Pandemic Pondering #368

This is the last photograph I took in March 2020 before the first Covid-19 lockdown in Britain. It was mid afternoon at Cotehele and I was recovering from a nasty virus. My last virus as it happens, a welcome benefit of adhering to Covid restrictions is that @theoldmortuary we’ve been virus free for a year now despite doing public facing/touching jobs.

In colour this picture is nothing much. Reeds on a managed flood plain on a typically greige day in the Tamar Valley. What the colour picture would never have shown was the amazing sound that was produced as the wind blew through the reeds. I took the picture just to remind me of that sound. True Whispering Grasses.

Really the original picture was nothing much, just a diary note to remind me of a lovely serendipitous sound on a walk that was being done more out of a sense of necessity and desperation than for pleasure.

I tinkered about with the image altering the contrast and then converted it into black and white.

Ta Da!!

A dull photo has turned into a sound. Not perhaps the gentle sound of whispering grasses, although I can hear them when I look at this with an imagined low volume. If I switch it up to medium volume I hear the interference on a television in the eighties or nineties when the signal was lost. Up a notch again and it is the feedback on a performers mic ( when ever have I felt nostalgic about that piercing scream ) it could also be, currently, two people having different Zoom meetings with their laptops too close together. My final auditory assault from one picture is this.

Imagine sketching it in chalk on an old school blackboard.

I’m fairly certain that last suggestion was not kind. The link below is a gentle salve to give you a good earworm for Friday. The mellifluous Sandy Denny.

Whispering Grass

Pandemic Pondering #338

I am very lucky, one of my responsibilities within an art group is to manage the groups social media output. Part of that role is to keep an eye on the groups Instagram page. Another friend does the same for Facebook. During the Pandemic, Social Media, Zoom Meetings, a Newsletter and a fabulous new website have been the groups only way of keeping in touch and sharing their creative outputs with members and the wider community. In normal times there would be Workshops, Drawing Days, Exhibitions and Open Studio events.

Checking the Instagram page of Drawn To The Valley daily is an absolute pleasure. Our members and other artists work appear on our feed. It took no effort to find these great images from todays feed.

Our Social Media team meet monthly to plan what we need to promote for the group but we also work out ways to increase engagement and attract followers to our pages.

For 2021 each month will have a # that brings the art created in that month together in a grid. #januaryinthevalley, #februaryinthevalley and on for every month of the year.

So far #februaryinthevalley is looking good.

We’ve really had to reconsider how best to use social media to support our members during the Pandemic. We are lucky that Drawn to the Valley adopted social media early and effectively a long time ago, we have some vibrant and effective wisdom in our team. Zoom meetings are never dull.

The pandemic has forced us to shake things up a bit.

Below is a link to our website.

Home

We can also be found on Instagram and Facebook.

There is some lovely art.

Pandemic Pondering #228

It’s a red dot kind of day. By tradition when an artwork is sold at a gallery or exhibition it is marked with a red dot.

This painting has set off on a journey to Brighton with a new owner.

The picture started life in Marylebone, London. Strange things happen around the Mews Lanes behind Harley Street in the middle of the night. Famous people arrive under the cover of darkness and florists clear out the previous days blooms, near perfect they are dumped in the back of trailers to be replaced by freshly bought blooms from New Covent Garden.The Mews were my regular night time walk, bleep in hand, to clear my head towards the end of 24 hour on-call shifts. I took to photographing the discarded blooms. There have been several paintings inspired by these nocturnal wanderings.

I’m not sure where this one is off to. It is an early sketch from a new project. I’m exploring androgynous figures being both overwhelmed and enhanced by abstract fields of colour.

I suspect this is the last ‘red dot day’ of 2020. After yesterday’s announcement of a second national lockdown by the British Government there may well not be any more chances to exhibit until 2021.

Huge thanks to everyone who attended the exhibition in Tavistock, especially to those who bought original artworks. You have made many Artists very happy.

A celebratory ‘Red Dot’, the lid of a Pinot Noir

Pandemic Pondering #223

Today was Vernissage Day at Butchers Hall in Tavistock. It was a triumph of creativity over Covid – 19. The excited buzz of a well attended Private View with vividly dressed artists and guests it was not. No canapés, no music, no performance poetry, however in its own quiet, socially distanced way it was a celebration of hard work and achievement. What impressed me was the texture of the experience.

The Mayor of Tavistock opened the exhibition with words that by now, in 2020, we are all too familiar with, unusual, difficult, unpredictable. She noted that many of the 70+artists were experimenting with different styles because of the experiences and challenges of 2020. For this blog I thought I might just choose a few uncredited images to illustrate some of the textures and colours that I experienced today. A more formal blog of the exhibition can happen after it has opened to the public.

In sharp October sunshine even the building got into the texture category.

Butchers Hall – It’s Complicated.

Exhibition of Drawn to the Valley Artists. Wednesday 28th October – Sunday 2nd November 9-30-5-00 except Sunday when it closes at 2, Butchers Hall, Tavistock.

Pandemic Ponderings #1

Ponderings at theoldmortuary are just that. Something that comes into mind or sight that can be the kernel of a blog.

Pandemic Ponderings will not be particularly virus related, but they will be shaped by a newly restricted life.

I’ve started them today because I had to make concrete changes to life yesterday because of new restrictions in the UK.

Hand washing and the prevention of spread of infection were for so long part of my previous occupation that societal increases in protective behaviours has made no significant impact on me, it has been second nature for all of my working life and switching to the same gear in private has barely registered

Now I’m responsible, with others, for putting on an Art exhibition. I’m hugely aware of the creative work, costs and administration that has got us to within two weeks of opening. But it is in everyone’s interest that we do not hold an exhibition now or for the foreseeable future. It also seems sensible to mothball the whole Artist Collaborative that has plans for many exhibitions before the end of the year. Mothballing allows us to not have face to face Commitee meetings or working groups, so vital to the running of most organisations.

