Showcase of North East artwork

Joseph Wilson at his exhibition at Woodhorn Museum
Joseph Wilson at his exhibition at Woodhorn Museum

Woodhorn Museum’s exhibition programme this autumn features the work of two North East photographers.

Doors to the attraction’s latest exhibitions opened last weekend and feature the work of Joseph Wilson and Damien Wootten.

Fell ‘em Doon is Ashington-born Joseph Wilson’s first solo exhibition as a professional artist, and his subject matter has strong local resonance.

His work documents Ashington Community Woods and QEII Country Park, the landscape immediately north of Ashington, and once one of Europe’s largest colliery sites.

Mr Wilson’s exhibition invites the audience to consider how the rise and decline of industry has shaped and transformed this landscape, both above and below the surface.

After the town’s first pit was sunk in 1867, the area saw rapid industrialisation and growth, with Ashington becoming known as the ‘largest mining village in the world’.

Woodland was cut down and pits sunk, with industrial structures and slag heaps dominating the skyline throughout most of the 20th century.

The subsequent decline of deep coal mining saw these structures and slag heaps quickly levelled, the landscape altered and rapidly reshaped in the image of its former rural idyll.

Mr Wilson’s objective documentation reveals little of the dramatic cycle of transformation that this landscape and its connected community has endured.

He said: “There’s a brutality here: the many trees cut, pits sunk, and the hundreds of people that passed away both above and below the surface. Walking through the wooded land, one notices a curious echo of violence within the silence and the picturesque.”

Woodhorn’s second exhibition is The Radical Road in which artist Damien Wootten has documented streets in England and Scotland that are named after historical radical and socialist political figures. 

These images are accompanied by photographs of socialist literature connected to these figures from Mr Wootten’s personal collection. Annotations by previous owners form an intriguing record of how those individuals responded to the radical ideas within the texts.

Mr Wootten’s work explores the idea of socialist utopianism and raises questions about the role it had in shaping the streets and communities of Britain, with viewers invited to consider the relevance these socialist figures and their ideas hold today and in the future.

Fell ‘em Doon and The Radical Road will be on display at Woodhorn Museum until January 7. For more information see www.experiencewoodhorn.com