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 #301

A little bit of Plymouth Street Art. I’m not sure what it means but curiosity aside,it is a lovely thing to look at. I was looking for something blue to illustrate this blog. Then this jaunty seagull took me on an unexpected journey.

Here we are in the second weekend of the third lockdown. Worse than that this is the weekend before Blue Monday . Said to be the worst day of the year. So called, because of dark evenings, poor weather, festive joy draining away,  and bills arriving by post.

I’m not sure any media source will be brave enough to joke about Blue Monday this year. January can be very flat even without a worldwide pandemic but glum is the word that springs to mind when thinking about January 2021.

Searching for something blue to illustrate “blue Monday’ brought me blogging luck.

The Street Art seagull brightens up the street and puzzles with his enigmatic message. He most certainly is not glum, almost the reverse. Then Google steps in.                      

‘None Here’ is the tag of Exeter based artist. Steve McCracken.

©Steve McCraken

https://www.stevemccrackenart.com/artist-statement/

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/solving-mystery-breathtaking-artwork-appearing-4213302?utm_source=sharebar&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sharebar

Follow the two links above to understand the artist and the enigmatic bird. The seagull does exactly what the artist desires. Perfect Street Art.

Pandemic Pondering #284

©Melinda Waugh

2021 dawned spectacularly in Saltash this morning. @theoldmortuary was set for less pastoral pleasures though.

The ‘Bobbers’ were booked to swim at Firestone Bay first thing this morning.

© theoldmortuary

Bobbers braved-2 temperatures to swim or gaze , or both, into the New Year.

©Andy Cole
©Andy Cole
©Andy Cole

The morning was beautiful and the sea was 10 degrees . An amazing way to welcome in the New Year. Cold water immersion is good for all sorts of things, we all talk a good bit of jibberish straight after a dip though. Then the endorphins hit and we are ready to take on the world. Although, due to Coronovirus restrictions, the world is not available, I did manage a quick nip into the Co-op for some bread rolls before we strode off for a lovely wintry dog walk. Endorphins though, in a similar way to pride, come before fall. The afternoon was spent attempting to read books but achieving dozing on the sofa. The fall to come.

Our evening took in a local harbour and a few Christmas lights.

©theoldmortuary

But then things took a turn towards the awkward. In my haste to get a perfect shot for this blog I tripped over a curb and the precious camera/phone skidded in slow motion towards the harbour edge. I’m a bit bruised and the camera teetered on the edge but ultimately stayed on land.

All is well but the parking machine which told us it was out of action struck another blow. When we put a card across its reader, it was actually rather over active and charged us twice. Perhaps we should have stopped the day at dozing on the sofa!

©theoldmortuary

But we did find a naturally occurring (ish) heart.

©theoldmortuary

Pandemic Pondering #283

The sun shone for the last walk around Sutton Harbour and the Barbican of 2020. It also snowed a little.

Our evening went to plan . This is the photograph for our family and friends distance, thousands of miles and many time zones, social media party.

Television watching for two, oh the dizzy heights!

The plan had actually been to go to bed early and show 2020 the disdain it deserves and sleep through its passing but actually it feels only responsible to not only see the year leave but also to make sure it has actually gone and shut the door behind it. For such a responsible observation a far less frivolous drink is required.

A fine cup of decaffeinated Yorkshire Tea and a Cornish Shortbread. Far less giddy than that party pleasing Snowball. Also guarantees a good nights sleep, essential after a year like 2020!

I can confirm 2020 left the building and the door slammed shut behind it.

Pandemic Pondering #260

My first day back at The Box after Lockdown 2, and my first day in a new- to-me gallery.

I could give you the official description of Port of Plymouth 1 but yesterday for an hour or so I had a unique experience. The gallery was almost empty and I had the chance to explore it unencumbered with any responsibility for the well being of visitors.

The portrait above is of an anonymous fisherman, he is the human face of the character of this gallery. The gallery yesterday represented to me the biography of the city. Port of Plymouth 1 tells the story, the basis almost, of every other gallery in the museum. The sort of thing that might be written on the back of a funeral service booklet to give an over view of  the deceaseds life. Of course Plymouth has not died and under current circumstances enjoys relatively good health.

