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The Ashington Group

So the second phase began, the class became the Group and in 1936 it held its first exhibition in the Hatton Gallery in Armstrong College, Newcastle. The Group developed its own impetus and their paintings became increasingly Ashington-centred, depicting their surroundings and daily lives.

During the 1930s, outsiders became fascinated by what they tended to regard as a rare and admirable exercise in working men’s art. To the organisers of Mass Observation (a forerunner of market research set up by poets and sociologists) it represented a true development of documentary culture. These men painted their own lives, testified to experiences that no one else, from trained art backgrounds, could truly understand. When the war came, the men painted the building of shelters, the arrangements for gas masks, for evacuation, for extra shifts and Dig for Victory.

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