Magpie Mine – Derbyshire

During a recent visit to Matlock Bath in Derbyshire, England, we went to the Mining Museum. I’m not usually a fan of museums, but there is something very personal and quite intimate about many of the items exhibited there. Amongst all the machinery on display, there are things such as old leather shoes and clay pipes found in the long-since deserted mine shafts. These items just feel like they have a story to tell and they look quite poignant in their glass cases. One of the displays tells the story of the events at the nearby Magpie Mine, where there were many disputes, one of which even ended with three miners being murdered down in the mine and a curse apparently being put upon the mine by the dead men’s relatives. We decided to visit the site, which is one of the best preserved lead mines in the country. There is certainly a slightly eerie atmosphere at the site, and it is that atmosphere that I tried to capture in my print. I decided to have a go at a collagraph print (as well as a lino print) to see if it would be better at conveying the correct ‘feeling’. Unfortunately, I don’t really know how to do a collagraph print, so, after watching a few videos on YouTube, I gave it a go. Whilst technically the images didn’t really ‘work’ as they do in the tutorials I watched, the two prints (seen below) did have an atmosphere that I was really happy with. The final image (top) was created by loading both prints into a drawing software programme on my iPad, before combining and tweaking them into one image I was happy with. Is that cheating? I don’t think so, though I will be struggling with it mentally for a few weeks yet! The lino print is still being made. All the time we were at the mine, and whilst I was making the image, I have had the song ‘The Mountain’ by Steve Earle going around in my head. The last verse in particular is appropriate:

There’s a hole in this mountain, it’s dark and it’s deep, And God only knows all the secrets it keeps. There’s a chill in the air only miners can feel, And there’s ghosts in the tunnels, the company sealed.

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