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King Coal’s Sacrifice

16 Sep

Charcoal and graphite drawing.


One morning when I was eleven years old our headmistress announced at assembly that a coaltip had engulfed a small primary school in a village just a few miles away. That village was Aberfan and almost 150 tiny children and their teachers were crushed and suffocated to death that dreadful day. I remember the silent sadness that hung over the school and when I went home, walking down our street, grown-ups were out talking to each other and openly weeping. I had never seen adults cry before.

And now another mining tragedy has hit South Wales as four miners died today in the Gleision pit in Cilybebyll, again just a few short miles away. We live our lives enjoying our wonderful standard of living but it’s only on days like this that we ever stop to think of the real cost of our consumerist lifestyles; the people labouring miles below ground in filthy, backbreaking conditions all over the world and the terrible cost to them and their families.

Sudden death,  burns, crippling injuries, wicked lung diseases that rot miners from the inside over many painful years before death finally claims them. And too many work in countries, for companies, that don’t have anywhere near the safety standards or free healthcare that we have here in Britain. These tragedies have been happening for centuries and they’ll keep on happening because we’ll keep on buying the goods that they provide the raw materials for.  And it will go on and on ….

This is a drawing in compressed charcoal and 6B graphite block into an A2 layout pad.


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