MORE 130 children visited a major art exhibition then explored the themes of the work through the mediums of music, dance and poetry.

Youngsters from Butterknowle, Cockfield, Evenwood, Ramshaw and Woodland Primary Schools enjoyed the Norman Cornish Music Day at The Bowes Museum.

They visited Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection– a retrospective of the late pitman painter marking the centenary of his birth– and turned what they saw into a performance.

Junkman musician Donald Knaack led the children in creating a piece of music inspired by the atmosphere in the paintings. Visual artist Vicky Holbrough worked with them to choreograph a Doodle Dance and, with support from Arts Council England, they composed rap poetry with Tony Gadd. The children then showed visitors in the Blue Picture Gallery what they had produced before Donald and Tony performed a duet.

The day marked the launch of a wider community project which has been funded by Teesdale Action Area Partnership and Northern Heartlands.

The museum’s education team and Vicky will visit the schools in January to work with them and their communities to create a piece of art inspired by the exhibition, to be displayed in The Bowes Museum.

Durham University is also partnering in the scheme by inviting pupils to visit the Norman Cornish Sketchbook exhibition at Palace Green, where they will deliver an in house education package as part of the Arts Explore Award that the children are working towards.

Northern Heartlands has also funded a series of free community art workshops, at which Vicky will teach people how to create a self portrait in the style of Norman Cornish. They will be held at Butterknowle Village Hall on January 18, Randolph Community Centre in Evenwood on January 25, Cockfield Community Cafe on February 1 and Woodland Village Hall on February 8, all from 10am until noon. Each will be followed by a 1pm to 3pm session, when the artist will show people how to create their own sketchbook workshop using paper-folding techniques, fine-liners and marker pens to create Norman Cornish style sketches.

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Northern Heartlands is also working on creating a trail in each location for more community involvement.

Julia Dunn, The Bowes Museum’s education and learning coordinator, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the impact the Norman Cornish exhibition has had on these children and the ideas and creativity it’s sparked as they’ve found out about mining and the heritage of their local area. I can’t wait to see what else they come up with as the project continues in the coming months ahead of the exhibition of their work next year. It’s been especially nice to be able to combine having such a large group of children in the museum to mark Kids in Museums Day as well.”

Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection is open until February, 23, 2020. It features more than 70 works gathered from across his working life, ranging from charcoal sketches to pastels and oil paintings.