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Cornish mine art takes centre stage

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 21, 2013

By Simon Parker

  • Miners Drilling by Graham Sutherland and, right, Croust Time at East Pool Mine by J C Burrows

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A trio of exhibitions charting the history of Cornish mining in paintings and photographs will be launched at three West Cornwall venues this weekend.

Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance is showing work by Graham Sutherland, who is regarded by many as being one of the finest British landscape and portrait painters of all time. The exhibition, called From Darkness Into Light: Mining, Metal and Machines, is made up of a set of pictures produced by the celebrated artist at Geevor mine at Pendeen more than 70 years ago.

In 1942, when he was already a leading figure, Sutherland was commissioned as an official war artist to document a number of industries behind the war effort. One of the sites he was sent to was Geevor, which proved inspirational, prompting a change in his work that was to last throughout a long career. His time in Cornwall was brief, but he cited it as one of the most important experiences in his life in the formation of his later art. From Darkness Into Light runs until November 23.

At the same time, Geevor Tin Mine will be presenting Above & Below in its Hard Rock Gallery. Featuring work by local artists Michael Praed and John Scott Martin, the exhibition runs until November 22.

A few miles away at East Pool Mine, between Redruth and Camborne, the National Trust is staging a photographic exhibition to be launched as part of this Saturday's Heritage Open Day.

Amongst East Pool Mines and Miners, which runs until November 3, explores the men and underground workings of the site in the 1890s through a set of stunning early underground photographs by J C Burrows.

Custodian Jo Warburton said: "With its two towering engine houses and the industrial remains of tin, copper, arsenic and tungsten mining, East Pool stands partially hidden in an urban landscape as a reminder of Cornwall's days as a world-famous centre of industry, engineering and innovation.

"The exhibition is a fascinating insight into what the workings under the mine were like at the end of the 19th century. Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro has kindly provided us with these images so that our visitors can understand what's under their feet and find out more about this important local mine hidden away behind Morrison's supermarket."

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