Tomb of The Unknown Miner

Tomb of the Unknown Miner by artist Gregory, Molecules of Emotion, modern art,

I had forgotten how large this painting was, because I finished it a month or so ago, and at about  2 metres square canvas I have had to photograph it in segments ( it truly makes an interesting bedspread, especially  if you don’t have a wall big enough, and I don’t!). I hope you are able to get the overall impression of my work.

It is a painting which is in part an acknowledgement to the lost mining industry in the UK; and in part a personal remembrance to the life and work of my father, who started working in the pits at the tender age of fourteen. Lying over the top of the painting are the zeros and ones of digital code which represent the new digital era.

Tomb of the unknown Miner

Coal dust and miners’ stories were just part of my everyday life whilst I was growing up. In my mind it would have been an excepted and ultimate career path for myself and my brothers. Although my father had higher hopes that education would take us away from what he had experienced and give us a better quality of life.

Margaret Thatcher

As a teenager, Margaret Thatcher’s troops came to town and drew her battle lines in the dust. My father and one of my brothers  (the middle of three brothers ) became conscripted by occupation into the battle. Unfortunately my elder brother, had recently become a policeman by this time, he quickly became a member of the opposition. A family divided, due to politics of all things, was not a good place to be. If you recall the film Billy Elliot, I was like Billy in that I wanted to be an artist. Sadly for me my wishes did not that cut any slack with my father’s choice. He had perceived me as a professional,in his eyes I was destined to be different alright, not a miner but a scientist or a “ologist” with letters after my name.

The Tomb of the Unknown Miner is a picture of remembrance for those miners who paid the ultimate price  whilst trying to earn a crust of bread. In my local town of Tamworth there where numerous pits, and many deaths each year. The youngest was a George Evans, who was killed at the aged 12, whilst working at the Birch Coppice Colliery and the oldest was a James Hewbury aged 73 who died in 1891.

Poetry and the Miners

A mining disaster in 1844. (unknown author)

The search from vain luxury.

May loose his life and Pity shed.

A few cold tear drops o’er his bed; but here, were hindered for our good.

Are undemanding life and food.

Most hardly cared, how should we weep.

To see ones indigenous sweep.

So many being snatches by fate, so many left to desolate.

How many tears are broken there? How many hopes change to despair?

Oh! This is the subject for true grief. When even the tears can’t find relief.

And then the solemn cavalcade, the melancholy long parade.

That through the churchyard slowly winds.

With widows, orphans, sisters, friends, Fathers and Mothers all in tears. Weeping o’er untimely biers.

This is the scene to wound the sense, of heart with Pity’s last pretence.


Painting the Tomb of the Unknown Miner

There is an inextricable link to my emotions,and the memories of the mining tales my Father told me. This painting is a testament to the dangers he and all miners faced. My memories are filled with many Molecules of Emotion.I have painted the many miners as faceless men and boys, who continue to work within the confines of MoE’s.

Tomb of the Unknown Miner, a painting from Molecules of Emotion by Gregory, Contemporary Art by Gregory

I  have been down a working mine, and when you switch your head lamp off, believe me, you really cannot see your hand in front of your face. It can be windy, hot, noisy, claustrophobic, stinking of shit ( be mindful that there are no toilets with nice clean hand towels and soap down here!) dust in your nose and ears…in fact everywhere!


Blackness on walls, blackness on floors, black air everywhere; in my painting some of that blackness is stained with the blood of miners. Blackness is pervasive, all that shows is their bloody outlines and headlamps which illuminate nothing. The miners are faceless and unknown. Do remember they were once the proud fathers, sons, and brothers of  meaningful family groups.

Tomb of the Unkown Miners by Gregory, Molecules of Emotion artist Gregory,

Digital Age

Our modern days are now wiping clear many of the marks of yesteryear. The weight of the digital age now lies firmly over the past, confining the British mining industry and the Thatcherite politics to the history books. Well, that’s what I thought until they released the film!