Sheila Jordan Mill Project

This mill has been in my husband’s family for generations, my father in law Arthur Boland being the last member of the family to run the mill.  He died in 1979 and I never met him.  The only photograph I have of him in the mill is the one of him dressing the stone.

Arthur Boland was by all account a Gentleman, a big man from the west of Ireland, a practical man with a great sense of humour who maintained the old way of milling for many years.  When I go into the mill now this image and description of the man and the mill stays with me and gives me a connection to the past and this now quiet building.  There is no longer evidence of the unique wholesome smell of crushed grain or the fine white dust of the ground meal.  The wheels no longer turn with a swish accompanied by a muffled clinking sound as metal hits metal and the rushing water pushes the paddles forward and upwards.  The water still rushes through the mill race, pheasants roam the fields calling for mates, an occasional fox tracks through the grass on cold frosty mornings.  Herons still carry out their lonely vigil on the weir and under the wheel, and the distant sound of church bells can still be heard as in times past.  The mill no longer operates but there are echos of the past and for me none more so than the giant grinding stones still in situ ready to begin again.  The marks made by Arthur remain on the stones, the tools he used to make those marks in the same place they have always been.

My work comes from an effort to somehow preserve some of this past.  The people have gone now, leaving their marks throughout the building in the carvings on the beams and the pillars, the repairs and patching to the floors, the tools and implements of work hanging on the walls and especially the marks on the stones.  I wanted to somehow capture these marks and be able to take them with me, to hold and cherish them.  The silver and copper discs have markings taken directly from those same grinding stones that for years were turned by the power of the Kings River, marks made by Arthur Boland and those who milled before him.

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