The first time I went to Cutt Mill was in 1995. I was a Social Worker based in Sturminster Newton. The job was difficult and occasionally when things got too much I would find myself at the Mill for a while to stop and reflect. I had moved to Dorset from the East London/Essex borders and the contrast between these two environments was dramatic.
I returned to the Mill last summer, after a break of almost 15 years. Again I was struck by the beauty of the place and, to my eye, the ruined aspect of the building was as appealing as the more complete walls that sit on the edge of the river.
I have spent many hours at the mill painting for this exhibition. Some days I would see nobody and I liked that. Other times there would be a steady stream of people passing through, fishing or paddling and I liked that too. A lovely conversation was with a young girl who added a little bit of paint to my picture – turned out her name was Zara, she was 5 and wanted to be an artist.
I have thought a lot about the story of the place – its theatre like presence. So much has happened here. So many lives have been touched by Cutt Mill for hundreds of years. As I have been painting I have experienced sadness, joy and endless inspiration.