Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 July 2013

Review - The Pitmen Painters

Class struggle, humour and more

The Pitmen Painters written by the creator of Billy Elliot, Lee Hall, is showing at five venues - Darlington, Harrogate, Oxford, Outer London and Swansea between July and August.

After a long day's strike action I went to see the Pitmen Painters, a play whose action takes place in Ashington, Northumberland between 1934 and 1947. It reveals a true story of how a group of miners discovered their artistic talents at an evening class.

The miners, eager for education, signed up for a WEA economics class. But they were offered painting which began an incredible journey where they exhibited work in top London galleries, rubbing shoulders with the creative elite. The meeting of these two very different worlds make the themes of politics, patronage, class struggle, humour and hope emerge strongly.

Most of these men had worked in Ashington Colliery from as young as ten years old. They knew they were exploited by capitalism but were very good at what they did and proud of it. These qualities are translated into their art. Painting is not a privilege of the wealthy or constrained by fashions, it is about human beings attempting to express, represent and create through the medium of paint.

Lee Hall, who read the book about the Pitman Painters, captures the essence of the miners' story on stage. The play is touring the country so if you get the chance to see it, check it out.

Chris Fernandez

Fearless souls

"That was even better than 'The Spirit of 45", my partner commented as we left the theatre in Leicester.

The Pitman Painters genuinely depicts working class life and humour. The group chose to make art central to their lives but removed from the 'economy' of the art world. They would not let their art become a commodity.

Discussions about the meaning of art and Marxism are woven into the script in lively exchanges between group members who debate passionately about art and life.

The play shows how ordinary working people possess latent talents that is rarely given the opportunity to blossom. The Pitmen Painters were fearless souls, but they are not unique people. As playwright Lee Hall says: "that the Group managed to achieve so much unaided and unabetted should remind us that dumbing down is not a prerequisite of culture being more accessible. That is a lie perpetrated by those who want to sell us shit."

The play ends in 1945 when a magnificent Miners Banner is unfurled saying 'Forward to Socialism.' The play ends on an optimistic note. The task of socialists is to create a society that lets all of us reach our full potential without worrying where the next meal is coming from or how to pay the rent.

Heather Rawling

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 10 July 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Miliband dances to Tory tune

Unite meets roadblock in New Labour

Stop Gove's school profits plans

Them & Us

Socialist Party workplace news

Strong support for fighting socialist alternative in CWU

Lobby the TUC for 24-hour strike!

PCS Young Members Network forum

Werrington Royal Mail dispute

The costs of privatisation - to the workforce

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

Egypt: Morsi removed - polarisation grows

Portugal's government on the ropes again

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Are you sick of... Low pay?... Zero hour contracts?... Job insecurity?... bullying bosses?...

Lifting the lid on the bedroom tax horror

Birmingham Labour councillors' promises

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Rebel councillor faces further suspension

Fund the fight for a socialist alternative to capitalist austerity

Readers' comments

Privileged perks for Kate and Wills... Maternity cuts for us!

Unite and Labour - it's time for a rethink!

Inside the banking system

Socialist Party feature

Piper Alpha: The price of profit -167 workers' lives

Socialist Party review

Review - The Pitmen Painters


Home   |   The Socialist 10 July 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangle'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Art and Revolution

triangle'Ana Key MP' - Socialist artist responds to attacks

triangleSouth-East London Socialist Party: Art and Revolution


trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleWarts-and-all account of class war and the struggle for LGBT+ rights

triangleMutinies and strikes: when Bolshevism threatened British bosses

triangleCrunchy guitar and poignant dialogue in alt-rock homage to south Wales miners


triangleProblem gambling soars by 33%

triangleCatchy folk rock with a socialist edge

triangleSchool students' remarkable tribute to workers' Spanish Civil War bravery

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments


Port Talbot

Powerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle


Russian revolution

October 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'


Theresa May

Theresa May, Frida Kahlo and turning women into wares



Poverty, repression and fightback on the docks


The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox



Shocking insight into Isis



Hugh Hefner's exploitation of women



Women's football - Sampson allegations



The Socialist Inbox



Interview: the "socialist John Le Carré"



Refreshing, anticapitalist - but little pointing a way forward



New documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed



The Socialist inbox


Che Guevara

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon



Bosses' pensions robbery

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice