Mining Museum digs deep to purchase Henry Moore drawing

  • 13 March 2007

Thanks to a £3,150 grant from The Art Fund, the National Coal Mining Museum for England in Wakefield has bought a drawing by Henry Moore. Miner Drilling was purchased at auction for £25,200.

Miner Drilling will be the first work of art by internationally renowned artist Henry Moore (1898-1986) to enter the museum’s collection.

The son of a coal miner, Moore was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire, and although best known as a sculptor, he produced an important body of drawings in the wartime years which were to profoundly influence his post-war sculptural work. Miner Drilling was completed in the summer of 1942 when Moore spent time at Wheldale Colliery, Castleford as a war artist.

The sketch, in pencil and colour crayon, with pen and ink and wash on paper, shows a single miner awkwardly drilling the coal face - his posture twisted and hunched. Colliery work by war artists is particularly significant as mining became a reserved occupation during the Second World War – meaning that miners could not join ‘regular’ forces. Despite this, so many left the industry that from 1943 men were conscripted to work in the mines. Known as the ‘Bevin Boys’, many were not released from their duties until well after the war was over.

Miner Drilling is now on display at the National Coal Mining Museum for England, Overton, Wakefield.

Related Links:

National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield