To celebrate Le Tour visiting to Yorkshire we have come up with a project inspired by the humble canary. We were intrigued with the story of how thousands of canaries ended up far from their homes in the Canary Islands performing such an important role in Yorkshire.

From the 1890's to well into the 1980's canaries have been used in col mines to detect poisonous gas. Miners would whistle to keep their canary singing. If the singing stopped danger and death were close. Over the years canaries saved the lives of countless Yorkshire miners.

To tell this amazing story we are working on a soundscape and a painted fresco to be installed in the Blacksmith's Workshop at the National Coal Mining Museum for England.

The soundscape, composed by Amanda will chart the canary's 2000 mile journey from their home in the Canary Islands, through France and to England. Whistles will be a recurring motif in the soundscape and include Silbo Gomero - an ancient whistled language used by the villagers of La Gomera - one of the Canary Islands.

The fresco, painted by Richard will be of over 100 canaries. The flock will form a dynamic composition - a celebration of speed, deft movement and the freedom of the open sky. The birds' exotic bright yellow plumage will be painted as if lit by the bright Canary Island sun. Set against a blustery Yorkshire sky the birds will glisten like jewels.

The installation opens to the public at the beginning of the Easter Holidays with two weeks of free art, craft and music workshops.

Exhibition runs from Saturday 12 April to Sunday 6 July

National Coal Mining Museum for England, Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton, Wakefield WF4 4RH
Open daily from 10am to 5pm

For further details about visiting the exhibition please contact National Coal Mining Museum for England on:

Telephone 01924 848806
Email: or telephone

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