Farewell Rock: The Last Miners of South Wales

Hilary Powell


The last coal miners of South Wales emerge from a drift mine in the Upper Swansea Valley. 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. 

This text explores the the work produced through the Josef Herman Foundation Cymru Print Residency at The Curwen Studios in London. 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 of minerss 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. 

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