Reporting on a busy weekend 12th and 13th March 2022, the Friends were blessed with a lovely bright day, finally feeling warm in the sun; everyone was eager to get to work under the beautiful blue sky.
Welcoming us to site, and a portent of Spring, was a symphony of birdsong, performing loudly all around the site. Looking up, we caught sight of a small group of birds alighting on the main headgear, heralding the changing seasons.
Not yet officially in Spring, and a short while before the clocks chase us up to lose an hour, the day nevertheless was mild enough to make very pleasant conditions for gardening in the Pump House Cottage garden, now rapidly taking shape as new beds are established and plants and flowers planted ready for a year of colour to come.
Meanwhile, progress was being made on many fronts across site. Inside the winding engine house, regular volunteer Mitchell was finishing the uneviable task of cleaning down the workbench surface.
Bringing new energy and enthusiasm to the task, we can also share some of the work in progress from an earlier session, through a timescape video, played at speed.
Up at the front gates, work also continued to flatten out the mound which had been built up from spoil and debris from work elsewhere on site as well as rubbish thrown over the wall in years prior to the Friends securing the site.
Previous blogs show progress in this area, but this week saw a big concerted effort to pick, mattock, shovel and barrow the remainder away to level the ground by the concrete pad.
En route a toad emerged, and a pause for lunch gave everyone a chance to catch their breath before continuing the efforts, and eventually rightly celebrating having levelled out the ground. This will allow easier access, improved parking capacity and, when grassed a more attractive and more easily maintainable entrance to site.
Good news: GNN Community Award Scheme
Earlier in the day, we received some very good news. Thanks to the initiative of our volunteers, and the generosity of Good Neighbours News magazine, we received a Community Award Scheme award for £200 which will help us continue work on renewing the garden of Pump House Cottage.
This award will help improve and maintain the new garden beds in Pump House Cottage garden, where volunteers Janet and Jeff have transformed the forgotten and overgrown patch into a new planned garden, with improved paths being planned and several new beds which will offer a range of plants and provide a haven for wildlife as well as bringing colour and beauty back to that end of the colliery site.
WE Wonder Noir
And now for something completely dark and wonderful, and different.
On Sunday 13th March 2022, the Friends ventured forth up the hill to ‘the Big House’ at Wentworth Woodhouse to visit the WE Wonder Noir art exhibition. A week of after-dark evening openings from 6-9pm to view a showcase of works from Yorkshire-based artists displayed in the grounds and within the state rooms of this majestic grade I listed house.
Building on the arts and cultural engagement work of the Great Place Wentworth and Elsecar project, working with Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, this WE Wonder Noir festival event was supported by supported by Arts Council England, Without Walls and RELOAD, receiving support from the South Yorkshire Mayor’s £1m Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
Amongst the festival’s many star exhibits, was Artist Luke Jerram’s ‘Museum of the Moon’. An immense globe 7 metres in diameter with detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, suspended, magically floating in the beautiful Marble Saloon. A touring artwork, each centimetre represents 5 kilometres of the Moon’s surface.
In the Whistlejacket Room a newly commissioner neon light artwork from Patrick Murphy, inspired by the room’s eponymous painting by George Stubbs (now in the National Gallery in London).
The new beaming horse image sat directly opposite a reproduction of the original painting as a striking contrast of classical and modern art.
Finally, we must end on a mining note! Artist Ed Carter’s ‘The Mute Still Air’ art installation lent sound, light, and movement to the State Dining Room at Wentworth. Previously exhibited at Elsecar Heritage Centre, this work was inspired by the shared insutrial atories of Wentworth and Elsecar, with a scultural installation of copper wind chimes, sounding as fans blow the air to the sound of a score featuring the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
Taking inspiration from the work of Earl Fitzwilliam’s colliery viewer and engineer, Benjamin Biram, who pioneered mechanical ventilation at the collieries – including very early and important work at Hemingfield in particular.