Boys Climbing Fence by Norman Cornish – Copyright Estate of Norman Cornish – Courtesy of Mining Art Gallery The Auckland Project


The County Durham mining community, that provided a lifetime of inspiration for artist Norman Cornish, will sit at the heart of a special exhibition, commemorating his centenary year.

Perhaps one of the most celebrated artists of the north east, Norman Cornish lived all his life in Spennymoor, County Durham. Now generations of the former mining town have come together to co-curate an exhibition of his work at the Mining Art Gallery, Bishop Auckland.

Titled, Norman Cornish – A Slice of Life, the exhibition is part of a county-wide celebration marking 100 years since the artist’s birth, it will open on Saturday, 6 April 2019 .

Describing his hometown, Norman Cornish said, “Spennymoor has all that a painter needs to depict humanity.” And for decades the streets, faces and landscapes that surrounded him were a constant source of inspiration”.

The pit road he walked every day to work in the mines, children playing in the street and men leaning companionably at the bar all feature in his work. And whether in paint, pastel or his famous Flo-master pen, each scene is captured with the same compassion and warmth that characterised Norman’s popular renderings of everyday life.

Now, to celebrate this legacy, residents of Spennymoor have joined Norman’s children, John and Ann in choosing some of their favourite Norman Cornish artworks to be displayed at the Mining Art Gallery.

Spennymoor Settlement Sketching Club was a central part of Norman Cornish’s life and his journey into art. He joined on his 15th birthday, just one year after starting work at Dean and Chapter Colliery and it was at the club where he developed his unique style and first exhibited work in an annual exhibition. Norman remained loyal to his roots at the Sketching Club, continuing to exhibit there, whilst also showing work in galleries across the north of England, nationally and alongside artists such as Henry Moore and L.S Lowry.

Norman’s son, John and daughter, Ann, have chosen more personal works, portraits of them, their home life and childhood, lovingly captured and preserved forever by their father. These artworks bring back memories of being instructed to “hold that pose” by Norman as he grabbed a pen and paper to take down a sketch.

Norman Cornish – A Slice of Life opens at the Mining Art Gallery, Bishop Auckland Market Place on Saturday, 6 April 2019.