Pitmen Painters: Resurfacing was the first seasonal programme at Woodhorn Museum supported by Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation funding. The programme introduced an artist-led approach which re-presented the connected heritage, collection and community stories of The Ashington Group (Pitmen Painters) in a new way.
In June 2018, the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic was held at Woodhorn museum, with a main stage programme that included a performance of ‘Pitman’ by Eliot Smith Company. Visual Artist Paul Merrick worked with members of the Woodhorn Museum learning team to deliver ‘What a Whoppa!’ a mass participatory family arts activity inspired by the traditional of vegetable competitions and the allotments featured in work by the Ashington Group of Artists, and the Museums Northumberland Collections team delivered ‘Tools of Trade’, an object handling sessions with items from the coal mining collections.
Curated by artist Narbi Price, ‘Pitmen Painters Unseen’ brought together a collection of paintings by the celebrated Ashington Group, the majority of which had never been on public display. The exhibition aimed to present previously unseen work by the group and to challenge the commonly held narrative that the members of the group were all ‘naïve’ and ‘amateur’ artists. Pitmen Painters: Unseen was supported by community members who loaned artwork for exhibition, The Ashington Group Trustees, Northumberland County Council, Newcastle University and The AHRC.
Narbi Price: The Ashington Paintings presented a new body of work by North East artist Narbi Price inspired by the Ashington Group and his research into their methods and materials. For the exhibition Narbi Price painted seemingly non-descript places in and around Ashington today that each hold hidden historic and community significance.