An exhibition of ceramics made of clay found in Penwith tin mines
The casts from the hands of 19 former Geevor miners who had met at last year at Geevor Gala day are part of a ceramic exhibition that coincides with the centennial of two major events - the sinking of Victory shaft at Geevor Mine and the Levant mining disaster which claimed 31 lives.
Dominique Fuglistaller, a Penzance sculptor, and Alison Cooke, a London ceramicist, took inspiration from two Penwith tin mines, Geevor and Rosevale. They have produced a series of ceramics made entirely from clay found within them. Accompanying photographs by Adam Sharpe, archeologist, illustrate the origins of the clays.
At Geevor, now the Geevor Tin Mining Museum, clay is found in the tailings, the waste sludge left over from the process of extracting cassiterite (tin ore) out of the pulverised rock.
Rosevale mine is an ancient tin mine closed since 1910 which is under ongoing restoration by the Rosevale Historical Mining Society. Deep within the mine, clay is flushed through cracks in the rock and collects naturally within the mine workings.
A variety of different clays were discovered. Most were challenging to work with and did not behave predictably as commercial clays do, being prone to collapsing, cracking and melting. The ceramicists chose to use them in their natural state embracing their unpredictabilities and limitations.
Dominique’s approach was to look at key tools and operations used in the ore processing above ground, using water and gravity as the driving force. Alison’s approach was to explore the immense structures still present in the ground beneath our feet and the great feats of engineering that created them.
The exhibition Tin Mine Clay is in the mill of Geevor Tin Mine from July 18th until October 2019.
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