Summer 2021 at Melody Art Gallery will feature paintings by Melody, photography by David. Also featuring guitar music by Simon who will be playing on Saturdays during the summer. Melody will be painting in her studio which will also be open, her studio is close by to the gallery.
The gallery is situated in Porlock, a lovely working village in the heart of Exmoor National Park. This is a beautifully inspirational place for an artist and a lovely holiday destination. Exmoor National Park has abundant wildlife, is one of the only parks that extends down to the sea and is at the start of the South West Coast Path.
The gallery will be open on Saturdays and at other times we are available to meet you or by appointment in our studio / gallery. We can be contacted via email. Melody paints a variety of subjects which you can view on our website. We have many original paintings some of which are on the website and are added as time permits. We also offer Giclée prints on paper or canvas of many of Melody’s paintings. All pictures can be shipped within mainland UK at not cost, other locations are charged at cost price.
We do look forward to welcoming you to Porlock and hope that the paintings and photographs give you a glimpse of this stunning location.
Porlock, like everywhere in England has suffered a year of lockdowns due to COVID. The good news is that the villagers have got together to form a recovery group to help encourage people back into this beautiful part of Exmoor National Park. This is popup Saturday 1, subsequent popups will be held on the first Saturday of the month through to the autumn. My part in this is to photograph and video the events and hopefully if you are reading this encourage you to come along.
The first video leads us nicely into the flavour of the events, a bit of fun while supporting the local shops and businesses who have struggled and survived lockdown. The stalls, although not local traders are bringing a bit of something different to Porlock without directly competing with the shops.
Sarah Shorten is the founder of “Stacked Wonky”, more in future videos but in brief a theatrical group working in the community with children and many of the musicians in this blog. Sarah has been leading the work on this initiative, one of several to promote the village. Here she gives a brief summary of what she has been doing.
Apple juice, a model of a shepherds hut or even a full size shepherds hut and how about a bit of Accordion music to go with it.
Duncan McCanlis, chairman of Porlock recovery group shares his view of what he would like to achieve on behalf of the village.
Danny runs Freecycle in Porlock and tells us of his heart for the environment and how he can help the village achieve a greener footprint.
Good Vibe Veg, get involved grow vegetables and share the workload with others.
I started my journey in Giclée printing when Melody and I formed Melody Art in 2003. At that time the process was relatively new and it was quite rare for an artist to self publish using this form of printing, researching techniques and obtaining materials was much more difficult. Now the technique is known and used by many artists.
So what is a Giclee print
We see many prints, allegedly Giclée prints, but it is a case of buyer be ware. Having an inkjet printer and sticking in a bit of copy paper does not produce a Giclée print. Firstly the printer is an inkjet printer like many everyday printers, the difference starts with the quality of the inks and papers used. The full definition of the process is covered by The Fine Art Trade Guild, although we are no longer members we do follow the guidelines they publish.
For me the process starts when the image is captured, I scan all our paintings, cameras were not sufficiently accurate back in 2003 and I still have issues with taking photographs of art work. Part of the scanning process is to produce an image that is colour calibrated and can be sent to a printer to produce consistent results.
The next stage is to have a printer that can accept colour profile information from Photoshop or any other high quality image package, and can also accept profile information relating to the paper or canvas being used. Our printers have always used pigment inks although dye based inks are used by some printers. Printers have changed over the years, the Canon printer I use has 12 colours, my previous printer had 7, both produced consistent prints with colours almost identical to the original.
The next choice is the paper or canvas type. I have for many years used Hahnemuhle papers, they have always been expensive but since Brexit have become even more expensive. There are now many sources of papers and canvas and it is worth looking at samples and choosing a surface that suits your particular style, we use etching paper and a matt canvas. The paper as defined in the process should be of a particular weight, off the top of my head the paper we use is about 200gsm (grams per square metre) and the canvas is 340gsm. In addition the papers are coated so that the ink is not absorbed into the paper. Should you try printing on ordinary copy paper you may be able turn up saturation on the colours to approach something like the original, but in truth the paper will be absorbing much of the ink and will be muting those colours.
The papers should be supplied with their own colour profiles ensuring that the print looks the same from one paper to the next, alternately one can have custom profiles produced that take into account the idiosyncrasies of your own printer.
The print shown in the video is “Purple Headed Mountain” and is a limited edition print of one of Melody’s paintings. The painting is of Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in Exmoor National Park, and was painted when the hill was covered in heather and gorse.
