The things we lost in the fire


It’s that time of year, it is cold, it is icy. We retreat inwards. Many people I have spoken to of late seem to be struggling with the tests that life brings. If we compare the seasons to the life cycle then this is the season of death. The trees have now finally lost their leaves. There has been a sparkly ice coating over everything and snow in some places. We light candles, people stay warm by the fire. Fire. The element of comfort and destruction. Last night the fire raged havoc over Damside Mill.

“Damside Mill is a furniture workshop,studio and gallery in Haworth. The last working part of the old Lees Mill, it has been brought back to life by Anthony and the Damside team as a place where high quality designer furniture is created, while upholstery and furnishing courses are run in the studio, with an evolving programme of contemporary art and design in the gallery. It is a growing marketing platform for associated artists to promote and sell their work, and just a great place to visit in Haworth.”

Anthony Hartley  and his partner Nel and the rest of the team had spent vast quantities of time, effort and finances developing the Mill, finally reaching an opening earlier in the year which I blogged about. This morning it stood charred with the internal damage the heat from the fire. In stark contrast to the cool and icy hills of Haworth behind it.

Most importantly no one was inside, so no one was hurt and ultimately that is the most important thing. However, all that effort, hard work has been turned to ash. Equipment has been damaged and a large skip has already been filled with the debris. A deathly and destructive force has swept through and taken everything.

It isn’t the first time we have lost work. We moved house and successfully moved a huge amount of clay sculptures. Then one evening we heard an almighty crash and the table which we had placed them all on broke and not one of them was left in tact. Today, my husband was unable to see the full extent of the damage as it was dark and they were all tinged shades of grey. They are not totally lost.

The ice will melt, the leaves will  grow back and spring follows and brings with it new hope, new creativity, new life. There is always someone else suffering, working through hardship, grieving a loss. Our perspective, attitude and outlook all greatly determine how we deal with the challenges life throws at us. I can easily go down the pessimistic, negative view-point. It is always in situations like this when I am not directly effected that I learn that others have such courage and strength. My Husband is always uncharacteristically calm and measured in these moments, he is very accepting of his fate, when situations are beyond his control. Nothing is lost. Courage and strength can overcome. Buildings, material objects, money can all be re-done, re-made, re-worked. Nobody was lost in the fire.

‘ My husband and sculptures in Damside Mill'

‘ My husband and sculptures in Damside Mill’