Budding young artists in North Shields showcased their talents in a special art exhibition based on the work of ‘The Pitmen Painters’. The children at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Cullercoats took inspiration from the work of the Ashington Group, a small society of mine worker artists whose paintings became popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Known as the ‘Pitmen Painters’, they included Oliver Kilbourn, George Blessed, Jimmy Floyd, Harry Wilson, Len Robinson, John F Harrison and Fred Laidler.

In the run-up to the three-day exhibition, which opened to family visitors on November 8, all pupils at St Mary’s, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust, took part in Big Art Week.

We select a theme for the week, and each teacher in classes Nursery to Year 6 plans a week-long unit exploring the theme, teaching skills and techniques, and providing the children with opportunities to create wonderful pieces of art, individually and collaboratively,” said Head Teacher Colette Bland. “The project is completely inclusive and all the children take part. This year the theme for our art week was The Pitmen Painters – we were hoping through their works to provide the children with an insight into the lives of a mining community, and to ignite in them an interest in local history.

Co-ordinated by St Mary’s Art Lead, Kirsty Jones, the children used a range of different media, from painting, collage and sculpture to printing and textiles, to produce their own pieces inspired by the work of the artist miners. Their finished artwork was then displayed in the exhibition

Family and friends were able to view the children’s artwork at our annual exhibition,” continued Mrs Bland. “Every year following the week’s work, we transform our school into an art gallery, where every child has pieces of their work displayed. It is one of the highlights of the school year – the children love to show their families around and are incredibly proud of their work.

Previous themes for the annual event have included Ten Pieces, Vincent Van Gough, Art in Different Cultures, The Ocean, Henri Matisse, and Modern Art.

Events like these are hugely important to our school,” added Mrs Bland. “They give our children the opportunity to immerse themselves in a theme, to research, develop skills, and work on pieces of art using a range of media, to review their work and modify until they are proud of the final result. Seeing their work on display in our gallery, and experiencing the joy and pride of our school community seeing their work, is a wonderful experience. Visitors are always very impressed by the standard of work the children produce.

Article created on behalf of Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust by Barking Dog Media. For more information email: david@barkingdogmedia.co.uk or call 07754 271086.