Monday, 19 March 2012

Wund and Witherimg

This month I have mostly been involved with windmills”, as Jessie from the Fast Show would say. Worryingly, I’m also starting to look loike ‘im since becoming godparent to a fine pair of sows!
Windmills have been in the news quite a bit recently, both locally and nationally. The great debate has started here as scenic parts of Leicestershire become earmarked for these monsters. Now I’m all for conservation of resources, but these devices definitely fly in the face of common sense. A recent survey by the carbon trust demonstrated that they‘re delivering well below what was promised, and to cap it all, they’re spoiling my view!! This has been further reinforced by pictures in today's rag of acres of derilict and abandoned windmills in America and Hamaii that were the legacy of a drive for alternative energy after the oil crisis in the 1980's. massive federal state subsidies meant that investors could recoup 50% of their investment instantly. Along the way, rare bird migration routes have been interfered with killing thousands of them.
As an artist I can appreciate the aesthetic aerodynamic of these things, but as in painting, too much repetition can be boring. So acres of identical objects make it hard to find a focal point!
At least our ancestors had the creative genius to erect fewer mills that had enough capacity to feed several communities or drain entire dykes, the modern ones can barely boil a kettle! Perhaps the Martians were trying to tell us something when they knocked that turbine over in Lincolnshire…
The advantage of fewer mills is that they will happily form a focal point for a painting. I’ve lost count of the number of versions of Cley mill I’ve produced.
I’ve noticed that whenever I take a group in Norfolk, everyone wants to paint a windmill. However, once presented with the subject, the sails inevitably present a painting problem. Intrigued, I asked friends with no painting experience to draw a mill from memory. I was amazed at how similar all the drawings were, usually a front view with equally spaced sails, a door and two windows like an eyes and mouth..try it out yourself. As usual, it’s this pre knowledge that tends to interfere with what we see.

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