A set of 4 multiple exposures created in June 2009. 8 photographs made at the remains of Cwm Coke in Beddau (South Wales) and on the Zorrotzaurre Peninsula in Bilbao (The Basque Country, North Spain).

5000 Postcards on Breeze Block plinth. Image shows the remaining furnace at Altos Hornos de Vizcaya in Sestao (The Basque Country, North Spain), soon to be restored as a Heritage Park. Created for the exhibition Ghosts in Armour Elements: 3 at The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea in November 2009.


SENTINEL – “You’d never know”
A Preliminary Proposal for Ghosts in Armour Elements 3 by James Milne and Kenneth Trayner

Heritage operations are attempts to displace Time. They try to preserve a “pocket” of a disappearing industrial area (for example) physical, with us, available. They want to offer the Present and the Future a glimpse of the Past, denying the disappearance of an entire World, promising the possibility of understanding and appreciation (if only in fragments).

The Sestao Furnace is a remnant of the vast complex that once occupied a large expanse of land in an important Industrial region. Until it became a POST-INDUSTRIAL REGION, an ICONIC CULTURAL CENTRE, a growing TOURIST ECONOMY, an area that will benefit from REGENERATION, and so on.

The Furnace structure itself has witnessed the decline and erasure of its own environment. Silently, it has watched the physical changes in the landscape around it. Without comment, it has observed the consequences; their effects on the identity of the region and the people who live there.

We propose to reproduce an original image of the Furnace, as it stands today, as a die-cut “novelty” postcard. So the postcard itself will share the shape of the structure, stripping the image of its original context.

Every card produced will be presented on a small plinth in the exhibition space. Visitors will be free to take as many copies as they wish, until none remain, revealing either a map or an annotated aerial photograph of the site on the surface of the plinth.

Our aim is to communicate the concept of the structure as witness by introducing a specific structure into the lives of visitors to the exhibition. Rather than creating a work which replicates or reflects the scale and complexity of the changes in the Basque Region we will reproduce the image of an object which has witnessed them first hand. The image can then, in turn, witness changes in the lives of those who carry it away from the museum. In this way it will be injected into a separate culture experiencing its own Industrial decline.

For many people in the Sestao area the final Furnace is an object of nostalgia, a memory receptacle, having been so present throughout their lives.
SENTINEL – “You’d never know” proposes to reproduce this for anyone wishing, for whatever reason, to take the structure into their own life.

ON REFLECTION, the key strength of Centinela/Sentinel was its sculptural presentation, since the slow but inevitable disappearance of the postcards which composed it mirrored/reflected the loss of similar structures across Europe.

Slide show presentation; 26 original photographs interspersed with archive material from the Industrial Heritage Archive based in The National Waterfront Museum. Created for the exhibition Ghosts in Armour Elements: 3 at The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea in November 2009. NEVER EXHIBITED.

The following thoughts/reflections were published on ghostsinarmour.com on August 31st 2010:

These images were part of a work to have been called E/OF AN ERA, N/OF MEMORIES.

A slideshow was to intersperse these photographs among archive images, accompanied by a small handout:

A description of Cynffig as it is today should contain all Cynffig’s past. The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls. But in vain we set out to visit the city: forced to ramain motionless and always the same in order to be more easily remembered, Cynffig has languished, disintegrated, disappeared. Whether Cynffig is like this because it is unfinished of because it has been demolished, we do not know. Abandoned before or after it was inhabted, Cynffig cannot be called deserted.

The document also reproduced text from the archive, for example:

Information transferred from negative bag reads: ‘VENAULT IRONWORKS. Detail of base of original stack, looking S. Blaengurach Glam.’

A blast furnace was built at Cwmgwrach to make pig iron - 1839-42, it was known as venault ironworks. I t used abthracite in the smelting process. There are on site a pair of tuyeres embedded in a large lump of slag, the remains of an engine house and charging platform.



