There’s something about sketching that can capture life with much more intimacy than painting ever can. Sketching manages to collapse barriers between artist and sitter and that’s very evident in the drawings of Norman Cornish who was a master of the form. Cornish is one of the region’s most famous, and best-loved, artistic sons and this exhibition shows how he fed off the world around him to inform his work. His 269 sketchbooks were recovered from his studio in Spennymoor when he died in 2014 and they contain a wealth of images ranging from spontaneous character drawings, which capture a likeness or an attitude in just a few pen strokes, through to finished drawings on a variety of themes. From miners labouring below ground or plodding resignedly along the pit road, to head-scarved women huddled beneath an umbrella, to bar scenes, all human life is here. Or at least all human life that made up Cornish’s world.
Norman Cornish: The Sketchbooks, 16 November-23 February, Palace Green Library, Durham University. durham.ac.uk/palace.green