Wakefield: Museum exhibition digs deep into the lives of miners

New mining exhibition at the National Coal Mining Museum for England.
New mining exhibition at the National Coal Mining Museum for England.
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A POWERFUL new photographic exhibition digs deep into the lives of Yorkshire’s mining community, offering unique new insights into their personal stories.

Pit Profiles: Re-profiled has opened at the National Coal Mining Museum for England, at the Caphouse Colliery in Overton, Wakefield.

The exhibition features a series of portraits from the 1940s and 50s by painter H.A. Freeth, alongside their modern day photographic recreations by artist Anton Want.

The project was inspired by the work of portrait painter Freeth (1912-1986), who was the first artist to be commissioned by the National Coal Board.

The artist created his portraits of miners at Kellingley Colliery, the largest remaining deep mine in Yorkshire.

To put together the profiles, Freeth visited collieries across Britain, talking with and sketching their workforces.

Between 1947 and 1952, his portraits and stories were published in Coal, the NCB’s monthly magazine, as a series called ‘Pit Profile’.

In 2011, the Museum received support from Arts Council England to commission the award-winning photographer, Anton Want, to undertake a series of contemporary pit profiles.

Using photography and oral histories, Anton Want has now created a modern-day ‘Pit Profile’ series at Kellingley Colliery.

It is hoped Freeth’s original drawings and paintings, alongside Anton’s photographs, will provide new insights into working colliery life across two centuries.

Echoing Freeth’s original monthly ‘Pit Profile’ series, a selection of portraits from the exhibition will also be featured on the Museum’s blog.

Visitors to the blog are encouraged to help the Museum to discover more about the men in Freeth’s pictures. Log in via www.ncm.org.uk/blog.

The exhibition is open during Museum opening hours from 10am to 5pm and is free entry.

It runs until May.

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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