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ragman

Mill Isle, Ireland

From Mill Isle, Ireland tradiional monochrome photographic artist specialises in abstract realism and the interplay of light and shade. ...

Why windmills make me wander (and wonder)

Molinos, Moulin, Windmills, this is just a little insight into why windmills make me wander (in my mind) and at the same time wonder. It has been for me a most wonderful wandering and an adventure and an affair. For me, windmills are about substance and structure, fantasy and culture, and in my way of viewing, alchemy and artistry a long way removed from the task of the daily grind.


Windmill Blades Shadows

I have always been fascinated in windmills, definitely a boy thing and up there with castles and lighthouses. So ever since I was a young boy and close to where I was holidaying at a seaside resort with a working windmill. Now fifty years later I live in a village that used to have several windmills but sadly no more.

Ballycopeland Windmill


Mill Shadows

One of the things I reckon that keeps me interested is what I call the dichotomy of sailing; whereby my image can recognise and separate two parts; the sails and the accompanying shadows.

The Dichotomy of Sailing
It is the shadows of windmills that have most encouraged my study of the interplay of light and shade that has expanded my dimensions within artwork.

The windmills have over time been preserved in literature, for example; Daudet’s Windmills, and Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and Man of La Mancha.

Tilting at Windmills

Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means attacking imaginary enemies, or fighting unwinnable or futile battles. The word “tilt”, in this context, comes from jousting.

The phrase is sometimes used to describe confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.

The phrase derives from an episode in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In the novel, Don Quixote fights windmills that he imagines to be giants. Quixote sees the windmill blades as the giant’s arms, for instance. Here is the relevant portion of the novel:

Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

“What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.
“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”

“Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.

Cervantes, a Spanish play writer, and the first novelist, that he called “novella”, as it was a brand new style, wrote Don Quixote in two parts, published respectively in 1605 and 1615, during a historical period known as the Golden Age. During this age, Spain pursued military conquests in parts of Europe and “discovered” America.

In La Mancha-Castilla, there are still some of the old windmills that Don Quixote found in his adventures; notably in Consuegra and Campo de Criptana.

And in song, the theme music to the film The Thomas Crown Affair;
Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel.
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turning
Running rings around the moon

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on it’s face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of it’s own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream.

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on it’s face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle your head
Why did summer go so quickly
Was it something that I said
Lovers walking allong the shore,
Leave their footprints in the sand
Was the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand

Pictures hanging in a hallway
And a fragment of this song
Half remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong
When you knew that it was over
Were you suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the colour of her hair

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
As the images unwind
Like the circle that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Pictures hanging in a hallway
And the fragment of this song
Half remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong
When you knew that it was over
Were you suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the colour of her hair

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Windmills of your mind

My pursuit of windmills has taken me from Ballycopeland Windmill in Millisle, County Down, Northern Ireland; to Skerries Mills in the South of Ireland; then further afield to Holland, France and Spain.
Skerries Mills 1

Although there are several forms the ones I prefer are the Spanish and Irish whitewashed walls type, for an obvious reason, that they produce shadows that provide me with a satisfying art-form, and emphasis the earlier-mentioned dichotomy.

Sails and Shadows
I am equally fascinated with the interiors as I am with the exterior, but not necessarily with the wonderful machinery, but rather the walls for here again I find lovely shadows, especially since they are shaped due to the curved walls, and have added much to my study of shadows.

Study of shadows


The hanging rope

Devil in disguise

The Ladder

Windmills images I find equally suitable for colour and monochrome

Mill window light


Ballycopeland Windmill Triptych

a-gripping-tale-of-a-tango Lanzarote

The shapes and patterns formed by the interplay of light and shade bring tremendous enjoyment to my study of shape and form making such a terrific monochrome impact.

The Raising Hook
The pure abstract form of black and white in windmills images is unmistakeable for my study of abstract realism.

Blades in Black and White

And so to my final image of this part, quality-wise perhaps the best, certainly providing generous oudes of impact.

I trust you have enjoyed these images, and I can assure they are plenty more to follow in a further part. Thanks for reading.

Ragman

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