Women from the black stuff
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