‘Coalfaces’ by Darian Zam

“My first week living in Mount Kembla, I met an 85-year-old man at the pub. He said to me, ‘Why don’t you paint my portrait, then?’ I thought to myself, ‘You cheeky bugger, who do you think you are?’ Then I went home to that cold, rattling old house I had rented and realized, ‘Actually, that’s a great idea.’ Thus, a project was born.”

When artist and writer Darian Zam left Sydney in 2008, he assumed it would be a temporary move. Taking up residence in a decrepit billiards hall in rural South Coast NSW, he had no idea that he had begun a six-year-long creative adventure, full of fascinating characters, in an old mining town where time had more or less stood still.

Zam’s award-winning ‘Coalfaces’ project began with a simple concept: create portraits, add a few of the subject’s own words to tell their story, then exhibit the portraits. However, he soon discovered that these people had much more to say about what had happened on their mountain and how progress, and Australia’s biggest industrial disaster, had affected their lives.

‘Coalfaces’ is a multiple award-winning project including being recipient of an RAHS Heritage Grant. The first edition of the book was released in March along with the launch of a month-long exhibition at WAG (Wollongong Art Gallery) and it sold out immediately.

This is a limited second edition publication of 200 copies, $55.00 each, available by contacting Darian Zam Publishing at darianzamdesign@gmail.com. The book is also available in electronic edition for $20.00.

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