Advent #2

Tree of memory Xavi Bové Studio and Onionlab

https://illuminate-festival.co.uk/

Illuminate 2019

Iluminate 2019’s first night was scheduled for United States Thanksgiving Day, the 4th Thursday of November. It was also the first public event linked to Mayflower 400 in Plymouth.This was the the third Illuminate event to be hosted in the City. The previous two were held exclusively at the Royal William Yard. 2019 saw the action shared with Mount Edgcumbe and the Barbican. I am interested to see if this was considered a successful idea.

Illuminate is a festival of light based art installations, projections and interactive displays. Local, national and International artists take part.

Regeneration Nathaniel J Hall

theoldmortuary made two evening dog walks more interesting by visiting two of the locations. The Royal William Yard was a great experience. The Barbican less so.

Atmosphere is a magic ingredient, organisers do their very best to create by delivering spectacular content and experience, it’s the publics reaction to the artwork that makes the fizz and energy of a successful event. The buzz at the Royal William Yard on Thursday must have been everything the organisers wanted. Plenty of happy people enjoying contemporary art in dry winter weather. Lovely street food, great coffee and live music.

The Art was spectacular in every way.

Diva Thomas Voillaume Apache Creation with Jeremy Oury for Video Mapping

Friday night saw us walking the dogs to the Barbican. Curiously quiet for a Friday, there were almost more event volunteers than art lovers.The harbour in front of The Ship pub was the location of a beautiful installation.called Baitball by The Media Workshop. A video projection onto mist.

Sardines swirled and shapeshifted in the mist just above the surface of the water. The work was mesmerising.

Not so great was Her Voices also by The Media Workshop. Located in the Elizabethan Garden.

The installation was broken in some way and no effort was being made to make a repair. Disappointing in many respects particularly as it must have been one of the premier locations, of the festival. Not really good enough.

Curio- Trigger Stuff by Savinder Bual and Elena Blanco was intriguing . A series of doors with letter boxes that allowed the viewer to peep into tiny interiors that showed artifacts that hinted at local people’s ideas of home. I wasn’t convinced that this was in any way more interesting by being illuminated but maybe the complete lack of atmosphere on the Barbican had jaded my artistic edge.

On a positive note for the Barbican, Sunday night saw the Christmas lights turned on in addition to Illuminate . I’m sure the magic more than made up for Friday.

Advent #1

Christmas Scene at Jacka Bakery

This morning was sunny and beautiful. The sun was out and the temperature was down, time for a long walk and a hot coffee as a reward.

Jacka Bakery is the oldest working Bakery in the country. Coffee here was our half-way, warm-up and sit-down reward.

theoldmortuary wrote a blog a while ago that mentioned an earlier visit to Jacka.
https://theoldmortuary.design/2017/05/12/what-a-difference-the-sun-makes/

Devon Slice and other baked goods controversy.

Yesterday’s Quickie#5 was a scone. A controversial food item, in particular in the borderlands of the Tamar Valley but also worldwide. Quickie#5 was a cheese scone for simplicity

Lively conversation occurs at theoldmortuary over baked goods as we are a mixed heritage household. One Hongkonger with Devon/Cornish genes, one Essex woman and two dogs from Bedford. Growing up in Essex I loved being bought a Devon Slice. A soft mound of sweet dough, glazed and split across the top and filled with fresh cream and jam. When I moved to the Tamar Valley I fully assumed I would reacquaint myself with the Devon Slice. I can’t say I was hugely diligent in searching them out but occasional enquiries were met with puzzled looks in the bakeries I visited. I have a vague idea I bought something similar, in the eighties, at Jacka Bakery on the Barbican in Plymouth, but it wasn’t called a Devon slice. As they are the countries oldest working bakery and must know their dough products I must assume a Devon Slice was an Essex or maybe even more locally a Braintree invention or,worse,a family made- up name.

Our much missed family baker, Jenny, part of the Cornish heritage had never heard of a Devon slice fitting my description.

This opening paragraph illustrates that there isn’t much of my bakery knowledge that is factually correct, and so with my lack of accurate knowledge laid bare I will make a small personal statement about the Scone/ Jam/Cream debate.

