Slade School of Fine Art


Staff, PhD

Launch Six Bells Red

Launch Six Bells Red

Onya McCausland launches (online and with a physical presence at Six Bells Mine Water Treatment Scheme in Wales) the first colour in the range called ‘Six Bells Red’ on Friday 11 December at 12noon. Join on Zoom: To find out more about her research, see the website.

Onya McCausland, an artist graduated from UCL Slade School of Fine Art, has produced the first ever exterior / interior grade mineral based emulsion wall paint made from 100% waste ochre materials. Onya has also created a collection of paintings called ‘Colour From The Mines’ (see here for details  and  

Friday 11th December sees the launch (online and with a physical presence at Six Bells Mine Water Treatment Scheme in Wales) of the first colour in the range called ‘Six Bells Red’

  • Six Bells Red is a first edition.  It has been specially created - burnt at a specific temperature - and thereby producing a limited amount of this particular pigment. 
  • This will be a special limited edition of 100 one litre tins. Up to 50 tins will be given to the public and organisations across Gwent for the opportunity to participate in the project by painting buildings, houses, doors, gates and walls. 
  • In addition, 1,000 tubes of artists’ oil paint named ‘Six Bells Burnt Ochre’ (each with its own individual serial number) will be made available for sale at, retailing for £25. All proceeds from Turning Landscape CIC (Community Interest Company) sales will be recycled back into the project to fund more paint creation - alongside an art education programme at Six Bells. 
  • A cast iron plaque with a map of the site will be installed at the site, marking it as the source of the paint. The plaque will be visible from the footpath at the far north end of the perimeter fence.  

Onya McCausland, who developed the idea of turning recycled coal mine sludge into paint while studying for her PhD at the Slade, visited mine sites across former British coalfield locations in South Wales, Scotland, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Onya travelled around the country collecting samples of ochre to take back to a UCL laboratory and her studio where through painting, she discovered striking differences between the colours depending on their geographic location. 

Onya's practice develops an original and innovative approach to the role of the art object by making paint - including integrating its site of formation - as an artwork, that is co-produced with manufacturers and members of the local ex-mining community. Paint in tubes and tins are considered as ‘art objects’ or editioned prints for distribution and use by the community. Onya wants to encourage individuals and organisations to take up using this paint as part of a collective multi part public artwork next year. It will be free to local residents on application.  

Onya McCausland said, "The mine water treatment schemes are the really important link between the colour, the material and the place. They reflect an important part of Britain’s cultural, social and industrial history and legacy.” 

The project has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Slade School of Fine Art and UCLI&E, a group of specialists at UCL who help its academics and students turn their ideas into reality.  

UCLI&E help has included guidance and advice as well as funding from its Knowledge Exchange Fund.  UCLI&E support has also enabled the commercialisation of the paints and engagement of local communities to help bring the initiative to life. It has also been supported by Michael Harding Paints. 

Posted Monday, 7th December 2020 00:00