And with the anniversary of Aberfan disaster and that devastation that hit Welsh mining community fifty years ago on our minds today, it seemed rather fitting to mention miners, communities, legacies and the latest artistic endeavours of painter and writer Darren Coffield.
Coffield, the artist, painter and writer behind the excellent Joshua Compston book amongst other things, has just launched his latest rather thought-provoking project called “Vein of Dissent: A tribute to Dave Hopper”, his aim being to complete and publish the last project of the late Dave Hopper, General Secretary of Durham Miners Association…
And here, in Darren’s own words, from his Crowdfunding page is an explanation… “My name is Darren Coffield. I am an artist who worked alongside Dave Hopper, General Secretary of Durham Miners Association to create Vein of Dissent, a book and multi media art exhibition of Britain’s coal miners and their cultural legacy.
How did it come about?
Moments of crisis inevitably give rise to the creative imagination. The miners had a flourishing culture of arts, music and literature in the 20th century, which was put to the test during the 1984 Miners strike. Amongst the banners, badges, artworks and ephemera there is the story of a rich cultural vein, the authentic expression of the ideas and motivations of the miners. Messages communicated with personality, passion, information and attitude and as such should be preserved and studied as part of our social history. They represent the propaganda of the underdog.
The concept of Vein of Dissent is to approach the miners’ story from another angle and re-tell it in a different way by mixing contemporary art with cultural artefacts. Many examples of the former mining communities rich cultural heritage (of the banners, music, performance and literature) converge once a year at a celebratory event known as The Durham Miners’ Gala, attended by over 100,000 people. Numerous banners and brass bands parade to create unique atmosphere akin to a ‘political’ Glastonbury festival. We wanted to bring a slice of the Gala to London and exhibit Durham miners’ banners telling the history of the mining communities, dating back to the 19th century, as well as the original three Red Miners’ banners (one featuring Lenin) exhibited together in public for the first time since 1932.
The goal of this project
Our entire purpose is to create a greater awareness of the heroic history of the mining communities and the need to conserve and preserve their rich cultural legacy. I worked with Dave Hopper, General Secretary of Durham Miners’ Association for four years on this project to bring it to London. Unfortunately Davey died suddenly on Saturday 16 July 2016. It was a tragedy that he passed away just a few months before his vision reached fruition. The planned exhibition and book due to be launched in London this October are now postponed and the project is in peril.
The Vein of Dissent book contains Dave Hopper’s final thoughts on the history of the miners, their banners and legacy. I intend to finish the project and see his vision fulfilled using crowd funding and sponsorship initiatives. Vein of Dissent will be published as a limited edition of 750 copies with 108 pages, fully illustrated in colour throughout with over forty pages of miners banners and containing contributions from people as diverse as Dave Hopper, Alexei Sayle, Grayson Perry, Rodney Bickerstaff, Ken Loach, Darren Coffield, Jeremy Deller, Roy Lambeth, Peter Tatchell and Durham Bannermakers”.
Meanwhile, Megan Pickering…
One of the more rewarding of the current crop of artists quietly getting on with things here in London right now, we were delighted to be able to feature Megan Pickering‘s powerfully poignant piece Breadline in the recent Cultivate Debased show at BSMT Space. It was not accidental that the piece was given centre stage on the gallery wall, Breadline was not a piece to put in a corner, it needed to be right there, right in the middle . Megan is a proud working-class pro-active artist from a mining community Durham, her Breadline piece consists of two lists of the donated food left, the foo that was making up the food parcels for the striking miners, Megan’s grandmother being in charge of the parcels and very involved in the defiant stand made not only my the miners but by the community as a whole. For the Debased show Megan also reproduced of the original pamphlets her grandmother had saved (and featured in). I first saw the piece hidden away and almost ignored in one of those car park shows a couple of years ago, really really waned to show it more prominently. .
Megan also play drums in a gloriously lo-fi riot grrrl flavoured punk rock band called… well here, “I drum in Clammy Hands and we will be playing at SynthPunk Fest at DIY Space for London on the 22nd October, with lots of other class bands and people, here’s a link to the flyer. Apparently, if I have this right, they formed earlier this year, each member choosing an instrument and starting from scratch, “Sweaty, anxious bisexual punx making music together for the first time. We sing about creeps, accountability and pubes”. Brilliant.
And down there is some previous Organ coverage that you get to via this link I suspect she’d rather us not shout about it, but Megan is one of our favourite artists right now, love her art, her zines, her band and her defiant commitment to her creativity