Jan Nowak's Time and Place at the National Mining Museum in Newtongrange

By Ben Miller | 06 March 2012
A photo of a red hand against a mining backdrop and the face of an industrial miner
Exhibition: Time and Place, National Mining Museum, Newtongrange, until March 31 2012

When Jan Nowak claims a personal connection with the former Colliery housing the museum where his mixed media exhibition is being shown, it’s because the artist grew up in Newtongrange.

His grandfather and uncle were both minors before the Lady Victoria site closed in 1981 and, despite having moved to Edinburgh, his vivid memories enticed him to explore the lasting resonance of the 1,800 jobs lost.

“The Colliery is a special place,” he says, praising the museum’s “wonderful job” in preserving the surroundings. “The buildings and structures were familiar to all of us who grew and lived up in its shadow”.

Since 2010, Nowak has examined the way residents and visitors interact with the museum, witnessing the energy of crowds among the abandoned and decaying reminder of Midlothian’s industrial history and old landscape.

He uses film, altered photos and collages in the eerie Pit Head of the landmark venue, inspired by echoey interiors, pit horns, winding machinery and “the clatter of heavy boots on stone floors”. His quest is part celebration of a region’s identity, part lament to a forgotten past.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission free.
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