A mural about past, present and future – by Ken Jones
Painted as a Triptych each frame defines the piece it surrounds but also serves as a link to introduce the next picture. The theme of ‘three’ runs heavily through the mural. This serves as a wonderful link with the Trinity and the Christian faith.
The artist acknowledges, with thanks, the fact that he lent heavily upon a local history book compiled by Stephanie Bingham (now Oldfield).
First Frame: Yesterday – a pit village.
When Pilsley was a ‘pit village’ it was a place of male activity. This centred around local industry (a Reeves-Burgess carriage is shown) and the coal mine. Mums were at home! The top of the pit is represented by a ‘Trepanna’ (cutting gear) and also by the miners waiting around – either for their next shift or for the bus home. As they wait the men are seen to be engaged in conversation – an interacting community (this is shown in the style of the artist Breughel). Below the surface the pit has three seams and the names of these are seen as on a headstone, hovering and drifting into the graveyard. This is not a colourful piece as this is now a fading memory. The skyline is recognizable but the buildings give nothing away. The scene gradually passes away into the graveyard of the church within the next frame.
Second Frame: Church – central to the village.
The church was a central and aspirational focus for the miners and they willingly supported it with money from their own impoverished pockets. A boy, complete with miner’s lamp, is shown standing in front of Christ (as in Holman Hunt’s Light of the World). Underground this boy would have been deprived not only of daylight but also of his childhood and education in order to feed industry. He carries a lamp to light the darkness and Christ’s love and care surround him as the Church becomes his educator. The possibility of a tomorrow, a new beginning is shown by the light and the dawn. In the bottom of the painting a young man is shown and there is a similarity between this lad and the pit boy. Instead of carrying the light he is now released and carrying his baby brother (in this the artist has made a personal homage to Picasso).
Third Frame: Tomorrow – a new community.
This depicts the St Mary’s Centre emerging – a linear view of time. The trees which are seen as skeletal in the previous frame are here developing as in springtime. The Pit and local industry (Reeves Burgess) vanished years ago and so reference is made to the local buildings that are now central to community life – the school and the pubs. Sadly the church no longer plays such a central part in village life but the simple clean-cut lines of this building – the newly refurbished St Mary’s Centre – show it as a symbol of the future. The main theme is depicted by the children playing – the beginning of a new community.