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Artist Norman Cornish’s studio donated to Beamish

Beamish has received the art collection of the last surviving painter from the Spennymoor Settlement, which became known as the “Pitman’s Academy”.

Norman Cornish, a painter who spent three decades working in the mines, died, aged 94, in August 2014. The studio from his Spennymoor home was donated to Beamish just months before his death and includes dozens of unfinished works, as well as his chair, easels, paint pots, brushes and other objects.

Some of the objects, including replicas of his unfinished work, are now on display in the Open Stores in the Museum’s Regional Resource Centre.

We are lucky enough to have been working with Norman’s family over the past year. This has given us a unique perspective into Norman’s life and we are extremely grateful that his family has so kindly donated such wonderful pieces of history to Beamish.

Norman captured everyday life in the North East, from men working in the pits to women gossiping in the back lanes, which we hope to share with people through our own 1950s developments in the future.

We want to tell the fascinating story of how men, such as Norman, and women joined organisations like the Spennymoor Settlement, the Ashington Group and others to represent their lives through media such as painting and writing.

– Kate Reeder, Head of Social History and Collections Management at Beamish

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