THE cast of an award-winning play about a group of Ashington painters, have viewed the works of art that inspired the world famous story.
Live Theatre artistic director Max Roberts introduced the cast of The Pitmen Painters to the original works of the Ashington Group at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, during a break in rehearsals for the new UK tour.
In 1934, a group of Ashington miners hired a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class. Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen began to paint, and within a few years the most avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collections.
The Pitmen Painters is on at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal from July 1 to 6, before it embarks on a new national tour.
Philip Correia, who plays Oliver Kilbourn in the play, said: “When the show went to the National Theatre I saw it and thought, ‘a play about Ashington? I have to be in it’, and now I am.
“There is one play ever that has been written about Ashington, and I couldn’t believe that I was born in Ashington and I wasn’t in it.
“It is something amazing to be a part of, as it is really such an ensemble play, there’s no real lead character, it’s a tale of the small man achieving on a great scale, and it’s wonderfully written.”
The 29-year-old, who was born in Ashington and brought up in Blyth, added: “It’s great to be able to see the paintings that inspired the story, and to see work done by the character you are playing.
“It is very inspiring.”
Frozen Pit Pond, a new painting by Jimmy Floyd, one of the Ashington Group who is a named character in The Pitmen Painters, has gone on show at Woodhorn for the first time thanks to the BBC and Public Catalogue Foundation Your Paintings project.
William Feaver, the art critic whose book inspired the stage play, gave a talk after the actors viewed the gallery.
The Pitmen Painters appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from July 1 to 6. Tickets priced from £9 are available by calling 0844 811 2121 or visiting www.theatreroyal.co.uk For more information on the exhibition at Woodhorn Museum visit www.experiencewoodhorn.com