What the press saidThe Independent, 18 June 2001
The Guardian, 18 June 2001:
“A strange alliance of medieval, ancient Greek and even American civil war enthusiasts abandoned their favourite eras yesterday to relive one of the greatest symbolic moments of modern industrial struggle. Lined up on a Yorkshire hillside, long-haired members of a 17th century Cavalier regiment turned into striking miners for a day of noisy clashes with rival amateur actors who had swapped Confederate forage caps for the visors of 1980s riot police.” (Martin Wainwright: click here for full article)
The Independent, 18 June 2001:
“Miners mostly played miners, but a few were persuaded to play police in an eerily convincing replay of one of the 1984-85 pit strike's most terrifying confrontations between miners, armed with stones, and police officers, decked out in riot gear, wielding truncheons and accompanied by alsatian dogs.” (Mary Braid: click here for full article)
[a-n] magazine, September 2001:
“The participants were either ex-miners, local people or re-enactors. The audience were locals, people who go to re-enactments and the art world. These people were there for different reasons and they looked at the event in different ways. You could see this as a kind of parallel tracking where everyone leaves with what they came for. But, I think it more complex than that. If, as a re-enactor, you take part in an event that someone says is art you have to take a look at it in that way even if that’s not your language. So these different worlds impact on each other.
“Interestingly – though, I think, not surprisingly – the people who had a problem with that were the London artworld, where the need is to fit an event like Orgreave into existing frameworks. This is unsurprising, because a mutual validation process between artworld and artwork is necessary to preserve a fragile value system. Work like Deller’s always challenges that – but it’s from such work that changing values emerge.” (David Butler: click here for full article)
Frieze, September 2001
“On one level the event combined the innocence of the village fête with an English heritage event. On another, as with his other social projects, Deller short-circuited our finely tuned irony detectors by introducing aspects of real life into the equation, specifically the deep, unresolved feelings of original participants towards others taking part (rumour had it that a small number of the real miners were applying too much gusto to their roles at rehearsals the previous day). For many – participants and spectators alike – this Battle of Orgreave was more flashback than re-enactment. Knowing this made the missiles, the mounted police charges, the beatings, routs and arrests much more than spectacle; it was easy to forget the police’s truncheons were plastic, the miners’ rocks just foam, and that the blood running down some faces was fake.” (Alex Farquharson: click here for full article)
Big Issue, October 14 2002
“I took a copy of Figgis’ film to the Snowdon Welfare Club and Institute in Aylesham, Kent – once the social club for the Snowdown Colliery – to show it to some of the ex-miners there. The reaction was swift and very intense. Despite criticism that the re-enactment was unrealistic – there were 30 times more police in1984, they said, and it was much more violent, much more frightening – it stirred many memories.
“The sight of police snatch-squads, even fake ones, batons raised, cracking arms and heads in a riot of hate-filled reprisal, roused a deep, stirring anger. And they all agreed that the oft-repeated slogan of the time – ‘The miners united shall never be defeated’ – was wrong, echoing one of the sentiments of the film. It should have been the workers.
“At one point a heated argument broke out, about who had been at Orgreave and who had not. Accusations flew, voices were raised. Someone came over and abused me for forcing the film on them and reminding them of times best forgotten. ‘Don’t worry about him,’ someone else said. ‘He doesn’t understand. He was never a miner.’
“In the end, I was made to put the film on twice in a row.” (CJ Stone)