The doors have opened on a new exhibition of artwork inspired by the historic connection between the Workers Educational Association and the famous Ashington Group of artists or Pitmen Painters as they are affectionately known.
The exhibition, called Art After Work: Paintings from Today’s WEA Classes, features work by members of WEA art classes in Ashington, Blyth and New Hartley.
It was in 1934 that the WEA Art Appreciation class led by Robert Lyon first began, and whilst there are no longer any Pitmen Painters, today’s WEA participants like to believe that
they are inspired by their desire for knowledge and self-improvement.
Len Smith from the New Hartley class said: “This exhibition is a demonstration of our own modest achievements. Most of our class members are retired and are now fulfilling a
lifelong ambition to discover ‘if they are any good at art’. Most students re-join the classes each term and the continuous improvement in the results produced are apparent to us all.
The observation, encouragement and criticism of one another is a major benefit of working in a group.”
It’s not just about creating good work though according to Len. “In Ted Taylor MA (Ashington Workshops and Newcastle University), we also have an inspiring tutor, who
insists that what we do every week really should be ‘art from the heart’, and not just a series of ‘bonny pictures’.”
“We look forward to presenting this exhibition of new artwork made by members of our local communities though their WEA art classes,” says Liz Ritson, Events and Exhibitions Officer
“The exhibition was inspired by historic links with our Ashington Group (Pitmen Painters) Collection, but it also celebrates the positive impact that making art can
have on people’s lives today.”
The Workers Educational Association established in 1903 to educate the working classes, continues to thrive today and it provides adult education in a variety of subjects throughout
the area. The WEA is a charity, and providing 9,700 part-time courses for over 70,000 students, it is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education.
Anyone with aspirations to improve or learn new skills in friendly, encouraging company, is invited to find out more about joining one of the classes. Visit www.wea.org.uk to find out
more about the WEA, courses in the area and even how to become a volunteer.
For more information about Woodhorn and the exhibition, visit the website www.experiencewoodhorn.com or find Woodhorn on Facebook.