The Bowes Museum showcases Regeneration exhibition by Martin Kinnear about the year the world ground to a halt.
The Bowes Museum showcases Regeneration exhibition by Martin Kinnear about the year the world ground to a halt.

The Bowes Museum showcases Regeneration exhibition by Martin Kinnear about the year the world ground to a halt.

21 November 2020 - 28 February 2021

International award-winning Northern artist Martin ‘Lefty’ Kinnear, has produced a devastatingly powerful, humane and thoughtful artistic critique of the Covid pandemic for a landmark autumn exhibition at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham.


The blockbuster exhibition, called Regeneration, opens on 21stNovember. This is a major and nationally relevant exhibition. It follows on, and overlaps with, the hugely popular Norman Cornish retrospective.


Kinnear, 50, who lives in Wensley, in the North Yorkshire Dales became a ‘20-year overnight international success’ after he was awarded the prestigious Medaille d’Argent at the Salon De Beaux Art in Paris in 2018. It is the Salon of Monet, Picasso and Museum founder Joséphine Bowes.


He was affectionately nicknamed ‘Lefty’ following a catastrophic stroke at the age of 35, which left him paralysed down his left side.


Regeneration is a show about what happened when plans were cancelled, futures placed in doubt, and our world stopped. It is a show about the year which changed all our lives, a show about doubt and loss, but also beauty and hope, and the life-affirming power of change and the restorative powers of contemplation in the stunning landscape of Teesdale. 


At 9ft x 7ft, the huge oil painting centrepiece of the exhibition, the Pieta for The North, is set become a Northern icon alongside Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North. It taps into the most basic universal human need in times of grief and despair: to assuage personal suffering through sharing it. 


The cruellest sanction of Covid 19 has not being able to say goodbye to our loved ones and sharing our grief. In Pieta’s down the ages, Mary grieves not just for her son, but for the world. Kinnear’s Pieta grieves for The North. It provides a moving opportunity for closure, and hope, for all those who have lost loved ones and for those whose world has been turned upside down. 


But the exhibition is more than just an exercise in catharsis. The powerful paintings are about the triumph of the Northern spirit, of love over fear. They are also a universal call to create a heaven on earth through the power of family and community.


 The beauty of landscapes and national parks, which Kinnear calls natural cathedrals for contemplation, plays a major role in the exhibition, hence his painting, The Fall of the Tees Pieta, where divinity and natural beauty become one. Allied to this, the enduring themes of the human condition are drawn from The Bowes’ world class art collection and woven into Regeneration.


At the centre of Regeneration is Wordfall, the astonishing 16ft high animation inspired by High Force waterfall, a tumbling swirling waterfall of words, a blizzard of statistics, policies and predictions, but with words about love and emotion and feelings cutting through as they plummet into an animated pool on the floor of the exhibition space. 

Wordfall is a powerful visual and audio anchor that encapsulates all the themes of the exhibition. The white noise of falling water provides an environment in which visitors can quietly reflect on their own experiences of the pandemic.


Martin Kinnear said: “I had been working for the last 3 years on an exhibition called Regeneration about the North for The Bowes Museum. It changed direction when the pandemic put all our lives on hold. This exhibition is about what happens when plans are cancelled, futures placed in doubt and our world stopped.  


“This exhibition is about loss and doubt, but it is also about beauty, hope and the life-affirming power of change.”


George Harris, exhibition manager at The Bowes Museum, said: “This exhibition is a major undertaking. It is hugely exciting and nationally relevant. It is a landmark exhibition of immense power and will resonate at a personal level with everyone that comes to see it. It is about the experiences we have all so recently shared, and continue to share. That is its power.” 



For further information please contact Terry Brownbill , PR Manager to Martin Kinnear, on 07775 511058 or


Notes to Editors

As well as being an acclaimed professional classical and contemporary oil painter, Martin Kinnear is the founder and course director of Europe’s most successful painting school, The Norfolk Painting School, with students attending from all over the world. Kinnear lives in Wensley, North Yorkshire as well as in North Norfolk.


With the recent lockdown Kinnear and his wife Jane have launched online year-long diplomas, and shorter Masterclasses which have attracted hundreds of students from Australia, South Africa and across the United States. From a standing start three months ago the Online courses have generated tens of thousands of pounds in export revenues and the online offering is continuing to grow rapidly.


  • 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 National Portfolio Organisation 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.