Paintings shine light on dark days in pit

A new exhibition of work sheds fresh light on the underground life of miners.

The cramped and hazardous conditions endured by pitmen are depicted in the collection at Bradford Industrial Museum.

Derek Slater’s paintings draw on his personal experience of being employed in the mining industry.

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They portray miners at work in different eras, toiling in the dark to keep the country’s lights switched on.

The paintings will be on display in the Bradford Council-run museum until February 23.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s executive member responsible for culture, said: “Derek’s paintings offer a vivid impression of the lives of the pitmen and the challenging conditions in which they had to work.”

Mr Slater shares his interest in documenting life in coal mines with other former pitmen from the North East, including Oliver Kilbourn from the Ashington Group.

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The subject has also been an inspiration for artists such as JMW Turner, LS Lowry and Henry Moore.

Mr Slater was employed in the coal mining industry for over 25 years and during this time he developed his artistic work, winning the Sir Derek Ezra Art Trophy in 1982.

When he was made redundant in 1994 he studied a BA (Hons) Fine Art course at the University of Sunderland.

The artist, who is from the north- east of England, mainly focuses on ecology and coal mining in his work.

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A message on Mr Slater’s website says: “The coal miner has a history of working in a job which was arduous, dangerous and unhealthy, yet their contribution to so many aspects of life in coal mining communities and beyond is immeasurable.”

Visitors to the museum can also see textile and printing machinery and motor vehicles.