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The Working World of Tom McGuinness – a miner and his art Special Exhibition

Monday, August 17th, 2009

The National Coal Mining Museum for England is pleased to announce that the last Special Exhibition of 2009 will be based on the work of Tom McGuinness. ‘The Working World of Tom McGuinness – a miner and his art’ exhibition will open on Monday 12 October and will run for 13 weeks.
Tom McGuinness was a Durham miner who spent thirty-nine years in the industry; he was first conscripted as a Bevin Boy in 1944. His artistic talent was discovered while he was working at the pit, which led to time both at Darlington School of Art and the famous Spennymoor Settlement.
His pictures are instantly recognisable, with their distinctive colours and distorted figures. Although his works often show life in a mining community and the working life of men underground, this exhibition concentrates on the latter, showing the stresses and strains on the underground worker.
Tom McGuinness was a modest, unassuming man, whose artistic works in paint, print and stained glass illustrated the influences in his life. The Museum has chosen to show, from its own collections, some of these influences in the everyday working tools that formed the background to his working life, an exhibition which crosses the boundary between engineering and art.
Many of the images are brought together by Robert McManners and Gillian Wales, well-known writers on coal mining art in the north-east. The addition of art, tools and artefacts from the Museum’s own collections helps to reveal a little of the harsh realities of the pitman’s working life.
Rosemary Preece, Curatorial Director at the Museum commented, “The exhibition will be a real revelation, where people can explore their own reactions to the hard labour of the coal mine, expressed so vividly in Tom McGuinness’s work.”
The special exhibition will run from 12 October to the 10 January 2009, free admission into the exhibition and the Museum.
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