Film ID: NEFA 10962 Video of NEFA 10962 Shapes of Cornish LIFESTYLE: SHAPES OF CORNISH 1977 Visitor TabsDescription An edition of the Tyne Tees Television Series Lifestyle looking at Spennymoor born artist and former miner Norman Cornish. This film looks at an artist who specialises in capturing the world of work and social life around him. The film visits him at home in Spennymoor and follows him to favourite local places which inspire him. Title: Tyne Tees – Colour Title: Lifestyle Title: Shapes of Cornish The opening of the film shows the hand of an artist drawing shapes on paper. A commentary accompanies the picture. The camera pulls back to reveal Norman Cornish drawing while standing at an easel. The camera pans left to right showing his artist’s studio cluttered with paintings and drawings. The commentary continues. The camera cuts to Norman speaking to camera with an unfinished drawing on an easel. Title: (Superimposed) – Norman Cornish Norman Cornish explains how he became obsessed with shapes. Close ups follow of several pieces of his work which help to illustrate this point. The film cuts to show miners walking towards and across a road bridge just outside East Hetton colliery. A shot follows of the pit head in the distance with Norman Cornish walking away from the camera towards it. He wears a safety helmet and is carrying a sketch pad. General views follow of coal tubs, the pit head wheels then to Norman Cornish walking towards the camera. The film cuts to one of his paintings associated with the pit. General views of coal falling down a chute and coal or debris travelling along a conveyor belt. An operator opens a cage which has reached the top of the mine shaft, and lets the miners out. General views of miners sitting and talking amongst themselves, Norman Cornish sketches them. A close up shows the progress of his drawing. More general views of the miners and more sketches follow. Another shot follows of one Norman’s completed pieces showing miners. Back in his studio he talks of his work and of one piece in particular which is shown on camera. He continues with his exposition. The film cuts to Norman Cornish playing a banjo (tune – ‘Whispering’), he stops playing over shots of some of his other artwork. Next he stands in the middle of a terraced street, drawing a sketch. This is followed by general views of Spennymoor where Norman Cornish was born. General views follow of terraced streets and back lanes. In the street where he is sketching he picks out favourite features including the lamp on an old street light, the shape of which particularly appeals to him. He commentates on his work as he sketches; he picks out some chimney pots which he describes as being like small men. Sketches of Norman Cornish’s street scenes follow. He continues walking and talking as he tours round his favourite streets. Shots follow of paving stones then a street sketch which cuts to school children crossing a zebra crossing with the aid of a ‘lollipop’ lady. Standing at the side of the road next to four large wooden beer kegs Norman Cornish makes more sketches of the scene. Close up of the legs of the children as they walk across the road. Norman Cornish continues his sketching with a close up of his face as he continues to narrate. As the camera zooms in on the lollipop lady with Norman Cornish sketching in the background. A long shot of Spennymoor town centre and Norman Cornish crosses another zebra crossing, and then walks along the pavement towards the camera. He exchanges greetings with someone along the street. He stops and talks to two men, one of them has a black dog on a leash. Film cuts to three men chatting in the street. Two of them sit on a public bench beneath a tree. Norman Cornish continues his trek through Spennymoor as around him people are seen shopping or resting on public benches. He waves to a woman who is sitting on a bench, he then stops and talks to a man leaning against railings next to a car park. General views of more people sitting, as Norman Cornish comments on the artistic possibilities in these street scenes. Next a shot of a sketch by Norman Cornish of two men sitting on a bench followed by a painting of a similar scene. Norman Cornish sits on a bench sketching. A close up follows of three men on a bench chatting. More general views follow of people sitting on benches or leaning against railings. Another painting shows a similar scene, a man leans over a railing, another painting shows a woman leaning against a telegraph pole or lamp post. Another man is portrayed leading against the tubular steel rails of a bus stand. Norman Cornish sits on a bench next another man, whose dog sits patiently at their feet. Norman sketches the