I’ve Been To A Marvellous Party…

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Actually, it wasn’t a party it was a funeral in celebration and remembrance of the Artist Jemma De Vere Cole aka Jemma Dorella Tetley, an altogether heart achingly beautiful and deeply sad affair which reflected the life of a wonderful, funny, passionate and loving woman whose own life touched the lives of so many and which the packed church stood testament to.

You can view her self portraits and other works here:


Jemma’s heritage is colourful, old and rich with history as her surname hints at but none of that history, eccentricity or ‘colour’ could hold a candle to the reality of Jemma; she loved, she never judged, she took everyone as she found them without pretension, she waded onwards throughout the tough times and delighted in the good times with a refreshing innocence of purpose. Jemma was not a woman with hidden agenda’s, art was her mistress but not her queen and her feet were very firmly planted in the real world; she was a mother, a sister, a daughter, she worked at the hospital, she was a carer… many things to many people. She moved in many circles but danced always to her own tune.

Her paintings are lovely; vibrant, sensitive, perceptive.  At forty nine years of age Jemma has left the party far too soon. I know her sons, Lucas, Elliot and Jo-Jo will feel the reverberation of that vibrancy and the empty space with the same passion and emotion that Jemma relished on her daily life. I know her family too, will struggle to overcome her absence.

Today we heard from family and friends, who celebrated the essence of Jemma in poetry, music and song, their voices quavering their loss. I loved Lucas’s poem “…Mum, you are fading away… ‘I can’t believe this is happening’, we say and out of the cloying fog of confusion, a brief moment of clarity as you tell us, ‘neither can I….”

I smiled as Dudley Sutton painted his own picture of Jemma in our minds, his broad brush strokes stitching together memories and epitaphs and I wept as Bill Benham (violin) and  David Power (piano) played Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part eloquently mirrored by Canon Jeremy Davies ‘Homily’.

Later, standing in our small town Market Square today, on the steps of our Guildhall raising our glasses and crying out “thank you Jemma!” as the Hearse edged back out into the afternoon traffic I was reminded that life, the flow of the universe – finds the strangest ways to remind us of what matters.

I have a framed newspaper cutting in my loo, a picture of Dee (Jemma’s mother Diana) and my mother dressed as agricultural labourers for a promenade theatre performance of ‘Larkrise to Candleford’ staged at Salisbury Arts Centre (St Edmunds Church as was) along a Yew-lined path in a momentary shaft of golden sunlight, looking like something straight out of the eighteenth century not the 1980s as it was. My mother also died from cancer. But that picture reminds me that no matter what suits we choose to dress ourselves in, we are all the same underneath. Life is theatre, Jemma knew that and rejoiced in both the costumes and the people underneath them. That is what matters. People. Love. Joy.

Post Script

Two things:

It was remiss of me not to also include this link to Salisbury Hospice, whom support people and their families at challenging times in the process of medical intervention http://www.salisburyhospicecharity.org.uk/ the concept of ‘Hospice’ goes back to the fourth century when Christian orders welcomed travellers, pilgrims and those in need. It remains a valued and much needed service in all communities. Every age has had it’s ‘cancer’ – human nature has proved that despite our ability to empower ourselves we will always fail to eradicate ill health throughout the world, through our own greed and weaknesses “Man’s inhumanity to Man”. A place where the weary and terminally ill can seek respite and comfort deserves our support.

Also, I forget that sometimes people I don’t know read my posts – I was thinking about the tendency we have to really ‘beef’ up peoples good traits at funerals – to set them on pedestals which they may not have enjoyed in their daily lives. That is perhaps, part of the point of ‘celebrating’ a persons life, to focus on their best characteristics and achievements. I wasn’t a close friend of Jemma’s, I knew her all too briefly in the greater scheme of things, our lives bumped into one anothers every now and again but she came and went with all the vibrancy and impact I have described in my post. Someone said, during the service that she was always at the centre of any party, that is generally true but not in my experience in any attention seeking way but  through sheer vitality and integrity, with a genuine interest in people and experience.


