The inscription on the Blue Plaque at Cornish’s former home in Spennymoor reads:
“The images are created by the people. I am just the medium.”
Whenever Cornish was out for a walk he always had his sketchbook and Flo-master pen in a specially crafted ‘poachers pocket’ that his wife Sarah had sewn into his coat. This meant that whenever something of interest captured his imagination he was quickly able to access materials to record a particular moment in time.
Rembrandt’s influence on Cornish’s development is well documented and consequently his attention to the humble and mundane activities of everyday life appears in so many of his street and bar scenes, as well as observations of people.
Imagine a life without social media. Many years ago very few people, if any, possessed telephones, and news was obtained via the wireless, and for some, via television. The menfolk would be able to talk at work, or in the pubs, clubs and allotments. Women would gather on street corners, near shops, school gates and wherever else they could congregate, to talk and catch up with the gossip!
Cornish possessed a deep understanding of human behaviour and social interaction. He recorded local people going about their daily tasks, living real lives. Sometimes the drawings would become paintings and on other occasions included in the many street scenes synonymous with his work. Throughout his career he was conscious of his contribution to a sociological and historical record of people and places, in his ‘slice of life.’
Further examples of his observations of people may be found in Behind The Scenes: The Norman Cornish Sketchbooks available on line from our online shop.
Throughout the centenary year, an interesting range of themed exhibitions is planned in order to commemorate Norman’s life and to celebrate his work.
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