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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, September 14, 2009
    Luminescence at the pit head
    Brian Salkeld recalls the past: in his poem, displayed in laminate on an information board on the old Sutton Manor Collery site, the ex-miner says, 'The years roll back, I hear the sound / Of winding engine steam / I see the pulleys turning / On the headgear in my dream'.

    The spin on the Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa's Dream is that '...the head of a girl with eyes closed, seemingly in a dream-like state ... is the artist’s response to ... conversations with the ex-miners and members of the wider local community who wanted a piece that looked to a brighter future and created a beautiful and contemplative space for future generations, not least their own grandchildren, at the top of the former spoil heap.'

    On a sunny Sunday afternoon it's not contemplative, because beneath Dream children play, dogs sniff and tourists angle their lenses upwards towards the strange head. But it has a beauty - you can tell that when you're speeding along the M62 beneath it, flicking your eyes between the trees looking for a glance. Close up it becomes more apparent, the loveliness of this shining figure, luminescent in Spanish dolomite and titanium dioxide, sitting on the forty years worth of untouched coal which permeates the four miles of seams which run beneath.

    I don't know if Dream carries any more or less meaning as a gathering-point for the young people of St Helens than the night clubs, park gates and garage forecourts of the town which sits below this silent head, or for their hopes and aspirations. But it is a remarkable contribution to the local landscape and it does inspire interest, provoke stillness, register respect.

    Pic from my Dream Flickr photoset