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Ironstone and Miner and Horse

“We aimed to create something uplifting and beautiful, life-enhancing and inspiring. A celebration of community working, playing and creating harmony.” Helen Jane Gaunt & Derek Mosey

Ironstone Miner and Horse by Helen Jane Gaunt & Derek Mosey

Helen Jane Gaunt and Derek Mosey are community artists, based at Saltburn Studios. They are both from the Tees Valley and have been creating artworks together for over 20 years. Mosey has always enjoyed making things and began his career creating replica historical artefacts like furniture, shoes, jewellery and clothes. He became skilled in leatherwork, willow weaving, carpentry and metalwork and went on to use these skills to make his own sculptures and artworks. Gaunt has a strong background in art, design and illustration and is a qualified art teacher. Helen is very much inspired by the natural world. Her designs include a variety of birds, animals, butterflies and flowers.

Together, Gaunt and Mosey combine their skills and experience to create a variety of artworks. These include large-scale mosaics, murals, willow sculptures, wood carvings, metal sculptures and fire sculptures. All of their works involve the community at each stage of the creative process, from initial ideas to creating the final piece. They say this helps to invoke a sense of pride and ownership in the finished artwork, which is usually a piece of public art displayed in a space linked directly to the people who helped create it.

This mosaic was created with volunteers from the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum, the people of Skinningrove and children from a local primary school. Helen and Derek worked alongside these members of the local community in a series of workshops, which made the task of producing such a large scale mosaic from tiny pieces of coloured glass much easier.

The mosaic was inspired by the Tees Valley’s rich history of Ironstone Mining. It shows an ironstone miner with a horse called Drummer. Strong horses like this worked underground. They were used to pull the extremely heavy tubs of newly-mined ironstone along the tunnels, before it was taken to the surface. The story goes that this horse was named Drummer because he used to bang his head on the roof of the mine with a rhythmic booming noise. At 17 hands high (170cm) he was one of the largest horses ever to work in the mine at Skinningrove.

This mosaic can be seen outside Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum here

See more of Gaunt and Mosey’s work here

Find out more about Ironstone mining here and see a photograph of a real horse working in one of the mines here

Saltburn Studios is a thriving community of 17 artists and makers. They represent a range of artistic disciplines including photography, website design, felt making, painting, costume design, mosaics, sculpture, ceramics and glass making. Find out more here

Our Tees Valley Museums Local Art and Artists: Activities is available to download here


Image supplied courtesy of the artists