From Coal Mine Waste to Landscape Painting: New British Earths - Symposium

26th Apr 2018
14:00  - 18:00
Bloomsbury Studio
15 Gordon Street
London WC1H 0AH

5 Colours Symposium

Join us for a special afternoon of talks, followed by an exhibition in the Cloisters at UCL where we'll be finding out about a strange new source of pigment for paints.

In a little-known industrial process, water is pumped in and out of redundant coal mines, creating a staggering 4000 tonnes of iron-oxide ‘ochre’ waste material every year. Research at The Slade School of Fine Art has found that this largely untapped source of ochre presents an opportunity for the development of new earth pigment for use in paint that retains the identity of its material formation in the landscape. 

The symposium coincides with a new installation of wall paintings by Onya McCausland, using these five new earth colours:
Five Colours, Five Landscapes
6pm Thursday 26th April
North Cloisters, Wilkins Building, UCL

The research has revealed that what sets these coal ochres apart is the quality of their colour and their sustainable production as part of the remediation legacy of the coal mining industry. This is in contrast to the current practise of importing natural ochres from unsustainable unnamed sources across the globe. 

From Coal Mine Waste to Landscape Painting: New British Earths is a symposium discussing the re-use and value of coal mine waste ochre materials and their position within the cultural landscape of the UK. 

Onya McCausland and UCL are working in collaboration with the Coal Authority to develop a system of sustainable manufacturing that creates a new economic cycle of material exchange that integrates cultural transformation and raises questions about the role of contemporary land art.  

The speakers include contributions from the fields conservation science, earth science, art history, industry, environment protection and fine art to examine the implications of the project from their different specialist positions. 


Spike Bucklow Reader in Material Culture University of Cambridge 
Katherine Jackson Art historian PhD researcher University of British Columbia  
Onya McCausland Artist and research Fellow Slade School of Fine Art 
Ruth Siddall Geologist and pigment analyst. UCL 
Isla Smail Hydrogeologist from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency 

Discussion will follow with the speakers and a panel of invited guests : 

Jon Aumonier Innovation project manager The Coal Authority 
Gareth Bell-Jones Curator Flat Time House 
Eric Oelkers Economic geology earth science UCL 
Emma Richardson Art history and Material Science UCL 
Joy Sleeman Art history and theory Slade School of Fine Art, UCL 
Jo Volley Artist and senior Lecturer Slade School of Fine Art, UCL 
Neal White Artist and professor of Art/Science University of Westminster 


Places are limited so it is advisable to book.

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