Jeremy Deller - The Battle of Orgreave(2001)

The Battle of Orgreave

17 June 2001
Orgreave, South Yorkshire

In 1984 the National Union of Mineworkers went on strike. The dispute lasted for over a year and was the most bitterly fought since the general strike of 1926, marking a turning point in the struggle between the government and the trade union movement.

On the 18 June 1984 there occurred at the Orgreave coking plant one of the strike's most violent confrontations, begun in a field near to the plant and culminating in a cavalry charge through the village of Orgreave.

Jeremy Deller's The Battle of Orgreave was a spectacular re-enactment of what happened on that day, orchestrated by Howard Giles, historical re-enactment expert and former director of English Heritage's event programme.

The Battle of Orgreave was filmed under the direction of Mike Figgis for Artangel Media and Channel 4, and was aired on Sunday 20th October 2002.

Dramatic photographic stills from the clashes in 1984 are intercut with footage of the clashes re-enacted in 2001, teasing out the truth behind this bitter struggle.

Mac McLoughlin, a former miner and serving policeman on the field that day, reveals details about the build-up within the police force prior to the stand-off; David Douglass (NUM) talks about the meaning of the confrontation in relation to the trade union movement in England and Stephanie Gregory (Womens' Support Group) reminisces about the effects on family life in a series of moving and powerful testimonies.

Tony Benn talks about the media's role in covering up the truth about the strike in 1984 and Jeremy Deller contextualizes this event and highlights its contemporary cultural relevance.

Jeremy Deller
Born in 1966, Jeremy Deller studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Much of his work involves collaboration with individuals and groups of people. ‘Acid Brass’ was a series of concerts and a recording by the Williams Fairey Band playing Brass Band interpretations of classic acid house anthems, and ‘The Uses of Literacy’ was an exhibition of writing and artwork made by fans of the rock band The Manic Street Preachers. Deller and artist Alan Kane have recently initiated Folk Archive, an ongoing project that aims to investigate the state of contemporary folk art in the United Kingdom. The Folk Archive was first exhibited at Tate Britain last summer.

Jeremy Deller has exhibited throughout Europe and America and publications include ‘Life is to Blame for Everything’, (Salon3/Arts Council, 2001), ‘A True Revolutionary is Motivated by Great Feelings of Love’ (CVA Cardiff, 2000) and ‘The Uses of Literacy’ (Book Works, 1999).

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