Having considered my recent findings as to the meaning behind the name Pantygasseg, I realised that a visit to the area in the next few weeks was essential. I knew I had to draw the outline of the mountain, it’s shape, perhaps on a large wall, but as I considered the line, I began to think of ways of expressing it. Could there be a way of expressing it sonically for example? Perhaps, yes, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought about using material pertinent to the place itself, in this instance; coal.
My work is about mining the past, bringing the past to the surface, and coal is of course a product of the past (mined and brought to the surface). It’s a material composed of things which lived and which could be used to create, i.e. like charcoal – and could be used to draw the line of the mountain, or to be more precise, my memory of the line of the mountain. Coal is therefore a means of expressing my memory using the very substance of the mountain’s own; a means which also highlights the contrast between the human scale of time and History itself.
There’s also a contrast (with regards to my research on the Family Tree and my work on the Holocaust) between memory and forgetting, particularly when considering the metaphor of the ground as mind. The ground is mined, coal is extracted and the past is ‘remembered’. What the Nazis were hoping to accomplish, when they killed and buried hundreds of thousands in pits (at places such as Belzec) was, in a sense, to forget.