A new exhibition of work is taking place at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington.

‘Coal Town’ has been made over several decades by social documentary photographer Mik Critchlow. 

Coal Town is a remarkable long form project, through which Mik continues to document his home town of Ashington.

Mik began photographing Ashington in 1977, after seeing an exhibition by The Ashington Group of artists (also known as the Pitman Painters). The Ashington Group were a group of working men who came together to make art in the 1930’s through an adult education programme.

Mik said 'They recorded their lives with such honesty, painting the ordinary, the mundane, the everyday and put it all down on paper or canvas or hardboard. I’d never heard of them but they showed me that ordinary people’s lives could be important and could be seen as art.'

Coal Town has deep connections with the Woodhorn Museum site and Mik’s grandfather worked there as a miner for 52 years. Woodhorn Colliery was one of the last remaining working collieries in the late 1970’s that Mik was able to access and document in the early years of this project. Coal Town goes on to capture the end of the coal mining industry in Ashington, and the immediate and long-term impact of the loss of the industry on the town’s people, places, and community.

This exhibition is on display until the 6 March 2022 and is included as part of the Annual Pass for the Museum. Woodhorn Museum, just off the A189, is open 10am till 4pm Wednesday to Sunday during school term time and every day during the school holidays. 

You can view more of Mik’s work by visiting his website mikcritchlow.com and a selection of books and prints connected to this exhibition are available in the museum shop. 

This exhibition has been made possible with public funding from Arts Council England and Northumberland County Council.

For more information visit Coal Town: Mik Critchlow - Museums Northumberland