Artists Dig Deep to Remember Colliery’s Glory Days

December 10, 2008 |

Artists Dig Deep to Remember Colliery’s Glory Days top image

From The Sentinel, 10 December 2008:

Artists have created a 34-piece exhibition to commemorate a historic colliery.

The paintings, metal work and pottery depicting Chatterley Whitfield in Fegg Hayes are on display at the Burslem School of Art for the next month.

The colliery, which stopped producing coal in 1976, is said to hold the best surviving collection of historic pithead buildings and structures in England. It was made a Scheduled Ancient Monument by English Heritage in 1993 and contains 15 scheduled structures and five listed buildings.

The art34 exhibition, which was launched yesterday at the school, in Queen Street, has been set up with £50,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Burslem-based artist, Rob Pointon, has created a three-metre tall by four-metre wide oil painting.

It shows a backdrop of the colliery site with members of the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield group alongside it.

The 26-year-old oil specialist said: "Thirty four pieces of artwork have been commissioned to represent the 34 buildings at the site.

"Each artist has presented their own take on the colliery site as it is now.

"This is the largest painting I have ever done and took a month to complete. Chatterley Whitfield is a dramatic and atmospheric place and I have used it in my own work even before this project."

Alex Shimwell, who works from Potclays in Brick Kiln Lane, Etruria, has created six, hand-thrown ceramic cylinders for the exhibition.

The 28-year-old, who runs his own business, Alex Shimwell Ceramics, said the design reflected the fact there were a lot of circles around the site.

He added: "I have used the colours black, red and white to reflect the colours at the site. There are also lithographs of Chatterley Whitfield on the pieces."

The exhibition has been commissioned by environmental regeneration charity Groundwork Stoke-on-Trent.

The charity applied for the European funding with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and asked Newcastle-based arts educational charity B arts to find the artists.

Ali Harvey from Groundwork Stoke-on-Trent said: "An awful lot of building work is taking place at the Chatterley Whitfield at the moment. It is going to be closed to the public for sometime. We wanted to do something to commemorate the original site involving the whole community before it re-opens as a heritage country park in 2010."

Hilary Hughes, from B arts, in Barracks Road, Newcastle, said: "All of the artists that have taken part in the exhibition have taken their inspiration from mining history. We hope that we have created an exhibition that reflects how the community feels about the site and their hopes for the future."

Jim Worgan, chair of the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield, pictured, said Rob Pointon's painting was "magnificent".

He added: " I think the exhibition is superb as it is making people aware of Chatterley Whitfield. A lot of people think it is just a derelict coal mine.

"This exhibition will help to highlight the historic importance and beauty of the site."

Mr Worgan's grandson, Jacob Manchester, is the youngest member of the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield group to appear on the painting.

The 10-year-old, who goes to Hassell County Primary School in Barracks Road, Newcastle, said: "I like the painting. I like all the buildings and the pictures of the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield."

The exhibition will tour Stoke-on-Trent and possibly the country in the future.

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