Aqua Menthe, Lush Lava, Phantom Blue

© Shutterstock
It will be no surprise to regular readers or viewers of the blog that I love a deeply saturated colour almost as much as I love black and white.Any ‘colour of the year’ headline grabs my attention. Coupled with lovely descriptive words Shutterstock have analysed their way to a great trio of colours.
https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/trends/2020-color-trends
Synesthesia is always part of my life, I’ve had to learn to override it but these three colours make my heart and head thrill with their energy.
https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/syne.html My own collection of images is lacking Aqua Menthe and Phantom Blue but Lush Lava plays a big part. I’ve set myself a side project of finding more of those colours this year.A trawl through my collection earlier today has found these.Lush Lava
Flowers on a memorial bench. Devils Point Plymouth
An image I created to show a curving corridor entrance to a dark room.
Red Currants at Butler’s Cottage
Aqua Menthe
Detail from one of my paintings . From the collection of UltraCardiac
Boat at Port Wrinkle
Nightclub on the Barbican, featuring Jules and Lola
Phantom Blue
The Levellers at Minack Theatre.
Mediterranean Biome at Eden Project
A phone box at Royal William Yard during Illuminate Festival
All three colours in an abstract.The cover picture or frontispiece of this blog is a play on words. The shallow pool is at The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall. The strip of red simply had to be done. I’ve slightly re- edited it to also be the Endpiece.

Advent#31

December 31st 2019, the last day of a decade. The blog has grown into itself. Pondering has become the driving word for narrative and visual creations. All thanks to a writing course with The Gentle Author of Spitalfields life.

https://spitalfieldslife.com/

Pondering the past year, I grabbed one picture for each month from my smartphone. There was no theme. No images of dogs or family or friends. In reality I ponder my friends, family and dogs often in the moments of these images. Taking you all into the next decade is the best gift imaginable.

Time to gently close the door on 2019 and lift the latch on the one marked 2020.

@theoldmortuary , pondering 2019 one month at a time.

Portwrinkle, Cornwall. January 2019

Portwrinkle again. Shells on a rusty GPO box. February 2019

https://gailsbread.co.uk/bakeries/dulwich-village/

Cheese straws. Gail’s Bakery, Dulwich Village. March 2019

https://www.porteliot.co.uk/

Wild Garlic, Port Eliot, St Germans, Cornwall. April 2019

Spring Flowers, Trematon Castle, Saltash. May 2019.

Hong Kong. June 2019

https://www.vam.ac.uk/

Shadows at the Dior Exhibition. V and A, Kensington July 2019

Rusty watering can rose and geranium. @theoldmortuary.August2019

https://kelly-house.co.uk/

Quick sketch of a 90 year old theatrical crown. Kelly House, Kelly. September 2019

Spider web, Waterside, Saltash October 2019

Corrugated cardboard rolled. St Ives, Cornwall. November 2019

Scavenged Festive wreath @theoldmortuary December 31st 2019.

https://www.oceanstudios.org.uk/

See you there …

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.

Sewing Bee

This is the year of refreshing old skills. Sewing , like watercolour has been long abandoned. My mum was a brilliant seamstress and made fantastic clothes and costumes throughout the sixties and seventies. I learnt loads from her but never really used the skills and ended up just about competent to turn a hem. In time her wonderful, but heavy, 70’s Brother machine, found its way to the tip. A couple of years ago my ex- husband bought me a lightweight, new Brother. Nothing like as swanky as the old one, but how much tech do you need to turn up hems?

Sewing Bee came on the TV, originally, when I was still working stupid hours in London, then early this year it was announced that it would return in the late winter after a gap of a couple of years. No longer having erratic hours and on-call as an excuse, I enrolled on a sewing course to gain some Sewing Bee chutzpah.

https://www.makeat140.co.uk/ is a gorgeous fabric and sewing stuff store at the Royal William Yard. Lizzie Evans the happiest of haberdashers, ran a successful business from an old mortuary in the Barbican area of Plymouth. Old Mortuaries are a bit of a thing around here, there’s us, Lizzies previous incarnation, a bakery and a bar running in old mortuaries locally. Anyway I digress.

