Pandemic Ponderings #25 Chapter 2

Chapter 1 ended with @theoldmortuary taking time out to enjoy an Easter Sunday Roast. Over the long weekend we had a dig around in food cupboards to see what ingredients we had to make celebratory food even though there are only two of us here.

Mincemeat was the most obvious make, using up dried fruits, marmalade, nuts and suet from Christmas. We had no Brandy so the mincemeat will have the flavour of Cuba.

More Dried fruit and a curiously large amount of ground almonds in the store cupboard lent itself very well to a recipe for Simnel Cake. A very traditional part of British Easter, but not in our house. The closest we had ever got to Simnel Cake was a special edition chocolate bar from Kernow Chocolate company last Easter.
https://www.kernowchocolate.co.uk/

Undeterred by inexperience Hannah set about making the cake and I learnt the sticky art of making home-made marzipan. We were pretty far through the process when we watched Mary Berry making one on TV. Mary appeared to be using shop bought Marzipan!!!! She also burnt her Apostles , the 11 marzipan balls on top, with a blow torch. As luck would have it we have a blow torch, of course we do.

I took before and after pictures just in case the whole blow torching thing went terribly wrong. It didn’t so here is our inaugural Simnel Cake in all its torched glory.

And here is the before shot which was a little more artistically staged.

Here is our main event, it sets the stage for what will be a rather meaty chapter.

Whilst we were enjoying the fruits of our labours, and those of unknown West Country vegetable farmers and a distant New Zealand sheep farmer, other roasty photographs were tumbling into my in box. The first a fabulous Bird Roast from Becky Reep who lives up the river from us in Cargreen.

Unexpectedly some fabulous Greek images came in while we were enjoying supper. Another work colleague from the Heart Hospital, Alayna Malamoutsi sent me this facebook message and photographs from last year’s Greek Orthodox Easter.

“In Greece they fast for 40days in lent. They break the fast Saturday night of Easter weekend with a goat Offal soup.

Then on the Sunday they spit roast a Lamb and the other meat in the photo is kokoretsi (which is offal wrapped round the spit with intestines).

Their Easter is also going according to their Greek Orthodox Calendar. So doesn’t fall at the same time as ours normally. ”

So much meat! Next week Pandemic Pondering#25 will be filled with lockdown Orthodox Easter feasts. It’s lovely to see a normal one with families close enough to hug.

Hugs are the thing I miss most currently.

Alaynas gorgeous lamb pictures lead me to Poland, although not actual Poland as our Polish relations in Poland couldn’t get what they needed for a modified lockdown feast. So no photo’s.

Our Polish pictures and a super tenuous link take us to Truro where Sam, Justyna and VV live. Justyna created Polish breakfast for them all including, Sheep shaped butter.

Less tenuous a link and to balance the somewhat meaty core of this blog, Sam’s sister Jenna and her boyfriend Charlie, isolating in Wimbledon, sent us this beautiful shot of Cinnamon Almond Lentil Stew.

I love it because it gives Chapter 2 such a beautiful full stop.

If Pandemic Pondering Chapter 1 or 2 have inspired you to hunt out or create any feast pictures, either Lockdown or past Real World feasts please email them to me julietcornell@gmail.com. Pandemic Pondering #25 will run until the end of Orthodox Easter next week. I am lacking Passover feasts at the moment.

Tethering my Abstracts

Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead uses shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect. The term is also applied to art that is based on an object, figure or landscape where forms have been simplified or schematised.

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/abstract-art

Synesthesia is a condition where one sense ( for example hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words syn ( together) and aisthesia ( perception) meaning joined perception.

https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/syne.html

My abstracts are mostly landscape inspired. Rooted very much in a particular place but also informed by the history and geography of the place. In some respects they are also created with reference to my synesthesia. Whilst creating art I often listen to music, sometimes deliberately chosen , other times just random. I often choose not to allow synesthesia in and listen to spoken word radio. A painting created with Joy Division as background music would be subtly different if it were created while listening to Benjamin Britten. These things are hugely important to me but joyously insignificant to everyone else.

http://www.joydivisionofficial.com/reimagined/

https://brittenpears.org/

It’s important to me to know where a painting comes from once I’ve committed it to canvas or panel. Naming it is obviously a start, but that has never quite satisfied me. Owners of my works often read something quite different into them , sometimes I share the geographical location or the synesthesic source, but they are of course, free to interpret the art on their walls however they see fit. However for me there has always been a tethering that I couldn’t quite catch, something that satisfied my need for a location but that didn’t dictate too much to the final work . I’ve recently discovered ‘what3words’ It is a location system that is simple and accurate to a 3m x 3m square anywhere in the world.

https://what3words.com/daring.lion.race

Retrospectively I’ve started giving my pictures a ‘ what3words’ tethering.

