A different view…

To most people a mine is a ‘hole in a hillside’ that is simultaneously dark, mysterious and dangerous, and a place to be avoided at all costs. The reality is that, if care is taken, the danger can be minimised and the mystery and darkness dispelled. Artists rarely paint the insides of mines, since after all ‘black’ does not have many variations. However, near the mine entrance (or portal) , there is a little more light, and the image below shows what can be seen when looking outwards towards the mine entrance (or portal).

The view in this instance is towards the mine tiphead (where the waste rock is dumped) and shows the tramway (light railway) along-which wagons of waste rock were pushed to be dumped. As can be seen, daylight can only come so far into the mine working, but as it does, the colours of the rock and the surrounding vegetation have a certain charm.

Title: ‘View out towards the adit portal of the Fame and Fortune Low Level; Waiotahi Valley, Thames, New Zealand’.

Media: Acrylic paint on canvas paper

Owner: Artists own collection.

This work is copyright.

 

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‘View out towards the adit portal of the Fame and Fortune Low Level; Waiotahi Valley, Thames, New Zealand’.

A different view…

Pages from a sketchbook: Working In The Dark – Literally

By its very nature, and irrespective of what is being extracted,  an underground mine is a dark place to work. It has, in fact been likened to ‘being buried-alive for eight hours a day’. There is, of course. little art to convey what this is like; since after all, black (intense, almost touchable black) is just that’ ‘black’.  However, the addition of light, whether from candles, carbide lamps or  electrical battery-powered lights attached to safety helmets  does (literally) brighten the scene and it is this that I have attempted to portray in the images presented below:

Titled:  ‘View from a Chamber towards a Shaft’. the first image attempts to convey the depth of the darkness (as shown in the entrance to the shaft visible in the background) and also the small amount of light given-off by the use of candles within the shaft chamber; the candles appearing as circles of light  with only a very small field of illumination around them and across the waiting ore wagon in the foreground.

Title:  ‘View from a Chamber towards a Shaft’.

Media: pen and Ink liner on 100gsm cartridge paper.

Owner: Artist’s own collection.

This work is copyright

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View from a Chamber towards a Shaft.

A scene with a similar theme appears below, and shows two miners using a Lyner-brand compressed-air rock drill at a working face. Again, the darkness is illuminated only by candles, and the area is full of shadows as a result.

Title: ‘Lyner Stoping Drill’

Media: pen and Ink liner on 100gsm cartridge paper.

Owner: Artist’s own collection.

This work is copyright

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Lyner Stoping Drill.

 

 

 

 

 

Pages from a sketchbook: Working In The Dark – Literally

Pages from a sketchbook: ‘Single-Handed Driving’

In my posting of 11 January 2016, I  referred to the use of compressed-air as a motive-power for rock drills used underground. The image below illustrates the method used prior to the invention and production of such drills, and essentially uses ‘main force’ (a man swinging a hammer) to drive a pointed length of steel (termed a ‘drill’) into a rock face.

Known as either ‘Single-Handed Drilling’ or ‘Single-Handed Driving’ and with little refinement (and that of a metallurgical nature) this method had been in use for centuries. It was, if you will, the ‘traditional’ method of drilling holes in both underground and surface mining operations.

In Single-handed Drilling (and as can be seen), two men were involved; the ‘Driller’ (who held the pointed and especially-hardened steel drilling rod against the rock face) and the ‘Striker’ who wielded a steel-headed hammer and repeatedly struck the outer (flattened) end of the steel drill, forcing it into the rock.

The ‘Driller’ sat cross-legged on the floor of the mine working, holding the drill steel (the pointed steel rod) against the rock. the Striker being placed at the other (outer) end previously referred-to.

The holes were driven in series and to a pre-determined pattern , and when the drilling of all the required holes was completed, were filled with explosives.  These in turn were detonated and the rock. after falling to the floor of the working, was taken away for chemical processing to extract the metal it contained.

The drill teams worked within spaces that measured (at most) 5ft tall x 6 ft wide, and  with only candles to provide illumination. The need for mutual trust between the team members will be evident.

it should also be noted that, on occasion, there could be two ‘strikers’ operating in the same enclosed environment, such a situation being termed ‘Two-Handed’ Drilling.

