums up our two day visit.


#398 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunday in Dublin found us going unashamedly touristy a trip to the Guinness Storehouse Experience followed by Dublinia a museum dedicated to Viking Invasion and Medaeval Dublin. There was, perhaps, some over-optimism in achieving anything after a trip to the Guinness Brewery.

Local street art suggests the slight unfocussed effects that might occur after drinking a Guinness.

Not to be outdone by street artists I took a suitably unfocused photograph of one of the pony and trap taxis that are on hand to spirit well imbibed visitors back to the city centre.

The Guinness experience will get it’s own blog in the fullness of time.

The Viking experience was somewhat overshadowed by our slightly enhanced sense of humour, maybe the fault of a perfectly poured Guinness direct from source.

The exhibition was billed as immersive with sound and smells of the period. There were no discernable smells unless damp tourist exactly matches Viking fragrance. The only sound beyond the chatter of damp tourists was a regular quiet groan. The exhibition was hugely interesting, perhaps a little dated but we learned a lot. The groaning grew louder with no obvious source until we discovered a Viking taking a dump and preparing to wipe his bottom with lichen. Either lichen is the very devil on tender parts or the Viking diet was not conducive to smooth elimination. Either way we were very amused by it.

#396 theoldmortuary ponders

First steps in Dublin lead us to an Irish/Italian Cafe Bar serving homely food in cosy surroundings. Two bottles of Jameson* later we tuck into food that smells and tastes like our mothers made it.It being Friday night our habitual back street wander took us into cobbled streets alive with the sounds of boisterous fun being had just out of sight. A few men leaned on walls for support as they splashily dampened their boots with misdirected urine. Dublin is new to us, but not. Dublin feels like a mythical, hidden suburb of New York or Chicago. A concentrated, vivid place full of young people. Two of them stopped us in the street to take a selfie, perhaps thrilled that people over 40 had joined them in their night-time place. Too soon our travel weary knees called us away to a sofa and curative cups of tea. As we slept the night noises of Temple Bar kept going until they were chased away by the dawn chorus and road sweepers. Tweaking Dublin back to perfection after a bachanalian night just beyond our windows .

* Jameson bottles used as water carafes @theoldmortuary would barely function after two glasses.