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Linguistics lecturer begins project to preserve mining heritage through art

Natalie Braber will collaborate with local school students, artists and BA (Hons) Fine Art students to create mining heritage exhibition.

Natalie with the team at Creswell Museum
Natalie with the team at Creswell Museum

Linguistics lecturer in the School of Arts and Humanities, Natalie Braber, has secured support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, made possible by people who play the National Lottery, to celebrate and protect coal mining heritage in north Nottinghamshire.

Until recently, coal mining was essential to the East Midlands economy, employing around 24,000 workers in the 1980s. In July 2015, the last working colliery in the region closed and coal mining in the East Midlands has now ended completely. Since the close of the coal mines, the distinctive spoil heaps are beginning to be redeveloped, leaving no visual reminder of the industry which contributed so much to the local area. Similarly, ‘pit talk’, the unique language used by miners, is being forgotten. If not preserved, ‘pit talk’ as a language could be lost within a generation.

Natalie is planning to build on her previous work with mining groups, raising awareness of the need to preserve language in the same way we might collect memorabilia for museums. Her research has also revealed a need to pass down these irreplaceable memories to a younger audience, to ensure the former mining population is never forgotten.

The project, to be run in partnership with Kidology Arts, aims to conserve the heritage of the miners and engage the community in celebrating their local language and landscape. Over the next year, the team will work with school children and mining heritage groups to create visual and sound art surrounding the important history of former coal mine areas.

Through a series of on-site workshops, the project will capture memories of these landscapes and invite participants to create their own images, supported by BA (Hons) Fine Art students and Kidology Arts. School children from three local Nottinghamshire schools will be encouraged to bring their own examples of “Pit Talk” and memories that they have discussed with parents and grandparents, enabling inter-generational discussion and discovery.

Kidology Arts consists of composer and sound artist, Amanda Johnson; and visual artist and graphic designer, Richard Johnson. Richard will host workshops with NTU Fine Art students to teach them new techniques, as well as working alongside them on the project. The sound and visual pieces will be exhibited at Creswell Museum, accompanied by workshops delivered by the artists and students. The work will later be archived online so that future generations can continue to explore their local mining heritage.

Natalie is pleased to begin working with the Heritage Lottery Fund, who invest money across the UK to help people explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. Using the funding generated byNational Lottery players, the organisation is able to support much loved historic parks and buildings, protect memories of bygone eras and conserve rare wildlife.

You can find out more about their work at: and on social media.

Linguistics lecturer begins project to preserve mining heritage through art

Published on 6 November 2017
  • Subject area: English, history and philosophy
  • Category: School of Art & Design; School of Arts and Humanities

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