Stories From Underground, by Colette Campbell-Jones are visual reconstructions of oral histories from the coal miners of South Wales. Campbell-Jones was inspired to retell the stories of this vanishing culture after spending time with her husband’s family in the small town of Ton Pentre.
“The underground imagery of the mine is profoundly mythical, an archetype associated with darkness, the unknown and the primordial. Stories From Underground reveal the strange light of a people who have emerged from the mine’s conditions of incommensurable darkness, from the Abyss.
“Coal mining, its history as one of the oldest Industrial Revolution cultures and the stories for the miners are manifestation of the Abyss-- embodying the fear of being literally consumed by the earth underground (and its parallel to a more ancient terror of the carnivorous primordial forest lurking deep within the recesses of the psyche) and the frightful economic machinery above. Stories From Underground is a fairy-tale reconstructed from an unbroken lineage of oral histories in the South Wales coalfields. These stories developed over two and a half centuries from the invention of ‘deep shaft’ technology, making cheap energy available on a scale that transformed humanity and created the modern world.” -Colette Campbell-Jones
Using a self described “hybrid process” combining documents with manipulated digital imagery, Campbell-Jones is able to interweave the various stories and histories of the Welsh mining communities into individual narratives. The images in Stories From Underground reference drawing and printmaking process and appear almost as if they could be charcoal drawings.
Campbell-Jones received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. During her senior year she was accepted into the graduate fellowship program at the Headlands Center for the Arts where she continues to work today as an Affiliate Artist. Rapidly gaining recognition, she has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions up and down the west coast. Her most recent exhibit was at the Palo Alto Center for Fine Arts where she installed two forty-foot murals. photo-eye exhibited images from Stories From Underground at photo L.A., 2011. This solo exhibit at photo-eye Gallery will be Campbell-Jones’ debut exhibit in Santa Fe, NM.
(Images: Colette Campbell-Jones, Coal Door, Film and Digital Darkroom Hybrid Process, 40x40"; Histories, Film and Digital Darkroom Hybrid Process , 40x80"; Courtesy of the artist and photo-eye Gallery)
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