Only at Woodhorn Museum, in Ashington, can you see the stunning Ashington Group Collection of work.

This unique collection of more than 80 paintings was compiled by the original members of The Group themselves over many years. They felt the paintings represented the very best of their work.

The Group largely made up of coal miners (or pitmen as they are known), first came together in 1934 through the Workers Education Association to study 'something different' - art appreciation. In an effort to understand what it was all about, their tutor Robert Lyon encouraged them to learn by doing it themselves.

What they produced was fascinating and if a picture paints a thousand words, these pitmen's paintings speak more eloquently than any photograph. They captured every aspect of life in and around their mining community, above and below ground, from the scenes around the kitchen table and in the allotment to the dangerous and dirty world of the coal face.

This amazing story of The Ashington Group inspired the wonderful play by Billy Elliot writer, Lee Hall. ‘Pitmen Painters’ has received rave reviews for sell-out performances in the North East and the National Theatre in London. In September 2010, New York audiences too were enthralled by the story when it opened on Broadway! Since then the play has run in the West End of London and has enjoyed a second national tour of the UK and there have been performances around the world including the US and New Zealand.  

Today the Ashington Group is acclaimed worldwide, yet back in the 1930s none of them would have dreamed that a few evening classes would bring them such fame and international attention.

The Ashington Group Collection is on permanent display at Woodhorn Museum, Wednesday to Sunday from 10am till 5pm, in a dedicated gallery with the support of the Ashington Group Trustees.

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