I thought I would write a little about the historic mill where my studio is situated, Higherford Mill, Barrowford, Lancashire. Whilst once of a day workers in the mill would toil away at the cotton looms, now they toil away creating various works of art.
Higherford Mill was built by a wealthy local man, Mr Christopher Grimshaw in 1824. It was designed as a water powered cotton spinning then weaving Mill. It suffered a bad fire a few years after it was built and was partly remodelled . In 1932 it had steam power installed to supplement the water wheel to improve power to drive the looms.
This combination of water and steam power in the Mill was quite rare and helped to secure its future when after the looms finished working in 1971 it later became due for demolition.
The Heritage Trust for the North West, and local support managed to secure funding for the future of the mill and they acquired it in 1999. Future successful funding bids, enabled the building to slowly become a space for creative industries.
Today there are over 20 units and a central atrium, where exhibitions and events are held on a regular basis. I am tucked away on the first floor of the Mill and have a lovely view over the river. Standing outside the building looking up Pendle Water we can see the picturesque medieval pack horse bridge and the seventeenth century cottages along side it.
Looking up Pendle Water from outside the mill
If it is a nice day I walk along the river by the old water races that fed the water wheel, there are sometimes Dippers in the water and if you are lucky a Kingfisher. Its a lovely place to get inspiration for my bird art and reminds me how lucky I am to be so close to the countryside.
If you would like to find out more about the artists and future events at Higherford Mill please visit its facebook page here or blog page here
A few weeks ago I was approached by an American lady asking if I could make her the American version of the UK Kingfisher. The Belted Kingfisher is a similar shape to ours but with slate grey markings on its back rather than the azure blue, and a white front and white band around its neck., the name I think must come from the blue or white band around its neck. Other than the different apparent markings, behaviour and habitat of the bird seems pretty similiar to the UK one, living next to rivers and lakes.
I was happy to oblige as I love creating new birds, and the Belted Kingfisher is a stunning one. I chose to make the female, as it is more colourful than the male with rusty markings on its under chest. As I get a lot of viewers to my Etsy shop I wondered if it may be wise to add more US birds in the future, apparently a lot of states have a bird as their emblem.
Although I love the birds I see locally, some of the US birds are truly awesome, the colours are so much more colourful than ours generally I think. But we have enough here to keep me busy, I want to do the green and great spotted woodpeckers next which have lovely plumage.
Anyway all went well, and the Belted Kingfisher is winging its way across the Atlantic Ocean probably as we speak. I will be taking further orders on it in the future, it takes a couple of weeks to make, on and off.
Here are some pics of work in progress and the finished item.
The finished article..