Expressive Charcoal Collage: Coal Mines

By Laura McKendry

In this resource, artist Laura McKendry demonstrates different ways to make expressive marks using charcoal, in order to create a collage of a coal mine scene. This resource has been made in response to the exhibition Drawing in The Dark, a curation of Henry Moore’s coal mining drawings, inspired by the release of a new book written by art historian (and AccessArt Trustee), Chris Owen. Henry Moore is best known for his modernist sculptures but in 1942 he spent a week drawing in a Yorkshire coal mine, creating charcoal sketches of miners by the light of his headlamp. It was an experience he described as “a dense darkness you could touch, the whirring din of the coal-cutting machine, throwing into the air black dust … all in stifling heat. I have never had a tougher day in my life”.

By the end of this workshop, students will have explored ways of working expressively and abstractly using charcoal, explored different mark-making processes and have considered contrast in tone, structure, texture and line weight in building an abstract composition portraying the enclosed space of a coal mine.

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