Beast From The East.

From the title anyone can roughly work out the timing of this painting. It is an amalgam of a few wintry walks in the village of Forder near Saltash in Cornwall.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=beast+from+the+east+2018&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-gb&client=safari

The walk takes you along a creek into Churchtown Farm Nature reserve. Most days I stopped at the same spot to contemplate the cold . What is never obvious is that this was painted when I was personally very chilly as our central heating boiler broke down and we were without heat during this period. However I can perfectly express where I was standing when the inspiration for this picture formed using what3words.

Breathing. Frowns. Index. Curiously appropriate words , I’m sure this won’t always be the case.

Coincidentally I’ve discovered a whole new story for the next work that I was going to tether, I was doing a little research about the pillow in this picture, prior to giving it its ‘what3words’ location. As it turns out there is a whole new story which deserves a blog all to itself. Here it is at Tate Modern as part of the Pillowtalk Exhibition, with my lovely daughter.

Here is its estimated ‘what3words’ location while at Tate Modern.Loaded.Tiger. Salon.

The story of this pillows journeys and my experiments with what3words will be the next blog.

https://www.southlondonwomenartists.co.uk/pillow-talk-conversations-with-women/

#todayimwearing. Why I couldn’t survive a capsule wardrobe.

I’ve collected clothes since I was about 20, that’s 40 years of shopping. Its also 40 years of donating to charity shops as I curate my collection and get rid of the evidence of impulse or imprudent purchases. I’ve always considered my wardrobe to be my palette for creating my style on a day to day basis. Not much exists that is actually 40 years old, but many items have been replaced like for like as they have worn out. In some respects this is counter to the current trend for fashion bloggers, or influencers who highlight what is available to buy now and indeed Fashion and Style magazines. Real life is not about buying everything new each fashion season. It is about knowing what works for you as an individual and buying a couple of bits to replace worn out things or to add some new colour. Just as I have favourite products and colours to create abstract paintings, I have favourite clothes that can be combined to create the style that I feel comfortable in. I have made some expensive mistakes both in art and fashion shops.

All of my previous working life I wore a uniform, clothes shopping was for commuting and weekends. Now I have a new life, as a full time artist and writer, clothes have become a lovely every day creative process and I rarely put the same two things together.

I’ve become more careful about wearing normal clothes to paint in. I managed to buy a massive pair of 1970’s dungarees on Ebay a couple of years ago. I wear old t-shirts underneath. So on painting days the age of my #todayimwearing clothing is about 45 years.

The inspiration for this blog was an outfit I put together recently to deliver some paintings to a client. I was aiming for an arty look. As I put the composite parts back into the wardrobe I realised I’ve been putting this look together since 1977. In turn it was inspired by my mum in the 60’s. I can be that accurate because I wore this look to attend my Viva Voce exam in Russell Square London. At the time I thought this look reflected me as a sensible professional. I realise now it was just me being me.

I am still a fan of a knitted cardigan, but now it tends to be Seasalt that make them rather than my mum.

www.seasaltcornwall.co.uk

Here are the four pieces that inspired this piece of blogging.

The Straw Hat- I love hats, my grandmother bought hats from a gay milliner called Francis Golightly ( seriously) I longed to wear hats , as she did, every day. That was never going to be possible so a straw hat in the summer is the best I can do. This one is about number five and is possibly the cheapest ever as it was bought in a hurry from New Look after number four met a watery grave during a storm in Cuba.

newlook.com/uk

Big Sunglasses- I suffer from sweaty eyelids, big sunglasses are the only answer.I have no idea how many pairs of these I’ve owned. Usually they are cheap fake ones from Greek supermarkets. Age has caught up with me and now they need to be prescription lenses. Ollie Quinn makes these beauties.

oqspecs.com

Scarf- I may have the national Collection of scarves. Simple reason. I’ve never been a size zero and any woman no matter what size can buy a scarf even in the most sizist of shops. Blush pink, I’ve learned to love it, inspired by a fellow blogger. This member of the scarf family came from Oliver Bonas.

sleek-chic.co.uk

oliverbonas.com

The black and white dress. I love this dress, it is the latest iteration of my black and white dress family and is probably the closest to the one my mum wore in the 60’s . I used to make these for my Sindy. This one is from Marimekko.

www.marimekko.com

It’s strange that I’ve never realised that my clothing choices have not really evolved greatly throughout my adult life. I suspect I could trace all my clothes back with similar stories to these four pieces. What chaos could I create in my life if I ever used a personal shopper?

