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North East Miners' artwork showcased in new Gallery

By Kris Jepson

The artwork of coalminers from the North East is being showcased at a new gallery in County Durham.

Watch @krisjepson's report here:

The Gemini Collection of Mining Artwork consists of 420 pieces of art, including paintings, drawings and printings.

Miners' Artwork Credit: ITV News

The Auckland Project of major regeneration is launching the Mining Art Gallery on Saturday. It is the first dedicated gallery to mining art in the UK and explores the development of mining art as a form of self-expression.

We've been collecting the Gemini Collection for over 20 years now and it's always been our ambition to have it on display, but I think we never really thought that the gallery would be of this standard and particularly in our home town.

– Dr Bob McManners, Co-Founder, The Gemini Collection

The gallery reveals how miners responded to their experiences through art, from the conditions they endured underground to the pit communities they returned home to.

Being from a mining community myself, I can really relate to these artworks. They remind us of my grandparents and stories I learnt about the collieries, growing up. So I really do think it will bring a lot of nostalgia for people and people who come here will be able to share memories and think of a time that has kind of been lost, but we want to constantly remember for the future.

– Sara Fortune, Curator

On show are pieces by Tom McGuinness whose work evoked the claustrophobic feeling of being deep underground.

Norman Cornish, who celebrated the sense of spirit found in mining communities and their lives away from the pits.

Bob Olley Painting Credit: ITV News

And Bob Olley, a former pitman inspired by the laughter and humour that came with the tough hot graft.

It's a bit like the army, the camaraderie and that was held together with the humour. With the paint, you can't get the smells from down the pit, you know, there were some unpleasant smells, but when I look at that painting now I can smell the pit pony. That's what that does to me.

– Bob Olley, Former miner & Artist
Miners' Artwork Credit: ITV News