An attractive portrait of County Durham painter and etcher Tom McGuinness (1926-2006) dominates this fine edition of the National Coal Board's news and magazine series. Of North East England's many talented miner-artists, McGuinness (from Witton Park, near Bishop Auckland) was arguably the most gifted of all. Mining Review here pays thoughtful tribute on the occasion of McGuiness' first major London show.
By the time of this film, Mining Review had spent 25 years exploring two overarching themes in UK coalmining: the technical and safety aspects, as in this edition's opening story about measures against methane, and its cultural and social dimensions, as in the McGuinness item. Though they probably wouldn't have described their work as art, the NCB's filmmakers no doubt felt a certain affinity for McGuinness' rendering of "texture and history" on canvas, paper and plate. On celluloid, they too engraved industrial images: below ground, the play of light against darkness and compositional elements like pit-props and conveyers, above it, close communities framed by steep terraces and towering pitheads. But unlike the Mining Review films, McGuinness' art was ultimately a personal statement - going beyond realism or even impressionism into the realms of expressionism.