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A collaboration between the South Wales Miners’ Library and Swansea Print Workshop to celebrate the SWML’s 50th anniversary

We are delighted to showcase 32 prints created by our community of printmakers for MINERSIMPRINT, a collaborative project with Swansea University to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the South Wales Miners’ Library (SWML).

SPW printmakers were invited to create work in response to the rich resource of the Library, established in 1973, and now looking towards its future role – as an amazing archive of social and cultural heritage of South Wales – and its move to new premises in 2024.

It is the skill of the artist to distil the material available to them and to create work which portrays the personal while offering a wider view.

It is the power of visual arts to evoke a memory, an emotion, a recognition: the feel of a piece of coal, the rousing call of the brass band, the face of a relative, now gone.

And to ask us to reflect upon others’ lives – their losses and struggles – as we too, are drawn into the depths, to breathe the dusty air with the dark pressing around us.

The wonderful body of work is by SPW printmakers across our membership from professional to emerging artists. They each made discoveries and connections with the people and land that have been touched and shaped by the coal mining industry in this area of Wales.

The work invites us to share knowledge and to educate ourselves about life in the past and to remember and recognise the imprint of mining history on our current lives. The artwork also shows the energy and relevance of printmaking as an artform today.

Participating artists: Andrew Baldwin | Siân Barlow | David Barron | Lynne Bebb | Mike Buckley | Sarah Defriend | Sue Diamond | Jackie Ford | Sarah Hopkins | Louise Hughes | Wanesa Kazmierowska | Hannah Lawson | Lesley Lillywhite | Pat Lowe | Robert Macdonald | Dawn McIntyre | Paul Rickard | Rosie Scribblah | Peter Spriggs | Bridget Stevens | Judith Stroud

A limited number of individual prints can be purchased from Prints for Sale in our Online Shop.

Wanesa Kazmierowska | Caged | Linocut
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About the Project

In 2023, SPW began working with Swansea University on a project to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the South Wales Miners’ Library (SWML), established in 1973, as it looks towards its future role – as an amazing archive of social and cultural heritage of South Wales – and its move to new premises in 2024.

The opportunity to work on the project was opened up across SPW’s membership community from professional to emerging artists alike. Collaborative working sits at the heart of what we do at Swansea Print Workshop and such projects as this allow artists to develop their expertise by sharing skills and imparting knowledge; they allow us to nurture new printmakers and to give experienced artists the space to experiment.

Several participants had never been part of a collaborative project, working to a brief: with a specific size of image, in black and white, and using a technique which would allow an edition of prints.

For those less experienced artists, it was an opportunity to learn from other printmakers, to work with quality materials and to create work to a professional level.

And we were delighted that one of emerging artists, Wanesa Kazmierowska, a recipient of the inaugural Rosy Ind Award in 2023 was further supported in her creative development.

For the more experienced and professional artists, the ‘limitations’ of the brief gave the stimulus to experiment with different techniques and approaches to the way they usually work, for example, combining techniques.

Participating artists had access to that rich resource of SWML: printed book and pamphlet collections, including the libraries of over 60 institute and welfare halls from across the coalfield, oral history, video, poster, and banner collections.

Other organised activities included a group trip to the Big Pit National Coal Museum

A project studio day with participants working alongside each other, offering advice and sharing experience and skills …

SPW also offered a new approach to the collaborative project, creating a shared private blog where all participants could contribute their research, thoughts and work in progress and, as the project developed and artists began to edition their prints, those with more experience in this aspect of professional printmaking, generously gave their time and support.

The 32 prints were presented to Siân Williams (Head of Cultural Collections Engagement and Curation, Library and Collections) and Mark Heycock (Art Collection and Creative Engagement Coordinator) from Swansea University.

Presenting the work created through the MinersImprint project

They were delighted by the range of work – in subject matter and techniques – and had the very difficult task of selecting 21 prints that will be part of the special collection and be included in the archives of Swansea University and SPW, and the collections of all UK and Ireland National Libraries.

Viewing and selecting work for the collection

SPW printmakers have brought together a remarkable collection using traditional and innovative techniques, which capture the role of collections like the SWML in our collective understanding of the social fabric and dynamics – past, present and future – of communities across south Wales.  Above all, the prints illustrate dignity, comradeship and hope.

Siân Williams, Head of Cultural Collections Engagement and Curation, Library and Collections, Swansea University

 A limited number of Individual prints can be purchased from Prints for Sale in our Online Shop at Swansea Print Workshop

You can read about other projects we have delivered over the years in the Project Archive section on our website Swansea Print Workshop