A NEW exhibition focusing on miners is set to open in Hexham.

Artist Karen Thompson, 61, from Great Lumley, Durham, is to unveil her artwork at the Forum Cinema car/cafe.

​"The exhibition is about miners as I especially enjoy painting miners and have become involved in many mining communities countrywide where they've taken me into their hearts and are very appreciative of my work which evokes memories of their time down the mines and of the lifelong friendships made," she said.

"Although I don't actually know all of the miners and their families personally they have become friends and have shared their poetry and stories of their experiences in the mines, many of which are included in my website.

​"Just recently two retired miners have had my mining artwork tattooed onto their arms. That has to be the ultimate honour and I am very proud."

Although art was Karen's least favourite subject in school, a life-changing moment allowed her to reconnect with her passion.

She said: "I have been an artist for 12 years however I disliked art at school so I never thought I would be one.

"I went part-time to care for my mam and joined a little art club in the village and it's spiralled from there. I paint in watercolour also but my love is charcoal on black card."

Karen keeps herself busy by displaying her work in many different exhibitions but always finds time to cheer her friends and family.

She said: "I tend to do a lot of portraits for free for friends whose loved ones have passed.

"But apart from that I've sold several pictures in USA, I've had an exhibition at Redhills for the Miners Gala, I've currently got paintings in Spennymoor Town Hall Art Gallery and Bishop Auckland Town Hall.

"My claim to fame is that Dennis Skinner has one of my paintings."

The public can attend the opening night on January 8 at 7.30 pm. The exhibition runs until February 13.