In part 2 I’m going to be looking at stretching a canvas and producing a picture ready to hang.
A drive from Porlock up the scenic woodland toll road to the AA box at the top. This is a beautiful landmark route on Exmoor National Park, a must do while visiting. Built to provide work for soldiers returning from the Napoleonic war of 1840 and also to provide an easier route up Porlock Hill, the steepest A road in England. This is the journey up the hill, but don’t miss the journey down which is perhaps even better. The road is just over 4 miles long from Porlock and is used by walkers, runners, cyclists, it is closed occasionally as a rally stage and sometimes for vintage cars.
Two photos from our time exploring The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Taken at different times, but that is what is special about revisiting a location, it is almost new but each visit seems to make more and new connections and memories.
The first photo is of the gardeners office, in itself I may not have taken this although I am glad I did. This is a photo with a story and a very strong emotional connection. Towards the end of our stay I had half a day to wander the gardens on my own, in truth I find it very difficult to take photos with Melody or Monet following, I just don’t focus, ha! ha! couldn’t resist that.
At the time of this visit they were celebrating the First World War and the staff who had gone to fight and give their lives. As I arrived at the gardener’s office I found a large photograph outside with a write up of why this was there. The photo had belonged to the elder brother and had been on his wall until his death, he had survived the whole of the war and beyond, but his younger brother had not been so fortunate.
The photo and write up described how the younger brother arrived towards the end of the war and was a picture of him dressed in uniform and ready to depart. This young man, to the best of my memory, was under 5 feet tall, he had a back pack that would have weighed over 80 pounds and a rifle with bayonet attached that was so much taller than him that it was almost comical. He didn’t survive long and was never found.
So, as I entered the gardener’s office I was quite emotional, brought up on stories of the war that my grandfather told me. Perhaps it is a good thing to connect with a subject, not that you would have guessed the story from this photo.
My other photo is close to this and I am trying to remember if it is the outside of the office, but I am not sure, I think not. We do love visiting Heligan, it is such an inspirational place and draws you in, as an engineer I love the Victorian ingenuity, no electric heaters or other modern answers, theirs were simple yet brilliant.
Well usually we have our caravan, what luxury, as comfortable as home maybe even better. This year I had asked for a tent for my birthday, why, I almost shout at myself, well I have found that I want to get places to take photos but it is just too far to travel for a sunrise or sunset.
The caravan is great and would be my first choice, but you can’t tow a caravan into the middle of Exmoor, so a tent seemed to be the answer.
So late October and I decide that if I am going to try it out this year then now is the time. On a lovely day I set out to Wimbleball Lake. It takes a while to translate the minimal instructions but eventually the tent is up and looking good.
Let me suggest to anyone thinking of using a tent for the first time in years, they re not naturally warm, I woke a few times in the night realising how cold it was. Surviving until the morning and emerging from my tent I realised how cold it had been as the ground was white with frost and the tent was covered in ice.
At least it got me up early and I watched the sun rising over the misty lake, it was spectacular and it is in those moments that the effort is worthwhile, of all the things I see or watch on television this was a moment that I could easily have missed and yet here I was watching my own personal show.
Later on I walked around the lake and that is when I found the canoe sitting under a tree surrounded by autumn leaves. I was an interesting walk, the lake which was formed as a reservoir during the 1970s was very empty with one section being almost completely empty. I didn’t manage a full circuit, it is probably about 10 miles, partly because I stopped and took photos on the way and just enjoyed the day. I did make it to the dam, to be honest it wasn’t the most scenic dam I have seen, but the lake was lovely and except for a few walkers and a group of fishermen I had it nearly to myself.
I must remember this day when I next plan a stay in my tent, it was certainly worth a bit of discomfort and I got two photos that I have now printed and framed. Some days out, even if well planed, end up with none, so this was good.
As this is a few days before Christmas, may I wish anyone who reads this a happy Christmas and new year.
Remembrance Sunday, 11th November at 18.30, Porlock led by our Town Crier Grant Dennis joined with 1000 other communities to commemorate this notable day. Follow Town Crier link to see the full programme planned for that evening. A lot had gone on in the day and Melody was back out ringing the church bells, along with many other churches and cathedrals around the country.
To continue the remembrance I have included some more of the songs recorded by the war blinded veterans of St Dunstan’s, now Blind Veterans UK. These were recorded for Melody in 1985 when she worked with these veterans of The First World War and Second World War.
