Pandemic Pondering #236

The  link below takes you to an excellent article published in the Guardian today.

Pandemic Ponderings has covered most of the topics mentioned but the whole lot, covered by a proper newspaper, makes for a less whimsical read. Even before this article appeared, today, other people’s writing was going to inform this blog.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/sep/25/top-10-locals-guide-to-plymouth-mayflower-400-anniversary?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

This is the book,randomly chosen, for the September choice of my book club. By a huge coincidence a character in this novel visits Plymouth . A couple of comments in the book reminded me of things I have not yet pondered about . Given that this blog is about Plymouth, I will just share the Plymouth based one today. But before that an aside.

An hour or so before this blog was due to be published I finished this book. Further curious and serendipitous connections come to light. I love the book for many reasons, including its locations. It is based geographically in places I know intimately, Cornwall and the area around St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London.

Just as I sit through the rolling credits of films, I also read the acknowledgements in books. This one dealt a huge dollop of serendipity. The author, Sarah Winman writes ” Thank you to The Gentle Author and the community that has grown around the Spitaldfelds Life Blog- you are a constant reminder of why we do what we do”

Spitaldfelds Life is the Gold Standard that drives my writing @theoldmortuary . The Gentle Author guided and encouraged me, and many other blog writers to simply write. The surprise to see him mentioned at the back of this novel gave me such a warm and welcome boost. He really is the loveliest of men , the courses he runs are inspirational.

Returning to talking about the pondering the book inspired. In,A Year of Marvellous Ways, a sexual awakening and affaire de coeur is marked by the gift of a penny which is significant to the location of the entwinement. To illustrate this I need to rummage a bit.

It didn’t take long to find an old penny. Significantly this one would have been used in the Plymouth Area. It was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon an adaptation of a design by his father William Wyon for earlier pennies.

1967 British Penny ©theoldmortuary

The lighthouse, which can just be glimpsed behind Britannia is Smeatons Tower. Plymouths Iconic Landmark. Imaged on the coin in its original position on the Eddystone Rocks. 9 miles south west of Rame Head in Cornwall. Despite being closest to Cornwall the rocks are within the City limits of Plymouth and therefore considered to be within Devon.

Another blog that shaped its own destiny. Not the journey I planned but the journey that happened whilst I was planning.

Pandemic Pondering #203

Todays word for the Art Group is Skyscraper. I’m going to be perverse today and talk about the absence of Skyscrapers.

I was 17 when I first became intimately acquainted with St Pauls Cathedral. I calmed my nerves before a career interview at St Bartholomew’s Hospital by wandering the Crypt and Whispering in the eponymous Gallery.

Training in the City with its associated highs and lows gave me ample chance to explore the nooks and crannies of this amazing Cathedral and to develop a humanistic love of the Evensong Service. There is something lovely about doing something that humans have been doing in the same location since 604. Not all history in this area bears repetitions quite so comfortably.

The lack of Skyscrapers around St Pauls is no accident. This is the view from Nunhead Cemetery in South London.

It has a protected view.

You can read more about protected views in this link. https://www.citymetric.com/fabric/protecting-view-how-st-pauls-cathedral-has-been-shaping-rest-london-centuries-2577

This is a painting a little way from St Bartholomew’s Hospital , showing the scale of permitted development closely around St Paul’s. The picture below shows a more distant view from Tate Modern.

Skyscrapers define modern cities but the absence of them near St Paul’s opens up the sky and gives the City a different visual experience.

A Year to cross a bridge.

A little over a year ago I crossed this bridge physically and metaphorically. After a 42 year career in the NHS I left to embark on an artistic and creative phase of my life. Straight ahead, in this picture, is St Paul’s Cathedral and behind that BartsHeartCentre. This bridge was part of my route home after a days work or an on call shift at Barts. The views from this bridge are wonderful, restorative and uplifting. Sometimes they needed to be.

One year on is a good time to reflect. Leaving a career I had nurtured for 42 years was a hard decision, but it had become an uncomfortable fit that I was no longer prepared to compromise my creative drive for. I had painted and created as relaxation since leaving school and even with limited time had had some success exhibiting and selling work. I studied part-time for a degree in Fine Art, fitting in five years of study with raising a family and building a career.

Having crossed the bridge forever, deliberately giving up my professional registration, the way forward was art rather than arteries and creativity rather than cardiac arrests.

The first thing I noticed was the incredible amount of headspace that appears when you no longer work 40 hour weeks. It took a little longer to feel fitter and younger. What surprised me was that limitless time to be creative doesn’t actually make for super creativity . It doesn’t actually get any easier to render an image onto a canvas , there is more time to make mistakes and prevaricate and definitely more time to tidy the studio or buy materials. Mistakes are the big thing, I love them now, previously they were mind numbing irritants, coming between me and my next great composition . Paint on canvas might not, in the past, have occurred again for weeks but now that’s not the case. So mistakes are my new big thing, new materials, quirky pairings ( Concrete and silk is my current vibe) Realising I couldn’t just flit about making extravagant mistakes I built some pressures into life. I’ve been learning the writing style to create useful art/cultural event reviews, 600 words, for publication. I’ve also learnt to utilise social media to publicise gallery and other art related events.

In many ways this brings my year of crossing the bridge to a conclusion. Unexpectedly a small piece of my work was included in a TateLates exhibition. Ironically it was a piece created when the pressures of my previous life on the north bank of the Thames were very great. Who knows where the mistakes, headspace and time will lead me.06200347-50CE-4F56-8247-77CE3A7B3BCF