Abstract Intensive.Reflection #1 Early August

Following the last blog which was in essence a review of the Abstract Intensive Course at Falmouth University www.falmouth.ac.uk this blog is much more of a personal reflection. More like a diary of how the course is affecting my practice

I accidentally fell into painting abstracts during my degree in Fine Art. Prior to my foundation course I was very much a landscape painter. The beauty of foundation courses is the requirement to try a lot of different styles and to form ideas on which direction to travel once on the degree. My first foray into abstraction came almost by accident, I was struggling to express my reaction to the events of 9/11 and found abstraction to be the easiest tool in my limited skill box.( An earlier blog Bloggers Block covers a similar theme) https://theoldmortuary.design/2018/03/15/blogblock-spring-clean Abstraction worked then and I’ve largely stuck with it.

Reading books about abstraction and following abstract artists seemed only to take me so far, and it certainly got me through my degree. It got my work into galleries and exhibitions, into people homes and serendipitously one of my pieces of work was shown at Tate Modern . With more time to paint and think I was thrilled to find a dedicated Abstract course not to far from home. Time to learn Abstract techniques first hand.

My particular interest is the interaction of man made structures on landscapes and nature’s constant bid to overwhelm and reclaim supremacy, Nature always wins.

This is the start of my first painting after the course.

It’s working title is Concrete Rock Pools. The Southwest of Britain is a rich source of concrete, built quickly during WW2, used only briefly during the preparation for the Normandy Landings. 80 years of weather and tides have broken it down leaving concrete and rusty iron that forms rock pools that are part natural and part man made.

This will be a different painting from one I would have done on the same subject a month ago, before the course. The impact of a week-long intensive course shows itself in this painting in small ways. Marginal gains is the sport psychology terminology for small improvements in performance.That phrase works equally well in Art. Measuring my own marginal gains may simply be taking time for recognising and reflecting and then developing confidence in those changes.

Having largely worked out my own methods of abstraction from practise, reading and observing other artists work it was great to have this book recommended at Falmouth.

I’ve been stealing an idea for abstraction for years from a completely unknown artist. I’ve always felt a little guilty about that. The author of these books, Austin Kleon cured me of my guilt. Both the book and the journal are well written with simple tips. I’m sure the strategies in these books are useful applied to many areas of life not just art.I bought mine cheaply from www.abebooks.co.uk

( My guilty steal happened at porteliotfestival.com A life drawing class was being taught in one of the tents. The model was posing, lit by some shafts of sunshine piercing through small holes in the canvas roof.There were some cracking images being created by the small group of artists. One artist however was writing a stream of descriptive sentences. Really beautiful words that were accurately reflecting the change of light,texture and nuanced shapes on the models beautiful body. I’ve used this technique many times when an image doesn’t quite flow from mind to canvas or when it is impossible to recreate natural beauty with a photograph, I just take some time out to write what I see and how it makes me feel. It really helps to get me out of a painting rut if I read these notes)

The relevancy of permission to steal to the above painting is all about fear really. I want to get both rust and and tiny sun bursts into this painting. The potential for error is great particularly when I’m happy with the first painted layer. Time to research abstract sunbeams and rust.

Falmouth Intensives, a personal view.

