Some Things We Choose To Remember, Some Things We Choose To Forget, 2011

Artist residency, exhibition, publication, event

A commission to produce work inspired by the history and heritage of the county and of Snibston Museum, Coalville, Leicestershire, which was set on the site of a former mine. The museum consisted of scheduled ancient colliery buildings and railway, outside play areas, the Century Theatre, and a one hundred acre country park and nature reserve. The museum displayed a diverse and rich collection of historic objects telling the story of technology and design and how it has affected everyday life from the past to the present day. The commission was an invitation to explore its contents and narratives with staff and locals, as well as develop new audiences.

Coal has been mined in this area of Leicestershire since medieval times, a time when illuminated manuscripts were a both a key source of storytelling and of information and mythologising. The town of Coalville did not develop until the 1820s, when William Stenson sank a mine shaft on a farm alongside a track known as Long Lane in the parish of Whitwick. Snibston Colliery then opened in 1832 by George Stephenson, the railway pioneer. These pits were then worked until the 1980s. They were the very reason for Coalville to exist. The site of Whitwick Colliery is now a Morrisons supermarket and Snibston has a new identity as a heritage site and visitor attraction.

The starting point has been conversations with the staff who work here along with objects in the stores collection, those objects currently not on – or never on – display. (There are over a million objects stored in the Leicestershire museum service collections.) Rather like the coal that was once dug out of the ground here and used to produce heat and light, scraps of stories are unearthed and then this raw material was reshaped – combining facts and fictions, memoir and flights of fancy – and then partnered with photographic images for an installation both on site and as an online publication.

Supported by Arts Council England, Leicestershire County Council.

View pdf of the collected stories: Some Things We Choose To Remember

View pdf of 24 hour photo documentation: morning-to-night