News: Norman Cornish – The Definitive Collection @ Bowes Museum | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Norman Cornish, Self-Portrait

One of the region’s most renowned and best-loved artists, Norman Cornish, is the focus of a retrospective exhibition at Barnard Castle’s Bowes Museum (taking place from 16th November to 23rd February) almost a century since his birth at Spennymoor. Sixty pieces will be on exhibition, from his work chronicling of everyday life in a mining community to some of his commissions, some of which have never been seen before.

A miner from 14 years of age, Cornish joined the Sketching Club at the Spennymoor Settlement and was advised to paint what he knew and went on to honestly capture the miners’ harsh and claustrophobic working environment. His work also reflected other aspects of mining communities such as the pit, the pub and the sociability of street life; with its chip van horse-drawn carts, miners at leisure, women in wrap-around pinnies gossiping and children playing.

He eventually went professional and became one of the most sought-after contemporary British artists. He did a variety of commissioned work including the Port of Tyne Authority’s request for him to capture their “Roll-on, Roll-off” facility at North Shields and The River Pageant, commemorating 900 years of Newcastle’s history, as well as British Oxygen’s commission to depict industrial scenes at its Birtley site near Gateshead. The first two of these will be seen by the public for the first time.

Norman continued to paint until his peaceful passing at the age of 94 in August 2014. His work continues to be loved by people of all ages and backgrounds.

About the exhibition, Dr Howard Coutts, from The Bowes Museum, said: “We are truly honoured to be holding this first major retrospective of works by Norman Cornish. His chronicles of life in a bygone era are captivating and draw you into the scene that he’s portraying.”

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