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Art tells the story of Cornwall’s influence in Mexico

Published: October 21, 2016

Cornwall College Camborne 16-18 | Adult

A major art exhibition is taking place at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, depicting how Cornish miners influenced the landscape and culture in Mexico.

In collaboration with the University of Hidalgo in Mexico, art students from Cornwall College on the BA Hons in Contemporary Creative Practice, have developed and produced a wide variety of artworks that are designed to stir the imagination.  The joint exhibition takes place between October 29th and December 30th this year, with a special preview on October 28th between 2pm-4pm.

From introducing football and pasties – to Mexico’s reproduction of the recognisable Cornish Engine Houses nestled amongst cacti – to Mexican townspeople with Cornish surnames like ‘Skewes’ and ‘Rule’, the event promises to showcase thought-provoking pieces and installations.

Module Leader at Cornwall College Camborne, Suzy Sharpe, said: “This has been a truly exciting and eye opening assignment for the students. Not only have they had to spend lots of time researching the history between the two areas, they have also created some amazing artworks and the opportunity to put on an exhibition in collaboration with likeminded students over five thousand miles away, is a great experience for everyone involved.”

The students from Cornwall College discovered a wealth of information while working on the project. From around 1824 Cornish miners from Redruth, Camborne and Gwennap, began to migrate to a place called Hidaglo, a central Mexican state sprawling north of Mexico City.

Ships would sail out of Falmouth taking miners on a three month trip across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in Veracruz, followed by a treacherous 300 mile trek inland which killed about half of the miners and their families.

Those that made the gruelling journey took their knowledge of mining and high pressure steam pumping engines, designed by Cornish engineer Richard Trevithick and turned water-logged mines into successful silver producers.  Money sent back from the miners helped to build the Wesleyan Chapel in Redruth in the mid 1820’s.

Suzy continued: “The story of what the miners and their families endured is remarkable and we hope to have captured that spirit of both adventure and necessity for survival and we encourage everyone to come and visit the exhibition.  I know that our students have worked so hard on this and it would be fantastic to see lots of people appreciate what they have achieved.”

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