A County Durham woman with a very personal link to the region’s mining heritage will be sharing her stories with visitors at a new Bishop Auckland art gallery.
Corinne Aspel is the daughter of acclaimed mining artist, Tom McGuinness and has joined a team of 45 volunteers who will welcome visitors to the Mining Art Gallery when it opens on October 21.
Regional charity, Auckland Castle Trust is working to transform the Grade I listed Old Bank Chambers in the town’s Market Place into a gallery dedicated entirely to mining art.
The new gallery has been created in partnership with Dr Robert McManners OBE and Gillian Wales, founders of the Gemini Collection of Mining Art.
Their collection of more than 420 works featuring local artists such as Tom McGuinness and Norman Cornish, has been gifted to the Auckland Castle Trust to be displayed in the gallery.
Born in 1926, Tom McGuinness was one of the artists at the Spennymoor Settlement alongside Norman Cornish, Herbert Dees and Robert Heslop.
Conscripted into the mines in 1944, he worked underground until the age of 57 and continued to paint until his death in 2006 aged 79.
His daughter, Corinne, who lives in Bishop Auckland, has always been keen to promote her father’s artwork and says the creation of the Mining Art Gallery is perfect timing as she is preparing to retire from a 30-year career with the NHS.
She said: “There was something unique about the mining communities, I think the gallery is about remembering an important part of our heritage and will evoke some really powerful memories.
“I’m really excited to be a part of it and for people to come and appreciate not just dad’s work but the work of other important mining artists.
“I think my dad would be incredibly proud, mining was his whole life.”
Corinne, (55) is one of a dedicated team of volunteers aged between 35 and 91 who will man the Mining Art Gallery alongside Auckland Castle Trust staff.
The gallery, which is also supported by a number of charitable funds, will celebrate the history of mining and the impact it had on the region as a whole.
Head of Volunteering at Auckland Castle Trust, Michele Armstrong said: “We are really pleased to have Corinne on board as she brings a unique and valuable insight into one of the region’s most celebrated mining artists.
“She is part of a fantastic team of volunteers from the local community who are keen to share their stories and bring the Mining Art Gallery to life and showcase mining art and heritage.”
The Mining Art Gallery will open on October 21 2017, with community previews from October 14.
For more information on the gallery, visit: www.aucklandcastle.org/Mining-Art-Gallery
For further details about volunteering with Auckland Castle Trust email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01388 743750