Information transferred from neg bag reads Victoria furnaces and coke ovens, EBBW VALE

Iron making at Ebbw Vale itself began in 1786 when Walter Watkins erected a small forge nearby. A partnership with Jeremiah Homfray was agreed in 1789 and the first major furnace and works built in 1790. The Harfords bought out Homfray in 1796 and began a period of steady expansion which lasted until 1842. In 1844 Ebbw Vale Company purchased by Abraham Darby. A limited liability company was formed in 1864 becoming the Ebbw Vale steel, iron and coal Company in 1868. The works were nationalised in 1950. The last furnace was tapped in 1978.



PROJECT004:Ghosts of the 20th Century

A set of 2 postcards. Inverted archival images from the National Archive in Bilbao (The Basque Country, North Spain). Created for the Open Studios event at the Bilbao Arte Foundation, Bilbao (The Basque Country, North Spain) in January 2010.


46 page Publication (Self-published).

Presents a set of 10 original Polaroids taken in and around Redcar (Teesside, North-East England) in August 2010 and accompanying texts. Published March 2011.


MONUMENTS presents two parallel texts written after the short series was completed: one documents the circumstances of each image’s creation, while the other tries to explore the imaginative leaps they suggest.

A set of 26 original Polaroids created in the abandoned houses at New Lanark (Scotland) in April 2008. Each image was “edited” with Correction Fluid between September 2010 and August 2011.

Water Row and Double Row are tenement rows in the cotton mill village of New Lanark. Formerly worker’s homes, these spaces have been deliberately left in the dilapidated condition they were in when UNESCO granted the site World Heritage Status in 2001. The rest of the village and its mills have been fully restored, while the two tenement rows have been kept as Time Capsules; tiny pockets of the past, reflections of how far conditions fell and how far they have risen.

The series uses Correction Fluid to “edit” unsuccessful Polaroid images of the rooms inside these former homes in an effort to find the successful elements within each image. The are “recovered” works: unsuccessful prints stored in a box for two years before a means of recovering them was identified.

MOCK-UPS for an aborted exhibition project in Cape Town, South Africa.

From the proposal:

The Industrial Photographic Archive housed at the National Waterfront Museum (Swansea) is a refuge for mining imagery documenting sites that are closed, demolished or being reconfigured beyond recognition through technological advance.

The abundance of visual material presents an opportunity to study and reflect upon the dramatic economic and cultural changes witnessed / endured by recent generations. Countless images of headgears are the residual material from past decades when industrial structures and operations were considered permanent fixtures of the local landscape. The randomly ordered accumulations of photographs in the archive are raw materials for thinking history, visual markers which, in the majority of cases, are all that remain.

Approached as merely a collection of images the archive is almost impossible to navigate; giving the impression of a vast half-charted sea, not unlike the history it reflects. This is precisely why the archive index is such a valuable tool, a map of the territory explored: each item is catalogued with a unique reference number and short description written in brief, neutral sentences, defining its position in the archive.

Through the organisation of the index the collection is less bewildering, navigable. You use the index to find what you are looking for, or to discover what it is you are trying to find. In short, the index orders the overwhelming chaos of the archive because the text comes before the image. For example:

NO. P78.1444 SEE 85.671 FOR BETTER NEG 60 BW NEG
MAP REF. ST 09 96

JULY 1979

Codex will (literally) place the index text over the archive image; white text in a black box printed directly onto the glass frame to obscure the centre – the focus – of photographic print inside. Codex is an attempt to avoid lapsing into nostalgia or poignant rhetoric by treating the image as a material, not an emotive object.

Just as there are always obstructions to thinking history (the insurmountable barrier of time, for example) each archive image in the Codex set is (partially) blocked, presenting a version of the historical narrative that acknowledges the impossibility of adequately / completely “capturing” the complex event of mining in South Wales.

MOCK-UPS for an aborted exhibition project in Cape Town, South Africa.