Surprisingly, such methods  could drill holes into the rock face quite quickly, but, as technology developed, not quickly-enough, and these methods were eventually replaced by more-efficient mechanical rock drills, driven by compressed air. In that context, the well-known American song about ‘John Henry was a Steel-Drivin’ Man’ refers to the attempt by a Single-handed drilling team to improve their efficiency and delay their replacement by a compressed-air drill.  As we know, they failed in the attempt…

Title: ‘Single-Handed Driving’

Media: Black ink pigment liner (0.3 nib) on white cartridge paper.

Ownership: Artist’s personal collection.

This work is copyright.

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Pages from a sketchbook: ‘Single-Handed Driving’

The Komata Reefs Battery

The Komata Reefs old Mining Co. Ltd. was a British-financed gold mining company located at Komata, a location at the bottom end of New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula.

The mine was located 1.5 miles from the Company’s battery and was connected to the latter via a tramway.  This is visible at the top left hand of the image, behind the battery  building. While a horse initially provided the motive power for the tramway, the horse was eventually replaced by  a steam locomotive.  The locomotive subsequently suffered a boiler explosion which destroyed it, and the horse was reinstated.

Title: The Komata Reefs Battery, Komata, North Island, New Zealand.

Media: Acrylic paint on canvas paper.

Ownership: Artists own collection.

This work is copyright.

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The Komata Reefs Battery, Komata, North Island, New Zealand.

 

 

The Komata Reefs Battery

The Woodstock Battery

As with the previous image, the Woodstock Gold-Ming Co. Ltd. was located at Karangahake, in New Zealand’s North Island.  The Company was formed in the early year of the Ohinemuri (Oh-hin-ee-moo-ree) goldfield and existed as a separate entity  for several decades.  it was eventually taken-over by the neighbouring Talisman Consolidated Ltd.

The image shows the Woodstock’s 40-stamp battery which the Company constructed at the confluence of the Ohinemuri and Waitawheta (Y-tah-fee-tah) Rivers, the Ohinemuri being visible in the foreground of the painting, the Waitawheta in the center, to the right of the battery building.

The battery suffered a  major fire in 1910, and this was followed shortly-after by severe structural damage as the Ohinemuri rose in flood.  The battery was dismantled as a result.

Title: Woodstock Battery, Karangahake

Media: Acrylic paint on canvas paper.

Owner: Artists own collection.

This image is copyright

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WOODSTOCK BATTERY, KARANGAHAKE.

 

The Woodstock Battery

Talisman Consolidated Ltd.

Talisman Consolidated was a London-based gold mining company that operated a mine at Karangahake (Car-rang-uh-hack-ee) in New Zealand’s North Island from approximately 1893 to  1921.  It was one of the ‘Big Three’ gold mines in the area, and was , for a time, one of the biggest gold producers in New Zealand.  However, the gold effectively ran out during WW I, and the Company closed  its battery  and mining operations in December 1919.

This painting is based on a photograph that appeared in the New Zealand Mines Handbook published in1906. Subsequent research indicates that the sides of the building could possibly have been painted Red Oxide (as appearing in the May Queen (Hauraki) painting that I posted on 5 May 2016). This cannot however be confirmed, although research into the matter continues.

Title: ‘The Talisman Consolidated Battery at Karangahake’.

Notes: Acrylic paint on canvas.

Ownership: Artist’s personal collection.

(This work is copyright).

 

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THE TALISMAN CONSOLIDATED BATTERY AT KARANGAHAKE.

Talisman Consolidated Ltd.

The May Queen

The painting  below is of the May Queen of Hauraki Gold Mining Co. Ltd.’s  Poppet Head (Headframe), surface buildings and Mullock (waste rock) dump.  The ‘Queen was located in the Karaka Creek area of the Thames (New Zealand) goldfield, and was one of the last of the large Thames gold mines to operate.

Title: May Queen of Hauraki Gold Mining Co. Ltd, Thames, 1910.

Media: Acrylic paint and ink pen on canvas paper

Ownership: Artist’s personal collection.

(This image is copyright).

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MAY QUEEN OF HAURAKI GOLD MINING CO. LTD., THAMES, 1910.

The May Queen