Youngsters showcasing their talents

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A brush with the world-famous artwork of a group of Northumberland miners inspired local school pupils to dig deep and produce their own masterpieces which will go on show this half term.

Over the last four months, more than 1,300 pupils from schools across the region have visited Woodhorn Museum in Ashington to immerse themselves in the world-renowned collection of artwork produced by the Ashington Group, known as the Pitmen Painters.

The young people were inspired to produce a total of 900 individual and collaborative works of art, including paintings, sculptures and textured drawings, some focusing on the dark, cramped conditions within a coal mine, others depicting details found within the miners’ paintings themselves.

This new work will be on display at Woodhorn from Saturday, February 15, to Sunday, February 23, in a free exhibition called Scratch the Surface.

Visitors to the exhibition will also find a special pop-up Ashington Group Hut – the originally the space the Pitmen painters met to make and discuss art.

The pop-up hut is a fun immersive environment created by north east artist Paul Merrick, and will be open every day during the exhibition from noon to 3pm offering artist-led activities for all ages and abilities, free of charge.

This event will mark the beginning of a year-long celebration of the work of the Pitmen Painters to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Ashington Group.

Teachers were delighted by the pupils’ rich learning experience during the workshops at Woodhorn, praising the stimulating environment which allowed the young people to engage with art in an uninhibited way, leaving them amazed by their own creations.

A collection of the Pitmen Painters’ work is held at Woodhorn.

For more information about Scratch the Surface, visit