tony donovan

Photographer
  
Congdon Sawmill,Visura/WP
Location: ivoryton, connecticut 06442
Nationality: usa
Biography:   Artist’s Statement     Photography in Ireland was my first work, made in a place called “Ardoyne”, a housing estate on a hillside in North Belfast.  Black and white film, Kodak Tri-X and a couple of... MORE
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Congdon Sawmill,Visura/WP
Copyright tony donovan 2022
Date of Work Sep 1973 - Ongoing
Updated Jul 2017
Topics Abstract, Aging, Agriculture, Black and White, Children, Documentary, Environment, Family, Forest, Industrial, Landscape, Photography, Portraiture, Sawmill

Synopsis:  Congdon Sawmill  for Visura/Washington Post  July 17 2017 

         I started taking pictures at the Congdon Sawmill in Lyme, CT in 1972 and have


continued photographing there ever since.  Central to my project are the portraits of


the woodsman Amos Congdon, a man I thought of as the spirit of the trees: sharpening


the mill saw, feeding his cattle, tallying trees in a woodlot.


         It's been a privilege to know Amos Congdon and record his picture for the


future.  He made such a perfect American image, plain and simple.  I knew when I


saw him how important his picture would be.  All my early Congdon work was done


with an handheld Leica, using 35mm black and white film.


         The project has gone on to include:  designs in the wood grain, pictures of the


clutter that lies around the place, this last group has a symbolic, magical quality


I enjoy.


Personal Statement:    Congdon Sawmill for Visura/Washington Post


         Amos Congdon passed away in 1992.


         In 1995 I started taking pictures of a log truck left to rust and fall apart at the


 edge  of the mill lot.  Using 35 mm color film, a Nikon N-90 on a tripod and having


the film scanned.  Different seasons of the year, all times of day.  Originally it had been 


a 2.5 ton US Army truck, built by Kaizer Jeep between 1962-1964 with a multifuel 146


hp engine.  (Multifuel, meaning the engine is built to run on many different types of


fuel.)  Joking, the Sawyer said there were tadpoles in the gas tank when he bought it and


still it started up for him.


         The hillside pasture was grown to weeds, an apple tree behind the truck


blossomed lovely white and pink in spring, dried to leaves of red and gold for fall. 


(Files 14-15)  During a particularly hard time in the late 90's the truck was traded for a


load of logs.  


         Another photographic theme that developed for me at this sawmill is of the


Customers who come to buy wood.  I had always noticed how they usually seemed


happy to be there, up-beat and interested at the start their new project.  (File 32)


         Around the turn of the century I started using the digital Nikon D300, leaving


the picures in color.  I photographed the mill spaces on a tripod with filters to


save the sky, made pictures of wood grain and the scatter of pieces of wood. Two


years ago I started using black and white film again with my old N90 mostly handheld. 



         They are shy people.  Often feeling I am sure ragged and out of place, at other


times proud and well aware of the woodsmen's place beside the tree.  I compensate


for my intrusion by doing sawmill work for the Congdons.  This makes the situation


more acceptable for them and to myself as well.  And it's helped me learn sawmill


work.


         This sawmill place is a great sanctuary for me.  It allowed me to go back in


time as best as can be done, something I've always felt I needed to do.  It connected


me to a rural American spirit that I wanted to be a part of. 

  



Tony Donovan,  July 7, 2017
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