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Famous painting by Ashington Pitman Painter's to be recreated photographically

One of the most famous images of the Ashington Group of painters is to be recreated photographically

Fish and Chips, 1948, by Fred Laidler
Fish and Chips, 1948, by Fred Laidler

Few things in life stay the same but the queue at the ‘chippy’ is as common today as in 1948.

This was the year Fred Laidler, one of the best known of the ‘pitmen painters’ of Ashington, produced Fish and Chips, a painting immortalising an everyday scene.

On Saturday, 67 years on, a group of photographers and volunteers will assemble in the Northumberland former pit town to recreate the scene for an exhibition later in the year.

The group have been working with celebrated professional photographer Julian Germain whose work has been exhibited and published widely.

Together as part of bait, an Arts Council project to increase participation in the arts in South East Northumberland, they are producing a community newspaper and photographic journal called the Ashington District Star.

Inspired by the artists who became known as the pitmen painters, they set out to explore their lives, surroundings and culture through art.

Their eyes alighted on Fish and Chips, Fred Laidler’s lovely painting of a ‘chippy’ with the waiting customers bathed in the glow from the electric lights and children playing on the pavement outside.

Photographer Julian Germain
Photographer Julian Germain

There’s a dog, too, which means a plum modelling role for one of Ashington’s four-legged friends.

Julian Germain said: “There has been loads of interest and discussion around the identity of the chip shop but, of course, it is a painting and, as such, Fred Laidler had the freedom to select particular aspects from a variety of chip shops and to use his imagination as he wished.

“In the end we have decided to shoot at Billy’s Golden Fish and Chips (formerly Cuthbertson’s) at the west end of Station Road in Ashington.

“It’s not only that there is a strong resemblance to the shop in the painting but also Fred lived around the corner and his granddaughter, Anne, most strongly associates this particular chippy with her grandad.”

Anne and Fred’s great grand-daughter, Daisy, were among those who responded to an appeal for information about the chippy in the painting and for volunteers to appear in the photograph.

Both Anne and Daisy will feature in the photograph with other volunteers – and whichever dog met the requirements of looking like the animal in the picture and being well-behaved.

The special photo-shoot will take place on Saturday at 4.45pm outside the chippy and the resulting photo will feature in an exhibition at the Woodhorn museum, Ashington, later in the year.

Find out more about the Ashington District Star project at www.facebook.com/AshingtonStar

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