The artist said about this piece in 2007: "I can still recall seeing, during a beach exploration on the Northumberland coast, a spectacular swirling swathe of black on the beach left by the receding tides. Should we take some home? Coal. I was to learn later that coal picking was a time-honoured activity supplementing the family income in times of need. It was also developed into legitimate business ventures with horse and cart. My mother recalled that the desperate scouring of the beaches during the general strike frequently resulted in ill-tempered friction between families. My uncles never complained, evading serious comment on working conditions, particularly under the sea with humorous anecdotes. They used to say at Blackhall Colliery that they worked so far out under the sea that they only took two slices of bread for their bait to go with the fish. Or my uncle's humour, when we were young, 'we worked so far out under the sea that by the time we got there it was time to come back'. It is unlikely that the children of today's generation would have seen or touched what to them is just another mineral in the geological museum. The silhouette in the distance is the power station at Lynemouth, which provides electricity for the Alcan aluminium smelter."
Where to see this painting?
Woodhorn Museum & Northumberland Archives
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