The Pitmen Painters A Celebration of Miners Art by the Ashington Group opens 10th October

Gallery Developments Made Possible by Hit Play

Rare archive film of a celebrated group of mining artists will provide the introduction to a newly refurbished gallery of Pitmen Painters works which re-opens to the public in Northumberland this weekend.

Woodhorn Museum is set to unveil new developments in the gallery housing the main collection of work by the Ashington Group of artists. The Group of mainly miners started in 1934 to study Art Appreciation but went on over the next 50 years to create an incredible body of work detailing every aspect of their lives. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Group.

The work on the gallery has been paid for thanks largely to the world-wide success of the play Pitmen Painters by Billy Elliot writer, Lee Hall which is based on the story of the Ashington Group. Images of the paintings have been used in productions in the West End, Broadway and across the world earning royalties at the same time as increasing interest in seeing the original paintings. Additional funding has come from Arts Council England.

The gallery has been enhanced with new features including an introductory film with 1970s archive BBC film footage of the painters themselves talking about their experiences and art. There will also be an in-gallery ipad app which will provide additional information about the individual paintings, the artists, and features filmed interviews with art critic, friend of the group and writer of the original Pitmen Painters book, William Feaver.

“People now visit Woodhorn from all over the world to see this remarkable collection of painting,” explains Woodhorn’s Director, Keith Merrin, “so we are thrilled to be able to make their visit even more interesting, enjoyable and memorable.

“The refurbishments have been paid for in large part by royalties generated from use of images of the paintings in the various successful productions of the play, Pitmen Painters. It’s a brilliant story of how art produced by miners in Northumberland can inspire another artist, Lee Hall, to produce great new work which in turn has generated funds to enable more people to be inspired by the paintings.”

The gallery will reopen on to the public on Saturday 11th October 2014.

Keith Merrin and William Feaver are available for interview on Friday 10th October 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:- Deborah M Tate, Marketing Officer, Woodhorn. Tel:- 01670 624478 email:- [email protected]