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1919

Norman Stansfield Cornish is born to Jack and Florence Cornish on 18 November at Oxford Street, Spennymoor, County Durham, the oldest of six children, (five brothers, Tom, Jack, Jim, Bill and Bob and one sister, Ella)

1922

Sarah Cornish, nee Bartley is born on 21 July at 11 Quality Row, Shotton, County Durham, the fourth of seven children, three brothers and three sisters

1923

On a pre-school visit to King Street Primary School, Cornish wins first prize (an old halfpenny) for his drawing of a lady’s boot.

1924

Starts school at King Street Primary School, Spennymoor. Travels to Kirk Merrington to see the eclipse of the sun.

1926

Contracts diphtheria and remembers foraging for cinders as a child

1928

Visits the NEC at Exhibition Park

1930

Passes the Eleven Plus and attends The Alderman Wraith Grammar School

1931

The Spennymoor Settlement opens, The Times refers to Spennymoor as a place without a future, despair, desperation and futility. William Farrell opens The Settlement on behalf of The Pilgrim Trust to raise self esteem, personal growth, activity through theatre, craft and the arts.

1933

Leaves school on Christmas Eve. On Boxing Day, at the age of 14 he begins work as an underground datal lad at the Dean and Chapter Colliery, locally known as ‘The Butcher’s Shop’.

1934

Joins Spennymoor Settlement Sketching Club where he meets Sid Chaplin

1935

Participates in the Sketching Club Annual Exhibition along with fellow miner Bob Heslop and painter and decorator, Bert Dees. Mrs H C Baker-Baker of Elemore Hall, County Durham, offers Bill Farrell (the Warden) ten guineas to buy oil paints for the Sketching Club members.

1935

Mrs H C Baker-Baker of Elemore Hall, County Durham, offers Bill Farrell (the Warden) ten guineas to buy oil paints for the Sketching Club members

1937

Becomes a ‘putter’ at the Dean and Chapter Colliery.

1938

Participates in a panel discussion at the Bensham Grove Settlement with Julian Trevelyan.

1939

World War II breaks out. Between mining and compulsory wartime fire-watching, he continues to draw and paint, moving towards landscape genre painting people and the environment following Bill Farrell's advice to ‘paint the things you know and see around you’.

1940

His first oil painting, a portrait of his sister, Ella, is exhibited at the ‘Works of the Artists of the Northern Counties’ annual exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1942

Applies for a grant to study art under Robert Lyon at Armstrong College, Newcastle (Lyon taught the Ashington Group). Although the Miners’ Welfare Committee was sympathetic under the regulations governing educational grants, Cornish was not eligible.

1944

Installs the Wyndham Vint Art Collection at the Spennymoor Settlement. The exhibition is organised by CEMA (Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, London).

1944

Meets Sarah Bartley at the Clarence Ballroom, Spennymoor. Her father had been a miner and her grandfather was a founder member of Blackhall Colliery Band. Rejected in a previous engagement because ‘he was a miner’.

1946

First one-man exhibition at the ‘Green Room’, the People’s Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

1946

Marries Sarah Bartley at Rose Street Methodist Church in Trimdon Grange, County Durham.

1946

Dr R W Revans, Director of Education for the National Coal Board buys five paintings for the NCB. The Spennymoor Settlement dubbed by the regional press as The Pitman’s academy.

1947

Exhibits seven paintings in the exhibition ‘Art by the Miner’ (which he also hangs) at the Academy Cinema, Oxford Street, London. The event was part of a broader exhibition covering all aspects of mining tilted ‘The Minder Comes to Town’ which was opened by the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee.

1947

Discovers the ‘Flo-master’ pen in a Reeves art shop in Camden town.

1947

Guest appearance on the BBC’s programme ‘Picture Page’ broadcast live from the Alexandra Palace Studios, North London. Norman's first TV appearance.

1948

‘Art by the Miner’, including eighteen paintings from the Spennymoor Sketching Club, travels to the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1948

Buys 24 Catherine Street, Spennymoor, from his maternal grandmother.

