It must be somewhere here – Amber Brown

It must be somewhere here’ is a year-long survey of the Northern deep coal-mining landscape. As the granddaughter of two miners, it acts as both a geographical study and inquiry into ancestry.

A departure to colour depicts former colliery sites which have been visually affected by the chemical aftermath of deep coal-mining. Unnaturally high levels of manganese in still-draining mine water stains rocks orange, and the erosion of cliff formations reveals materials from a colliery landfill. I record various places of memorial and colliery remains. Through ‘slow’ large format photography and the photopolymer gravure, I create work in which time cannot be specified, where the process is elongated as much as possible, commenting on manual labour, materiality and the ritual of returning home to walk in the empty industrial lands where man once laid his hand.

The project began from a fascination with Woodhorn Colliery and researching my family history – both my grandfathers were miners. In this project, I’m using labour-intensive techniques to document and manipulate my own images of the landscapes – either remains, memorials or new lands completely. I look at the traces left by the mining industry both on a physical and human level. Large format photography alone is somewhat meditational in the control and precision that comes with having a small amount of images to expose. Similar to that romantic element of working in a darkroom, I find peace in a print studio. It’s a physical process but is also very satisfying and prone to trial and error. Process is paramount in my work and this marriage of printmaking and photography runs through my practice, emphasising the textural, overgrown landscapes which I depict.

I am a Northumbrian photographer, printmaker and early-career curator based in Durham, UK.  Having graduated from Edinburgh College of Art with a BA degree in photography, I am now studying for my Masters in art museum and gallery studies at Newcastle University, where my areas of interests are artist-run spaces, contemporary and documentary photography and relationships between the latter and ethics. My work explores place, home and belonging through cultural, political and personal narratives. It is rooted in many slow, ritualistic processes which largely fall under the umbrella of printmaking and large format photography where I employ labour-intensive techniques in my investigations of the post-industrial landscape, ideas of Northernness and how archives can interact with the contemporary.

amberbrownphoto.com / @amberbrownphotography