Fashion meets mining

Barber Swindells Mining Couture exhibition at Huddersfield Art Gallery. Pictured: ventilation dress.
Barber Swindells Mining Couture exhibition at Huddersfield Art Gallery. Pictured: ventilation dress.

AN art duo have dug deep into the memories of former miners for an exciting new exhibition.

Claire Barber and Steve Swindells’ Mining Couture combines fashion, mining equipment and interviews with former pit men to create unusual sculptures.

At Huddersfield Art Gallery until Saturday August 11, the exhibition is a result of commissions by Snibston Discovery Museum in Leicestershire and Somerset Art Works and features a sculpture titled Ventilation Dress.

The piece features a booster fan, used to pump fresh air into the mines for as far as five miles, and blue floral material is inspired by the dress worn by the 1972 National Coal Queen.

Claire, a textiles lecturer at Huddersfield University, and Steve, director of research for art design at Huddersfield, visited coal queen Margaret Dominiak and spoke to her about her memories of the prestigious title.

The pair then created the Ventilation Dress, a moving inflatable based on the booster fan, which inflates and deflates as if breathing.

Alongside the duo’s sculptures, their research is also displayed for visitors to learn more about their work and the former miners interviewed for the project.

Guided tours of the exhibit are also available from student ambassadors from the University of Huddersfield on Saturdays from 11am to 1pm and Tuesdays from noon to 2pm.

Admission is free.