The Blast Series of works.
In the summer of 2010 I revisited a particular stretch of coastline, locally referred to as ‘The Blast’ near my home town, Seaham. I hadn’t been there for nearly forty years. It had been the dumping ground for the local coal mine until the mines were closed in the eighties. When I was very small I had walked along the coast with my father, on ‘pay day’ to collect his earnings from the wages office at the mine. We’d stop and he would point in the direction of the horizon and explain that was where he worked; three miles out and deep below the North Sea. It was a concept I could never come to terms with. As a teenager I would occasionally visit ‘The Blast’ with friends. This was a place so desolate and grim it attracted various film producers and the iconic movie ‘Get Carter’ starring Michael Caine concludes with the bad guy meeting his fate here and finally being dropped out to sea from a coal conveyor. Later, the opening scene from ‘Aliens 3’ was also shot here; a bleak testimony to the qualities of The Blast landscape.
Forty years on since my previous visit, nature has made an amazing attempt to reclaim what is hers and the ravages of industry have been softened to a degree where a strange lunar kind of landscape now prevails. The sea has removed nearly all of the detritus and continues to eat away the coal/sand aggregate leaving an exposed shelf, revealing varying strata of industrial waste. At the foot of the limestone cliffs an iron inclusion weeps red-brown stains into a large marooned rock pool known as ‘Red Lake’. Sun baked mud dries cracked and crazed with visceral ooze seeping between the gaps. There is an overload of visual metaphor and yet a strange stark beauty has won over.’