Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan at Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre


Project Info


  • Jacob Cartwright
  • Nick Jordan

Art Forms

  • Installation


  • Experience Barnsley Museum
  • Arts&Heritage
  • Arts Council England Museum Resilience Fund

The Experience Barnsley Museum was one of nine heritage sites selected by Arts&Heritage to take part in its Meeting Point 2017 programme. The museum took part in a series of A&H training workshops and visits, to learn how to successfully deliver a contemporary art project. The museum then developed their own Artist’s Brief, and presented this to 40 artists from across the UK at a networking event. From Expressions of Interest, three artists were shortlisted to draw up a more detailed proposal from which the museum selected Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan for the commission.

Using the archive collection of Experience Barnsley as a starting point, Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan made a two-screen film installation, Strata, and related artworks. They explored the rich seams of social, cultural, industrial and natural histories underpinning the region’s former coal-mining landscape and communities.

In the context of post-industrial capitalism, and the effects of extensive environmental and social change, the film captured the ways in which former collieries have been transformed, framing both the similarities and differences resulting from structural, ideological and cultural change. Strata made connections between the industrial, communal and ecological genealogy of the region, contextualised with wider, international locations and communities that are linked together through the European Route of Industrial Heritage.

A centrepiece of the exhibition was the two-screen 40-minute video installation, which combined original cinematography with an atmospheric soundtrack score by Lord Mongo, voices from the community, archive film and audio, forming an immersive and poetic picture of collective memory, shared experience and international solidarity.

Traversing layers of social history and geological ecology, Strata explored the loss and erasure of former coal-mining sites, alongside the environmental transformation and cultural repurposing of these post-industrial locations, where particular flora and fauna species colonised the landscape.

Alongside the film, the artists exhibited new drawings made from coal dust, found objects, 3D animation, and banners that were on loan from the National Union of Mineworkers and Women Against Pit Closures.

A&H commissioned a ‘making of film’ for Strata: structures, transformation and solidarity, capturing the artists’ process.

In the recent publication, Arts&Heritage: A Celebration of the First 10 Years, Emma Anderson reflected on the impacts of the Strata commission:

“The commission changed the way Cartwright and Jordan approached the use of historical material and collections, as they started to look at their own film footage and audio material as an archive in itself. They started to recognise the equivalence between all the material they were using, whether found or original footage – as a layered and dense resource to draw upon. This has led to the development of a loose approach in developing work without pre-set plans or agendas; responding to what they find or where enquiries lead, often by chance encounters or conversations with people.

At a late stage, the presentation of the commission became highly problematic due to last minute Council interventions that resulted in the show running for a much shorter duration, without publicity and promotion. Despite its limited run at the Museum, the exhibition was well-attended, visitors responded very positively, and the people interviewed for the film expressed how proud they were to be part of it. Overall Cartwright and Jordan found it a bruising experience but one that connected them to a diverse range of activists and grass-roots organisations, and has led to further opportunities that continue to explore how landscape, people and heritage come together to create unique qualities of place.” – Emma Anderson, 2021

Experience Barnsley Museum presents stories about life in Barnsley. It’s a great place for locals to explore their heritage and for visitors to discover the amazing borough.

Telling these stories has only been possible because of the amazing support and donations of material from people living in the borough, and from those who left Barnsley but still feel the strong ties of shared heritage.

As a town and borough predominantly known by many for its coal industry, it was really important to create a museum that tells the many varied stories tucked away over the centuries. As well as presenting a timeline, the museum explores working life, leisure time, the home and family over the years.

The Artist

Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan are artists based in Manchester. Collaborating since 2004, their work has been shown widely at international exhibitions and film festivals, including recently at Innsbruck International Biennale (Austria); National Maritime Museum (London); Whitstable Biennale (UK); FIDMarseille (France); 100 Years of DADA, ICA, (London); Musée du Quai Branly (Paris); Garage Center for Contemporary Culture (Moscow); Edinburgh International Film Festival (UK); Documenta Madrid (Spain); The New York Film Festival (USA); Rencontres Internationales (Berlin); Kassel Dokfest (Germany).

Artist residencies and commissions include Headlands Center for the Arts (San Francisco, USA); Book Works (UK); The National Trust (UK); Art Gene (UK); The Manchester Museum (UK).

Read more about Strata