Born in the Lancashire town of Rochdale, Jack Crabtree developed an early and lasting fascination with the coal industry. Between 1961 and 1974, Crabtree lectured in art, first in Lancashire and then in South Wales. During this time scenes showing mining landscapes dominated his work. Living on the edge of the South Wales coalfield only furthered his desire to continue painting images of mining. His quest to paint a faithful representation of the industry and its workers led him to contact the Chairman of the National Coal Board (NCB) at that time, Sir (later Lord) Derek Ezra, to request a year’s artistic commission.
From September 1974 until August 1975, Crabtree received formal training in pit safety at the Central Training Establishment and as part of his commission was allowed access to all of the collieries throughout South Wales. His commitment to his subject was demonstrated by the amount of time that he spent in the company of the miners. As they worked underground, he worked alongside them, sketching and drawing. This played an invaluable role in winning the miners’ trust and in encouraging their interest in the final results. So strong was his interest and dedication to understanding the technicalities of mining that at one time his supervisor during this period, W. B. Cleaver, thought that he might seriously consider leaving art in order to retrain as a mining engineer.
Where to see this painting?
National Coal Mining Museum for England
Not all paintings are on display. If you want to see a particular painting, please contact the collection