From the proposal:

The landscape of South Wales today is completely at odds with historical accounts and images of how it was (relatively) recently crowded with complex industrial installations.

Some communities have erected memorials to the mining operations that once occupied their environs. It might even be argued that some settlements are actually evidence of past mining operations, owing their existence to the demand for housing to accommodate the large workforces employed by each mine.

To represent the scale of the operations across the South Wales Coalfield – their physical locations and the time each mine was active – The National Anthem with create a small memorial for each site that notes the name of the mine and – just as a human being will be memorialised with a headstone – its “sinking” and “closing” dates. Each element of the work will be a small black print mounted on board that presents exactly this information and nothing more.

A work in progress, The National Anthem (Fragment) will focus on mines in the counties of Blenau Gwent, Torfaen and Monmouthshire, to represent the Eastern edge of the South Wales Coalfield.

The work will reflect the dense concentration of operations in a small geographical area over several centuries, celebrating the names given to each site and highlighting the idiosyncrasies of the Welsh language.

The Earth is a closed system. The depletion of resources – an inevitable consequence of consumption – is a fact that must be confronted. Our collaborative practice is currently exploring the connotations and consequences of Extraction:

The drawings in the (Extraction) Never Enough series begin with the familiar outlines of vast heaps of coal, oil shale, ores and other commodities.

The outlines are filled with repetitive marks using soft pencils – drawing as the literal accumulation / consumption of raw materials.

There is never quite enough to complete each heap.

When there is no more pencil left, the drawing must cease.

The resulting gaps – the pencil running out – limit and define the work, reflecting the shortcomings between the mountains of raw materials consumed by the global economy and the actual quantities remaining inside the Earth.
Pencils, for example, are manufactured with low-quality amorphous graphite (a type of anthracite; high-grade coal) powdered and mixed with clay. There has only ever been a finite supply.

(Extraction) Never Enough reduces the unthinkable scale of global resource depletion to a series of deceptively simple drawings.

The results are incomplete heaps of raw materials, dense and black and heavy.

They reflect the sense of futility and nihilistic abandon that pervades the contemporary situation; the dread feeling that we will consume all of our remaining natural resources in the near future, that we can do nothing to alter our course.

A research residency and exhibition at the University of Wales, Newport [Caerleon Campus]

06.12.2012 - 14.12.2012

One of the most interesting cultural phenomena of our day is the way in which memory and temporality have invaded spaces and media that seemed among the most stable and fixed: cities, monuments, architecture, and sculpture. After the waning of modernist fantasies about creatio ex nihilo and of the desire for the purity of new beginnings, we have come to read cities and buildings as palimpsests of space, monuments as transformable and transitory, and sculpture as subject to the vicissitudes of time. Of course, the majority of buildings are not palimpsests at all. As Freud once remarked, the same space cannot possibly have two different contents. But an urban imaginary in its temporal reach may well put different things in one place: memories of what there was before, imagined alternatives to what there is. The strong marks of present space merge in the imaginary with traces of the past, erasures, loses, and heterotopias.
[Andreas Huyssen]

Erasure is never merely a matter of making things disappear: there is always some debris strewn about in the aftermath, some bruising to the surface from which word and image has been removed, some reminder of the violence done to make the world new again.
[Brian Dillon]

Digital Slideshow

While headgears adorn council logos, the crests of sports teams and pub signs – a national symbol of strength and heritage – Trace Evidence highlights exactly how few physical traces of the coal mining industry remain in South Wales. A tour of the region reveals how rare the once synonymous industrial structures have become.

From West to East, across the Coalfield:

1 headgear at Kidwelly Industrial Museum

2 headgears at Cefn Coed Colliery

1 headgear at Tower Colliery

1 headgear at Great Western Colliery

2 headgears at Rhondda Heritage Park (Lewis Merthyr Colliery)

2 headgears at Penallta Colliery

2 headgears at Big Pit