We’re just back from another lovely weekend at The Barn.  We were especially looking forward to our annual visit to Durham Christmas Festival. Though we missed the spectacular Durham Lumiere which took place in November, we enjoyed the festive markets both inside and outside of the cathedral. 

There’s always lots to do in Durham – and its’ just about an hour away from the barn!  Click this link if you would like to find out more about what’s happening in Durham this month. But in this blog I would like to tell you about our unexpected `find’!

Norman Cornish Centenary Exhibitions

We came across the Norman Cornish exhibition quite unexpectedly and what an absolute treat it was.

There are several exhibitions to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Norman Cornish.  They’re all different, having of course different artwork on show, but this one at the Palace Green Library (in the Cathedral square) was even more unique in that it was exhibiting a collection of his sketchbooks.  It was his wish that the sketchbooks would remain with the family as a complete collection.  They are previously unseen which makes the exhibition very special indeed.  



The Palace Green Library

The library holds lots of exhibitions throughout the year.  The venue is quite intimate and we were lucky that there were only another couple of people there when we first arrived. 

It turned out that `couple of people’ were Norman’s son John and daughter-in-law Dorothy. They were only too pleased to chat with us about Norman and share anecdotes with us.  By the time we left we almost felt as though we knew him!

Books on Norman Cornish

I purchased Norman’s autobiography, `A Slice of Life’, which I’m really enjoying. His autobiography is very interesting, entertaining and easy to read; full of anecdotal tales about his life as a miner and artist and about growing up in County Durham when life was hard and mining harder.  Try telling our teenagers that at 14 years of age they have to get up at 2am to work in a coal mine…

I also purchased `Behind The Scenes’ which is full of lots of colour plates of his paintings – another treat made even more special when John and Dorothy signed them for me.

Where You Can See More of Norman Cornish’s Art

If you would like to find out more about where you can see Norman Cornish’s art, especially during his Centenary year, then please take a look at the official website by clicking here



John and Dorothy told us about the Bowes Museum exhibition at Barnard Castle, which is just down the road from the Barn, so I paid a visit there the following day before returning home.


Norman Cornish – The Definitive Collection at Bowes Museum

The exhibition at Bowes Museum was very different by virtue of the majestic venue, but it was also extremely enjoyable.  (Please don’t be put off by the admission fee, it covers the whole museum and you can visit as many times as you like over the next year.)

I arrived at about 11am, just an hour after the museum opened.  In contrast to the intimacy of the day before there was a bit of polite jostling at the entrance to the exhibition rooms, created by a bottleneck as people paused at the doorway to gaze at the paintings.  My method of viewing had me crossing the room several times to take advantage of space.

More Events at Bowes Museum 

Having satiated myself on some fabulous art and nostalgic social history I was ready for a coffee, which I found in the Bowes cafe. (Lots of cakes!)  They also cater for dairy free and vegan.

There are lots of events you might like to visit at Bowes Museum this Christmas.  I’ve particularly got pencilled in my diary the Christmas Market on December 13, 14 and 15.   Click here to go directly to their page. 

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