After months in the making, work is almost complete to transform a disused building in
County Durham into a permanent home for the North East’s largest collection of Mining
Family-owned joinery company, T. Manners & Sons Ltd, is now busy installing a custom-
made welcome desk and seating in the former Old Bank Chambers, Bishop Auckland Market Place, ready for the Mining Art Gallery to open on October 21.
These final additions, which will ensure the building is ready for visitors, follow months of hard work by Bishop Auckland-based Redfern Building Services Ltd to convert the
Grade I listed building on behalf of The Auckland Project.
Once complete, three permanent galleries and one temporary exhibition space on the
ground floor will explore working life in the coalmines through artwork and original
Dramatic dark walls and lower ceilings will combine to place visitors in the coal-
blackened boots of the miners working underground.
Upstairs two gallery rooms will focus on community life, with paler walls, higher ceilings and colourful artworks in stark contrast to the floor below.
This area will take a closer look at how miners and their families lived, exploring hobbies and family life through artworks and sculpture.
In order to reflect the huge impact the mining industry has had across the region visitors will be encouraged to contribute their own experiences of mining life.
Anecdotes and memories will be stored in a touch-screen panel to create an
interpretation of mining heritage which will constantly grow and change.
An education area will host a programme of community events and educational
activities, and budding artists can make use of the drawing space to have a go at
drawing still life, taking inspiration from the kind of objects featured in works by mining artists.
Angela Thomas, Assistant Curator at the Mining Art Gallery for The Auckland Project,
said: “The miners began to illustrate the reality of their world in the 1930s and the power and feeling behind those works still resonate today.
“This gallery is a great opportunity to celebrate and preserve a significant part of our
region’s heritage for generations to come.”
Mining Art Gallery is the first attraction to be opened by The Auckland Project as part of
its plans to create a world-class visitor destination in Bishop Auckland.
Created in partnership with Dr Robert McManners OBE and Gillian Wales, the new
Mining Art Gallery will provide a permanent home for the Gemini Collection of Mining Art which includes more than 420 works.
Powerful artwork from prominent mining artists such as Tom McGuinness and Norman
Cornish will evoke both the arcane underground world of the coalmines and the closely
bound communities of the pit villages and colliery towns.The gallery is supported by The Gemini Collection, Robert McManners OBE and Stefa
The gallery is supported by The Gemini Collection, Robert McManners OBE and Stefa
McManners, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Bishop
Auckland and Shildon AAP and The Sir John Priestman Charity Trust.It will open to the public on Saturday, October 21. And then daily,
It will open to the public on Saturday, October 21. And then daily, 10am – 4pm. For more
information visit aucklandproject.org.