A new art installation inspired by the region’s iconic mining banners and the materials and techniques used in the mining industry has gone on display at Woodhorn Museum. Notice, by artist Imogen Cloët, uses sound, imagery and text to reflect the parallels between the maintenance and repair used in Woodhorn’s industrial past with today’s conservation and protection of the natural environment.
The installation draws on the history of the heritage buildings and hand painted signage at Woodhorn Museum to invite audiences to think about society’s collective hopes for the future of the environment.
More than 300 local people contributed to the piece, including local families and the Age UK Gardening Group, by sharing their thoughts, hopes and aspirations for the environment.
Artist, Imogen Cloët, said: “The banners seem particularly resonant in the current times of environmental and political unrest, protest and activism. I found them powerful and uplifting with the idea of hope for the future captured in each one.
“The original purpose of a building or room and its stories are important to me. I always create work specifically for a space, so the space becomes an integral part of the work.”
Notice features a large steel banner in the Cage Shop (and former Tanky Engine Shed) at Woodhorn Museum emblazed with the word ‘Hope’. Welded steel was used regularly in this building when Woodhorn was a working colliery to repair and maintain the cages and engines that were used to move coal, men, and materials up and down the mine shafts.
Accompanying the ‘Hope’ sign is a soundscape featuring the voices of local people talking about their hopes for the future of the environment. The audio also features the sound of bird song recorded in and around Woodhorn Museum. The soundscape contrasts with the industrial use of the building, which would have been filled with the noises of a busy working colliery.
On the outside of the Cage Shop, specially made planters on the window sills further reference the message of maintenance and repair for the natural environment, whilst a hand painted sign at the entrance – inspired by the various signs in the collections at Museums Northumberland and onsite at Woodhorn Museum – features an inspiring and humorous quote from a member of the local community about the opportunity we have to save the planet.
Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “The contrast between the fossil fuel mined at Woodhorn Museum and the future of the environment is an area that continues to inspire a lot of work we present at Museums Northumberland.
“Imogen has combined the messages of hope, unity and activism reflected on the mining banners with the history of the site to open a conversation around the importance of our natural environment, and what we want our environment to look like both now and in the future.”
Running alongside Notice is a series of family friendly craft sessions inspired by the new art installation. Banner and Branches takes place every day over the summer holidays (12noon-3pm, 22 July – 03 September) and has been developed by artist Bethan Maddocks. Children and families can help create a series of Miners’ Banners using paper art, drawings, words and decorations. The sessions are free to attend (no advance booking required) and visitors can also have their picture taken inside a 3D paper banner sculpture also created by Bethan.
Notice by Imogen Cloët is on display at Woodhorn Museum until 03 September.
Entry to Woodhorn Museum is free for children aged 0-16, with an admission charge of £7 for adults and £6 for concessions. All passes are valid for unlimited visits for 12 months from the date of issue.
Woodhorn Museum is part of Northumberland’s museum service, Museums Northumberland, which cares for sites of historic interest and collections across the county. Museums Northumberland comprises Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Hexham Old Gaol and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.
For more information, images or interview requests, please contact David Brookbanks on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07948 563 612.
Notes to editor
About Museums Northumberland
Museums Northumberland (the public name for Woodhorn Charitable Trust) is Northumberland’s museum service, which cares for sites of historic interest and collections across the county.
Museums Northumberland comprises Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Hexham Old Gaol and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.
Museums Northumberland is supported by Northumberland County Council and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.