I am currently making new works, inspired by and in response to my work with community groups and volunteers at Heckington and Moulton windmills over the last 6 months.
At Heckington Mill
I have been struck by the huge part a Miller once played in our lives, how his (or her) relationship with nature and the amazing engineering of the Mill put food on our tables through hard graft. To me, Millers and the people who work just as hard as them today to bring field to fork are unsung heroes; where would we be without them? I hope that my visual representations and homage to the Millers provides food for thought!
At Moulton Mill
Connecting to the abundance of Moulton Mill’s social history is easy, from the workers’ graffiti on the walls, to the photo of the old Corn Exchange where the worlds of millers, farmers and merchants came together. I have discovered stories that bring the history of field to fork to life, that reveal to me the rich fabric of the land and the part that Mills played in creating it.
National Mills Weekend runs every year. It has been organised by the SPAB (the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) and is part of a Europe-wide festival of milling heritage during May. Lots of Mills will be opening their doors.
It would be great to see you at either or both of the Mills. Entrance to the exhibitions is free.
Heckington Mill will be open from 12 noon to 5 pm each day.
Moulton Mill will be open from 10 am to 4 pm each day.
Inspired by the Pocklington family portraits, visitors to our Mother’s Day event last Sunday had the opportunity to dress up and pose like the Pocklington’s did about 100 years ago. The Pocklingtons owned, lived and worked at the Mill. For more information about what life was like for them, please visit the Mill’s website.
Moulton Girl Guides present Since Sliced Bread at Moulton Windmill. I have been running creative workshops with the Guides for a couple of months and March 8th will be delivered by the Guides themselves…..they will be sharing what we have been doing by running some exciting Mill inspired art activities and photography workshops . The afternoon is free and suitable for all ages and abilities.
An exhibition of the Guide’s Since Sliced Bread artworks will also be on display.
It is surprising me how many everyday sayings and phrases seem to have originated from the Mills or are related to working life when Mill’s were a necessary and central part of communities. As Since Sliced Bread is evolving, people are reminding me of all sorts of sayings and wise words that we no longer use.
As a visual artist, I have a strange relationship with words! On the one hand, I agree with the late painter Edward Hopper “If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”In other words, a picture can paint a thousand words so why do we bother with words at all?! On the other hand, words can be beautiful, empowering and sometimes the only way to communicate. The Since Sliced Bread collection of phrases and sayings is growing, it will be interesting to see what the overall ‘picture’ of those tells us about the past and present.
There are two schools of thought as to the origins of “Keep your nose to the Grindstone”. Was it a term used by Millers to smell the stones – checking that the grinding process wasn’t overheating? Or did it refer to the position knife grinders adopted (with noses right next to stones) to sharpen their blades? Either way, there is evidence that the term was used as early as the 16th Century. Serving as a reminder that it is thought that windmills have been operational in the UK since the 13th century and for much longer in the rest of the world.
Today, we tend to use the term to indicate that we are working hard, with focus and determination – to get a job done.
I love technology, innovation and good design; design that solves a problem or improves the way we live. The fact that there is currently a revival in using Mills to create a good quality staple food is testament the great design and engineering features. Somebody had his or her nose to the grindstone!
Heckington Mill‘s manager Jim Bailey took me to the top (called the cap) of the Mill last week where I discovered that a mill needs lots of TLC and the mechanics haven’t really changed for hundreds of years. What struck me as amazing was that wind alone can drive the movement of those heavy cogs! I guess that is why I’m an artist and not an engineer! The other thing that blows my mind ( I can’t help a pun!) is that the cap itself is not fixed onto the tower, it is free to move with the wind.
A visit to Heckington Windmill is always enlightening and this week I found out (from the very knowledgeable and helpful) Jim that millstones are carved according to a pattern. And that the grooves on the surface are called furrows and the flat areas are called lands. There used to be millstone pattern makers and here is an example of a pattern made in a rubber-like material. Mmm, I wonder if that would work for lino-cut printing? Only one way to find out!
The more I learn about Mills and the processes involved, the more they just keep on supplying food for thought!
Our opening weekend at Heckington Mill was a joy and not just because of the cakes that emerged at Fay’s baking demo! Lots of people visited and had a go at the creative activities including Doh! Salt Dough creations as well as Bill and Ben the Flour Pots and Whispering on the Wind sail designs. It was a great way to start to get to know the local community as well as hear the sayings people use or value. Some visitors even invented their own proverbs/words of wisdom.
Thanks to all the volunteers at the Mill and especially to Finn for his support with the activities.
“The kids were completely enthralled……lovely to see the children’s imaginations at work……the dough activities upstairs were fabulous…..It was a very nice relaxed and easy-going environment for the kids to get stuck in and enjoy themselves……I would definitely look out for other events at the mill especially involving creative activities “.
We are all fond of certain phrases and sayings and use them automatically to express ourselves in day to day life. Yet few of us take time to think about the many secrets and insights to be revealed relating to the times, places and people that they came from.
‘SINCE SLICED BREAD’ will be giving local people a chance to spend time in fantastic heritage Windmills. It is an opportunity – open to everyone – to have some fun making new artworks as well as to connect to history through phrases, the Mills and bread! You can explore exciting art and photography techniques with some unusual materials, as well as to participate in discussions which will inspire new understandings of some of the things we say and local history.
‘SINCE SLICED BREAD’ will be taking place between October 2013 and December 2014 at various local mills including Heckington. I will use the workshops to provide further inspiration to create new artworks that will be exhibited at the Mills themselves and then later on at Ayscoughfee Hall and Boston College in Spalding.
“Heckington windmill are looking forward to hosting Fi and her Since Sliced Bread project. This will be something new for us, a chance to participate and show off our wonderful windmill and the 8 Sailed Brewery. To start the programme, Fi will be joining us on our Halloween weekend with some fun creative activities for all the family to join in with – bringing history alive through art”.