John Keys was drawn to the MINED project because of the effect mining has had on the Cornish landscape. Predominantly a painter, his work previously has referenced the passage of minerals through the earth and how they are deposited on its surface. He views the act of extraction as aggressive, dragging out resources, scarring the land and its people, yet also sustaining them, leaving a bitter sweet view of its demise.
His piece, ‘Scarred’, involved close analysis and research into the exact location of the tin lodes beneath the museum. Working with miners at South Crofty, the last remaining hope for the tin industry in Cornwall, he used complex three dimensional computer mapping of the lodes to accurately define their position. This translated into a series of snaking shallow trenches around the exterior of the site where he had peeled back the turf and filled the ‘scar’ with ore; its red colour reflecting the effects of scarification, a ritual undertaken in many countries to indicate a rite of passage or key moment in a person’s life.
Sara Bowler 2008
Artist and Business Fellow in Visual Arts, University College Falmouth