blast beach narrative

lorraine kerr photography

blast beach

 

blast beach, seaham, county durham, was once home to vigorous and ugly blast mining, whose legacy today is the scab of “minestone” that stretches from one end of the beach to the other. minestone is the colloquial term for the accreted remains of colliery grease, sludge, coal and rock waste that once entirely covered the shoreline; by now the regenerative power of the sea has seen the minestone nibbled halfway back to the magnesian limestone cliffs. the iron trapped in these cliffs continually leaks out close to the water table and oxidises everything it touches, with often strange results; this and the lurid and various colours of man-made coal slag give the beach a wholly surreal and striking appearance; the images displayed here, all true colour, are an attempt to capture that atmosphere at close quarters

 

it is often said that ridley scott, a native of nearby south shields, used footage of blast beach in the film 'alien 3'. in fact he used the adjacent and yet more prosaically named 'chemical beach'. it is not hard to see why he might have chosen either

 

these images were first exhibited in the ouseburn valley in may 2013 as part of the late shows and then again in 2015 at the hatton gallery, newcastle upon tyne. to order prints, click here