Art exhibition inspired by book about miners’ strike

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Clinker 1984-85

September 26 - November 18

Clinker, 1984-85 is artist Nicholas Vaughan’s visual exploration of the 1980’s mining strike, which is being shown at two different locations in Wakefield.

The artist, who moved to the city last year was inspired by the book “Diary of a Coal Miner’s Son” written in the 1990s by his great uncle George Bale - and featured at the time in the Wakefield Express. It documented the closure of mines between 1986 and 1998.

Out of the research that ensued was born the project Grassy Slag Heaps. With this project the artist wanted to explore mining memories and history and develop new art work, of which this year’s show is the first instalment.

Vaughan presents this first phase Ghosts of 84-85 and Rally cry at SnapArts. The former plays with the idea of media-misrepresentation, the idea that any piece of information communicated can be altered or manipulated. Using a technique of collage and painting developed by the artist (see photo), Vaughan combines a multiplicity of identities to produce characters that merge conflicting interests and dilute the lines between each side of the argument.

For Rally cry, his take on the historical Union banners, Vaughan makes use of hard-ground etching to print onto fabric creating six banners that evoke the themes with the greatest impact throughout that year-long strike: Violent confrontation, poverty, scabs, Government strategy, NUM strategy and re-development.

Coal Spire is a two meters high sculpture covered in clinker and coal. For this the artist was inspired by local folklore of a “tower of coal” underneath Wakefield Cathedral, bringing together elements of the fantastic and surreal in a vivid interpretation of people’s suffering during the strike. This is a collaboration piece interwoven with the novella ‘In Our Veins’ written by Steven B. Williams.

The sculpture is being shown at the crypt underneath Chantry Chapel on September 26 for one night accompanied by a spoken-word performance of excerpts from In Our Veins. The piece and a further performance will then relocate to SnapArts.

lMore from nickvaughan.org/grassy-slag-heaps