Tag Archives: copper mining

Self Portrait 12; Vision

30 May





Sorting through forgotten back files I came across this, I can only just remember doing it but since there were no notes at the time, my thoughts when I made it remain a mystery.

Perhaps, looking at the general stygian appearance of the picture, that is as it should be. My lovely wife, ever disrespectful, (and that, perhaps is also as it should be) said that I’ve given myself a tall hairstyle that looks like Marge Simpson – I like to think it looks more like Elvis, but there you are all is in the eye of the beholder.

The mountainous shapes in the foreground are taken from large granite boulders on the rocky shore of Magnetic Island; the picture was cut back and drawn out to resemble a Japanese wood-block print.

The face in the portrait is rather blackened like a coal miner. Both my family, and my wife’s, come from mining stock originally; copper-mining and coal-mining respectively. Derbyshire coal-mines were often small, cramped, and dangerous. Many miners were tattooed by falling lumps of coal that cut and marked their face, hands and shoulders. I was fortunate never to have to go down the pit to work, though I visited my father underground in the copper mine in Zambia on more than one occasion. The copper mines were much larger airy places, but just as dangerous and from time to time falling rocks would kill miners, and a mud-rush in 1970 killed 89 miners.

The chest X-ray in the background was from a miner with early pneumoconiosis – a disease that was rife amongst people who were forced to spend many years below ground in unsafe conditions breathing silicon-laden air causing fibrosis of the lungs leading to emphysema. Of course smoking was common at that time, and the combination with fibrotic lungs contributed to a high rate of lung cancer in that group of the population.

I have called it Vision because the face with red eyes emerging from the darkness, into the light appears to be seeing life anew – perhaps seeing into the future.

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