School children celebrate Norman Cornish exhibition with a Music Day
School children celebrate Norman Cornish exhibition with a Music Day

School children celebrate Norman Cornish exhibition with a Music Day

Over 130 youngsters create a soundscape inspired by the paintings in The Definitive Collection exhibition.

Over 130 school children have taken part in a Norman Cornish Music Day at The Bowes Museum.


The youngsters from Butterknowle, Cockfield, Evenwood, Ramshaw and Woodland Primary’s enjoyed a day of celebration on Thursday, 21 November, when they visited the Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection exhibition and then explored the themes represented in it through music, dance and poetry.


Junkman musician Donald Knaack led the children in creating a piece of music inspired by the atmosphere in the paintings.  Visual artist Vicky Holbrough worked with the youngsters to choreograph a Doodle Dance and, thanks to support from Arts Council England, they composed rap poetry with Tony Gadd.


The children then came together to show visitors in the Blue Picture Gallery what they had produced throughout the day before Donald and Tony performed a duet.


The day marked the beginning of a wider community project which has been funded by Teesdale Area Action Partnership and Northern Heartlands which will be rolled out through the Museum’s education team visiting the schools in January with Vicky Holbrough to work with them and their communities to create a piece of art inspired by the exhibition to eventually be displayed in The Bowes Museum.


Durham University is also partnering in the scheme by inviting pupils from the schools to visit the Norman Cornish Sketchbook exhibition at Palace Green, where they’ll deliver an in house education package as part of the Arts Explore Award that the children are working towards.


Northern Heartlands has also funded a series of free community art workshops, which will be led by Vicky.


She’ll be teaching people how to create a self portrait in the style of Norman Cornish from 10am until 12noon on 18th January at Butterknowle Village Hall, at the same time on 25th January at the Randolph Community Centre in Evenwood, from 10am until 12noon again on 1st February at Cockfield Community Café and again from 10am until 12 noon on 8th February at Woodland Village Hall.


From 1pm until 3pm on the afternoons of these sessions, in the same venues, Vicky will be running a create your own sketchbook workshop where you can use paper-folding techniques and then fine-liners and marker pens to create Norman Cornish style sketches.

To book your place on any of these free workshops please email:


Northern Heartlands is also working on creating a trail in each location for more community involvement.


Julia Dunn, The Bowes Museum’s Education and Learning Coordinator, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the impact the Norman Cornish exhibition has had on these children and the ideas and creativity it’s sparked as they’ve found out about Mining and the heritage of their local area.  I can’t wait to see what else they come up with as the project continues in the coming months ahead of the exhibition of their work next year.  It’s been especially nice to be able to combine having such a large group of children in the Museum to mark Kids in Museums Day as well!”


Norman Cornish: The Definitive Collection is open until 23 February 2020, where visitors can see more than 70 works gathered from across his working life, ranging from charcoal sketches to pastels and oil paintings.


The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham is open from 10am until 5pm, everyday except 25, 26 December and 1 January.


For more information about our exhibitions and events please visit our website





Notes to editors:


  • The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in.  The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 
  • The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a Major Portfolio Museum receives support from Arts Council England.
  • Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
  • The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation.
  • The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 03000 262626,





Categories: News

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.