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South Shields Museum Bob Olley painting winner collects her prize

Chris Bowen is presented with a painting from artists Bob Olley
Chris Bowen is presented with a painting from artists Bob Olley

Renowned artist Bob Olley helped make a visitor to South Shields Museum and Art Gallery smile after she won one of his works.

Chris Bowen had no idea when she came to see the recent Catherine Cookson exhibition she would stumble across a display which would take her back to her childhood.

Winner Chris Bowen

Winner Chris Bowen

King Coal features the life and legacy of South Tyneside’s coal mining communities. It was put in place to mark 50 years since the closure of Whitburn Colliery and 25 years since South Tyneside’s last pit was closed at Westoe.

Mrs Bowen had been on her second visit to the museum in Ocean Road when she was asked if she would like to buy a raffle ticket. The winner would receive a donated signed Bob Olley print based on the King Coal exhibition currently on display within the venue.

Last week, Mrs Bowen, from Gateshead, was invited back to the museum where she was presented with a print of The Hewer 001 by Bob.

Mrs Bowen, whose father Daniel David was a miner in Wales, said: “I had come to see the Catherine Cookson exhibition as I am a huge fan of hers, I have all her books. She is my heroine.

It’s a really nice feeling that the paintings mean so much to people.

Bob Olley

“It was while I was here, I saw the King Coal exhibition and went to have a look.

“I came back a second time and that is when I bought the raffle ticket.

“I have never won anything before in my life. It’s fantastic. My father worked in the mine, so it means so much to me. I just wish he was here to see the exhibition, as I can relate to all the pictures and the stories of the men down the mines.

“I never knew the museum existed until I heard about the Catherine Cookson exhibition on the news. It’s a fantastic place. I’ll definitely be coming back again.”

Bob Olley painting

Bob Olley painting

The painting was donated by Bob Olley for a raffle to help raise funds for the museum.

Vicki Page, communications officer at the museum and art gallery, said: “I have to say Bob has been amazing. He has not only just donated his artwork to the exhibition but also his time. 
We really can’t thank him enough for everything he has done.”

Artist Bob, a former miner himself, added: “It was my favourite museum. When I was kid I used to come down here every Saturday morning.

“It’s a really nice feeling that the paintings mean so much to people, and that this is going to someone appreciates the work and has a link with mining through her family.”

The King Coal exhibition runs until the end of the month and celebrates the mining heritage of the area, exploring the industry’s impact on the lives of the people in coal communities, from pit accidents and family life to the physical legacy of the coal industry in the South Tyneside area today.

The exhibition features over 20 paintings by renowned North East artist Bob Olley, who worked for 11 years at Whitburn Colliery, depicting men at work in various tableaux examining different aspects of the coal miner’s life.

A wealth of personal effects and memorabilia from different periods in the region’s mining history will depict life from that time, as well as examples of work equipment.

Visitors will be able to listen to audio recordings of personal recollections and watch video footage in a recreation of the ‘Liddle House on the Prairie’ – a glorified garden shed that was used by striking miners in 1984/85 on the picket line outside Westoe Colliery.

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery has free entry although a donation is welcome. It is open Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm and Saturday 11am – 4pm, closed on Sundays.