One clean finger and a camera phone.

Artists and makers tend to be isolationists. Not, perhaps, deliberately but almost certainly circumstantial.

In order to create original work a space is required. Those spaces become a unique location where the artist or maker has the tools and ingredients of their production alongside reference materials and importantly the space to think.

Even in the most delicious communal art spaces ,artists quickly set about erecting boards and barriers to mark their own individual territory.

Shared areas, the loo or kitchen have an almost international grubbiness to them . Marked with indelible signs of the artists that have passed that way. Artists ,Mark-Making on communal areas like a tomcat with territory acquisition and the balls to do it. Just like tomcats artists communal spaces have a distinctive odour.

As an aside I believe the art world has missed a trick. Imagine an exhibition of Butler’s sinks, or local type, brought together from around the world’s greatest artists studios. All displayed in a huge white space. With their original fittings and adjacent work surfaces. Imagine the smells!

Social Media allows artists to maintain their isolationism and yet join with like minded people without the effort of putting on their arty clothes and washing their faces. Social media just needs one clean finger and a camera phone.

Last night we had a real-time gathering of artists from the Tamar Valley to share and expand their knowledge and use of Social Media . Everyone arrived with at least a clean finger and a camera phone. Everyone left with fresh knowledge, a few more followers and probably some new friends.


https://drawntothevalley.co.uk/

Social Media, a lesson learned

©instagram

Yesterday was the end of my week long ‘shift’ running the Instagram account of an Artist Collective in South West England. Drawn to the Valley is a collaborative support network and promotional organisation based in the Tamar Valley, a beautiful and often overlooked part of Devon and Cornwall. The members of the group work in and are inspired by vastly different landscapes and environments. The maritime port of Plymouth forms the distinctive Southern point of the group’s territory. The point where the River Tamar flows into the Hamoaze, Plymouth Sound and then finally flows into the Atlantic . In keeping with the mythic and folkloric emergence of any river the Northern boundary is less definite. Unromantically I would say somewhere in the post code EX 20. Specifically of course the Tamar arises out of the ground at Woolley Moor, Morewenstow.

©instagram

The area has many significant titles relating to Geography, History and Aesthetics.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Throughout human history the area has been exploited for minerals. It has a unique archaeologicaly significant mining heritage stretching from the Bronze Age to the present time.

European Special Area of Conservation.

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The last category is represented by the Tamar Valley AONB. Drawn to the Valley has a particularly close association with this organisation

The Makers and Artists in this group are as diverse as the landscape in which they work.

Social Media is a valuable tool in keeping this diverse group of artists aware of what they are doing as individuals or groups but also and perhaps more significantly it is the group’s everyday shout out to the world.

Social Media has been a ‘thing’ for 27 years. It attracts bad press,deservedly, because like everything it is fallible.

But in benign hands for arts organisations it is invaluable. Persuading individual members of this can be a hard sell in any artistic community. As a group we run workshops and support groups to encourage our 160 + members to launch themselves safely and confidently into the Social Media Pond.

Which rather circuitously but hugely importantly brings me to the title of this blog.

I’ve been associated with the Tamar Valley for a large portion of my adult life and have only just learnt that River Tamar is the correct term for the river and area I’m talking about. Whilst #tamarriver is a completely different place in Tasmania.

#rivertamar

©instagram

A quick #tamarriver search on Instagram shows I am not the only person to make this error.

©instagram

There is also another lesson to learn, I fail to remember this one too often.

When operating a social media account on someone elses behalf always log out before waffling on about your own stuff.

Yellow

Daffodils from Rising Sun Nursery, Cornwall

Yellow

Yellow is the most easily perceived colour. It is seen before other colours especially when it is next to black.

Yellow on black or black on yellow is used as a sign of warning in both the human world and nature.

©Cornwall Live

©Amazon

©theoldmortuary

Yellow as a title was inspired by a trip to a nursery today. I want to paint some abstracts using shades of yellow as the only or principal colour, not really a colour I’ve ever had much success with.

These beauties are pretty inspiring, photographed using a normal lamp to uplight them gives quite an abstract look.

Talking to Alan Elias and his daughter Georgina who welcomed my art group to their family run nursery was fascinating and inspiring. Their company has passed through four generations and their tales of horticulture in the Tamar Valley have given me plenty of thoughts to create a painting. It helps that their nursery is called Rising Sun.

Daffodils are quite dominating this Yellow blog. It was a stroke of luck that the only photo of a bee that I had in my archive was doing his bee thing on a purple artichoke head, complimetary colour matching at its serendipitous best.Not so much serendipity more a way life, radiation signs are or were a big part of my life. Cornwall Rugby Union black and gold shirts. Both obvious and a warning.

The colours and conversations of the day inspired the abstract below.

Artist of the month.

No need to blog today. I’ve just lifted these two pages from the Drawn To The Valley Artists Newsletter.

It’s been quite a week of chatting at theoldmortuary all of it with other artists from the group Drawn To The Valley. Artists and bloggers live a singularly isolated working life so nattering around a table is a real treat. I think we’ve done some good planning and my Mrs Marvelous natter formed the Meeting Mrs Marvelous blog.
https://theoldmortuary.design/2020/01/27/meeting-mrs-marvellous/

Tomorrow we are all off to a Daffodil Nursery , more arty nattering, sketching and learning. Tomorrow’s blog might well be yellow.