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Digging the Seam

Twenty-five years after it divided a nation, the UK Miners’ Strike continues to inspire deep feelings.

Now a major public event at the University of Leeds will assess its cultural legacy, looking at mainstream and underground representations of the strike now and then in the press, TV, film, performance, photography, music and song.

An outstanding array of speakers includes David Peace, author of GB84 and the Red Riding Trilogy; Michael Mansfield QC, film-maker Yvette Vanson , poet Ian McMillan and Russell Senior of Pulp. The conference also features an exhibition, performance, screenings, testimony and papers delivered by leading academics.

'Digging the Seam - Cultural Reflections and the Consequences of the 1984/5 Miners' Strike' is organised by the Institute for Communication Studies (ICS) at the University of Leeds and takes place from 25th - 27th March 2010.

Academic speakers include Julian Petley of Brunel University, Simon Popple of the University of Leeds and Sue Owen of the University of Sheffield.

Simon Popple of the Institute for Communication Studies, said: "A quarter of a century on and people are still discussing the Miners' Strike. The political ramifications have been well-documented, but the cultural legacy has not. The strike is represented in art ranging from the films Billy Elliot and Brassed Off, the TV programme Our Friends in the North and more recently in the novel GB84 by David Peace and through the work of photographers, painters, poets, musicians and dramatists.

"The conference will consider mainstream and alternative representations of the strike at the time, and since then in the press, TV, film, performance, photography and music and song. We will also explore how a quarter of a century later, new insights about the strike are being garnered from archive study and new creative works."

The conference is organised into four strands - Memory, Legacy, Media and Popular Culture, and Witness - to help compare and contrast the personal and the objective study, the artefact and the heritage industry, cultural memory and the creative. The organisers hope to attract both an academic and public audience and have arranged a special series of talks and exhibitions on the Saturday which is open to the general public at a very reduced rate.

Steve Bell,The Guardian's award-winning cartoonist, is lending work for exhibition, and contributors include - John Hyatt (Manchester Metropolitan University, the Three Johns); Richard Crangle (The Magic Lantern Society), Rosemary Preece (National Coal Mining Museum for England), Michael Bailey (Leeds Metropolitan University), Patricia Holland (Bournemouth University); Granville Williams; Ian Beesley (photographer) and others.

More details are available at http://bit.ly/diggingseam

For more information:

Ian Macdonald and Simon Popple are available for interview. For more information contact: Guy Dixon, University of Leeds media relations: 0113 343 8299 or g.dixon@leeds.ac.uk

  1. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. The University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. www.leeds.ac.uk
  2. The Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (PVAC) consists of four schools; Design, Fine Art, Music and Performance and Cultural Industries, as well as the Institute of Communications Studies. Subject areas include those from the creative arts and humanities, social sciences and science and technology.  The School of Performance and Cultural Industries was formed at the merger of Bretton Hall College with the University of Leeds in 2001.