1949

Daughter Ann Cornish is born, 17 October.

1949

Wins a drawing prize at the ‘Federation of Northern Art Societies’ Annual Conference, North Shields.

1950

Exhibits eight paintings in the 17th Annual Spennymoor Settlement Sketching Club exhibition at Annfield Plain Library.

1950

Member of the judging panel for the Tyne Tees art competition (prize 50 guineas) along with Eric Dobson and Professor Kenneth Rowntree artist/lecturer at Newcastle University’s Fine Art Department.

1950

Participates in the ‘The Coalminers’ exhibition at the Artists’ International Association Gallery, Lisle Street, Leicester Square, London, which includes work by Henry Moore. Is a guest of Fred and Diana Uhlmann while he is in London.

1951

Participates in the exhibition ‘Northern Realists; Realism in Contemporary Art’, at Tullie House, Carlisle, which includes paintings by L S Lowry and Victor Pasmore. Winfred Nicholson opens the exhibition.

1951

Attends a CAMDIN (Council for the Encouragement of Art, Music and Drama in Northumberland) weekend course at Wallington, Northumberland as a guest tutor with John Minton and Harry Thubron. Meets Ted Harrison who becomes a life-long friend.

1952

Exhibits the painting ‘The Fish Shop’ in exhibition’ ‘Contemporary Artists of County Durham’ at the Shipley Art Gallery Gateshead, as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations.

1952

Participates in the Spennymoor Sketching Club’s group exhibition at The Crow’s Nest Hotel, Haymarket, Newcastle Upon Tyne. His painting, ‘The Three Beers’, is mentioned by Ivan Geffen in the Evening Chronicle review of 16 January. Geffen subsequently purchases the painting, which is ultimately donated to the Durham County Council Collection.

1952

The Mirror and The Square Realism to Abstraction New Burlington Galleries London: Including LS Lowry, Stanley Spencer, Wyndham Lewis, Victor Passmore, Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, Fred Uhlman, Norman Cornish.

1953

Moves to Bishops Close Street, Spennymoor. Working at the coal face one day he is asked to go to the nearest telephone 300yards away. Asked to paint the portrait of the Chairman of the Durham District Coal Board. Invited to weekend conference with John Minton.

1954

Travels to London en route to Romania as part of a cultural delegation, but decides to cancel the trip and return to Spennymoor.

1954

Participates in the 6th Annual Federation of Northern Art Societies. His Self-Portrait is purchased for the Shipley Art Gallery’s Collection.

1956

Participates in a group exhibition on the theme of Industrial Britain at the Chenil Gallery, Chelsea, London.

1956

Son, John Cornish born, 5 December.

1957

Designs a banner for Westerton Lodge drift mine, which is unfurled at Spennymoor Town Hall on 19th July by Anthony Greenwood, Member of Parliament for Rossendale Division of Lancashire.

1958

Receive a second commission to design a banner for Tudhoe Mill Drift, which is unfurled at Spennymoor Town Hall on July 18 by Hugh Gaitskell, leader of the Labour Party .

1959

First exhibition at the Stone Gallery, Brunswick Place, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1959

Is interviewed by Valerie Pitts on ‘North East Roundabout’ for Tyne Tees Television.

1959

Receives commission to produce drawings of working men’s heads for the programme ‘The Burning Question’ chaired by Jack Clarke and produced by H K Lewenhak, Head of Features, Tyne Tees Television. Minister for Art Dame Irene Ward: asks NCB ‘to be as helped in any way possible and practical with his painting’.

1959

The Stone Gallery Brunswick Place Newcastle: Including John Piper, Joseph Herman, John Pearce, Tom McGuinness, NS Cornish.

1960

Second exhibition at the Stone Gallery is opened by Sir James Bowman, Chairman of the National Coal Board, Sid Chaplin reviews the exhibition in the Guardian newspaper. Two paintings are purchased for the Laing Art Gallery’s Collection. Meets Jack Lawson at The Stone Gallery. Mathias Spencer & Sons commission The Pit Road.