dog. Eventually the man with the dog takes his leave and says goodbye to Norman. General views follow of people in the town centre waiting for buses, walking a dog and generally milling around. This sequence is intercut with Norman Cornish’s sketches of similar scenes. The film cuts to the interior of a pub where Norman talks to another man over a bottle of beer. In voice over Norman Cornish speaks of how he values conversation. They both burst into song! A framed portrait of a woman hanging on a wall, she appears to be peeling potatoes. The camera pans right showing a woman knitting. Norman Cornish is sketching her. He continues his commentary revealing that it’s his wife he is sketching. A close up follows of her knitting. Further drawings follow of his wife doing a variety of household chores, included in this sequence are drawn portraits of children. The film cuts to children playing on swings. A woman hangs out washing. The camera pulls back to show a long garden at the back of a terraced house. This section is filmed in a small settlement called Gurney Valley near Bishop Auckland. Over an overgrown ditch, a long shot of terraced houses. The film cuts to Norman Cornish taking a photograph. He explains that he wants to capture some features of the local area before it disappears. A shot follows of a terraced street which rises up a hill in the distance. The film cuts to artwork inspired by these scenes. Norman Cornish then talks about how a washing line might inspire his visual thinking. Long shot of a terraced street which may be a future a candidate for demolition. General views follow of other terraced streets. The film cuts to St Mary’s Place in Newcastle city centre as Norman Cornish walks along the street towards the camera and enters the Stone Art Gallery. He explains how the gallery have successfully supported him in showing his artwork over the past twenty years. Norman speaks to the gallery’s proprietor, Mick Marshall. The film cuts to framed examples of Norman’s work on the gallery walls. One picture is picked out by the camera, the label on the rear of the picture reads: ‘Durham Church on A Winter Morning – oil on board- Norman Cornish - £300.00’. Mick Marshall talks to Norman. In voice over Norman explains his thinking over one particular painting showing s busy pub, with a large number of partly pulled pints on the bar. Then there is a cut to the interior of a busy pub. Norman Cornish enjoys a pint amongst people from which he draws much of his inspiration. He continues to outline his artistic life. In a quiet corner of the pub Norman sits with his sketch pad, drawing. He quietly sings a tune to himself as he sketches. The film cuts to sketch study of a man’s head, then a study of two men talking. General views follow of the activity in the pub. More shots follow of Norman Cornish’s art, to a soundtrack of his banjo playing. More sketching with general views of the people’s faces in the pub. A close up of Norman’s face which changes to a still image with the word ‘Cornish’ superimposed over the image. To end the film this is followed by more pub sketches with his banjo playing again featuring in the soundtrack. End credit: Research Mike McHugh End credit: Camera Dave Dixon End credit: Sound Bob Rhodes End credit: Film Editor Mike Pounder End credit: Executive Producer Leslie Barrett End credit: Director Andrea Wonfor End credit: Tyne Tees – Colour Context ‘A shot against time’: the last ‘pitman painter’ turns an unblinking eye on the near-vanished world of the County Durham coalfields. Far from camera shy, the celebrated ‘pitman painter’ Norman Cornish is a gifted wordsmith. He describes his inspiration with a visual wonder that is infectious. Cornish admits to being ‘flaming well obsessed by shapes …’ Constellations of flat caps, telegraph poles, corner-enders and pit rows, miners’ oil lamps on darkened gantries ‘like fireflies trapped’ in steel webs: his work as a coal miner and his life around Spennymoor, County Durham, are rooted in his art. In 1933, at the age of 14, Norman Cornish started work in the Dean and Chapter colliery, a mine so notorious for accidents it was known as the Butcher’s Shop. Calling art ‘an itch I had to scratch’, he attended the Spennymoor Settlement in his spare time, an enlightened educational and cultural experiment, established in 1930 with funds from the Pilgrim Trust. Contemporaries included writer Sid Chaplin, also a Durham pitman, who would later champion Cornish’s art, declaring it ‘a shot against time’. This Tyne Tees Lifestyle documentary on Cornish was directed by Andrea Wonfor whose creative credentials as a dynamic television producer and executive included cult music show The Tube and Byker Grove.