Victor, 2006, pencil, acrylic and watercolour on chalk and ink
The area around Cripple Creek in Colorado is filled with the remains of buildings put up during the gold rush at the end of the nineteenth century. Nearby, the small mining town of Victor, around 10,000 feet above sea level, is a place frozen in time and is now marketed as a heritage tourist attraction. Out of season, the place feels like a melancholy failure because mining still carries on in the surrounding hills, the nineteenth-century town now barely affected by these retrieved riches. On the slopes above, the old mine buildings are staggering pieces of timber construction that now appear on the verge of collapse. Stacked up on the hillsides, these simple buildings, strewn with abandoned pieces of machinery, each have their own distinct sense of personality: some stand proud and aloof, some are warm and homely, others are eccentric or outlandish. At 10,750 feet, the highest mine is a simple shack, looking out over a vast panorama of snowy peaks and surrounded by the new open-cast mines that seem distinctly inhuman by comparison.
An abandoned miner's shack in Colorado