1961

Cornish works compared with Toulouse-Lautrec’s work on ‘Your Kind of Music’ compered by Spike Milligan and produced by Peter Glover for Tyne Tees Television. Stone Gallery letter to NC pressure from the Marshalls to leave Dean & Chapter Colluiery to become FT professional artist.

1962

The Stone Gallery relocates to St Mary’s Place, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1962

44 pieces lists of reviews national press.

1962

Durham County Council commissions a 30 x 6 foot mural for County Hall at Aykley Heads, Durham. Given three months unpaid leave of absence from Mainsforth Colliery, Ferryhill Station, to work on the commission. Receives a fee of £1000. Reluctant at first, persuaded by The Stone Gallery as a cornerstone of his career’.

1963

Starts work at Tudhoe Mill Drift Mine.

1963

The Duke of Edinburgh opens County hall and unveils the Cornish mural.

1963

Through a Miner’s Eye’ article by David Bean is published in Topic Magazine.

1963

‘A Good and Comely Life’ interviews with John Braine, Sid Chaplin, Len Doherty John Pease and Norman Cornish for BBC Radio.

1963

Appears with Sheila Fell on the Arts programme ‘Monitor’ in Two Border Artists’ introduced by Sir Huw Wheldon, produced and directed by Melvyn Bragg for the BBC.

1964

The Stone Gallery: 44 pieces list of reviews national press.

1964

Participates in ‘Leading Questions’ a televised panel discussion answering questions on art.

1965

The Richer Life: The Artists and the Region’ produced by Robert Tyndall for Tyne Tees Television.

1966

Painters of the North, Stone Gallery: including NS Cornish, Sheila Fell, LS Lowry, Theodore Major.

1966

Working at Tudhoe Park Drift Mine when, with recurring back problems he requests redundancy. At the age of 47, after 33 years as a miner, he becomes a full-time professional artist.

1966

Starts teaching at Sunderland Art School, Durham Technical College and Sunderland College of Art.

1966

Spends a week in Paris filming (for the television series ‘Close Up Cornish in Paris’, written and produced by Frank Kilbride, with Bob Langley reporting, for Tyne Tees Television.

1966

The Stone Gallery Winter Exhibition: Including Epstein, Sir William Mc Taggart, Theodore Major, LS Lowry, John Piper, Augustus John, WR Sickert, JM Whistler, George Roualt, Maurice de Vlaminck, NS Cornish. Dean & Chapter Colliery closes, Bishops’s Close Street to be demolished.

1967

Moves to a converted Methodist Manse on Whitworth Terrace, Spennymoor.

1967

Members (approximately 50) of the Contemporary Art Society, London, arrange a home/studio visit.

1967

Mixed exhibition The Stone Gallery: Including G Romney, J. Constable, William Etty, W. Holman Hunt, D.G. Rossetti, Sire J. E. Millans, Sir E. Burne Jones, Sheila Fell, L.S. Lowry, Sir William Mac Taggart, Ben Nicholson, N.S. Cornish.

1968

Sixth Stone Gallery Exhibition

1968

Interviewed by Dominic Behan for the Tyne Tees series ‘Abroad with Behan’

1969

Exhibits 32 large scale portraits including a self-portrait in ‘Men of the North East’ at the Stone Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1969

Quiz panel member at Shipley Art Gallery, Low Fell, Gateshead.

1969

Interviewed by T S Ferguson in the Sunday Telegraph about the Spennymoor Sketching Club.

1970

Prime Minister Edward Heath purchases his second Cornish painting from the Stone Gallery.

1970

Produces a series of drawings for the book ‘The Leaping Lad’ a collection of short stories by Sid Chaplin.

1971

Produces the cover illustration for the Northern Echo Christmas magazine.

1973

Produces a series of drawings for the book ‘A Tree with Rosy Apples’ by Sid Chaplin.

1973

‘In the picture’ with Melvyn Bragg, discusses the work of Thomas Hair.

