Portraying the people we know in a new art exhibition in Muswellbrook

January 08, 2015

An artist has spent hundreds of hours sketching and painting hundreds of metres below ground and in industrial surrounds for a project to tell a very personal story of family, personality and passion in the mining industry.

A new exhibition by Hunter-based Christine Pike at the Muswellbrook Regional Art Centre will show her interpretation of the dozens of miners, men and women, who she has met in her time at mine sites across the region.

“Miners are people and we need to see them as people. They're hard working, they're loyal, they give so much back. Just about every pit I went to had people raising money for some sort of charitable organisation and I just wanted to portray them as the people I know,” Christine said.

Christine has a long association with mining. Her father and step-father were both miners. Three of her uncles were miners too, including one who started out with pit ponies and spent decades in the industry seeing the major changes in safety, technology and output. 

Now her brother Michael and her son Andrew work in mining too and were both sketched in her preparation for the exhibition, which has resulted in around 115 works being on display.

“I've focused on the portraits, to show the people as they are. But I’ve also got paintings of the men and women in their environment, doing their jobs as shotfirers, dragline operators and washery managers.

“The miners were great in every place. I spent time with all of the different people in the pit. They were jovial, they all seemed to love their families, and miners seem these days to be much healthier and fitter than the old days when my father and step-father were young and in the mines.”

Christine visited underground mines and open cut mines in the Upper Hunter and Lake Macquarie. She even spent some time at the Jim Comerford Miners Memorial Wall near Cessnock to reflect on the men that had lost their lives on the jobs in years past.

“I learned a great deal and it instilled in me that miners are wonderful people, they have an instinct of looking out for one another. I was well looked after. Even though they might banter, they are always on the watch and looking out for one another. I always felt safe.”

Christine Pike’s ‘Coal Miners’ exhibition is at the Muswellbrook Regional Art Centre from Saturday 10 January 2015 to 22 February 2015. Opening hours are Tuesday to Friday 10am - 5pm and weekends 10am - 1pm. The Muswellbrook Regional Art Centre is closed on public holidays.

The NSW Minerals Council has assisted Christine in the development of her work for this exhibition. 

Sign up for more information and Updates from NSW Mining