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Farewell Rock

Thirty five years on from the Miners Strike, the very last coal miners of South Wales emerge from a drift mine in the Upper Swansea Valley. In Farewell Rock, artist Hilary Powell documents these working men and the landscape and culture that surrounds them. Farewell Rock is the band of sandstone that lies below the coal measures. Once reached it signals ‘a farewell to riches’ and the end of coal – fitting as the last open cast mines in the region are mothballed and the colliery faces an uncertain future.  

The work was produced through the Josef Herman Foundation Cymru Print Residency at The Curwen Studio. Josef Herman was a Polish emigrant who settled in and portrayed the mining town of Ystradgynlais in the 1950s. His ‘Notes from a Welsh Diary’ became a starting point to examine the very different contemporary landscape of industrial decline and recovery. When a miner is injured the presence of coal dust in the wound creates blue scars. They call it ‘being mapped.’ These portraits are also maps – layered coal faces produced through the processes of stone and offset lithography and printed using coal dust  – an apt method for a project built on how a carboniferous collision of geology continues to form and scar a land and people.

Artist Profile(s)

Hilary Powell

Portrait of Hilary Powell
Portrait of Hilary Powell

Hilary Powell

Artist Hilary Powell works with overlooked processes, materials, people and places in unexpected ways and across a range of media, from film and book production to performance and print. Her recent practice involves collaborative acts of making from a public production line making a pop-up book now collected by V&A, Poetry Library and MoMA to recent experiments with ‘urban alchemy’ putting reclaimed industrial materials to use by reimagining traditional print techniques. From hidden histories to forgotten techniques, the core of her practice is imaginative salvage, placing value on the seemingly mundane and highlighting and creating the extraordinary in the everyday.