Links to other old mortuary businesses in Plymouth

https://www.theoldmorgue.co.uk/

https://columnbakehouse.org/

Make at 140 moved to its new location recently and now has the fabulous spaces at Ocean Studios in which Lizzie can run her courses.

I did the beginners course. Our course was taught by Jackie, an enthusiastic teacher with five years experience of home sewing. My group of novices were a group of women ranging in sizes and ages. We were all pretty focussed on producing the two items being created during our five week course. The first, a tote bag, taught us basic pattern use and sewing machine skills. The first class also covered the anatomy and physiology of a sewing machine and the tools needed for a basic sewing kit.After the Tote bag we quickly progressed onto making an actual garment. We were really well supported by Jackie, who is endlessly patient and encouraging. Lizzie was also there every Tuesday , sometimes supporting other groups or classes but always there to make half time beverages, comestibles and to share her sewing wisdom. At the end of week five I had a strong and useful tote bag and a top that actually fitted me.

There are loads of follow-on courses to join but I decided to take some time out and make some mistakes at home before returning for advanced stuff later in the year.

First up in my mistake plan list was a Merchant and Mills pattern, euphemistically called 101 Trousers. 101, has come to represent basic, simple or easy, but my take on 101 has always been more about George Orwell’s torture chamber in his novel 1984. As it turns out the trousers straddled these two meanings rather effectively. My big error was buying a fabric that was the same on both sides. Hannah my partner chose a lovely botanical fabric with a plain reverse side, she had a much easier time of it. My choice gave me ample experience using an unpicker.

On reflection the pattern probably was foolproof but we just took foolish to higher levels than it could accommodate. Eventually after using a months supply of the f**k word, copious tea and YouTube gazing we produced two lovely pairs of trousers, with pockets, that we will wear with pride in full daylight amongst people we know. That is high praise because we are a fussy pair.

https://merchantandmills.com/

I’m already planning my next garment on the mistake plan. I’m confident that my new found basic/ beginners skills will ease me towards less mistakes and more confident seamstressing and then on to the next course at Make at 140. For everything else there is YouTube .

Home made pattern weight using recycled fabric swatches and ribbon from Christmas gifts.

https://www.professorpincushion.com/

Glut

I love the word glut, even though it’s harsh and ugly in sound and shape, it reminds me of the fecundity of autumn, lush and abundant with harvested produce.

It’s meaning is an excessively abundant supply or to satisfy fully.

The last weekend of September in Plymouth had an outrageous glut of arts and culture. Three different arts organisations included this weekend in their programmes.

Drawn to the Valley , straddles the area adjacent to the Tamar Valley. Predominantly featuring ‘Open Studios’ the work of just under 100 artists was available for 8 days, finishing on this weekend.

Plymouth Art Weekender also has some open studios , but it also features performance art, sound art and interactional art experiences over 63 venues all over the city. Events started on Friday evening and carried on until Sunday afternoon.

The Atlantic Project is three weeks of an International Festival of contemporary art starting on this weekend with sites both indoors and outdoors across Plymouth.

www.drawntothevalley.co.uk

plymouthartweekender.com

www.theatlantic.org

With so much to do and so little time to do it in the weekend passed quickly. Flashes of recycled plastics in a green and white funeral-like procession with discordant music. More discordant music and watery sounds. Amazing enthusiastic people doing their thing everywhere. It was a brilliant weekend. I could list the stuff I saw but that would be very dull. I’m going to write about three artists, one from each organisation. They happen to all be women but that’s a coincidence . I also saw some amazing work from men.

Drawn to the Valley- Jill Coughman Open Studio.

Jill was one of my art lecturers , she is inspirational. I’m drawn to her work even when I don’t know that she is the artist. Much of Jill’s work is autobiographical, it is emotional and evocative of both herself and her environment. Even tough subjects feel safe to explore through Jill’s response to them. I bought a print of Dockyard Blues. I love it.

Plymouth Art Weekender- Juliet Middleton- Batts

Juliet invited me to visit her group exhibition ‘Work In Process’

The group comprises both graduate and post graduate students from Plymouth University.

