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Mining and Industrial Art

Our works by mining and industrial artists include some of the most well-known figures from across the region.   

Tom Lamb, born in County Durham started working at Craghead Colliery aged 14. Taking a sketchbook with him, he captured the atmosphere of the working environment.   

Fellow miner Tom McGuinness, born in Bishop Auckland was a Bevan boy during World War Two. Studying at Darlington School of Art, McGuinness regularly attended the Spennymoor Settlement sketching club. The settlement provided a supportive environment to develop artistic skills and became known locally as the ‘Pitman’s Academy’.   

A contemporary of McGuinness, Norman Cornish MBE became accomplished at capturing the beauty in the life and shapes of the everyday, using his sketchbooks to acutely observe the lives of those around him. Also attending the Spennymoor Settlement, Cornish emerged from the coal mining industry to become a hugely successful professional artist.  

Contemporaneously, Kraig Wilson, born in Middlesbrough, has created several photographic artworks referencing post-industrial communities and the lives that inhabit them.  

Joanne – A photograph of a topless women sitting on a bed, side profile. She has a tattoo on her upper arm reading ‘Joanne’ and wears white tracksuit trousers.

Kraig Wilson, Joanne, 2009, C-print photograph on Hahnemuhle paper. Collection of Durham University. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by Mark Parham.

A sketch of a man’s face, front on, in black ink. He is wearing a flat cap.

Norman Cornish, Old Bill, date unknown, ink on paper. Collection of Durham University.