Call out for Washington miners to be part of unique photography project
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Sunderland photographer Andy Martin specialises in using the traditional wet collodion process in photography, a technique which dates back to the 1850s.
It ties in with Andy’s passion for documenting the heritage of his home city and for his next project he’s turning his lens on miners.
The artist has joined forces with Redhills - the charity that holds in trust and manages the Grade II-listed Redhills Miners Hall in Durham - Cultural Spring and University College London (UCL), who’ve co-funded his project to explore the identity of miners in Washington.
For Coal Face, he’ll be taking photos of former miners using the collodion process, where images are taken directly on metal and glass plates using the Victorian technique before being developed in a dark room.
Andy said: “I’ve had the idea for this project for years so it’s great that it’s finally happening. This demographic, Washington miners, is one that’s not really been photographed on this scale before.
"It’s fitting that this process of photography dates back to the industrial revolution when coalmining was at its peak. It’s a really unforgiving process, that really brings out the character in people’s faces.”
He added: “It’s a really honest process, you can’t hide anything so, in that sense, it’s the opposite of modern digital photography. Each one is totally unique too, you can’t repeat it.”
Andy is looking for former miners who will be willing to have their portraits taken and have a chat at Washington F Pit at various dates in May and June.
He’s hoping to unearth miners who either worked in the town’s collieries or elsewhere across the Durham Coalfields.
The team would like to chat about experiences living and working in Washington. The resulting images will be exhibited across the area later this year, and the research will form part of UCL’s ongoing research programme in the North East.
Nick Malyan, Chief Executive of Redhills Charity, said “ We’ve long been admirers of Andy’s work, so when we had the opportunity to work on a project which shares our values to celebrate our region's mining heritage through creative collaboration, it made perfect sense.
"We hope that we can capture lots of mining memories to celebrate Washington’s heritage ahead of its 60th birthday in 2024”.
To register your interest in participating in Coal Face, please call 0191 323 3658 or register at washingtonminers.eventbrite.com
It’s completely free and open to all former miners from Washington.