Juliet’s work was stunning. Her title Heroes gave no hint of the works definitive topic but a bike outside embellished with flowers and ribbons in the colours of the Women’s Suffrage Movement was a not so subtle hint. Inside her installation, 100 discs laser etched with the names of imprisoned suffragettes hung on fine thread . The discs represented the medals awarded to all of these women who had endured participation in Hunger Strikes.Illuminated, they cast typography shadows on the walls or flashed a quick bright reflection into the viewers eye. It was mesmerising to look for familiar names but also intriguing to catch the names of people not so well known. The small scale of the Perspex discs massed together as an installation were a fabulous representation of the power of combined and cohesive effort.

The Atlantic Project – Chang Jia

Chang’s work was the only one that made good use of the phenomenal setting that is the Melville Building at Royal William Yard. The other works in this building made no use of the industrial sized epic architecture. Such a shame for them . It would have been amazing to see work projected onto those beautiful walls. Thankfully Heavenly, Corrupted Landscapes has the scale and impact to drag my eyes away from the internal architecture . Her massive canvases owned the space. Referencing traditional Chinese landscapes from the Ming Dynasty the image is created using microscopic photography of the bacteria that is polluting four rivers in South Korea.

F2C58035-A7EA-4E5D-9D1B-2432E2156F2E

The Atlantic Project runs until 21 st October.

Art events like the three mentioned are not all about planning. Serendipity and missing things is also part of the experience.

I missed meeting Nikki Taylor www.nickitaylorscupture.co.uk . I’ve loved her mesh sculptures since seeing them in London and was thrilled to find out she works from a studio in Plymouth. When I popped into her studio she was knee deep in great conversations , so actually I got no closer to talking about her work than I ever have in London.

It’s always good to run into people unexpectedly, and really great when you can connect people from different parts of life.

I met a Fine Art PhD artist who was studying the seaweed of Devils Point. www.duncantheartist.tumblr.com that’s pretty specialised stuff but coincidentally I have another friend whose Biology PhD covered the exact same topic. Surreal things happen, in a good way,when you talk to strangers at art exhibitions. Apologies to Duncan, every photo I took chopped your head off.

To make amends for chopping off a head I will finish with some serendipity. a head from Nikki Taylor superimposed over a mural.I love this image of a mesh head in front of a mural by www.loci-collective.weebly.com

So there we are, a seasonal glut of art and culture. All showcased in great venues surrounded by beautiful scenery and radiant sunshine. Summer slipping into autumn with a huge creative Boom!

Festive Wreathing written for Made in Plymouth

Festive Wreaths with Miranda Hackett Flowers

By Juliet Cornell

Miranda Hackett Flowers

Day courses are a fantastic way to get a taste of a new creative interest. A good course is one that builds on the initial interest and gives attendees the opportunity to take home a competently produced finished product. The very best, enable you to not only create something lovely on the day, but also equips you with the skills to reproduce beautiful items in your own home, building and developing a new talent with confidence.

Festive wreath making with Miranda Hackett is definitely the latter of those options. Meeting Miranda is like meeting a force of nature; creativity and confidence crackle in the air as she talks about her passion for Artisanal Floristry. She moved to the South West from Berkshire a year ago and brought her creative floristry business with her. With a portfolio of London and Home Counties commissions, she has also spent three years creating floral beauty in Slovakia, the universal Latin language of flowers helped enormously with the inevitable language difficulties.

Miranda has already done a turn at The Makers Table at Ocean Studios and loves the beautiful, historic buildings and the fantastic creative buzz the Ocean Studios generates. On 8th December she will return to Ocean to teach Festive Wreathing, this time in the light filled Making Spaces; rooms designed specifically for creative courses.

Miranda Hackett Flowers

Miranda Hackett Flowers

What I personally loved about Miranda’s attitude to floristry was her adaptive approach. She was as enthusiastic about foraging for materials as she was about producing large, highly prestigious commissions. Enthusiasm for her craft just bubbles out of every conversation.

