Kane Cunningham (1961) first gained world-wide prominence in 2009 when he created a work of art on the edge of a cliff in Scarborough, a seaside town in the north of England. He bought a house with his credit card that was destined to be demolished due to cliff erosion. He saw an opportunity to create an art installation and sculpture which explored issues related to the environment and the multiple narratives of life.
Cunningham said, ‘I knew the project was big when the New York Times contacted me to chat about the project, it seemed to stimulate people’s imagination and has since been the source inspiration for people to write songs, poetry, books, plays and radio plays. However, I knew the project had really gone global when I was asked to do two live BBC World Service interviews to talk about the project.’
During this time Cunningham was aware of a new mine that was being proposed in Whitby, North Yorkshire which is only 20 kilometres north of Scarborough. Cunningham said,
"I had read about the proposed mine in the local newspaper. It seemed to me to be an exciting project. I have always been interested in the landscape and our industrial heritage.”
I had a meeting in 2011 with Sirius Minerals to discuss my ideas, to ask if I could follow the project as an artist and to photograph developments. Little did I realise (at the time) I was being offered a golden opportunity to get involved in one of the country’s most exciting mining and industrial projects ever to be seen in the UK.”
Cunningham is a landscape artist who engages with the politics of the landscape and the competing ideas of a contested space. However, his main concern is to explore watercolour painting as a contemporary medium and to highlight its historical significance within landscape painting.
“Watercolour is a wonderful expressive medium and links directly to the work of JMW Turner who mastered the painting of light. My work tries to emulate some of his techniques and ideas but within the framework of contemporary landscape painting.”
Photo Credit: Tony Bartholomew