Repurposing Waste Material
This research has presented discoveries of new sources of earth colour forming as waste from Mine Water Treatment processes across the British landscape. It has identified that each mine water ochre has a unique quality that link its colour with the specific identity of its landscape origins, and that these ochres can be repurposed and used sustainably as new colour that is named by place.
The funded doctoral part of this research was supported by artist paint manufacturer Winsor & Newton. A comparison was made with current industry standards and historic colours like sienna and umber, supported by George Field’s notes in the Winsor & Newton archive. This helped to determine if the colours could ‘perform’ in the established pigment market for artists paints.
Through developing paint with paint manufacturers and making unique artworks the research has clearly demonstrated that previously un-named and unused ochre materials forming in redundant coal mining areas can be harnessed, processed and sustainably recycled for use as high quality pigments that compare in quality to the famous siennas and umbers of the past. This establishes for the first time in over 50 years a real connection between colour and place in the British landscape.
Mine Water Treatment Schemes
This project identifies the Mine Water Treatment Schemes themselves as performing a significant cultural event in the post-industrial landscape. Their function is a necessity of the industrial legacy of coal mining that requires the clean up of polluting ground water and contaminating land. The production of ochre - as a waste material - is redefined here; repurposed as a culturally potent material that re-connects colour with its place in the landscape and shows the need for a shift in perception and change in attitude towards the earth as a finite resource.
I propose that five Mine Water Treatment Schemes are recognised as important cultural sites linking the earliest human ochre markings with the current conditions effecting the contemporary landscape. The deep orange ochre lagoons are containers for colour and monumental watercolour paintings in the ground. This has developed into a proposal and current plans with the Coal Authority to name the five Mine Water Treatment Sites as public artworks.