Preserve, Maintain and Keep are words I jotted down in response to the mill the first time I visited and these first impressions have led me in exploring the visual qualities of the space.
The mill has a distinct sense of history. While drawing, you can feel the sense of those that have been through its doors, those who have laboured, lived there and left their mark from generation to generation. They were local people, ancestors of whom live still live nearby.
The patching and piecing of the wooden floor in the upstairs rooms has really caught my imagination. I like the idea that the building has evolved and been altered by those who have passed through it. It makes me think of the tradition of Japanese Boro textiles which use and re-use garments over generations patching and piecing fabric scraps together to make new garments; by doing this people wear garments resulting from the work and activity of their ancestors, so preserving, maintaining and keeping their memory.
So I have begun with patching and piecing fabrics, papers, garments and found objects with the intention of capturing the industry and practicality of the people who worked, owned and kept the mill. I’m experimenting with embellishment, hand and machine stitching in the patched hangings. I’m enjoying the hand stitch. I think it fits with the feel of the mill and the tradition of “hands on” work.
The building is aging, decaying and silent but it is beautiful and intriguing and it poses more questions than it answers. I have a lot more work to do, I’m really only getting started!