Portraits of Miners: The Exhibition!


This blog was written in January.. I’ve sat back for a month and a half happy in the knowledge that wonderful news of the miners exhibition has been disseminating accross cyberspace..I didn’t press the publish button….

Alas.. woe is me.. you’ll now get two postings in rapid succession.. both interestingly enough related.. the next is about my portrait expedition in Samiland!!

Enjoy this it’s a great one ……and  hold onto your seats for the fascinating one thats round the corner….blimey I wish I was you …



We reached an important stage in the Doncaster Mining project. For those of you who aren’t aware, I was asked to create a piece of public art to celebrate the history of mining in Doncaster, this was back in 2017. The short introduction in this link will outline the plan and ambition of the project… ..miners exhibit intro

Messums – London are hosted an Exhibition of over 40 portraits of miners created in the last two years.. The response so far has been profound, much to my surprise!

Each head has a two hour film attached which will feature in the final scheme, adding an important social dimension to the sculpture.  I am busy editing these films at the moment, they will be uploaded to Doncaster councils website throughout the first half of this year, together with general information about progress. (I’ll post the web address when its created)

This post provides a visual journey through the project, ending with the glossy Catalogue containing a piece of writing by my favourite writer Robert Macfarlane..enjoy the ride..



The Consultations.. and the sittings..   After exhaustive consultations, I decided the only way to get to know the communities was to work literally face to face. So I embarked on an extensive period of portraiture, turning up at Doncaster every month  with modelling wax over a two year period, making 6 portraits a visit.. spending two hours observing and talking to the subjects knee to knee.. It was a fascinating and enlightening experience.

talk2keith2david bwsteve bw72keith allsopp72


I came  away with buckets of heads and stories..


I ended up with over 40,  all now sitting on shelves in the studio. I am surprised that I know all their names and can remember and tell stories about each one. I must have been in  hyper receptive mode!



The casting marathon that ensued illustrated how wonderful my team are…



















We are going to show them as a collection in Messums, Cork Street, from the 15th of January to the 15th of February. Together with a short film by Bill Jackson and the proposals for the final scheme which involves two giant 20 tonne blocks of York Stone and a 6 ft bronze miner, All explained in the introduction and Macfarlanes writing.  (so i’ll spare you another description)


Though having said that I have to say that the miner i’m making is a ‘Listening Miner’, the following slides chronicle his journey so far.























































The initial idea was to set the heads in niches  in a giant the block of stone, like this..



The Mayor was keen that a miner should be depicted, so the idea evolved into a miner listening to the voices between two blocks.




It was very hard to find an english quarry that could supply  stone at this scale, let alone a local stone.. luckily we met Duncan Reynolds, who researched on our behalf and found Johnsons Wellfield in Huddersfield, who were prepared to take the job on..

Here we are choosing the York stone, it’s a beautiful yellow, (you’ll have to imagine it) this quarry has paved areas of london, which is where the term ‘the streets are paved with gold’ comes from…
























All the black and white images are by Bill Jackson.




I modified the idea after the visit, this is where its at ..at the moment..






So here’s the PDF of th catalogue.. containing the essays and lovely images by Doug Atfield, Bill Jackson and Danny Heaton..

Lawrence Edwards Miners Cat 11.12.19 09.43


Finally, this is Bill Rose.  Originally from Jamaica, he was part of the ‘Windrush’ generation… BBC Sheffield are making a documentary about this project,  focusing on Bill’s story, it will be aired in the spring.

Bill Rose, Markham Main, 'Winder'






cheers L

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