The miners’ strike has inspired numerous responses in the form of books, films and exhibitions over the years, how were you hoping to add to this existing body of work?
The strike is a universal topic amongst the working class in this country because it was of such importance. It was a divisive time, but whether you supported the miners’ or opposed them, you were involved and it was important to you. Consequently people have, post-strike, realised their importance through film, or photography, or exhibitions and all very well. What I felt was missing and what I hope the book does, is join a narrative line through all of those things using the design and visual associations of all those things. Much like music does, an image or graphic is a trigger to a time and place and feeling that evokes so many things. Of course there are academic and reference books out there on the strike, but none really go into the visual culture of the time and go into what that actually is: the creative manifestations of people dealing with hardship and struggle. I want people to applaud those involved in the strike for their stoicism and fight, but also for their creativity.
How did collaborators such as Jeremy Deller, Ken Loach and Alexei Sayle become involved?
Once I had a good idea of what the book was, it felt important to have voices other than my own on the subject to stop it becoming a one-man crusade, but I also wanted to have contemporary voices on the subject to steer it away from lamentation and into reappraisal and, I suppose, celebration. I knew that Jeremy Deller had an interest in the subject from his piece The Battle of Orgreave, Ken Loach from his various miners films (notably Which Side Are You On?) and Alexei Sayle supported the miners through benefit gigs, so we just tried to get in touch in a classic six-degrees of separation kind of way. Ken Loach was incredibly generous with his time and thoughtful in his writing, as was Deller who really believed in the book. And I’ll never forget having a Skype conversation with Alexei Sayle whilst he was holidaying in Spain...