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The Coal Mine - Derek Slater


The Coal Miner has a history of working in a job which was arduous, dangerous and unhealthy, yet their contribution to so many aspects of life in coal mining communities and beyond is immeasurable.

Being employed in the mining industry for over 25 years, my interest in the portrayal of the pitman at work in different eras made it an obvious choice for my paintings. The cramped and hazardous conditions are a source of my endeavour to capture the miner in his working environment.

My interest in coal mining art is also well documented by pitmen painters in the North East such as Tom McGuinness, Oliver Kilbourn from the Ashington Group, Bob Olley and Norman Cornish. However it was also an inspiration for artists such as J.M.W.Turner, Sir Frank Brangwyn, Josef Herman, L.S. Lowry, Henry Moore and Keith Vaughan.

It is therefore very inspiring to be painting a theme which was of interest to so many illustrious artists.

Derek Slater - Painter

Mining Museum.jpg

In this unique picture book from Rockpool Children's Books, the story of

the coal mine is told through the dramatic paintings of Derek Slater.

A miner himself for over 25 years his telling of the story and visual portrayal

of the pitman at work in the cramped and hazardous conditions deep below ground,

are captured by strong brush strokes and attention to detail that only someone who

has experienced life underground can.

Taking a quote from Bob McManners, the co-founder of the Mining Art Museum in Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, when talking about mining art paintings and painters:

“Through imagery they tell us what it felt like to work in the coal mines,

not simply what it looked like.”

Paintings from the book

Start of the working day.

Arriving at the bottom of the shaft, the miners can be seen leaving the cage.

For many of the miners this is just the beginning of their journey to where they work.  The coalface can, at some collieries, be several miles underground from the shaft, so it can take up to 90 minutes to get there.

Safety is paramount.

Working deep underground the

safety of the miners is paramount,

and here engineers install girders

that will make the tunnels safe

and prevent rock falls.

Extracting the coal

The miner on the left hews coal with his pick axe in
a shallow seam, and a Davy safety lamp hangs nearby giving him some light without the danger ofexplosion from flammable gas.

Publisher of fine illustrated children's picture books
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