#193 theoldmortuary ponders

Nearly one year on from the house move and the work room is ready for business. Business for Hugo and Lola means an empty sofa each. For me it means clear desk space.

At 10:00 we were all ready for the first Zoom of the day. The dogs were already asleep on their chosen sofas and I had the lap top set in such a position that my head and shoulders could be at the meeting but my hands could be doing ‘other stuff’

Disaster struck, nothing I could do on any platform could get me into the meeting. This is the first time in over two years that Zoom has failed me. I have often wished it to fail but I’m sure I am not alone in that. With my vote handed over to some one who was actually in the room. I set about using the free two hours doing actual work for the organisation. This meant that the ‘other’ stuff had to wait until the evening.

And the dogs could take themselves off mute, or asleep as they call it.

For full disclosure, having shown you a tidy workroom. I have to admit that there is still a load of stuff that needs sorting in the garage, still. When working on the new shelves for the work room I needed to store some old shelves in the garage. I didnt have enough woman moments to make a space in the garage. I decided to deploy a South London trick and put the shelves outside the front of the house with a ‘free, help yourself’ sign and a message on our local residents Facebook page. Recycling at its finest, they were gone within two hours. To return to the failed Zoom meeting, the slight discombobulation of the fixed event of the morning becoming unfixed seemed to expand time for the whole day. I had already saved my self an hour and a half of travel by not attending in person and I worked solidly through the meeting time and stayed in touch with Whatsapp. Loads of extra jobs got done. The only casualty of the day was the ‘other stuff’ that my hands would have been doing while I was in the meeting. That remains unfinished even though I was still at it until the last dog walk of the day.

Pandemic Pondering #518

All along the length of the Tamar Valley artists are tidying their art studios in preparation for Open Studios with the art group Drawn to the Valley. Not so at home here, I didnt enter this year because of house moving uncertainty, my new studio has barely had the chance to get untidy. I am preparing stuff for another exhibition in October so there is actually activity but currently the most creative activity is procrastination. I’m doing the research and starting the project while simultaneously trying to remember where I stowed everything.

Ive also pledged to myself to only use a small percentage of new art materials in the future and to recycle wherever possible. This current project uses second hand tapestry materials bought from house clearances. I’m also saving the tiny, irritatingly clingy left overs from sewing projects to include in this piece of work.

Yesterday the first image emerged from the chaos. I might just be keeping the procrastination under control!

Makers ©theoldmortuary

It won’t last.

Pandemic Pondering #364

What a lot of miles we’ve walked this weekend. Sometimes on very familiar routes and other times on city roads hardly ever visited before. Always trying to avoid large numbers of people. There wasn’t really a plan blogwise, but as often happens a subject revealed itself. Random signs we’ve never noticed before.

So far this one resists quick research. Writing this blog will possibly inspire somone with a comment that points me in the right direction.The sign is near Millbay Dock in Plymouth. Named Millbay because tidal Mills were established here in the 12th century. Millbay is currently best known for being a ferry port. Not too far away we found St Demetrios & St Nikitas Greek Orthodox Church.

A sign that should inspire us to revisit the classroom , a coincidence as we were urged, yesterday, to visit our friends in Katerini and Upper Apple Tree Village as soon as travel is permitted.

Closer towards the city centre this Street art is new to us.

Plymouth is having a surge of thought provoking street art. Another new to us piece in the city centre are these two happy birds.

© None Here

I’ve written about the work of None Here before, typically the transient nature of street art requires people to photograph and record it for many reasons. It can become a target for thieves and disappear overnight or become part of something bigger as others add to it or obliterate parts of the original work.

This sign is far from new but I’ve never noticed it before.

I’ve often pondered on how the Plymouth of the future will reconcile the true history of Francis Drake now he has toppled from the romantic and always false notion that he was a romantic and heroic buccaneer. Pirate and slave trader are much more difficult subjects to consider. Some others from the time can be more easily removed from the modern city by renaming streets or buildings but Francis Drakes name is all over the city like a rash.

Also all over the city like a rash are the links to the Armed Services. The last new sign is a tiny sticker.

Have a fabulous first Monday of Spring/Autumn depending on your hemisphere.