Miranda’s style is loose and flowing, organic in development with seasonality in the locally produced blooms and foliage at the heart of her creations. In her new home here in Devon she now has the space to develop her own nursery to grow native blooms for her future work. Since her arrival in the west country, she has developed a great working relationship with many local producers and growers and has found suppliers from Devon and Cornwall far more open, flexible and innovative in business dealings than she has previously experienced – a little of the west country friendliness we’re so famous for.

If you need any more convincing then last years Festive Wreathing course was held at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin Starred Restaurant in Bray and a review from that event says everything.

“ I just wanted to say a big thank you for the superb wreath making…it was a wonderfully inspiring day, your ideas were incredible and the quality of your greenery and products were really top class. It was so enjoyable to be in your workshop with like-minded people. Your instruction was so good, I will be enrolling again on your next course”

Booking for the upcoming Ocean Studio event can be made direct with Miranda via her website or by telephoning 07789553921, the workshop cost is £55 and runs from 10.30am.

If the 8th December doesn’t suit but you’re eager to get your hands on a little of Miranda’s enthusiasm then there are two more workshops before Christmas held at The Oyster Shack, Bigbury on Wed 6th and Saturday 9th December, again starting at 10:30am, the course fee of £90 includes a two course lunch and a glass of wine. Booking for these two dates is via The Oyster Shack 01548 810876 bigbury@oystershack.co.uk.

Plymouth Literature Festival 2017

JB Barrington at the Hutong Cafe

Plymouth has an established and vibrant Performance Poetry culture. For Plymouth Literature Festival 17 there is a new venue on the block. The Hutong Cafe, which opened earlier this year, is building a reputation as an intimate location for evening events. Saturday saw the arrival of JB Barrington, a performance poet from Salford, a particularly interesting area of Manchester, he was supported by two local poets and a surprise extra poet from Hull.

The evening kicked off with Antonia Raine, a local poet who flipped misogyny on its head, shining wit and humour on the cliched comments and behaviours of some men that really piss women off. She was followed by another local wordsmith, Andy Blackwell who weaved local and carnal knowledge into brilliant and narrative poems, told in a range of accents that were superbly accurate.

The surprise extra of the evening was Jim Higo, a poet/ comedian from Hull, as a salve to the pride of Plymouth which lost the chance of being City of Culture to Hull he suggested that the only perceptible change in his City, now it is cultured, is that there has been an increase in the street price of heroin. Jim’s set was lively and left me an earworm that was hard to shake. His rant “ I Hate a Floating Voter” was a polemic, and although I didn’t completely agree with it, I was hooked by his performance. His incomplete Ice House Road, a tale of prostitution, left me wanting more and the poem about a lonely aged boxer cadging drinks in the pubs of Hull was unexpectedly moving. He told us that his mum thought that a Plymouth audience wouldn’t ‘get’ him when he told her where he was performing. She was wrong, the audience at Hutong definitely ‘got’ him, his tales of deprivation and humour struck a local nerve.

Wearing a brown Mac and clutching a carrier bag of stuff, the main man, JB Barrington wandered to the front of the room for the third part of the evening. He cut a stylish figure with steel grey hair and modish good looks. The previous night he had performed at the 02 at Sheffield with the Sleaford Mods, and tonight 50 lucky people at Hutong had a much closer encounter.
JB is from Salford, an award winning performance poet known for his satirical, lyrical, ‘working class’ poetry. His poems feature dole and debt, dockers and unions, proud men, strong women and the love, fun, misery and fragility of normal life where he comes from. His mum is a huge source of inspiration. Things Me Mam Used to Say might be the words of a Salford woman but the motherly advice and discipline all seemed pretty relatable. Nostalgia conjured for humble icons like the Spanish dolls that resided in countless Council homes depicting the glamour of European travels long before Easy Jet. JB points out the obvious things that it’s all too easy to overlook and forget; yet these are the things of recent social history.

You Had Me, is the tale of an ex lover-note to many, never upset a poet you might become a performance! Truly I was lost for words, it was such a great evening. Not only because it featured poetry from a man who is such a high caliber performer – I don’t know why did he agree to perform in such a tiny venue a seven hour drive from his home but I am glad he did. JB Barrington came to Plymouth Literary Festival, he was brilliant and incidentally brought another wonderful poet with him and they were both ably supported by some seriously good local talent.