Shafts of Light: Mining Art in the Great Northern Coalfield
Was Shown At The Bowes Museum, County Durham
17 May – 21 September 2014
A salute to a once essential and powerful workforce this exhibition - which features around 70 paintings, including works by renowned mining artists Norman Cornish and Tom McGuinness – vividly illustrates the working environment of coalminers through their own interpretation of life in and around the North East of England, allowing the viewer to experience through the artists’ eyes the severe working conditions and social climate of the time.
Over half the paintings to go on show are part of the vast Gemini Collection of Robert McManners and Gillian Wales, who are curating the exhibition. Their award winning book, Shafts of Light, after which the exhibition is named, has been reprinted to coincide with the opening of the show. The book documents the work of over 70 artists – both amateur and professional – all of whom gained inspiration from the might of the colliery.
While coalmining was considered an honourable profession on the continent, the miner being seen as a noble toiler against Mother Earth and depicted as such in 19th Century European art, it was a different story in England. Here the terrible working conditions of the collier were hidden from public gaze. While formal commissioned images of mines do exist from the 18th Century, experiential mining art didn’t appear here until the 1920s with the likes of Gilbert Daykin, George Bissill and Vincent Evans.
In subsequent years the movement prospered and many of the region’s most celebrated contemporary artists, like Cornish and McGuinness, derive from their collier roots. Many of these artists were full time pitmen who still found the time and energy to permanently record their experiences in paint.
However, many professional artists like Graham Sutherland and Josef Herman who are also represented in the exhibition, produced their own body of work in an artistic celebration not found in other industries.
Also on display will be miners’ banners courtesy of Durham Miners’ Association, portraying the rich history of the pit communities. Depicted on the Chopwell banner are Lenin and Marx, while others represent Durham Miners’ support groups from the cataclysmic strike of 1984 (specifically women’s groups) and the famous Durham Miners’ Gala Day parade.
The Museum is in the picturesque market town of Barnard Castle, County Durham situated in the heart of the Pennines in North East England. The town is just off the A66, 20 minutes by car from Scotch Corner (A1), 40 minutes from Penrith (M6) and 40 minutes from Durham Tees Valley Airport.
Click Here To Visit Their Site
BBC News - 'Pitman Painter' Norman Cornish Dies Aged 94
Chris Upton - Photographer - Thoresby Colliery Closes 2015
I am a Broadstairs-based illustrator and printmaker, working mainly in linocut.
I am also, the grandson of a coal miner and keen on producing mining-themed artwork.
1958 - 2010
With a father who was Principal of Rochdale College of Art and L.S.Lowry as a close family friend and frequent visitor to our home, I grew up surrounded by Art.
|Bill Bennett, spent 35 years working in the mines of South Yorkshire
Alan Andrews -
Retired Miner / Studying Degree In ART And Mining Book Related Project