'One Year! Photographs from the miners' strike 1984-1985' open at Martin Parr Foundation
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'One Year! Photographs from the miners' strike 1984-1985' open at Martin Parr Foundation
Miners Strike 1984 mass picket confronting police lines, Bilston Glen. Norman Strike at the front of a mass picket, Scotland.

BRISTOL.- To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the miners’ strike this exhibition will look at the vital role photographs played during the year-long struggle against pit closures, including many materials drawn from the Martin Parr Foundation collection. The miners’ strike was one of Britain’s longest and most bitter industrial disputes, the repercussions of which continue to be felt throughout the country today.

Ephemera relating to the strike—including posters, vinyl records, plates, badges and publications— will be placed in dialogue with work by photographers who documented the events in 1984-85. Collectively, the materials demonstrate the power and the contradictions inherent in using photography as a tool of resistance. The exhibition will include photographs by Brenda Prince, John Sturrock, John Harris, Jenny Matthews, Roger Tiley, Imogen Young and Chris Killip, alongside photo albums compiled by Philip Winnard who was himself a striking miner. These works will be alongside archival press prints also from the Martin Parr Foundation collection and vernacular images taken by Swansea police on a trip to a picket line in Derbyshire, on loan from the National Museum Wales.

The photographs show some familiar imagery from the strike—the lines of police and violence—but also depict the community support and the hours of waiting on both sides of the dispute. Photography was used to both sway public opinion and to document this important period in British history. The catalyst for the miners’ strike was an attempt to prevent colliery closures through industrial action in 1984-85. The industrial action, which began in Yorkshire, was led by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and its President, Arthur Scargill, against the National Coal Board (NCB). The Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher opposed the strikes and aimed to reduce the power of the trade unions. The dispute was characterised by violence between the flying pickets and the police, most notably the Battle of Orgreave. The miners’ strike was the largest since the General Strike of 1926 and ended in victory for the government with the closure of a majority of the country’s collieries.

‘For those who have lived through this strike, its enormity cannot be underestimated. We have brought together some of the best-known photographs— including John Harris’s image of a policeman with a truncheon held from a horse waving at a cowering woman and John Sturrock’s photograph of the confrontation between mass pickets and police lines at Bilston Glen—to rarely seen snapshots taken by Philip Winnard a striking miner himself.’ - Martin Parr

‘The exhibition is an attempt to commemorate and reflect on the miners’ strike of 1984-85, a seismic, yet often overlooked event in the recent history of Britain. By focusing on the complex role photographs played during the year-long struggle we hope for the show to transcend the purely historical or nostalgic, and take the visitor on a journey through a series of timeless images that show the resilience, camaraderie and violence of the strike, to reconnect and consider it again in relation to the present.The ephemera materials show the urgent use of images and the creativity that was deployed in support of the striking miners. Together, the works tell a story of the battle against Margaret Thatcher and the National Coal Board’s pit closures, but what ultimately shines through is the unity and imagination of people coming together in defence of their communities and the basic rights to work and to survive.’' - Isaac Blease, Exhibition Curator

Martin Parr Foundation supports emerging, established and overlooked photographers who have made, and continue to make, work focussed on Britain and Ireland. The Foundation runs a programme of events, workshops and exhibitions in their gallery and event space. It holds a growing collection of significant photographic books, book dummies, prints, magazines and the archive of Martin Parr. The Foundation strives to make photography engaging and accessible for all and to reflect the diversity of British and Irish culture.

Adrian Tyler (b 1963) is a London born self-taught photographer who is currently based in Madrid. His personal projects explore biographical, environmental and political issues and much of this work examines the transient nature of time and obstacles that distract us from our reality. His work has been exhibited internationally and he has been commissioned by Greenpeace, Museo Nacional del Prado and Gehry Partners amongst others. His work has been the included in numerous international exhibitions and much of his photographic archive is held in the Martin Parr Foundation.

Jill Quigley (b. 1981) was born in County Donegal and is currently based in Belfast. She completed an MFA in Photography at Ulster University in 2014, having previously studied Art History at Trinity College, Dublin. Her work has been exhibited internationally and has been the focus of solo exhibitions at Belfast Exposed and Seen Fifteen in London. Quigley was the recipient of the Jill Todd Award in 2018, the ESPY Student Prize June and the Outstanding Student Award, Royal Ulster Academy of the Arts in 2014.

Martin Parr Foundation
One Year! Photographs from the miners' strike 1984/85
January 18th, 2024 - March 31st, 2024

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