Pub's miners' banner mural celebrates Seaham's former pit past

Durham Big Meeting might have been missed this year, but a new artwork is helping to hold a pit banner high for good.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 5:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 6:18 pm

The East Durham Creates-commissioned mural Above Below Beyond has been painted onto the side of the Volunteer Arms, the pub and cafe in St John’s Square, and is already helping to bring in new visitors.

It was created by artist Jamie Holman who design the work, with Cosmo Sarson painting it onto the side of the building.

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The team at the Volunteer Arms are delighted with the finished artwork, commissioned by East Durham Creates.

Linda Atkinson is in charge of the business, which was previously run for 38 years by her mum, the late Thomasina Richmond, before she took it on about seven years ago.

She said: “It’s absolutely amazing.

"Facebook has just gone mad, everybody loves it.

"I really hope it does bring people in and we’ve already had some strangers coming in to talk to us about it.

Above Below Beyond has been completed on the side of the Volunteer Arms building at John's Square, Seaham.

"The scaffolding went up on July 13 and it came down on Monday, so it's not been up long, but everyone thinks it’s fantastic.

"We’ve had this pub a long time, my mam had it before me, so really this building is in our hearts, I'm like a proud mam.

"Seaham is absolutely over the moon about it and it’s been shared loads already.”

The outlines of the design were chalked onto the side of the building before the rest of the paint was added. Photo by Alex Zawadzki.

She added they are trying to find out where the image in the piece is from in the hope they are local faces who can be tracked down.

The artwork – created by the artists who became friends when they studied together 20 years ago – has been designed to include the rich reds and golds associated with the silk trades union banners.

It is also a nod to the town's three collieries, as well as those in surrounding villages, and reflects the research carried out by Cosmo into religious iconography, neoclassical painting and Green mythology, which have become his trademark.

Jamie spent 11 months working across East Durham through art and music workshops, which had been set to lead to a music parade in May, but it had to be called due to the coronavirus restrictions.

The Volunteer Arms building at John's Square, Seaham, has been in the same family for decades.

A website has been set up as part of it so people can make their own music –

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The side of the pub as work got underway on the piece. Photo by Alex Zawadzki.
A photo taken by Alex Zawadzki as the work took shape.
The mural was inspired by pit banners, with the designs put together by Jamie Holman and the paintwork carried out by Cosmo Sarson. Photo by Alex Zawadzki.