This year sees the 30th anniversary of the miners strike, an event that is still etched in the minds and consciousness of many, and which did so much to change the political and social landscape of Britain – whatever side of the political fence you happened to be on, things would not be the same.
To mark this event Nick Crowe and Ian Robertson have produced an amazing audio visual piece that is currently showing in the chapel at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. You enter through what at first appears to be total pitch black, you can hear haunting singing and monk like chanting while projected up on the wall is what appears to be a stunning visual representation of a stain glass window. As your eyes slowly adjust you can find a bench and sit down and let yourself be immersed in sound and visual.
The ‘window’ is an astonishing thing, firstly that it looks so right projected as it is inside a church but it takes a while to get used to as it is moving and flickering as you watch it. The colours are incredibly vivid and your eyes try to work out what is happening. The window is comprised of 152 panels and each panel contains a film that looks at the history of coal, from it’s origins before mankind through to it powering the industrial revolution and beyond. As the films play in the panels it creates a hypnotic kaleidoscopic effect that is enhanced by the music and singing (sung by Opera North) that accompanies the visuals. You see flickers of plants, cars, flame, sculptures, Davy lamps, miners faces morphing constantly across the window to a mesmerising effect.
As I sat in the darkness, eyes transfixed by the visual and sound surrounding me you could hear occasional words like ‘it made us strong’ but it brought memories to me of the coalman delivering sacks to the house, of lighting the fire that heated the house, through to the strike and it’s devastating consequences and then made me think of our need to move beyond fossil fuels so that what once powered our world remains buried below the surface.