Ode to the Miner, published by Dream Africa Productions & Publishing showcases the South African mining industry through prominent artworks.
Ode to the Miner publisher Sas Kloppers tells Mining Weekly that he was approached in 2012 by an art collector who had a collection of the works of Tienie Pritchard, including some of Pritchard’s sculptures of miners, who suggested he publish a book featuring these works.
The 2012 five-month platinum-sector strike and the Marikana incident, during which 34 miners were killed by police, were taking place at that time, which led Kloppers to believe that a book focusing on the plight of South African miners would be topical.
He says the events leading up to and after Marikana made the public more aware of what was happening in the mining sector and, “as we live in a modern era, visuals are very important”, which is why he tried to illustrate the mining industry as much as possible using art.
“Many wars were fought about minerals, but, while the wars were going on, the looting of art was also taking place. “If you take away art, you are stealing the soul of a nation,” he declares.
Kloppers further notes that his research for the publication, on which he worked for about three years, indicated that few artists had not tried their hand at mining-related themes, simultaneously providing insight into the technology and mining methods of the past.
In her foreword, Joanita Fourie states that Ode to the Miner is unique, as it portrays the history of not only mining in South Africa “on quite a unique level” but also – intertwined with the story of mining and the miners – “the agony and the ecstasy of those who came to seek their fortunes” in South Africa.
“Anecdotes and small slithers of information revealing to the reader more about everyday life in the mining towns and camps add an interest-ing spice to the book, making it accessible to magnates, miners, artists and lay readers alike,” the foreword reads.
Kloppers says the book is summed up by its title, which reminds him of the saying “gold and art, the partnership between capital and culture”.
Ode to the Miner, which is also available in a leather-bound deluxe version as well as a DVD format, includes images of sculptures, paintings, photo- graphs and historical maps and documents.