If you would like to donate to St Dunstan’s please follow this link to – Blind Veterans UK where you will find a DONATE button at the top of the page.
Starting Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th October in Porlock Village Hall at 7:30pm.
Last night I got a sneak preview, I was taking photos at the first dress rehearsal, it is the first time I have done anything like this and it comes with a few challenges.
Firstly the show was very good, so much so that I am going on Friday with Melody and some friends, I am looking forward to being off duty and able to relax and enjoy the performances.
This is what Porlock Visitor Centre has published about the show.
Porlock Pantomime & Drama Society present: SHOWTIME, an evening of well known songs from a range of genres including Musical Theatre, Movie Sound Tracks, Country, 60s Pop, Mowtown and much loved ABBA. Bistro style seating. Tickets available from: Porlock Home & Hardware; Toucan Wholefoods, Minehead or www.wegottickets.com/porlockdrama
Time: 7.30pm; Bar available from 7pm Venue: Porlock Village Hall Price: £8
I think it should be Motown, but perhaps this is a cut above the rest.
My first thoughts for taking photos was that the spotlights would be great, and I would not need a flash. In fact, I haven’t got a flash that would have lit the stage sufficiently, but the spotlights caused their own problems and my first shots were failures, thank goodness for digital, in the old days I wouldn’t have known until they came back from processing or in the dark room.
A lot of the cast were dressed in black with black stage and silver backdrop, the only white was the faces, the metering didn’t stand a chance, so the first shots were bright white blobs on black suits. A bit of compensation and constantly being aware of the different costumes and that low angles really didn’t work and finally a bit of post processing that I hope has dealt with those issues. Anyway, if you come along you will find that the wonderful thing about eyes is that designed long before the digital age they perform so much better.
I’m looking forward to the performance, do come along.
Another year photographing and enjoying Porlock Carnival. I have photographed the carnival most years since we have lived here, sometimes I have been the official photographer and some like this I have just done it to help promote the village. Do look at our FacebookPage for post event photos and pre event photos for next year, God willing that I am still here to do them.
Porlock is a lovely village, that puts on so many events, just too many to mention, but some have and will feature in blogs for the future. What is surprising is the number of things that go on for a relatively small village, groups are formed, and hard work begins, often one just sees the end result and doesn’t think of those we may never see who have beavered away all year, well done and thank you from me. If I had royal connections I could recommend them for medals, perhaps the village should have it’s own, MPV Member Of Porlock Village, but I think it my have already been used for Multi Purpose Vehicle but then again I am sure that is an appropriate title as well.
At the moment the village is prepared, bunting and flags are up, and finishing touches are being made to costumes and floats, judges have been hand picked for their eye for detail and integrity, the competition is stiff and all has to be impartial.
Today is the day, and what a great day, the sun is shining it is warm, everything is perfect. Of course some years aren’t perfect, we all look at the sky consult the weather forecast, as if that is in some way a god, and hope for a brief moment when all will be well. Surprisingly, over the years it has been, but of course visitors have already decided to flop in front of the television or some other excuse rather than risk a sudden downpour. I wonder whether I will need more than a tee-shirt, but I don’t it is really warm, the sun shines until the last moments when I adjust the camera for the changing light.
I start taking photos in the car park where everything is coming together, the floats the walking participants, there is an air of excitement and a few drinks. It is a good place to start except the backdrop, but it is easier to interact, I am sure some of these people know me, but often I haven’t a clue as to who they are. I find in such events I am almost single minded, everything is shut out and I have my left eye scanning for the next shot while my right eye is glued to the viewfinder. Perhaps the camera is getting old, in modern technology terms it is ancient, but for the first time I realise I am missing shots as it is taking too long to focus and adjust, oh well.
Moving up to the street I look for opportunities and move up and down the High Street, any other time I would feel self-conscious, but today as I said I am totally focused on the event and pay no attention to the surroundings.
My favourite floats were the Royal Wedding, I am sure the mums just saw it as a chance to get dolled up, and why not, the children were fantastic in their smart clothes and I am pleased with the photos of them.
Also I liked the circus, they maintained such a level of energy throughout, I loved the bright colours and the action.
I did like the zombies, again it was their energy and interaction with the crowd, I have no idea who they were or why they chose the subject, it was a little gruesome for me, a bit too realistic, not that I have any experience in these things, in fact I never watch anything like that in case I can’t get to sleep!!