Pandemic Pondering #304

Storm Christoph shaped our 10,000 step exercise hour today. We walked from Victoria Park to Mutton Cove via the 18th Century Richmond Walk. Ordinarily this walk is a heady mix of beautiful seascapes and a mix of marine and industrial landsapes. Today the greige of a wet and foggy pre-storm made scenic pictures a pointless exercise so we concentrated on Street Art and man-made embelishments to our route. Contrariwise the first picture is of King Billy our halfway point turnaround.

The reason for the slightly odd order of pictures is the unbelievably grim, greige weather. On the return walk it was easier to see and stand still with the weather at our backs. The next three picures show a man made structure being taken over by the sea and nature and then being recontrolled but not reclaimed by humans once again.

Next a lovely palimpsest of heavy iron doors, paint, rust and graffiti caught our attention next.

Followed by a lone tag on an old wooden gate.

Then a colourful flourish to the end of our walk in the tunnel beneath the Stonehouse Bridge.

Not a greige image in sight. A modern miracle on a day like today.

Pandemic Pondering #156

The Art Group prompt word is Collage today.

Collage is a popular activity in art classes at all levels. It has never particularly interested me.

I love Palimpsest though, The layering and changing art form so often seen on urban streets.

Palimpsest in its serendipitous form has inspired me to create collage more often and, rather belatedly, I am beginning to enjoy making them just for pleasure, there are many ways to make a collage, some of them without glue.

Mental collage or Palimpsest has started to fascinate me during the pandemic. As our horizons were abruptly limited with lockdown the way I think about certain things has changed. I’ve realised that experiences at home or locally can be as interesting and thought provoking as those moments we rave about when we are away from our domestic location. Extra thinking time and the inability to leave the familiar has made it more interesting.

The month of August and in particular yesterday are two ways I can illustrate this statement.

I’ve always rushed headlong through August in eager anticipation of a holiday or break in September. With no such treat in store, this is the first August I have given due diligence and attention to. Many of my previous thoughts are entirely true , the weather is unreliable, roads and places are too busy, gardens and parks are slightly tired and not as vibrant as earlier in the summer. All true but not as bigger deal as I have previously thought. Adaptation and a little more time makes all these things more interesting this year.

I’ve started forming local holiday type memories and experiences a month earlier than normal simply because I’m paying August more attention.

Holidays @theoldmortuary require



Good Books

Some culture



So far August has delivered all of that and more without us leaving a 10 mile radius of our home.

Yesterday was a day of the most tedious shopping; cleaning product stock up time.

Serendipity delivered us a holiday moment on one of our regular dog walks. Mental collage made us notice it, in part I think because the colours reminded us of Greece.

We ordered a fishy tapas at a local restaurant, enjoyed classical music and talked to the owner.

Mental collage around a plate.

If we had been on holiday it would have been a precious nugget of the holiday. What it actually was was a precious nugget of life.

Researchers in the future will look back to this time of Pandemic. There will be many positive findings amongst the sea of bleakness.

Our positive nugget of life happened here.

Pandemic Pondering #111

London. North or South?

PP#111 is very brief. All @theoldmortuary has done recently is paint fences black. There is less to write about when painting black fences than there is when renovating a Cornish Hedge.

North Londoners joke that there is nothing worth crossing the river for. Suggesting that South London has nothing of interest.

South Londoners know better than to retort negatively.

The most common reply is that South London is greener.

This is particularly true in our tiny patch of garden now we’ve painted the fences black.

Now the fences are back to black it’s all looking pretty lush. Not only that but I haven’t has to look too far for some stencil graffiti and Palimpsest with a green theme.

Stencil Graffiti bear , Gipsy Hill,

Church door Palimpsest, East Dulwich

Should you want to read about the North/South debate may I suggest this link- https://www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/destinations/north-or-south-london-which-better

Written by a proper writer rather than a mere scribbler. South London, it’s greener.

Pandemic Pondering #107

I don’t think I’m alone,as a creative person, in having utterly failed to fill the pandemic lockdown with a meaningful career defining response to these strange times. I’ve drawn,painted and sketched. Written obviously. My Magnum Opus is,so far, eluding me.

My Mistresspiece is missing.

It will come as no surprise that I am utterly disappointed by this definition of Mistresspiece.

An outstanding example of female beauty.

What utter bollocks!

A Mistresspiece is career defining creative work by a woman.

It stands alone and is not in my opinion mistress + piece, after masterpiece.

Rant over , time to continue the pondering about my missing Mistresspiece.

