Sunderland talk will dig deep into story of the pitmen painters

Testing for Gas (1956), oil painting by Ted Holloway. Courtesy of Gemini Collection.

Testing for Gas (1956), oil painting by Ted Holloway. Courtesy of Gemini Collection.

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The work by famous pitmen painters form the subject of the final instalment of this summer’s free Sunderland Community Lectures.

Hosted by Sunderland University – Illuminating the Darkness: turning mining into an art form – will be held on Wednesday at 2.30pm at the Sir Tom Cowie Campus.

Mining art, a vital part of our industrial heritage, was almost lost to us as it was fast disappearing from living memory

Dr Robert McManners

Guest speaker Dr Robert McManners, the Deputy Lieutenant of Durham County, will dig a little deeper into the history of this almost forgotten phenomenon.

“I am a doctor by profession, but an artist by inclination,” said Dr McManners, who has written several books on mining art. “My fascination for mining art began with my childhood in Ferryhill, the very centre of the Durham Coalfield. Much of my own early works were illustrations of colliery life in my home town.”

Dr McManners will cover Norman Cornish and other masters of mining art, including Tom McGuinness and Ted Holloway, in his talk, and look at the psychological as well as the sociological side of the art form.

He added: “Mining art, a vital part of our industrial heritage, was almost lost to us as it was fast disappearing from living memory.

“Shafts of Light considers the fundamental question – why did they do it? – and introduces us to the work of more than 70 artists, who produced the most complete experiential visual record of an industry in existence.”

The University of Sunderland’s Community Lectures are now in their 20th year, and are free and open to all.

There is no need to book, but those attending are asked to arrive at the Prospect Building at Sir Cowie Campus, St Peter’s, between 2pm and 2.30pm, to register before the lecture begins.