The exhibition, which takes place in the historic and newly-restored St Bartholomew’s Chapel, coincides with the 30-year anniversary of the UK miners’ strike and explores the physical and cultural properties of coal and its importance to the region and its communities.
Inspired by William Jasper Nicholls’ The Coal Catechism (1898), written as a eulogy to coal and the industrial age, Crowe and Rawlinson have created a sung libretto in collaboration with Opera North. The soundtrack, made with the Chorus of Opera North and Opera North Children’s Chorus, is presented with a kaleidoscopic projection of rich and powerful images of the recurring patterns of coal. Listen to a preview of the sung libretto.
“Song for Coal is beautiful, playful and enigmatic. Every time I see it I find something new that I hadn’t even noticed the last time. Part kaleidoscope, part cathedral rose window, with vocal music that is both resoltuely secular and curiously spiritual. Very proud to hear the gorgeous voices of the Chorus of Opera North in this piece.” Dominic Gray, Projects Director at Opera North.
The artists worked with the collection of the National Coal Mining Museum and offers a poetic and historical response to an industry which still figures large in the cultural memory of the region. The project coincides with the 30th anniversary of the UK miners’ strike and is part of a year-long collaboration with the National Coal Mining Museum.Song for Coal takes a form based on the flamboyant tracery of the apocalyptic rose window of Sainte Chapelle, Paris. Broken down into 152 separate panels, each section of the rose hosts its own individual film, creating imagery that is visually rich, slowly evolving and meditative, with kaleidoscopic patterns of coal as a mineral, economic driver and a source of iconography.
The human voice is a central and powerful element in the composition of this work. Working with Opera North singers and Music Director Justin Doyle, Crowe and Rawlinson have created a plainsong, based on The Coal Catechism by William Jasper Nicolls. This 1898 publication was one of many secular catechisms produced that century, which provided educational insights into the industrial age by means of question and answer dialogues. Song for Coal however is far from quotidian, where the chanting incantation of this secular catechism provides the pulse of the work’s mesmeric and mandalic unfolding.
Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson’s Song For Coal runs from January 10th – April 19th 2015.
Family Sculpture Workshop: A Life of Coal
17.02.15 – 18.02.15 @ YSP Learning, Garden Studio
Adults: £2.00, Children: £2.00