The Battle of Orgreave was a violent confrontation on June 18, 1984, between police and picketers at a British Steel Corporation coking plant at Orgreave, in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. It was a pivotal event in the 1984–85 UK miners' strike, and one of the most violent clashes in British industrial history. The incident has often been described by political historians as medieval, and, indeed, police cavalry charged the union workers with long nightsticks.
The work is heavily influenced by the Flemish masterpiece The Triumph of Death, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. On the distant hills bodies are tortured upon cartwheels held aloft, which bear striking similarities to the winding gear towers found all across the mining villages of Britain. In the right-hand corner we see a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC—the state-owned television channel) truck. As the violence began, the BBC re-edited critical footage to make it appear as if the miners attacked the police. This was seen across the country on the evening news and public support of the miners dropped dramatically and was a key factor in the collapse of the strike. It was later claimed to have been an accident and no one was ever held accountable.
Procter, a renowned International fashion photographer, repurposed a decade of his celebrated high-end Parisian photo shoots, recasting the miners as beautiful models adorned in haute couture, re-emphasizing the grotesque tragedy and, at the same time, referencing his own personal journey between the two very different worlds. Procter is the son of a steel worker and grew up during the strike, in Royston, a mining village close to Orgreave.