To be fair, a missing Mistresspiece is just a symptom of Lockdown Ennui. Expressed by so many people who have failed to do tasks or achieve goals, during Lockdown, that has previously been excused as a failure because of time constraints.

There is something going on in my studio. I doubt very much if it is the Mistresspiece. It hovers somewhere between collage and Palimpsest.

It is an attempt to get down in 2D the swirling thoughts of Pandemic Insomnia, which in turn seems to involve a return visit to those complex and often sinister repetitive dreams of childhood.

To be continued.

Pandemic Pondering #91

Palimpsest is one of my favourite visual experiences. I’ve written about it in a couple of blogs.

Originally the word described the effect of parchment being reused and the original script showing through the newly scribed text.

The contemporary use of the word applies to, a mostly urban , experience of Graffiti, street art , posters and stickers jostling for attention on walls and structures.

Tidying my studio recently has given us an almost parchment experience of Palimpsest.

We’ve started reusing an old familial blackboard as our shopping list. The blackboard has lost the ability to shrug off earlier messages. I could repaint it but I am charmed by the old messages butting-in to our current life.

Tidying the studio also provided plenty of old work filed away, today I decided to put it to good use.

I’m not really certain where one person creating a work moves from Collage to Palimpsest.

This is the first layer of whatever this is, drying off its first layer of sticky gluey creativity.

Progress will be blogged.

Whenever I revisit palimpsest I do a search on WordPress to see if anyone else is talking about it. Today I found

Elizabeth, saved by words.

Blogged on the 18th April, she was one month into quarantine.

Three months in Lockdown and reluctantly easing, my thoughts run in a similar way to hers.

Life in lockdown has been layered. There has been a lot of thinking time, too much sometimes. I’ve definitely gained many new skills, I’m fitter of body and my blogging muscles perform much better but the losses have been eviscerating. Despite social distancing I know more people now than I did in March.

The thinking space has definitely helped the negative aspects of the last three months and created some wonderful memories and perspectives.

There is also a tiny layer of guilt that while some jobs have been done there are a pesky few that we have been resistant to.

Creating Palimpsest in the studio is the best antidote to chore guilt. One little detail is a bit of a wish for a return to normality.

This is why Instagram matters to Artists and Makers

Yesterday was an interesting day. A coffee meet up with a friend serendipitously introduced me to an artist and jeweller . Then an unexpected printing hiccough gave me some water colour scraps to create a new image.For interest I though I would use the Instagram Grids of the three people I met to illustrate this blog.

©tessajanedesigns Instagram

Coffee was with tessajanedesigns at Ocean Studios. We were just having a social catch up after teaching a Social Media workshop earlier in the week.http://www.tessajane.co.uk/

Mark Wiggin saw us nattering and came to join us.

©. Mark Wiggin instagram


Then we popped upstairs to see Val Muddyman. Her current work recreates the tiny details of the beauty of a beach really close to her workshop at Devils Point.

©Val Muddyman Instagram


Hugo loved her workshop.

For completeness here is my Instagram grid.

©theoldmortuary Instagram

I met all these people in just one hour, the images I found of their work on Instagram is such a simple illustration of why Instagram is a great piece of Social Media for Artists and Makers.

The image above is a future palimpsest but for now it’s a collage.

Bill Stickers is not only innocent, he is a genius. ( London gives good Palimpsest)


I’ve never really known the correct term for the incidental art created by street posters, graffiti and general wear and tear. Some years ago I settled on Palimpsest, this article in the Guardian has made me question my decision but I can’t really find a word that works any better.

Cultural and creative vibrancy can be measured by these serendipitous spaces.

Not all owners or administrators of walls are fans.

Palimpsest fascinates me , even the corporate version on traditional , paper and paste, advertising billboards are a rich source of serendipitous art if you can catch them on the day old posters are ripped off . The current trend to advertise gigs with notices, cable-tied to street furniture gets around the Bill Sticker haters but removes a layer of lovely colour and text that could be adding to palimpsest.

Occasionally I use the technique to create my own art.

Sometimes the most intriguing stuff can be found down alleyways. Hunting it out can require a strong stomach as these places also gather the excrescences, of a vivid and active night life.

London gives great palimpsest. The images below were collected on a walk from my hairdresser to a favourite coffee shop, half an hour max. My phone is full of palimpsest images from all over the world, some of it from teeny tiny places and sometimes in locations that are unexpected.

Hunt street palimpsest out; you will be rewarded.

” Dull places have immaculate walls”