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  • Artists Commission - The Miners Strike 30 Years On


    2014/15 marks the 30th anniversary since the miner’s strike. This significant social and political event touched the lives of people in every mining town across Britain. This moment was the start of the eventual demise of what was once one of the UK’s largest industries, and saw a seismic shift in social and political policy. 


    The impact of this long period of industrial action, was significant for many. In Stoke-on-Trent men gave their lives, women were at the frontline, and families went without often basic necessities.


    A consortium group led by the North Staffs Miner’s Wives group has been successful in achieving a small Heritage Lottery Fund grant to mark the 30th anniversary since the miner’s strikes. 


    The project will specifically revisit the 1984 – 1985 miners strike in North Staffordshire by collecting oral histories of adults who were children growing up at the time of the struggles. It will explore what was current in the charts, how and where miners and their families socialised, and what were their interests and thoughts 30 years ago. A DVD commission will also include archive interviews recorded during the strike.

    The project will contribute to the rebuilding of a positive future for the coalfield communities and restore a sense of pride and belief in mining community life. This project is comprised of 4 distinct but related strands:

    1.Commission a documentary film maker to record the histories in a very creative way, exploring how the strike affected their friendships, communities, school relationships and family

    2.The development of an original drama. The recorded histories would inform the development of a play about their lives to be performed in Schools in 6 ex mining communities. An educational toolkit for teachers would also be developed

    3.Development and curation of an exhibition that tells the story of the strike based on research conducted by volunteers

    4. The commission of a new artist led work in response to the archive material

    5. Development of a commemorative booklet that tells the story using original archive material.

    This brief relates to item 4, a new artist led work.


    Artists Commission


    Mitchell Arts Centre, on behalf of the Miner’s Strike Programming Group are looking to commission a new artist-led work which responds on the themes and issues highlighted in the archival materials relating to the Stoke-on-Trent miners strikes. 


    The archive which is held by Brenda Proctor - founding member of North Staffs Miners Wives Group, includes a large number of personal photographs taken by the miners and their families from the period, in addition are items of ephemera including badges, and banners. 


    The strikes were well documented by the local newspaper The Sentinel and some photographs and their corresponding stories can be accessed via the local archives. 


    Additionally and short film was produced which includes footage and stills taken from the archive.New material will be filmed by a production company who will be collecting the memories of participants who were children at the time.


    There are a number of strong themes which emerge from the archive upon review, these include, but are not extensive: Changing Identity (people, place); Female Empowerment; Children and Families; Politicizing of the Working Classes; Enemy of the State; and Community Cohesion. The artist would need to spend time reviewing the archive to get a clearer sense of the key themes which could be explored.


    The group are happy to consider artists working across a range of medias. However the artist should be aware that the main gallery spaces are non-traditional and therefore work which is wall based (max 4 metres x 3 metres) or that covers a total floor space less than 9 sqm2. There is access to multiple power supplies for digital display.  


    The completed work will be on display at Mitchell Arts Centre in the first floor or second floor atrium from the


    28 February - 30 April 2015


    Timescale & Budget

    We have a combined launch event planned for the 28 February, and we wish for the work to be installed at Mitchell Arts Centre by this date.


    Upon selection the artists would be able to visit the archives and meet with key persons involved in the project. 


    There is a workshop space available at Mitchell Arts Centre from mid January to mid February which can be available for the development of work. 


    A fee of £750 is available for the work, including all materials, travel costs and expenses.


    A small additional budget is available to support installation and marketing costs.


    The artist retains the copyright and ownership of the artwork and its concept. If archival materials are used, permission should be agreed with the owner, which we may be able to support with.


    Submissions should be no longer than 2 pages of A4 and should include an artists statement, outline of your proposal and how it would respond to the objectives set out by the group, plus examples of your previous work.


    All submissions should be made via email to by Fri 9th January at 5pm. 


    If you have any questions please contact Zoe Papiernik, Mitchell Arts Centre via

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