A Miner’s Mark

The North Yard Seam Derby Robert Olley

A Miner’s Mark

Whether you recognise the name Bob Olley or not, you will, almost certainly, be familiar with some of his work.

The talented artist, who was born in South Shields, created the life size sculpture of Stan Laurel, which stands proudly at Theatre Corner, Bishop Auckland and was partly responsible for the colourful mural tribute to the town in Bishop Auckland Train Station.

Bob’s paintings also take pride of place in the new Mining Art Gallery, which he is delighted to see opening “in the heart of County Durham and its former mining industry.”

Bob, who showed a talent for art from an early age, originally followed his brother and father into the mines and spent 11 years working underground at Whitburn Colliery.

Realising that this industry was in decline, he found a new job in telecoms, before eventually being able to switch to working as an artist full time.

Much of his early work, which included pen and ink drawings, as well as paintings, focussed on mining because, he says, that was “all he knew.”

Today, though the scope of his work is now much broader, he is still a proud part of “the mining art collective,” and feels blessed to “wake up every morning in a creative mood,” doing what he loves.

Image: Robert Olley, The North Yard Seam Derby, 2003
Oil on canvas
©Gemini Collection, Zurbarán Trust
Presented at Mining Art Gallery, The Auckland Project.

About the author

This piece was written by Claire Buchan, Communications Manager, in conversation with artist Bob Olley.

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