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Art Editorial

mininggallerydec18.jpg Women from the black stuff

The role women played in the coal mining communities of the region has been largely overlooked but a new temporary exhibition at the Mining Art Gallery is highlighting the important roles that they played.

There are some quite remarkable stories to be discovered at this exhibition including that of Hannah Porter. She was a County Durham woman, who, after her husband left her for the newly sunk mines of the United States, ran a hardware shop from her home, took in lodgers, worked as a dressmaker and did all manner of jobs to earn a wage. At great expense she commissioned an original glass negative of herself, which was then sent overseas to her husband, perhaps as a message that the family were thriving in spite of his absence. This hand-coloured image is part of the exhibition, which also includes artworks (such as Archie Rhys Griffiths ‘On The Coal Tips’ – pictured), archive images and personal histories. All speak of the tenacious spirit of these women, whether working at a colliery or taking on multiple jobs to keep a roof over their families’ heads.

Breaking Ground: Women of the Northern Coalfields, until 24 March, The Mining Art Gallery, Market Place, Bishop Auckland. aucklandcastle.org/Mining-Art-Gallery