New music inspired by the library of the Mining Institute in Newcastle is to be performed on a tour of the region.
Singer-songwriter Gareth Davies-Jones has undertaken an Arts Council-funded song residency at the grand building on Westgate Road, officially the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers
The residency, called The Seam, has enabled Gareth to delve into the books in search of stories to fuel new musical material.
Coal mining – its triumphs but mostly its disasters – has inspired a wealth of music, but the idea behind this project was to add to it rather than recycle it.
Some tracks have been recorded in the Mining Institute but the tour is seen as a way of taking the building and its history to a wider audience.
While the Institute’s archive is known around the world to academics and industry experts, it is less well known here.
The Seam will shine a spotlight on the Mining Institute as a cathedral to ‘art and science’, as written in its founding motto.
Gareth found inspiration in a manual called Practical Coal Mining and wrote a song of the same name.
“Looking through the volumes of the 1951 second edition, the flow and eloquence of the writing, in what was principally a very technical tome, really struck me,” he said.
“It was so very lyrical. The introduction and contents pages in particular appeared to have a rhythm and metre all of their own.”
He was also struck by stories of underground dance halls, the adverts in the 1836 first edition of The Mining Journal and the debate around the 1883 parliamentary report on a proposed Channel tunnel.
The Seam tour begins on Saturday with a 7.30pm performance at the Mining Institute.
The tour then takes in Woodhorn Museum (Feb 13), Palace Green Library Café (Feb 18), Boldon Community Centre (Feb 21), Fenham Public Library (March 25) and Stocksfield Institute Community Association (April 24).
To book tickets call 0191 233 2459 or go to www.wegottickets.com