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Cornish’s mining art exhibition extended

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The Bowes Museum have extended their exhibition on Norman Cornish to last until May this year. The exhibition – entitled Norman Cornish: The Definitive Exhibition – was scheduled to end in February, having begun in mid-November last year to coincide with what would have been Cornish’s 100th birthday.

Cornish was part of a lesser known branch of British art known as mining art. Mostly produced by those who were miners themselves, the style of painting is meant to celebrate those who worked underground and the communities that sprang up around them.

Cornish was part of a lesser known branch of British art known as mining art.

The influence of mining on Cornish’s work is obvious in his use of stark, earthy colours, but what is more surprising is the lack of actual depictions of mining. Instead, he opts to depict miners’ lives and villages: paintings of pubs, houses and local walking routes are all populated with people. Some are busy and bustling, while others feature only one or two. The one thing in common is the idea that places are made by the people who live in them.

Cornish was granted an honorary Master of Arts from Newcastle University in 1974.

The Bowes Museum is a suitable setting for Cornish’s work, as both share a home in County Durham, and is full of praise for Cornish. On their website, they describe his penchant for providing “an immediate and accessible social documentary of a bygone era”.

Cornish was granted an honorary Master of Arts from Newcastle University in 1974. His accolades grew in 2012, when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Sunderland University.

The exhibition boasts over sixty of Cornish’s drawings, pastels, charcoals and paintings, and runs until 17 May.

Last modified: 11th March 2020

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