My name is Darren Coffield. I am an artist who worked alongside Dave Hopper, General Secretary of Durham Miners Association to create Vein of Dissent, a book and multi media art exhibition of Britain's coal miners and their cultural legacy.
How did it come about?
Moments of crisis inevitably give rise to the creative imagination. The miners had a flourishing culture of arts, music and literature in the 20th century, which was put to the test during the 1984 Miners strike. Amongst the banners, badges, artworks and ephemera there is the story of a rich cultural vein, the authentic expression of the ideas and motivations of the miners. Messages communicated with personality, passion, information and attitude and as such should be preserved and studied as part of our social history. They represent the propaganda of the underdog.
“It was also a time of extraordinary creativity,
with cartoons, songs, poems and a subversive culture
that released our collective imagination.”
The concept of Vein of Dissent is to approach the miners' story from another angle and re-tell it in a different way by mixing contemporary art with cultural artefacts. Many examples of the former mining communities rich cultural heritage (of the banners, music, performance and literature) converge once a year at a celebratory event known as The Durham Miners' Gala, attended by over 100,000 people. Numerous banners and brass bands parade to create unique atmosphere akin to a 'political' Glastonbury festival. We wanted to bring a slice of the Gala to London and exhibit Durham miners' banners telling the history of the mining communities, dating back to the 19th century, as well as the original three Red Miners' banners (one featuring Lenin) exhibited together in public for the first time since 1932.
“Thatcher won the strike politically,
but lost it morally.”
The goal of this project
Our purpose is to create a greater awareness of the heroic history of the mining communities and the need to conserve and preserve their rich cultural legacy. I worked with Dave Hopper, General Secretary of Durham Miners' Association for four years on this project to bring it to London. Unfortunately Davey died suddenly on Saturday 16 July 2016. It was a tragedy that he passed away just a few months before his vision reached fruition. The planned exhibition and book due to be launched in London this October are now postponed and the project is in peril.
"The miners' defeat was also a defeat for
the working class as a whole."
The Vein of Dissent book contains Dave Hopper's final thoughts on the history of the miners, their banners and legacy. I intend to finish the project and see his vision fulfilled using crowdfunding and sponsorship.
Get rewarded for your contribution
Every person who financially donates towards the publishing of this unique historic book will receive a signed and numbered limited edition copy of this historic book. Patrons of the publication can also have their names printed and listed inside the book for posterity.
Vein of Dissent will be published as a limited edition of 750 copies with 108 pages, fully illustrated in colour throughout and containing contributions from people as diverse as Dave Hopper, Alexei Sayle, Grayson Perry, Rodney Bickerstaff, Ken Loach, Darren Coffield, Peter Tatchell and Jeremy Deller.
Please pass on the message of our cause to anyone who you feel might be interested in this fascinating cultural legacy. Any profit from the publication will be ploughed back into producing the exhibition.
Thank you very much for your support.