ONE of the region's most celebrated artists, Norman Cornish, has died at the age of 94.

Mr Cornish, of Spennymoor, County Durham, was the last surviving artist of the famous Pitman's Academy at The Spennymoor Settlement.

The settlement was established in 1930 as a centre for social and education work, and gave mining families access to the arts.

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It became known as the Pitman's Academy because its clubs nurtured the talents of people such as writer Sid Chaplin and artists Tom McGuinness, Herbert Dees, Robert Heslop and Mr Cornish.

Mr Cornish, a miner for 33 years, joined its sketching club when he was 15, and was a member for 30 years.

Today his paintings sell for thousands of pounds.

A statement on his website said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of celebrated artist Norman Cornish who passed away peacefully on the evening of August 1, aged 94.

"The funeral of Norman Cornish will be private, for family members and close friends.

"A book of condolence will be available at Northumbria University Gallery from August 5 or by email to for anyone who isn't able to attend.

"An illustrated memorial lecture and appreciation of Norman’s life and work by his biographers, Bob McManners and Gillian Wales, will take place at Spennymoor Town Hall in September.

"Details will be published at and members of the public are welcome to attend."