1973

‘Pitman’s Academy’, BBC programme with Sid Chaplin.

1974

Awarded an Honorary Master of Arts Degree from Newcastle University. Self Portrait (Shipley Art gallery) photographed by the national Portrait Gallery.

1975

Features in ‘Shafts of Sunlight’ a BBC One Omnibus production. Reporter, Humphrey Burton, producer Geoffrey Baines.

1976

Features in ‘Shapes of Cornish’ for Tyne Tees Television ‘Lifestyle’ programme series.

1977

‘About Britain’, Tyne Tees Television broadcast.

1977

‘Shapes of Cornish’ broadcast nationally.

1980

Receives a commission from the Port of Tyne Authority for paintings of the Roll-on Roll-off ferry terminal and the River Pageant celebrating Newcastle’s 900th Anniversary.

1980

Leaves the Stone Gallery after 22 years of collaboration.

1981

The Stone Gallery closes.

1987

Starts writing his autobiography.

1988

Features in Melvyn Bragg’s documentary series ‘Scenes from Working Lives. A focus on artists Stanley Spencer, Graham Sutherland and Norman Cornish’ for BBC2.

1989

Norman Cornish at Seventy’ first major exhibition at the University Gallery (known as the Polytechnic Gallery from 1977-1991). Launch of his autobiography ‘A Slice of Life’ published by Mallabar Contemporary Arts. Two Border Artists – relaunched with Stanley Spencer and Graham Sutherland.

1990

Exhibition tours to Woodham Church Museum, Ashington. Scottish & Newcastle Breweries purchases the ‘Busy Bar’ painting for the Newcastle Visitor Centre.

1991

Participates in a group exhibition at the Spennymoor Settlement to commemorate Spennymoor’s 150th anniversary.

1991

The Cornish painting ‘Pit Road with Telegraph Pole and Lights’ is donated to the University for the Permanent Collection by Bill Mallabar, as a tribute to his mother Margaret who had died the previous year.

1992

One-man exhibition ‘Norman Cornish: Paintings and Sketches’ opens at the University Gallery and subsequently tours to Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham; Woodhorn Church Museum, Ashington; the Customs House Gallery, South Shields and Hartlepool Art Gallery.

1995

Receives an honorary doctorate in Civil Law from Northumbria University.

1996

One-man exhibition at Spennymoor Town Hall as part of the Year of Visual Arts.

1997

Norman and Sarah Cornish present ten paintings to the University for the Permanent Collection which are exhibited as part of the ‘New Acquisitions’ exhibition with Lucien Freud and Walter Sickert.

1998

Receives formal acknowledgement of his contribution to the arts by Spennymoor Town Council.

1999

One-man exhibition ‘Paintings and Drawings’ at the University Gallery. ‘Cornish and Spennymoor’, published by the University Gallery.

2000

Exhibition tours to the Customs House Gallery, South Shields.

2002

Attends lunch at Durham Castle in the presence of HM Queen and HRH Prince Philip, with Sir Peter Ustinov, Chancellor Durham University, during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

2003

One-man exhibition ‘A Shot Against Time’ at the University Gallery, touring to Red Box Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne and ING Barings, London. First solo exhibition in London at Berings Bank.

2004

One-man exhibition ‘The Art of Norman Cornish’ opens at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, in celebration of his 85th birthday.

2005

One-man exhibition ‘Simply Norman Cornish’ at the University Gallery, touring to Baliffgate Museum, Alnwick and Piano Nobile, London.

2005

In discussion with David Whetstone at the University Gallery, Newcastle Journal Culture Club event.

2006

One-man exhibition ‘Nightshift’ at the University Gallery.

2006

Features in the BBC television series ‘Flog It’, with Paul Martin

2006

Features in the BBC television series ‘Inside Out’

2007

Features in ‘Northern Eye’ and ITV Tyne Tees Production, produced and directed by Sheilagh Matheson.

