The Miners Lamp

Artists: Tony Minnion, Katy Connor, Stuart Blackmore, Laura Denning

Museum Objects: Miner’s Lamp, Plymouth History Centre

Participants: 14 young people aged 14 – 18 from Devon secondary schools

Date: 14th, 21st and 28th January 2017

Venue: Coombeshead Academy, Newton Abbot, Devon

Aims of activity: The young people were asked to produce a piece of visual digital art on the theme of ‘Orientation/Disorientation: Location/Dislocation’, incorporating something that interested them about the museum objects from RAMM and Plymouth History Centre into their creative work.

Activity: Some of the young people were interested in the miner’s lamp lent by Plymouth History Centre – linking to the theme in that the light allowed the miner to orientate themselves and locate themselves in space. One group incorporated images of it in their work, and used the idea of the lamp’s ‘lens’ to allow the viewer to see through to a different ‘location’ and different time as a motif in their work. Another group of young people created pieces of digital visual art using the image of the lamp overlaid with images of miners taken from historic photographs.

Creative processes used: Digital photography, image manipulation using Photoshop, screen printing


  • Young people used museum objects as a source for individual, independent creative work
  • Young people gained awareness of museum collections, and understood that they could be used as an inspiration source for creative digital artwork
  • Working with an artist gave the young people a different perspective on how technology can be used creatively, this helped demystify the processes they use
  • Artists were able to encourage young people to use technology as part of the creative process. By sharing their practice and discussing how they use it within their own work young people were motivated to think about new ways of using it


  • For the young people the process of layering and combining of both traditional and digital art forms, in several iterations, was innovative.
  • Starting from the actual physical museum objects as a source of inspiration was new to the young people, rather than using already existing digital images as the source for creative work.
  • Young people were able to collaborate with artists to learn new skills and digital techniques which inspired them to experiment with new digital processes


The young people were introduced to the museum objects by a non-specialist, so they were using the objects without context and with very little interpretation material. If the museum objects had been presented by a curator or museum education officer with a knowledge of the objects, the young people’s interaction with the objects, and hence their use of them as inspiration sources may have been different.


“the history behind the objects were really interesting and helped to develop concepts and ideas” young person, aged 16

“Its really changed my perception of art, how diverse and different it can be using technology” young person, aged 14

 “Its really different working with an artist, when they are exploring their work and they are so passionate about it, it’s given me motivation to do new work”, young person, aged 16