Artist Pondering Art: Portrait of @LloydDavis

Social Artist and Creative Collaborator Lloyd Davis studies Ben Dearnley’s sculpture of a torso holding a fencing foil (based on Olympian Alex O’Connell who competed with the GB fencing team in 2008)  as part of  ‘Avenue of Champions’ exhibition hosted by Salisbury Cathedral

According to the artist (whose Dad was once Director of Music at the Cathedral)  “My work here is an exploration into the world of some of the UK’s top Olympic and Paralympics athletes. I wanted to create a series of sculptures which honour and celebrate their achievements and reflect their individual commitment and excellence within their sport. The sculptures hold something of the power zone of each individual athlete, which I see as pivotal to them being the best in the world at what they do. As such each work is a collaboration between athlete and sculptor, understanding their body’s action and capturing the ‘moment’ in a fragmented form.”

I wonder how Ben feels about the fact that there is an incongrous lump of ‘blue tack’ on the end of the fencing foil? (Oh and the typo under the Oscar Pistorius  bronze)


Although each torso was beautifully cast, and each cast a different hue or metal content, for me they were ultimately torsos and could have belonged to anyone. Of all the pieces, the only one that had any significance or meaning in terms of ‘champions’ and ‘olympic’ was the piece based on Lee Pearson, three times ‘Dressage’ Olympian which was a two sided, stone sculpture and an immensley provoking piece, conveying to me not only the power, the relationship between human and horse but also what it is that a paralympian, through their training, committment and focus might experience when working with horses.   A shared sense of partnership, reliance, strength and control.


Turner Contemporary – a visit

interpretation, or maybe the concept of ‘Nothing in the World but Youth’ got lost in the focus of getting the gallery up and running but somehow there was a more adult voice present in the galleries and it felt like a long way to travel for such confusion. But it wont stop me returning, and all I can say is, if you’re travelling to Margate take some time to sit and watch the light dance on the sea and explore Margate and see it for what it is. Margate is a salutory lesson for us all, a once vibrant seaside town where people went to laugh and dance and play on the sands, home of ‘Dreamland’. a place where the Rolling Stones had the red carpet rolled out for them in the local guest houses and Clubs and actors swarmed to perform in its theatre venues for summer seasons. Drink it in, the juxtaposition of the Turner Contemporary hulking by the harbour and the decay and decline of a town that should be a jewel in the crown of our seaside resorts but isn’t. I’m not sure the TC can solely bring about a revival but it’s a start.

Who’s your Muse?

Who inspired you to do something? Who inspires you to do what you’re doing? Who’s your Muse and why? Give it some thought.

I’ve been reading Lloyd Davis’s ‘Tuttle Report’ social media meet-up/network/idea’s factory which is transforming how people work, create and instigate business partnerships and ventures via the framework of social media. The Tuttle Report is an open and frank revisit of how Tuttle began from meetings in a church hall to a room above a pub to Friday meet-ups at the ICA and a venture that is growing and travelling overseas and across the country. Which started me thinking about people who motivate others, who give them that push to move ideas off the paper and into being. Artists often speak of their ‘muse’ and it’s often not a person but an intangible spirit of creativity, although it might have been a teacher, a loved one, a friend who got them going? It may have been a stranger, someone met in passing, an author of a book? In mythology there were three then eventually nine Muses. There is often more than one person who inspires us although we tend to simplify it down to one.

I get inspired by all kinds of people that I come across both virtually and in reality. Recently I came across Eyton J. Shalom’s site on Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com his site is ‘Mangos by Telepathy’ which is a feast of beautiful poetry that is so descriptive that when he mentions rain you can almost hear it falling on some imaginary tin roof above you. He also features gorgeous photos and images. I’ve had some brief conversations with Eyton via facebook and discover he lives in America on the edge of a desert,  was a monk and has a sister living in the Lake District. We talked about the act of writing poetry and baring your innermost soul to strangers by posting your work on the internet. A new Muse?

I ‘follow’ artist and maker Dan Thompson on Twitter. Dan is based in Worthing and buzzes around organising events and workshops and keeping Worthing on the creative ‘front foot’.  He has been experimenting with the ’empty shops movement’. I have no doubt Dan motivates and inspires others you can check out some of his activity here at Artists and Makers, you could even join the movement.

Do you have a Muse? I’d like to hear about it. No really I would. I’m interested in what makes us such a rich and diverse world, what drives our culture our art our ability to achieve such amazing feats in all things, not just art. Why not give them a virtual handshake and shout them out on twitter using the  hashtag #MyMuse or leave a comment here. Who’s your Muse…?