June 2014 17


Hellish   23rd June

This relates to a documentary I was watching on the iplayer. It was about the artist, Jack Vettriano, who is a pitman’s son.

Jack was talking about the fact that a miner would never romaticise  being down the pit, and described the conditions as hellish. He went on to say that only people who have never been down a coal mine would ever romanticise  it. This is true.

My dad was down the pit at fifteen years old. He never talked about it much, but we all knew how horrible it was. Some things are obvious, working deep underground in cramped, wet conditions, knee-deep in water all day. Even as a child I knew his lungs were covered in black tar, as I could see it when he came in and spat in onto the fire. I can sill hear the hissing coal.

But some things aren’t so obvious. Like where do you go to the toilet? I’ll tell you where. You go in exactly the same place as you sit to eat your sandwiches. Sandwiches you eat with hands that are only white for two weeks of the year. Sandwiches you eat as you watch rats running around in front of you. And I’m not talking about Victorian times, either.

You can see the whole piece here.

10 thoughts on “June 2014 17

  1. I watched the same programme , which was fascinating. I was bought up in a mining village and agree with your sentiments.
    Did it make you angry ? the way the art world dismisses his art as not really worthy !!!
    Good luck with the building work !

    • Yes, it did make me angry. But also he seemed to consider himself to be a lesser artist, which made me sad. The art world is so elitist. I like him, but I’m not sure I should, as I think maybe his portrayal of women is sexual… I’m undecided.

  2. Oh, that program sounds fascinating!

    Wow, are there really people who romanticise the pits?
    I know this guy in Germany who retired last year from working in the mines. In the end he started having psychological problems. Not helped by the fact he is a very heavy drinker…..

    • Yes, a bit fly-on-the-wall. This one was my least favourite. I don’t know how I feel about Jack. You’ve got to admire him, building up from scratch, self-taught etc.. And the fact that he is despised by the art world makes me like him more. However, the jury is still out on the sexist charge!

      • Yes, some of his images are very strange in that regard – I’m not a fan to be honest. But I like the idea of non-art world artists make it big. Tretchikoff used to be the wealthiest artist alive, but again, a bit iffy.

      • Yes, I don’t like his work at all, but couldn’t help myself liking him after watching the programme.
        Someone was telling me yesterday that the students at the RA Schools always enter some ‘joke work’ in the Summer Show. One of them entered a painting by numbers style cat. It was made into a postcard, and was the biggest seller that year. It’s what people seem to want.
        I got your recent post via email, but when I click on it there is no page found, and your recent post doesn’t seem to be on your site, either.

      • Yes, it’s funny isn’t it. And I’m sure the artist could carry on making painting by numbers cats until they retire and everyone would like them for it. When I went to art college, my dad wanted me to become a Beryl Cook style painter. Ah, yes, the ghost post – I accidentally pressed publish instead of preview, ha ha.

  3. Pingback: 24. June 2014 | Alison Sye

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