A CELEBRATION of the life and work of one of the North-East’s best-known pitman painters is being staged to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The family of the late Norman Cornish, who was awarded an MBE for his distinctive work, along with galleries across County Durham are launching the year-long centenary focus on one of the region’s most celebrated artists.

Spennymoor-born, in November 1919, he was famed for capturing the hard-lived but often colourful lives, despite the adversity faced by mining communities in the 20th Century.

Six exhibitions in the county will offer previously unseen works, fresh insights and a retrospective of Cornish’s art.

His work will be shown at The Bob Abley Gallery, in Spennymoor Town Hall, the Mining Art Gallery in Bishop Auckland, The Gala Gallery, in Durham, Durham University’s Palace Green Library, The Greenfield Gallery, in Newton Aycliffe and The Bowes Museum.

A Norman Cornish Trail, around his home town, will allow walkers to follow in the footsteps of the artist and return to the days when coal was king.

Further exhibitions to celebrate the artist’s life and work will be staged at Gallery North, at Northumbria University and Castlegate House Gallery, in Cockermouth, Cumbria.

Meanwhile, as part of the centenary celebration, Cornish’s former home from the 50s and 60s is set to be recreated on the Beamish Museum site, as part of the Remaking Beamish Project.

The Norman Cornish Centenary year will be a key feature of Durham’s year-long celebration of culture, #Durham19.

Norman’s son, John Cornish, said: “As a family, we are delighted that my father’s legacy is being recognised with such an exciting programme of exhibitions at galleries across County Durham and beyond.

“Enduring projects such as ‘The Norman Cornish Trail’ in his home town of Spennymoor, and the unique display of his artwork on glass in the refurbished archway there, will ensure his legacy lives on.

“We are very proud of the esteem in which my father’s work is held by the public and we hope the planned exhibitions and events will serve to reinforce the region’s pride in its cultural heritage.”

Further details can be found via www.normancornish.com/centenary, the event website.