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Featured Artist

Ken Clarry
Co-founder of the Bay Art Gallery.
Currently completing research at the University of Brighton on The spectre of Violence - images of war and conflict.


Betteshanger Colliery (RIP)
 
This work was produced by Ken in 2005 for his final year at the Kent Institute of Art and Design (now UCA) whilst studying for a BA Hons. The work is based around the final unearthing and disposing of the remains of Betteshanger Colliery Kent in 2004.  Betteshanger was the last Kent coal mine to be closed in 1989 by the British Government led by Margaret Thatcher.

To make an image is to mortify and resurrect in the same gesture.
(W.J.T. Mitchell, 2005)


In 1989 after decommissioning, the Betteshanger Colliery mineshafts were filled with rock and cement and finally capped.  The contents of the Colliery, its obsolete machinery, equipment and personal objects abandoned by the miners, were buried in shallow pits on the site.  The burial sites, that to me appeared reminiscent of mass graves, remained covered until 2004 when the site was cleared in preparation for the redevelopment of the land into an environmental park.  The remnants and memory of the former Colliery were again disturbed and brought to the surface for disposal.

I was fortunate in obtaining permission to photograph the work-site and salvage from the spoil heaps anything I was able to carry away and considered important to my work.  What I collected were small items of miners' clothing, gloves, boots, and tools, electrical switches, twisted metal, and fragments of the conveyor belt that moved coal towards the surface. The items were rusting, rotting, decaying and disintegrating, seemingly a fitting metaphor for what had taken place politically. 

There are two hidden and buried memories here: a violent political struggle between the NUM and the British Government; and a fragmented and lost mining community.  The conflict brought bitterness, strife and severe hardship for the miners and their families.

After stabilising some of the recovered items, I used these objects, as well as coal, dust and chalk found at the site, as part of the fabric of my artworks, sculptures and paintings.

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 Mixed media, Acrylic, Oil, Bitumin, Coal dust, Chalk and Jesmonite






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