The pit called to both children and men and swallowed them whole, coughing up flithy lumps of ore and minerals and feeding on human life. The men dug deeper seeking riches for pennies, hollowing out the heart of the land and leaving us empty and abandoned when the profit ran … (read more)
The pit called to both children and men and swallowed them whole, coughing up flithy lumps of ore and minerals and feeding on human life. The men dug deeper seeking riches for pennies, hollowing out the heart of the land and leaving us empty and abandoned when the profit ran dry. Picket lines and scabs formed around the wounds. The women led the battle from home with no more pennies for bread yet always stout, sometimes bitter. United they stood, together we were crushed into dust. Only the scars remained.
My grandfather and great-grandfather both spent their lives working in the mines in the north of England. Sadly I never met either of them, but I have often wondered about how different my life would have been if I had been born in the same time and place as they were.
At 35 years old my great-grandfather was tragically killed after being crushed by one of the steam trains that he used to drive to and from the mine. As the oldest son this meant my grandfather started work at the pit aged only 11 to help feed the family during what must have been a terrible time for them all. It is hard to imagine child labor was a reality in the UK only two generations ago and for many people around the world it is still a reality today along with poverty wages and dangerous working conditions.
Despite the danger and harsh circumstances these mining communities were a bedrock for working class culture and solidarity during that time, people looked out for one another and had tight bonds. Many parts of the UK have struggled to recover from the loss of this key industry and the political consequences of the pit closures in the 1980s are still echoing through society today.
I created the work using a combination of photogrammetry and modeling inside VR using Gravity Sketch on the Oculus Quest. Working in VR is a great way to get a feeling for space and scale in an artwork and it is my preferred choice when doing any kind of 3d modeling. Everything was brought together with lighting and volumetrics in Blender, composited in After Effects and edited together with atmospheric audio samples in Premiere Pro.
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