Tyne & Wear

Unseen Pitmen Painters' art goes on display in Ashington

The Bedlington Terrier Image copyright Colin Davison
Image caption William Scott's 1936 painting 'The Bedlington Terrier' has not been publically exhibited for 50 years

A new exhibition of unseen Pitmen Painters' art has opened.

Many of the works have been sourced from the local community in the coal-mining town where the Pitmen Painters first formed in the 1930s.

It was a group of miners turned artists whose work chronicled life in Ashington, Northumberland.

Artist Narbi Price has curated the exhibition at Woodhorn Museum, as well as creating a new body of work to accompany the paintings.

William Scott's 1936 painting 'The Bedlington Terrier' is being publically exhibited for the first time in 50 years.

It was originally bought for £2 at The Laing Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne, before being gifted to the renowned writer Janet Adam Smith in 1938.

It has been professionally restored for the new exhibition.

Image copyright Colin Davison
Image caption Len Robinson's 'Wansbeck Bridge' is one of the group's later paintings, produced in 1975
Image copyright Colin Davison
Image caption Jimmy Floyd's 'The Allotment'
Image copyright Colin Davison
Image caption Jack Harrison's 'View from a Bridge'
Image copyright Mik Critchlow
Image caption Two original members of the Pitmen Painters were Oliver Kilbourn (left) and Jack Harrison

The Pitmen Painters

  • Founded in Northumberland in the early 1930s as a Workers' Educational Association class giving mining families access to the arts
  • The Pitmen paintings were inspired by the artists' own lives
  • The group held its first exhibition in 1936 at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle and many of the paintings are on permanent display at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington.
  • Written by Billy Elliot creator Lee Hall, their story was turned into a play that was performed at the Royal National Theatre in London and on Broadway

Price has created a new body of work called The Ashington Paintings, to run alongside the exhibition.

He said he "explored their techniques" to "dispel the myth that they were in any way naïve or amateur painters".

"The Ashington Paintings is about celebrating the Pitmen Painters' artistic journey and documenting the sites of post-industrial history they so fondly captured," he added.

Image copyright Narbi Price
Image caption The paintings offer 'a glimpse at the stories of Ashington's industrial past'
Image copyright Narbi Price
Image caption North East-based artist Narbi Price created a new body of work, The Ashington Paintings, from his PhD research into the story
Image copyright Colin Davison
Image caption Narbi Price wanted to challenge the myth that the group's members were "naïve or amateur" painters

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