From Darkness into Light: Graham Sutherland: Mining, Metal and Machines

National Waterfront Museum Swansea

7 Dec 2013 – 23 Mar 2014

Paintings of Geevor Tin Mine by the Neo-Romantic painter Graham Sutherland made in 1942.

Graham Sutherland had originally intended to study as a railway engineer before becoming a painter and perhaps this is why Kenneth Clark sent him to the Tin Mine at Geevor to document the war effort in 1942.  

Clark was head of the War Artists Advisory Committee, whose aim was to record Britain at war, from bomb damage in the East End of London to tin mining in Cornwall and steel works in Cardiff.

Although Sutherland’s paintings ostensibly depict miners at work, the ochre and red landscapes and the encroaching darkness resonate with an ominous symbolism. 

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Graham Sutherland painted ‘Miner Probing a Drill Hole’ in 1942, yet it is evocative of the pastoral scenes of the nineteenth-century Romantic artists. The miner’s head is raised to the heavens and he holds a crook in his left hand, reminiscent of the symbolic paintings of Samuel Palmer.

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