I deliberately chose a man’s photograph because the gallery has a woman’s voice. Dawn French narrates two audio visual presentations within Port 1 and  while you are in the space you are never very far away from her voice. This is a brilliant piece of gender balance because inevitably Port 1 is for the most part a man’s world. Not because women played no part in the history of Plymouth but because history has traditionally sidelined women’s contribution. It is only really the 20 th Century exhibits that begin to truly reflect the importance of women to the city.

©The Box

As you enter Port of Plymouth 1 there is a massive 3D screen showing a film presentation of the developmental history of  Plymouth. The film is one of the exhibits narrated by Dawn French. Currently with Covid-19 restrictions only about twelve people can view it at any one time, with so few people it is hard to gauge the impact but later in my morning a whole school group of about 40 watched it together and the impact on them as a large group was remarkable, when the museum can open as normal this will be a memorable group activity.

@theoldmortuary we are in the process of moving home. It was a little bit strange to view our proposed new location as history evolved over it and  in the WW2 era bombs landed very close.

©The Box
©The Box

Ambient Lighting in Port of Plymouth 1 is subdued but the lighting of each exhibit is so beautifully done that even when it is full of people ( a future aspiration) it is really easy to concentrate and understand the significance of each exhibit.

One historic artifact was simple but poignant.

©The Box

The Falklands Conflict left a big mark on the recentish memory of Plymouth

©The Box

This is the point that pondering has to stop, just like the Dockyard Gate photo above, the visitors started to arrive. There is loads more to talk about but visitor safety and smiling took over my time.

Pandemic Pondering #243

There was always a plan to take a winter sea swim on my birthday. A stormy day made swimming impractical but just two days later things were a lot calmer.

Hugo and Lola never quite know which way to look when we swim in slightly different locations.

Today the beach was uncrowded.

There was even some time for some Land Art.

And because it was officially a birthday swim, there was a reward for us.

Plus a well earned sleep for our lifeguards.

Pandemic Pondering #242

Some days we commit to a dog walk regardless of the weather. Yesterday’s was a case in point. Our regular circular walk around Sutton Harbour in Plymouth was tied into the day by some chores that also needed to be achieved. Once the chores were done the weather had taken quite a turn for the worse, our walk from Commercial Street to the Barbican was definitely the sort of walk where you spend more time looking at your feet with your head lowered against the ice cold needles of rain. Pondering my feet as a distraction against rain gave me the topic of this particular walk. The Barbican area of Plymouth has more cobbles than any other area of Britain.

I am no expert on cobbles. I do know they can be lethal when wearing high heels or when out on work Christmas parties. Both things that the world has given up in 2020.

Cobbles fascinate me . I’ve even painted an abstract , still unsold unsurprisingly, that was inspired by the bright lights, happiness and occasional vomit on the streets of the Nightlife area of the Barbican. I called it Excressences. Even with a gorgeous title it didn’t sell.

Detail from Excressences ©theoldmortuary

In the time before Lockdown we would sometimes do Historic guided tours of Plymouth for pleasure. One of them taught us how to identify shrapnel damage to streets and buildings. I wonder if this is an example on the disused Railtrack on the cobbles of Tin Wharf.

As you can see, the weather did dry up and after a coffee we looked skyward only to discover Christmas had sneaked in early.

Maybe I should paint more unpopular abstracts!

Pandemic Pondering #219

This is the eye of a woman with a lot of responsibility on  her Woolly head .  Currently providing the Wow factor in the Mammoth Gallery at the Box. She is also a big part of the branding of merchandise for the museum.

Yesterday I spent my working time in the Mammoth Gallery . Mammoth certainly brings great happiness to the visitors of The Box. She is also the figurehead of the Natural History Gallery. The gallery has an abundance of specimens and information that is related to Plymouth and the surrounding area. There is so much to read, engage with and wonder at, that I’m sure one visit will not be enough for most people. It is not the purpose of these Box related blogs to describe in detail everything in the galleries but I can’t not tell you about the specimen jars which are displayed in something I think of as ‘Apothecary Chic’

Here they are reflected in some of the Audio Visual  presentations.

Back to Mammoth. She has a strong presence in the gift shop.

Like many toys of this sort, these mammoths were made in China. Much as it grieves me to say this we bought one for our granddaughter and now it is further increasing its, already mammoth, air miles by flying to her in Hong Kong in time for her birthday later in the month.

The gift shop is always a vital part of any museum or art gallery. The Box shop has a range of products not available elsewhere in the city. It is a shame that Pandemic restrictions limit the footfall currently, I would shop there regularly for unusual gifts

And Finally.