STUNNING craftwork which was inspired by memories of the region’s once-mighty coal mining industry has gone on display at a flagship museum developed at a former working pit.
The exhibition Mining A Golden Seam – which showcases the work of talented embroiderers from across the North East – opens today at the Woodhorn Museum near Ashington, Northumberland.
It includes work done by 80 members of the regional branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild, which depicts varied aspects of the coal-mining life, its communities and people.
It is the organisation’s first North East exhibition for five years, and showcases the creative skills of both adult and young embroiderers from communities in Hexham, Wooler, Tyneside, Sunderland, Teesside and North Yorkshire.
The embroidered textile works on display include images of pit communities, working miners and underground seams – as well as the theme of strata and geology.
Guild members have drawn on their own experiences and memories of the coal industry, and then translated the ideas into design and stitching. The exhibition runs until May 13.
Yesterday Woodhorn’s events and exhibitions officer Liz Ritson said: “It’s hard to imagine that a dark, dangerous industry, where men toiled for long, hard hours deep in the bowels of the earth, could inspire delicate works of art made from fabric and thread, but that’s what has happened with this exhibition.
“There are some gorgeous pieces of work in the show and I’m sure all of our visitors will appreciate not just the obvious beauty of the embroidery, but the amazing skills and hours of dedication taken to produce the final piece.”
Joy Bradshaw, North East regional chairman of the guild, said: “Many different strands of ideas have come together to create and inspire the pieces in the exhibition.
“Our mining heritage in the region is featured strongly: memories of communities and the life that was so familiar when the pits were part of everyday life.
“Beside these interpretations of a familiar but vanishing and changing world, there are embroideries which mine the other treasures lying beneath the surface. These illustrate strata and geology, richly interpreted in stitch.”
Joy said the concept of a golden seam had always inspired embroiderers, and was a “gift” for those who enjoy using fabric and thread.
“We all love to include its richness in our special pieces, and this exhibition has given an opportunity to celebrate and show it off in a spectacular way.
“The theme is also a metaphor for any type of exploration and searching that we may do when we dig into rich areas of the imagination, or when we mine memories and reveal our individual passions.”
The Woodhorn museum and archives complex was developed from a smaller mining heritage museum on the site, which had previously been Woodhorn Colliery until its closure in 1981.