A collaborative painting- Abstract Intensivists 2018 I recently completed a five day intensive course in abstract painting at Falmouth University.I’ve done art courses most of my adult life, many of them at established, well-regarded art schools. Some on-line and some that would be regarded more as a leisure pursuit than as an intellectual expansion of artistic knowledge and skill.The Falmouth Intensive was the best organised course I have attended.At £500 for five days, it is not cheap but is certainly in line with other courses that are available.What did the Falmouth Intensives Course do to make me rate it so highly?The campus itself is eclectic and beautiful,especially with weather that was perfect. Falmouth is a dream destination for artists.Students/course members were treated as valued clients/customers. Our working accommodation was a large Victorian villa on Wood Lane, a leafy suburban street that merges town with gown. We were a group of 9 course members, with a choice of 11 well prepared studio spaces. Within the studio space area there was a communal kitchen that was stocked with complimentary tea, coffee, milk and biscuits, all branded products, that were topped up every day. The communal kitchen was shared by all the intensive course attendees, there were two other courses running the week I attended. This gave us the chance to mingle and share experiences. Food based ‘ break-out’ sessions happened nearly every day, not compulsory, they enabled artists from all three courses to meet whilst enjoying food, drink and some valuable time away from their artistic endeavours. This was a brilliant idea, artists can be insular creatures, to lure us out of our studios with the promise of free food was a genius plan. Falmouth Uni also wins a food diplomacy prize for serving scones a bit like a Victoria Sponge, (Scone-Jam-Cream-Scone). A simple flip made the scone ‘Cornish’ or ‘Devon’, keeping the scone purists happy.So, as they always say at the beginning of courses “that’s the housekeeping done”.The abstract course was not afraid of taking all participants back to basics. Our first morning was spent doing drawing exercises indoors and making observational sketches outside. Our two lecturers for the week were Simon Averill and Glad Fryer, a fabulous tag team of enthusiasm and knowledge. Both working three of the five days we were given the chance for ample informal conversations with one or both of them in addition to time-tabled ‘crit’ sessions and seminars. Both held sessions in which they shared their own working practices and experiences as active artists in the abstract genre. They also made the effort to bring in a good selection of their work and published materials. It is so helpful to understand other artists viewpoints and creative endeavoursWhat participants never know on these ‘selective’ courses is whether everyone who applies gets selected or whether there truly is a selection of suitable candidates. Either way, due to serendipity or selection, our group of students worked well together. All with a similar work ethic, we were surprisingly productive over the 5 days. Our one experience of working on a collaborative piece of art exposed us all to a new, to us, and unique way of creating art. With no rules or instructions it was left to the group to devise a way of working cohesively. That’s a tricksy ask of an established group of people let alone virtual strangers. I can’t say it was all ‘peace and love’ but the character and texture of the individuals in the group found a way to create an image together that gave us all something to think about.The Simon/Glad tag team, was an inspired choice as course leaders. Significantly different in character yet matched in the quality and style of their teaching, it is hard now for me to remember which one taught me which of the learning nuggets I have taken home.Their enthusiasm carried me through when my paint was recalcitrant and my technique shoddy. I’ve been home a day, had some sleep and time to reflect, undisturbed by swirling thoughts of ‘resolution’. I’m nearly ready to unpack the car and return my stuff to the studio. Next week I will paint abstracts again in a whole new way and with a lot more confidence.Thanks to everyone who plays a part in organising or delivering Falmouth Intensives. Thanks to my fellow intensivists. It was great to meet you.An abstract of this blog is not available.A feather that blew into my studio on the last day. I wonder who was visiting? #creativespirits #abstractthoughts

theoldmortuary- in the press

Three years ago, when we were knee deep in rubble and dust, we contacted Cornwall Today to see if they were interested in the story of turning an old mortuary into a home. Kirstie Newton, the editor, put us in touch with Jackie Butler one of the magazine writers. We met with her in 2016 before moving back to the cottage. Jackie’s article along with photography by Tom Last and Stephanie Yates has been published this month in Cornwall Today. IMG_0523Jackie has written a great article out of a lovely afternoon natter about our two year redevelopment of the old cottage and the adjoining mortuary. What is only touched on briefly,  but is the absolute core of this build, is the amazing quality of work of the tradesmen we used. Both creative people,  we knew how we wanted the cottage to look but not how it could be achieved.IMG_0524Jason and Dave, Wayne, Pete and Justin listened to our ideas, many of them mad, and used their skill to achieve what we wanted where possible and found great alternatives when things weren’t possible. We had concrete wall desires that would have cost us a fortune if we’d used the same techniques as Tate Modern. Together we worked out how to get the same finish at a fraction of the cost. IMG_0526Wayne was tasked with painting the main room of the house in a dark granite grey.   ( Farrow and Ball Railings) . I think he had doubts but then came up with the brainwave of painting the banisters white with a black handrail. It looks epic.IMG_0525Pete put up our eclectic taste in light fittings including the legendary neon and Justin had the unenviable task of putting up tiles in a herringbone pattern. All these lovely men came to us via              http://www.superfit.uk.com/IMG_0527

They did a brilliant job.

 

Its lovely to see their hard work and our ideas in a magazine, thanks to Cornwall Today for taking an interest in our project.