Artist Grayson Perry’s stirring depiction of North East miners and Sunderland MMA fighters will go on show at Durham Cathedral.
The eccentric artist visited fighters from Made4TheCage in Southwick and Durham Miners’ Gala as research for his All Man documentary which was shown earlier this year.
As part of the series, which explored the notion of masculinity, Grayson created a striking tapestry in the style of a traditional miners’ banner which he titled Death of a Working Hero.
The piece will now be shown at Durham Cathedral as part of its textiles exhibition, which is running from November 5 to February 11 as part of the Open Treasure visitor experience.
Death of a Working Hero shows the figures of ‘strong men’ past and present: a miner and a cage fighter. Beneath them is a funeral, with mourners gathered around a coffin emblematic of how the high mortality rate from mining accidents has been replaced by the high rate of suicide among young men in the region today.
Durham Cathedral’s head of collections, Lisa Di Tommaso, said: “This latest and much anticipated exhibition puts on display some of the cathedral’s richest textiles; rich in their history, their splendour and their symbolism.
“With such a breadth of subject matter from the most modern piece on loan to us by Grayson Perry to our Anglo-Saxon relics, we hope to attract a wide-spectrum of visitors to the exhibition ranging from textile scholars and enthusiasts, to those who simply wish to admire the beauty of these splendid and often eye-catching pieces.”
In recent years the Turner Prize-winning artist’s work has often been informed by visits to Wearside. He previously visited Sunderland to make his Vanity of Small Differences artworks and its accompanying documentary, the display of which drew tens of thousands of visitors to the Museum and Winter Gardens.
Grayson Perry’s tapestry at Durham Cathedral will be the most modern element of the exhibition, which features textiles from across the centuries.
Other highlights include two pieces retrieved from St Cuthbert’s tomb in 1827. One is an Anglo-Saxon silk Dalmatic (a tunic-style church vestment), dating back to the eighth century, featuring locally-made Northumbrian braid added for decoration, the other is part of a large shawl or mantle known as The Peacock Silk, which dates from around 1100 and is thought to have been made in a workshop in Almeria, Spain.
Also on display will be the Coronation Cope, worn by the Bishop of Durham at the coronations of the last four British monarchs, most recently by Bishop Michael Ramsay at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
Another is the cope commissioned by Durham Cathedral for the visit of Charles I in 1633, a rare example of 17th century church needlework from the time when such vestments had fallen out of fashion.
•Textiles: Painting with the needle runs from Saturday, November 5 to February 11 2017. Entrance is included as part of the Open Treasure ticket, which can be purchased online at www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/open-treasure or at the Durham Cathedral information desk at the rear of the Cathedral Nave.