IT is a great privilege to have three works by Norman Cornish in our next sale on Tuesday.

Cornish was born in Spennymoor in 1919 and went to work in the pit at the age of 14. He remained a miner for nearly 33 years, but his artistic talent was apparent at school when he won first prize for his drawing of a boot.

He attended a sketching club and as well as working down the pit, he exhibited work at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle and held his first one-man show in 1946.

As an artist, his stature grew, as he exhibited regionally and nationally, with his work appearing alongside that of Stanley Spencer and Graham Sutherland in Melvyn Bragg’s documentary Scenes from Working Lives in 1989.

Social history has never been as important as it is now and the depth of Cornish’s work not only captures a nostalgia for the North-East and its lost mining industry, but it also summons up the spirit of the people as they go about their daily lives.

It is always a pleasure to present his works at auction and on this occasion, we are blessed with three entries, and all are versions of his favourite themes.

Man with Greyhounds in Edward Street is a Spennymoor scene he regularly returned to, as he liked the way the street was “crowned” by the church at the top. This version was purchased from the University Gallery, Newcastle, in 1999, and is estimated at between £4,000 and £6,000.

A piece showing miners scaling pithead steps is estimated at £2,000-£3,000, while a small work Power Station, which shows a trademark figure on a path edged by a wooden fence with swinging wires overhead, is put at £1,500-£2,500.

Are Norman Cornish paintings a good investment?

Just ask anyone who has purchased a work in the last 30 years. You’ll find they are so content with enjoying the visual pleasure that the value is overlooked, but quietly they’ll not be disappointed with how the values have increased.

Peter Robinson

Thomas Watson Auctioneers, Darlington.

The next sale is on Tuesday, June 6, with viewing by appointment over the weekend and on Monday. Go to