Since embarking on their journey through Cornwall’s mining landscapes and heritage Bernard and Jesse have been working on the copper plates for the Cornwall and Devon Mining World Heritage Site suite of etchings. Printed at John Howard’s Penryn print studio the suite of ten prints are now on show for the first time in Falmouth Art Gallery. As they travelled they were joined along the way by a host of artists, mining experts and enthusiasts, geologists, historians, archivists, book conservators and members of the public who all contributed through their participation to the richness of the experience and the depth of content so evident in the final suite of ten prints.
Each print is treated uniquely, some are printed from multiple plates and some are hand coloured; specific processes are given with the titles along with a few words about the image. Individual prints can be purchased with special rates for complete or partial suites.
A town, its foundries, a canal
Hard & soft ground etching with a la poupée & hand colouring. Colour variable. Printed on Somerset paper.
The journey began in Tavistock, a town steeped in mining history that is quite literally built into the fabric of the place through the foundry buildings, the quay, the canal, the purpose built workers cottages and the mines themselves.
“Tavistock inspired us with the diversity of its fascinating architectural heritage. This printseeks to capture something our sense of the towns mining heritage through a collage of impressions.”
BI & JLS
Hard ground etching with a la poupée and second plate with sugar lift & aquatint
1/25 Colour variable. Printed on black Somerset paper.
Carradon Hill saw one of the most dramatic upwellings of wealth in the history of Cornish mining. For just 50 years there was a frenzy of activity that produced great riches before the boom was over and ming activity all but ceased. During that period of course the landscape was changed for ever.
“We chose to print on black paper which enhances the richness of the copper and tin and adds to the drama of the image in which we imagine the explosion of wealth and activity as a volcanic event in the history of this landscape.”
BI & JLS
By pony wagon, by rail and by water
Hard ground and sugar lift etching with aquatint and chine-collé.
Colour variable. Printed on cream Somerset paper.
Transporting tin and copper to the markets of the world is a key story of the mining era. Evidence of the movement of ore can be seen in many of the landscapes of Cornwall & Devon but follow the Luxullyan Valley down to the sea at Charlestown and you will see a most beautiful and elegant viaduct, an incline tramway, a canal, and a harbour that is known world wide through it’s exposure in film and television. We were joined in our exploration by a host of primary school children whose vivid depictions of the many modes of transport used as the precious metals made the journey down to the sea were the inspiration behind this print.
“Our day at Wheal Martyn was all about the school children who came. The lively spontaneity of the children’s drawings and the idea of a journey and story seemed to naturally suggest comic books. Working on a series of small plates reflects the idea of the sequential comic book frame and we strove to keep the fun, excitement and immediacy of that day at Wheal Martyn.”
BI & JLS
Jewels from the earth
Hard ground etching with aquatint, hand colouring, chine-collé and embossing. Colour variable. Printed on cream Somerset paper.
Callum Beeson from the School of Mines brought a very fine selection of mineral samples to our event at The Miners and Mechanics Institute in St Agnes. From the schools own collection they included an example of cassiterite [the source of tin] mined in St Agnes. All who saw them were both surprised and delighted by these extraordinary treasures from under the earth.
“In this print we have imagined our own ‘jewel from the earth’ hoping to capture something of that magic as we were first shown them by Callum on a sunny morning in St Agnes.”
BI & JLS
Light yourself on fire with passion
Photo etching with hand colouring. Colour variable. Printed on cream Somerset paper.
In this photo etching we look back at an event that remembered the lives of miners through words and music and lit a fuse as Wesley had when he preached at Gwennap Pit, sending out rivers of fiery passion that would take Methodism across the world wherever the miners, whose skills and knowledge were keenly sought, migrated.
“At Gwennap we created an arena, an installation for an audience and a moving event. As dusk fell we lit a fuse and fellow artist James Hankey took two stunning photo’s for us. In this print we have fused them in a composite image that is an openly emotional response to our year long journey through the mining landscapes.”
BI & JLS
Hard rock to dust
Hard ground etching. Colour variable. Printed on black Somerset paper.
This print celebrates winning the ore from the hard rock below ground and its transformation by stamps and buddles into the precious dust of tin and copper ready for smelting which will transform it into metal. King Edward Mine was great inspiration with the sounds and sights of it’s array of machinery tracing the journey of the ore.
“We were very struck by the rich reds and yellows of the mines as a result of iron in the rock. Choosing to print onto black paper we hoped to catch the weight of darkness below ground and the light and glitter of copper and tin at the surface. Thanks must go to Jack Davis who laboured for many hours on the fine detail at the rock face”
BI & JLS
Hard ground etching, second plate of hacked steel embossing, chine-collé. Colour variable. Printed on cream Somerset paper.
The chasms that have open up our land and the labyrinth of abandoned chambers lying beneath us are manifested in this ‘brutalised’ map. Even as mining activities scarred the landscape settlements such as Carnmenellis and Porkellis grew out of a need for shelter and food; the present day patchwork of housing, fields and still scarred land bear witness to this past while time and nature slowly heal.
“This image has three distinct layers; a free hand rendering of a map of the Carnmenellis area on copper; a sharp and irregular steel plate deeply scored by angle grinder and holed by welding; and finally the soft healing spread of luminous chine-collé.”
BI & JLS
Hard and soft ground etching with spit bite and hand colouring. Colour variable. Printed on cream Somerset paper.
Mining fortunes funded great houses and great estates which changed the landscape just as surely as the mining industries did. Plants were brought back from around the world and lush gardens were planted above the dark world of the mines that enabled them to flourish.
“We used plant material gathered from the gardens and pressed through a soft ground, combined with the exoticism of the magnolia flower; we were looking for an image of great beauty tempered by a subtle unease ”
BI & JLS
Hard ground etching with mono print. Colour variable. Printed on cream Somerset paper.
There is great pride in the inventiveness, ingenuity and engineering skills that are a hallmark of the mining era. The foundries such as those in Hayle were an integral part of the mining landscape employing large numbers of people and exporting products across the globe.
“We were so struck by an archive photo that embodied this sense of pride in achievement we adapted it here, echoing the layout of a world map with surrounding legend which alludes to the global legacy of these industries.”
BI & JLS
What lies beneath
Soft ground etching, aquatint and mono print. Colour variable. Printed on black Somerset paper.
One of the most spectacular aspects of mining in Cornwall are the submarine mines perched audaciously on the cliff edge, the shafts cut down and out below the sea itself. There are spectacular examples to be seen all around the Cornish coast from St Agnes to Rinsey with the greatest concentration found along the north coast cliffs at St Just.
“The meeting of subterranean and submarine worlds stirs the imagination; we were particularly struck by descriptions of the sounds of the sea above and the mysterious noises of the ‘knockers’ in the labyrinth of tunnels.”
BI & JLS