Art, music and memories will bring all ages together to celebrate the opening of the region’s new Mining Art Gallery next week.

A free event filled with live performances and family fun will mark the official opening of the gallery in Bishop Auckland Market Place on Saturday, October 21.

Outside the gallery, in the Market Place visitors will be invited to share their memories and experiences of mining life and have them recorded for posterity at the Mining and Memories stall.

Running from 11am to 2pm, the stall will also offer visitors the chance to hear exclusive previews of new songs produced by local singer-songwriter, Gareth Davies-Jones who has been working with groups from across the region to turn mining stories into music.

The poignant tones of Ferryhill Brass Band will also fill the Market Place at the opening event, performing between 11am and 1pm. Dating back to 1909, the long-established colliery band still performs every year at Durham Miner’s Gala.

Youngsters attending the launch event can get hands-on with the theme, with arts and activities inspired by mining art taking at the Creative Corner stall from 11am- 2pm.

The gallery will be officially opened with a ribbon cutting at 12pm, after which visitors can enjoy free entry for the rest of the afternoon.

Sutherland Forsyth, Head of Learning and Engagement at The Auckland Project, said: “The opening of the new Mining Art Gallery will be a fantastic day for the whole community.

“This is an opportunity to gather together and use art and music to celebrate the unique history of the region.”

Located in the Grade I listed Old Bank Chambers, the Mining Art Gallery is the first new 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 gallery will provide a permanent home for the Gemini Collection of Mining Art which includes more than 420 works.

Two floors of artwork and original artefacts, including works from mining artists such as Tom McGuinness and Norman Cornish, will help visitors delve deeper into the underground world of the coalmines and the closely bound pit villages and colliery towns.

Sutherland said: “The opening of the Mining Art Gallery marks the beginning of a long-term commitment to the revitalisation of Bishop Auckland and the local community.”

Half-Term Family Activities

Young visitors can learn more about the mining artists and their lives by following a special family trail, designed by local artist Gillian Gamble and an education area will host a programme of community events and education activities.

This begins at half-term with Put Yourself in the Picture; a programme of drop-in art activities which will take place from 12pm – 3pm from October 23 to October 28.

From October 22 the gallery is open daily, 10am-4pm tickets are £4, concessions £3, and free for Under 16s, National Art Pass holders and HHA members. For more information visit: aucklandproject.org