Miner-Artists: The Art of Welsh Coalworkers


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Miner-Artists is a National Library of Wales touring exhibition, originated and curated by John Harvey for the Centre for Studies in the Visual Culture of Religion. It celebrates the work of welsh coal workers who painted, drew, modelled, sculpted and took photographs, or in some other way took a practical interest in visual art. Their art represents one of the most enduring forms of working-class populist visual culture.

Most miner-artists were untutored amateurs, in the best sense of that word. Some adapted their work to illustrate political ideas, contributing to mining magazines and newspapers drawings that commented on their social conditions. Others, with a vital Nonconformist faith, made images of the biblical stories, concepts, and values that undergirded the religious culture of the coalfields. Prominent among these are Illtyd David (1906-??), John ‘Chopper’ Davies (1922), George B Evans (b. 1925), Nicholas Evans (b.1907), Cyril Ifold (1922-86), and Robert Morgan (1921-94).

The exhibition aims to present a coherent and scholarly historical account of miner-artists, particularly in relation to Wales. To this end, the exhibition consists of 85 paintings drawings, and photographs from 1904-1999, accompanied by an explanatory and illustrated publication by John Harvey.

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Gregynog Gallery, National Library of Wales, Abersytwyth, 11 March – 24 April 2000.
Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, 20 May-9 July 2000.
National Museum & Gallery of Wales, Cardiff, 22 July – 15 October 2000.

The works illustrate the conditions associated with miners’ industry and life. The following are examples of some of the works in the exhibition:

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Copies of the booklet by John Harvey that accompanied the exhibition can be obtained from the School of Art, Aberystwyth university for £5 + p&p.