2007

Interviewed by Richard Swallow for an EC1 Productions DVD, Scottish & Newcastle Breweries donates the painting ‘Busy Bar to Northumbria University for the Permanent Collection.

2008

Receives an MBE for his contribution to art. The Quintessential Cornish exhibition at Bishop Auckland Town Hall privately owned works.

2008

‘Born Yesterday: the news as a novel’ by Gordon Burn, published by Faber & Faber, features Norman and Sarah Cornish.

2009

One-man exhibition ‘Norman Cornish at Ninety’ opens at University Gallery, tours to Kings Place Gallery, London.

2009

Features on the Nigel Wrench programme ‘The Last Pitman Painter’ for BBC Radio 4.

2009

‘The Quintessential Cornish’ published by Gemini Production

2010

‘A Rich Seam of Life Exhibition’ The Greenfield Gallery, Newton Aycliffe. Recorded interview with Robson Green in the studio at Spennymoor.

2010

‘A Shot Against Time’ published by the University Gallery, Northumbria University.

2010

The University receives a collection of unframed works by Cornish for the Cornish Archive/Permanent Collection. Recorded interview with Robson Green in the studio at Spennymoor.

2011

Awarded an Honorary Degree from Sunderland University

2011

One-man exhibition ‘The Narrow World or Norman Cornish’ opens at the University Gallery, tours to Kings Place Gallery (titled ‘The Early Years’).

2011

Berriman’s Chip Van, restored by Beamish Museum, loaned to the University Gallery for the opening of the exhibition. November 6th recorded interview with Dan Cruickshank for BBC 2 documentary.

2012

One-man exhibition ‘Cornish and Paris’ at the University Gallery, Northumbria University. Awarded Honorary Doctorate of Arts Sunderland University.

2013

One-man exhibition ‘The Lost World of Norman Cornish’ opens at the University Gallery, Northumbria University, touring to Kings Place Gallery, London.

2013

Launch of the book ‘The Lost World of Norman Cornish’, published by Northumbria University Gallery, October 2013.

2013

Final TV interview with Pam Royle, Tyne Tees and Borders Television.

2014

The Bishop’s Close Street Exhibition. The Greenfield Gallery, Newton Aycliffe. A Selection of sketchbooks exhibited for the first time.

2014

Norman Cornish died on 1st August, 2014. The eulogy at Norman’s funeral was spoken by Michael Chaplin and later broadcast by BBC Radio 4 Last Words.

2014

Two memorial lectures were presented at Spennymoor Town Hall by Norman’s biographers Robert McManners and Gillian Wales.

2014

Norman’s studio is donated to Beamish Museum, County Durham.

2015

A blue Plaque is installed at 67 Whitworth Terrace and supported by Durham county Council and Spennymoor Town Council.

2015

Beamish Museum announces plans to develop a 1950s town which will include the re-creation of the Cornish family home from 33 Bishops Close Street.

2015

Castlegate house Gallery in Cokermouth is engaged to act on behalf of the Norman Cornish estate.

2016

Northumbria University and Spennymoor Town Council jointly support the development and opening of the Coming Home exhibition at Spennymoor Town Hall.

2016

Cornish on Tyneside exhibition at Gallagher & Turner. The Bishops Close Street exhibition opens at Tennant’s Leyburn, North Yorkshire in collaboration with Beamish Museum.

2017

Sarah Cornish died on XX August, 2017.

2017

Commencement of PhD research into the Cornish Archive by University of Northumbria and development of instrumental analysis of all of the artist’s materials in a joint project involving Northumbria University, Newcastle University and The University of Nara in Japan.

2017

Behind the Scenes: the Norman Cornish Sketchbooks, published by Norman Cornish Ltd, is launched at The Durham Book festival by Michael Chaplin with a forward by Melvyn Bragg.

2018

Planning commences with Durham County Council to celebrate the Norman Cornish Centenary in 2019.

2018

Spennymoor Town Council announces the planned development of the Norman Cornish Trail in and around Spennymoor.

2019

Centenary Year