Kurt Jackson The Mining Paintings
October 2008 - March 2009
Internationally-renowned artist Kurt Jackson is one of the very few artists to capture the working lives and environment of Cornwall’s miners. Living within walking distance of Geevor Tin Mine, surrounded by the landscape of the St Just Mining district and sharing a pint with his friends whose lives were the mine, Kurt has documented a vanishing part of Cornwall’s culture and identity.
While working on a series of paintings for the touring exhibition South Crofty, the last working mine in Cornwall, Kurt gained the hard-earned respect and friendship of the miners at South Crofty. When the mine closed in 1996, Kurt was invited by Scott Yelland to accompany the miners to Aguas Tenidas Mine, to paint alongside the South Crofty and Andalucian miners in this famous Rio Tinto mining region of Southern Spain. Shortly after this project was completed, Aguas Tenidas also closed and the body of work was never shown, being exhibited here for the first time alongside works from South Crofty and Geevor Tin Mine.
Describing the challenge of working underground, Kurt explains: “All the underground paintings were painted in situ. This involved taking all my materials and paper underground; in the case of South Crofty that meant carrying everything down in the cage. The Spanish mine was accessed with a vehicle and therefore easier, however Geevor was the most difficult involving dragging and carrying my materials in through the adit from the cliff.”
“Painting in that sort of situation is obviously very challenging with the problems of darkness, pouring and dripping water, wet mud and the inherent dangers associated with the mine. It is those very problems, however, that make painting underground both exciting and challenging – potentially leading to interesting results and discoveries.”
Ironically, although being on Kurt’s doorstep, Geevor had never been the subject of any of his paintings. The invitation to exhibit at Geevor encouraged him, with the guidance of ex-Geevor miners Geoff Treseder and Chris Henderson, to go into the adits and shafts of the old workings of Geevor and paint below ground a series of works on paper. These are shown here alongside a large canvas and accompanying film from the cliffs at Geevor.
The Mining paintings represents the continuing theme of capturing and celebrating landscapes that has been ever present through Kurt’s career. Today one of the most respected painters in Britain, Kurt’s paintings are fluent, dynamic and exciting, resulting from a working method that is both challenging and intense.
Kurt Jackson’s exhibition celebrates the opening of the new Hard Rock Gallery at Geevor Tin Mine and begins what will be a series of exhibitions looking at the interaction between art, design, technology and innovation. The exhibition has been made possible with the support of Arts Council England South West.