The project is a result of an extensive photographic engagement with the two largest coal mining companies in the European Union located in Silesia, the most industrialised part of Poland.

Coal Story combines contemporary photography and archival research dating back to the 1960s, when Poland experienced significant economic and industrial expansion. In the early 1980s, coal mines were a major site of struggle and resistance against the communist regime. Workers’ protests resulted in the creation of Solidarity – a workers’ and citizens’ movement under the leadership of Lech Walesa. The coal miners actions eventually led to the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War. Coal Story highlights the social and political capacity of the miners and evokes the history and aftermath of the legendary Solidarity movement. This exhibition poses important questions that are associated with Solidarity’s values; the movement’s legacy and its influence on contemporary Polish society.

Darek Fortas is a lens-based artist whose practice can be characterised as consisting of a combination of fieldwork and constructed studio practice. He creates socially engaged and visually innovative projects which accentuate the potential of photography-based form as a mode of deconstruction, the role of images in the distribution of power, and the subversive value of a lens-based mode of enquiry.

Fortas graduated with MA in Fine Art Photography from the Royal College of Art (2016). He has worked with a range of established creative and cultural partners, and his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally (LE BAL, Paris, 2018; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, London, 2018, and Newcastle, 2017; RUA RED, Dublin, 2016; The Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2022; among others).

In 2014, he was awarded the Camera Clara Prize by The Grésigny Foundation in Paris. Fortas was also shortlisted for MAC International 2014 Art Prize as a part of the MAC International Biennial. He won the Propeller Fine Art Award 2011 and was shortlisted for The Foam Paul Huf Award (2012) and the BMW Residency Award at Musée Nicéphore Niépce (2018).

His works have been featured in the British Journal of Photography, Irish Arts Review, Source Photographic Review, Uncertain States, and various online photography blogs and magazines.

Fortas’ works are included in a number of public and private collections, including Institut Polonais Paris, Fondation Grésigny and Pierre Passebon Gallery Paris. In 2018, the UK Government Art Collection acquired work from ‘Skene’ project.

He is a recipient of the Developing Your Creative Practice Award by Arts Council England.

To submit a project to the Showcase, please read and follow these guidelines carefully and then email us at

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