THIS striking oil painting by one of Ashington’s famed Pitmen Painters is going on show to the public for the first time as part of a nationwide celebration of art.
Frozen Pit Pond, 1974 by Jimmy Floyd shows young people ice skating at Lynemouth in Northumberland, with coal wagons, colliery buildings and pit wheels in the background.
Until now it has been kept in storage, along with more than 180 other paintings by the renowned Ashington artists, at Woodhorn Museum and Archives Centre. It has never been exhibited publicly at the museum before, but will go on display to visitors from February 16 as part of the BBC’s Your Paintings initiative.
Your Paintings is a website showcasing almost 212,000 oil paintings, virtually the UK’s entire collection. Held in more than 3,000 galleries, museums and civic buildings, they span more than 600 years of art history. Because of a shortage of exhibition space, 80% of the works are usually held in storage.
More than 80 paintings chosen by members of the Ashington Group of Artists, who later became famed as the Pitmen Painters, are displayed at Woodhorn Museum, but many others are kept in storage.
Liz Ritson, Woodhorn’s exhibitions and events officer, said yesterday: “It’s a really charming and colourful seasonal image of skaters on a pit pond, with a background of colliery wagons, buildings and pit wheels.
“It may well bring back some fond memories for our older visitors, and also give younger ones an insight into an industrial landscape that once dominated the area, but of which little evidence remains today.” William Feaver, the art critic whose book Pitmen Painters: The Ashington Group 1934-1984 inspired Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall’s stage play, will give a talk about the history of the group at Woodhorn on Friday, February 22.
All 184 paintings by the Pitmen Painters which are held at Woodhorn can now been seen online on the Your Paintings website at bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings
Andrew Ellis of the Public Catalogue Foundation, which has worked with the BBC on the Your Paintings website, said: “No other country has ever embarked on such a project, to make accessible online its entire collection of oil paintings.”
This Saturday people will get the chance to help paint a Big Art Canvas version of Mr Floyd’s painting when the Metrocentre hosts one of a series of events to mark the completion of Your Paintings.
His scene will be split into about 60 individual squares, each of which represents a canvas for people to paint on a first-come, first-served basis. They will then be placed together in a large frame to recreate the original painting.