William Murdoch was a Scottish engineer and inventor. Murdoch was employed by the firm of Boulton & Watt and worked for them in Redruth, Cornwall for ten years. My research at the Cornwall archives revealed some engineering drawings of his which I reproduced as a painting, linking my past as a mechanical engineer, to his. He was working at a time when Redruth was an extremely wealthy town.
The narrative attached to this painting of Murdoch’s engine comes from a report in the Cornish Echo in 1840 of unrest amongst the miners, caused by one Alice Mahoney predicting that once the tin had run out Redruth would become a ghost town. “The mob took against Alice’s predictions and, as one, seized her and placed her in the stocks where, under a rain of cabbages and tomatoes she relented, predicting a more rosy future for Redruth, muttering under her breath ‘but not for another 2 centuries'”
The Inland Festival, which was organised by Cat Bagg, Rosie Thompson-Glover, and Alice Mahoney, aimed to encourage the regeneration of Redruth. After spending significant time in the town I represented the present through the image of a boarded up shop front. The delapidated state of the shop, including broken windows seemed to epitomise the state of the town.
The narrative for this painting featured an imagined interview of Cat Bagg in the West Briton newspaper. She claimed that her great, great, great, great grandmother, who was reputed to be an oracle, predicted Redruth would one day become prosperous again. Cat’s aim in setting up the Festival was to help that prediction come true.
The future I imagined for Redruth was based on the discovery of Indium in the abandoned mines. An essential element in the manufacture of microchips, it would turn Redruth into a Cornish Hollywood. The image was based on one produced by Alice Mahoney for publicity, featuring a Hollywood style sign on Carn Brae.
The narrative for this painting was based on the idea that indium would be discovered in the mines by amateur geologist Rosie in 2035. Rosie was a direct descendant of Alice Mahoney, said to be an oracle in the 1840’s, and daughter of Lady Bagg. This find ushered in a new golden age for Redruth, as reported in the 3rd July 2035 edition of the Redruth Phoenix.