Mining Art Gallery%2C Bishop Auckland

The display, at the Mining Art Gallery in Bishop Auckland, will present artwork depicting the untold stories of women in the 19th century mining communities.

The temporary exhibition, Breaking Ground – Women of the Northern Coalfields, will run at the gallery in County Durham from 13th October until 24th March 2019.

Also known as Tip Girls or Pit Bank Women, the Pit Brow Lasses were women who worked as surface labourers at British collieries during the 19th century. The artwork featured in the gallery will consist of paintings and photographs picked to portray the experiences of the women.  

Angela Thomas, mining art gallery curator, said: “We are delighted to be launching a new temporary exhibition at the Mining Art Gallery to bring light and celebrate the significant role of women working alongside men in the Northern coalfields.

“With 2018 marking 100 years since some women in the UK were granted suffrage, this is the perfect time to foreground the pioneering attitudes and strength with which the Pit Brow Lasses asserted their right to work.”

Exhibition highlights

Pit Brow Lasses by David Venables: Completed in 2015, the artwork is based on sketches made half a century earlier during a visit to Wigan colliery and depicts two female workers taking a break from their task.

On the Coal Tips by Archie Rhys Griffths: The painting, portraying three women carrying bags of coal during a strike, is by former miner Archie Rhys Griffths.
Other exhibition highlights will include postcards and archival images of the Pit Brow Lasses, intended to demonstrate their spirit and determination.

Personal histories will also be used within the exhibition to tell the tales of the 19th century women.  

About the Mining Art Gallery

The Mining Art Gallery is located in Bishop Auckland’s Market Place.

It is the UK’s first gallery to showcase paintings and drawings dedicated to miners. Works within the gallery include pieces by local artists Tom McGuinness and Norman Cornish, as well as those by miners across the country and from artists responding to the industry.

Booking a group visit:

Groups of 10 or more receive a 15% discount, plus free admission for the group organiser and coach driver.

GTOs wishing to book a trip to the gallery should call 01388 743 797 or email