Castleford man's art celebrates Yorkshire's coal mining past

Ex-miner Harry Malkin has found success after discovering a very different seam to work

Harry Malkin was a fitter at Fryston Colliery in Castleford for 20 years, leaving when the West Yorkshire pit closed in 1985. He decided to take a complete different direction in life and retrained as an artist. He is now renowned for his work capturing scenes from life down the pit.

This month Harry, 58, is exhibiting in York for the second time at According to McGee with ‘A Life Underground: Workings from the Coalface.’

‘I started at Fryston colliery two weeks after leaving school aged 15 and went on until I was 35,’ says Harry who still lives in Castleford. ‘The big miners strike of 1984-85, the closure of the pits, and the subsequent redundancy money gave me the time and impetus to carve out another way of life.

‘I have always drawn and made things for as long as I can remember, it is the way I communicated from a very early age.’

Harry is widely considered to be one of the UK’s leading artists with first hand experience of working in mines all over the North.

‘Long gone are the queues of hunched up men waiting under smog-filled skies for buses-to-work at four and five in the morning,’

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says Harry. ‘The tools of our trade are exhibited in museum cases and, like mining itself, the art which truly reflects it, is also becoming a finite body of work as memories fade and those who experienced it grow fewer.’

Do these pieces of work revive memories of life in Yorkshire’s pits and pit villages? We’d love to hear about them.

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