I get to the end, very tired, it takes a lot of energy to concentrate on the action, I hope I have some good photos and will be spending the evening getting them ready for Facebook.
Just managed to post to Facebook before the end of the day, quite pleased as all the photos are straight from the camera, I am sure some could be enhanced with a bit of work, but that would drag things out and miss the moment. As I take a look this morning I can say that I am pleased with the photos, I hope they get shared and appreciated by all involved.
Did you see Ed Sheeran on television speaking about the arts in schools? What a breath of fresh air to see someone who gets it, who has some understanding of how art benefits the country financially, culturally and humanly.
Let me explain my background and how I arrived at similar views.
In my teens I trained as an engineer, later for my career becoming a telecoms engineer. When I was at college I would look at the art students and would think what a waste of money, why not close it down and spend the money on important manufacturing and engineering works, something that would benefit the country.
Of course, I have come to understand that this was a very narrow view, but never the less some 40 years later a very popular view among our politicians.
Meeting Melody when I was just 40 has changed my view and given me different insight into the hidden values of art. Ed Sheeran also spoke of the financial returns that art brings to the country, I am somewhat aware of this, but it is not my main concern, it would be interesting to know what the financial benefits are, but not today.
So, what have I seen over my years as a photographer and supporter to Melody? What I have noted that in general terms when I met people as an engineer I would talk about things, problems and solutions. We did not enter other areas, who are you, what do you think, how do you feel and so on, these are still areas new to me and still somewhat out of my comfort zone.
What I noticed when I have worked in our gallery or studio is how different the conversations are. These may be the same people I have encountered in a work environment, but now we are somewhere else, something else is going on and someone I have never known is emerging.
Quite often I have seen people suddenly overcome by emotion, tears appear and somehow or another a few colours on a canvas have connected with their subconscious to expose and perhaps bring healing to troubles and difficulties. I keep thinking of things as I write this and I am reminded how we were approached by a local hospital to supply art, this wasn’t just to make the place pretty, this was the stroke and dementia ward and studies had shown how important colour is in aiding recovery and healing in these circumstances.
So, what are my thoughts in this? In very simplistic way I think it is how the brain works, we can view the brain as being two parts, the dominant side which is our day to day and the artistic side, which I think for many if not most is the less dominant. I am still an engineer and I think things through simplistically, but it seems to describe what I have experienced.
In our day to day we deal with pressure, life, problems, we get up and go to work and it seems our society leaves little space for the artistic and yet to do so leaves us unbalanced measuring ourselves and society against a distorted set of values. Perhaps there are a lot of issues in this that need exploring, one sees people struggling with stress making ends meet, they are doing all that society demands but never achieve a sense of peace or happiness.
Yesterday I had a funny conversation with Melody, I asked her what she would want to happen if I came home and found a box too big for her to move at the bottom of the stairs. Her reply is still causing me difficulties to comprehend, she said she was more interested in me being empathic than in getting the box to the top of the stairs. Of course, my engineering thought is that we need to get the box up the stairs and solve the problem. Later when she came back in the car with the seat belt not working, we both sat and cried, and I told her how I understood the upset and emotion that this caused when she couldn’t take her mum shopping, she loved it, repairing it was incidental, but it did allow her to go shopping with her mum, Melody wanted me to add that I have embellished this a little we didn’t really cry, well she didn’t.
In another anecdotal way I see it that we are a society that has focused on exercising our right legs while neglecting our left, our society wanders around with a limp always going in circles. So, like Ed Sheeran I wonder if it is possible for our politicians to get out of the materialistic circle they are forcing us into and to realise that life is about more than this, it is about our care for the society we live and for each other, about service and not just profit about the person and our humanity.
My daughter who did teacher training in Sheffield described how a lesson consisted of 55 minutes of crowd control and 5 minutes of teaching, except when she introduced some element of art when the class would become manageable, surely this must be well known and worth consideration.
So, I do hope his voice is heard and I do hope other artists join in speaking in support of what he has said, and all this comes from a reformed engineer.
Not entirely randomly I have included pictures of bridges, Pink Tarr Steps an ancient clapper bridge on Exmoor, Landachre Bridge a lovely sweeping bridge, both of these by Melody and finally Relax At Withypool Bridge a black and white photograph by me. All three are bridges over The River Barle and are within a few miles of each other. I thought mixing pictures by Melody in her colourful arty style and a b&w photo by me in my engineering style symbolised the connection of two sides of the river, the arts and the material world and perhaps they can be linked.