In my early Essex life amongst family we split a scone, spread the cut surfaces with thick cream and topped it with jam. We were all happy with this, I continued to be happy with it for 30 years until I moved to the Tamar Valley. My life since then has straddled the Tamar Valley, living in Cornwall and working either in Devon, or more recklessly and wildly, ‘ Up the line’ *

* Up the Line’ in Cornwall means anywhere beyond of where you are within Cornwall and to the East. It could mean Plymouth, London or, in reality, anywhere in the rest of the World.

Personally despite living in Cornwall I persist in my ‘Essex’ ways left to my own devices. In company I can go either way to be honest. I actually don’t have a huge preference. To say the spreading order of jam and cream or cream and jam is contentious is in itself contentious. Not having an opinion is entirely possible but will always expose the undecided individual to unlooked for advice in any group of people.I am hugely fascinated by other people’s views . Does Aberdeen side with Devon , cream first, or does it follow a Celtic lead and side with Cornwall, jam first? Where does Birmingham stand?

Essex I believe stands with Devon, but maybe that’s just my own leafy corner of North East Essex. Who knows?

Debate and more knowledge warmly welcomed.

First paintings of the summer, finished and ready to go to their new homes.

Two paintings, inspired by an early morning walk, were finished yesterday. Back in May I took an early trip to the Barbican in Plymouth. The early sky was, an impossibly clear, Klein Blue. The colour was reflected in the waters of the harbour. As usual the harbour water was full of the detritus of a busy fishing port.

In Barbican Detritus II the wake of a boat washes into the harbour and breaks on a roll of fishing net. 50cms x 50cms  £300

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Barbican Detritus I

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Barbican Detritus I,  has a super-shiny resin coat which makes photographing it impossible. The shine gives immediate impact but closer inspection shows the texture and detail. It is a macro landscape of a corner of the harbour where rubbish, oil and paint gather.

50cms x 40cms £300

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Some days…

Not so long ago my creative life was hiding behind a busier life. Until recently I worked in the Cath Lab of a busy London teaching hospital. At times it was 24 hours a day. The team I worked with saved lives, sometimes in controlled but dramatic and messy circumstances. Mostly we were successful , other times we weren’t. Art and creativity happened on my days off.  If I had a creative block there was always an entirely reasonable excuse given the pressures and hours of my day job.

Three months into my year of not doing the day job I’ve hit creative block without having a decent excuse.

So here are my not so decent excuses.

#1 The weather

#2 My iPhone camera is playing up

#3 The dogs are playing up

#4 Can’t really be arsed

Faced with zero creative energy I did what many creative people do, I tidied my studio. Surfed the net. Ate chocolate. Bought some new pens on-line.

The turning point came when my phone unfroze. I wrote an article that was overdue for a local magazine. When I looked for the photos I needed to send in with the article , I discovered my phone had taken a crazy abstract image when I had dropped it in the woodpile, which is why it froze. The only portion of this picture that I recognise is a portion of a decking offcut. Beyond that I’m mistified , but I love the image.

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After finding this I was inspired to get back to finish painting the picture that I had planned for the day. I had been printing in the studio so there was no alternative to painting outside in the rain. The painting only needed its top coat so I figured rain was just another fluid to add to the already eclectic mix of mixers . The painting is another one featuring litter and pollution in a harbour . The bright colours are created by the reflection of an amazingly clear blue sky in May.  I get the pollution effect by mixing paints and pigments with a variety of clear fluids so that they attract or repel each other. Today the clear fluids were the unavoidable rain, lube, saline, gin and acetone.

IMG_0454Now the studio is completely unusable. This will take days to dry and is in the centre of the now tidy floor.

Creatively damp from painting in the garden I took the grumpy dogs for a very wet walk, happy in the knowledge that even if I could be arsed tomorrow there is nowhere left to be creative . Who needs good excuses?

Queueing to put nobody in the chair.

IMG_0429Children and their parents were puzzled by me today. Puzzled is putting it mildly , quite frankly they thought I was mad.

The chair is an oversized deck chair that easily accommodated 6 children just before my turn.

Queueing not to put someone in the seat was an alien concept to the children in the queue and , to be fair, their parents. I had to virtually push the little buggers off when it was my turn. Something that didn’t please the devoted parents.

Of course without a human in the seat you can get no sense of scale unless you know the local geography very well.

So perhaps I was a little mad.