Museum of miners’ art to open as part of Bishop Auckland culture drive – by Maev Kennedy (The Guardian – September 11, 2017)

A unique collection of paintings by Durham miners, many made by men who spent their working lives underground and their nights painting on kitchen tables, in attics or garden sheds, will go on display in the first museum in the UK dedicated to such art.

The museum is being created in a former bank building on the marketplace in Bishop Auckland. It includes works by Norman Cornish, the most famous of the group, who left the pits at the urging of his wife to become a full-time artist and spent the rest of his life recording the small streets, shops and people of Spennymoor, where his studio is preserved in an exhibition at the town hall.

There are also many works by Tom McGuinness, a miner until he was made redundant in the wave of pit closures in the 1980s, who earned enough money from his art to build a coveted indoor bathroom but then installed a printing press in the space instead.

There are several paintings by Bob Olley, still painting at 77, who originally trained as a signwriter before working in a mine where the drift shafts stretched up to three miles under the sea.

There is a print of the painting that has paid his bills for years, through copies and reproductions: The Westoe Netty, six men at a heavily graffitied urinal while one cheeky lad turns round to grin as he pees on the leg of his neighbour.

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