Norman Cornish: Durham University to show rare sketches

Image source, NCLTD
Image caption,
Norman Cornish depicted the working life of miners

Rarely-seen sketches by a County Durham miner-turned-painter are to go on show to mark the centenary of his birth.

Norman Cornish, from Spennymoor, began working as a miner at 14, before forging a career as an artist and retiring from the pits aged 47.

His acclaimed artworks documented life in County Durham's pit villages and have become hugely popular.

Now, extracts from some of his sketchbooks are to go on show at Durham University's Palace Green Library.

Cornish, who died in 2014, said he hoped his sketchbooks would "have a life of their own and be of interest to people".

The studio at his home in Spennymoor contained 269 sketchbooks featuring a range of images from quick sketches to finished drawings.

Image source, NCLTD
Image caption,
His studio contained almost 270 sketchbooks
Image source, NCLTD
Image caption,
Much of Cornish's work was often spontaneous

Liz Waller, director of library and collections at Durham University, said: "These treasures, focusing on his observations of life, landscapes and family, offer an intimate insight into his personal thoughts and reflections.

"Some of the sketchbooks and loose drawings also link directly to paintings featured in the exhibition, showing the progression from an initial observation through a series of steps to a finished work.

"Norman is an icon of North East life and art. We feel honoured to be part of celebrating the centenary of his birth and privileged to be hosting this very special exhibition."

Image caption,
Norman Cornish died in 2014, aged 94

Cornish's son, John, said: "My father's sketchbooks offer an extraordinary insight into his world. For him, drawing was a compulsion; in his words sketching was 'an itch that he had to scratch'.

"His sketchbooks contain a wealth of interesting images, including spontaneous character studies, bar scenes and so much more."

Norman Cornish: The Sketchbooks will run from 16 November until 23 February.

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