BirTH

Birmingham Transmedia Hub

The Trail of Thomas Love


A special evening of songs and projections in Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge. Produced and performed by Nathan Tromans.

10 Oct 2015

Trail of Thomas Love

A live project mixing photography, music and storytelling based on the Severn Gorge received its premiere in the historic English village of Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge on Saturday 10 October 2015.

The Trail of Thomas Love, produced by Shropshire-born songwriter and photographer Nathan Tromans, is an enchanting exploration of the myths of the surrounding landscape, as well as both real and imagined characters, their journeys and homecomings.

During the performance, held in the former industrial turned museum space of Enginuity, images drawn from the Ironbridge archives along with selections from Tromans’ own photographic collection were projected on a six metre high screen.

The artist was joined by a five-piece band of exceptional musicians for the debut, which formed part of the programme for Shifting Worlds: a symposium exploring the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the landscape, society and art featuring a keynote speech from British artist Jeremy Deller.

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Inspired by living in the unique surroundings of the Severn Gorge, and the layers of narratives that exist in its wooded dales, Tromans has taken weekly walks developing a series of landscape photographs. These quiet and patient moments reveal the subtle observations of the relationship between those who have lived and worked in the gorge and its natural habitat, as it continues to be framed for an ever-increasing number of visitors.

As a Coalbrookdale resident Tromans has traced his ancestors back to the 17th century in the Gorge. His great, great, great grandfather, Thomas Love was an Ironstone miner who mined the very stone that gave birth to the industrial revolution, and left the Gorge as the industry evolved and expanded in to the wider West Midlands area.

A ‘sense of place’ runs deep into the heart of Nathan Tromans’ songwriting and photography.

The Coalbrookdale resident was the voice and words behind successful indie-rock band Mustard in the late 1990s, before going on to form John the Revelator. As JTR, Tromans shared stages with musicians including Jose Gonzales, James Yorkston, Teddy Thompson, Joan as Policewoman and Mojave 3.

His songs are imbued with the elemental and spiritual influences of artists who have stirred his heart over many years, from Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave to Bill Callaghan (Smog), Damien Jurado, Bonnie Prince Billy and Sufjan Stevens, keenly blended with his own personally crafted visions and expressions.

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"This is a wonderful opportunity for me, to bring my songs and photographs together in such a unique way. These separate practices are in many ways born of the Gorge landscape – the show has enabled me to explore the possibilities of finding some synergy between them.
My photographs are on the surface an exploration of the topography of the environment here, however I hope to suggest and express much more, I’m fascinated by how the landscape can reveal its’ story and retain its’ mystery, these potential mysteries and myths are also an important inspiration for my songs."
– Nathan Tromans

The Shifting Worlds Programme, produced by Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Meadow Arts and Arts Council England, featured a programme of contemporary art inspired by the birthplace of industry, artists and academics that also included contributions from David Nash, Gavin Turk, Jeremy Deller and Faye Claridge.

The two-day symposium examined the role of the natural world, technology and imagination in the transformation of the landscape and society. It developed and presented new and innovative ways of interpreting the industrial heritage of England.

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Nathan Tromans


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BirTH is part of The School of Visual Communication at Birmingham City University