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surface work. burnished spine
work in progress | a reflection on the origin of the work | 2024

As a painter working with process art, I rarely disclose my private influences as my art practice has evolved beyond its initial motivations. However, after two decades, I decided to return to the origin of my work; awe for the coal miners in my family. Surface Work, first installed in a derelict building yard in Montejaque, Spain, pays homage to their punishing, repetitive and confined labour in Scotland's Glencraig Colliery, the deepest coal mine (pit) in Scotland at 610 metres below the earth's surface. In 2024, I am revisiting this theme with a direct and literal series of drawings, frottage and giclée prints.

Burnished Spine Series.

After each shift, my grandfathers and the other miners were pulled out of the pit covered in coal dust. When they returned home, their wives or children would wash them in a tin bath, but they didn’t wash their spines. Instead, they used the Venus mounts of their hands to buff and polish the carbon powder into their skin. Eventually it became permanent. They believed that this strengthened their backs. Their white Shirts, black jackets, Roman Catholic Sunday best clothes covered their unique and hidden carbon paintings.

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