Tuesday 21 January 2020

Interview about Norman Cornish

Interview about Norman Cornish

Norman Cornish (1919-2014) was born into a mining family in Spennymoor, County Durham, as the eldest of seven children. Aged 14, he had to leave school and go and work in the mines. He was, however, also a keen artist, and, through sheer determination and drive, simultaneously forged a career drawing and painting. After 33 years in the pits, he retired due to chronic back problems, and was finally able to dedicate himself full time to his art. His sketches of workers in the pub, playing darts or dominoes, of locals queuing at the fish and chip van, and of his wife, father and children, paint the portrait of a place and time and are as synonymous with the northeast of England, as LS Lowry’s are with the northwest. Nevertheless, despite numerous honorary doctorates and an MBE for his contribution to art, his renown seems more locally bounded. This is something that his family hope to change, and, with 2019 being the anniversary of his birth, they helped put on an array of exhibitions and establish a permanent trail in Spennymoor, taking visitors to key sites where Cornish worked. 

I spoke to the artist’s son, John Cornish, about the celebrations – some of which are still ongoing, his father’s legacy, and his own memories of family life. 

Read the full interview here

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