Stories of Glass in Sunderland

Discover Sunderland’s rich heritage of glass making with our interactive permanent exhibition.

Sunderland has a rich heritage of glass making that dates back to 674AD. Benedict Biscop, founder of Wearmouth-Jarrow Priory, brought skilled craftsmen from Gaul to create the first stained glass window in England for St Peter’s Church, Monkwearmouth.  Using compelling personal stories from local people and striking audiovisual display, Stories of Glass in Sunderland is our interactive exhibition which charts the origins, growth and legacy of glass making in the City.

Pit Road, Winter by Norman CornishGifted to the University of Sunderland by the Cornish family, Pit Road, Winter, c. 1995 by Norman Cornish, is on permanent display in the Stories of Glass in Sunderland exhibition at National Glass Centre. The painting highlights the interdependence between coal mining and glassmaking as two of the regions most significant industries for many years.

‘Norman Cornish is undoubtedly the most celebrated mining artist and one of the most sought-after contemporary painters in the country. For over 50 years his images of the miner’s working life and his observation of social activities have intrigued an appreciative audience’.  (Biography by Robert McManners and Gillian Wales)

“This special world of mine is constantly changing and many of the people who inhabited it are no longer with us. Many of the places that once helped to make up that world have also passed into time. The local collieries have gone too, together with the pit road. However, in my memory and I hope in my drawings, they live on.” Norman Cornish

‘His images – from the greatest oil painting to the smallest pen-drawn vignette – are keenly observed extracts from life and are the vehicles through which he educates us. Norman is a true artist, expressing his thoughts, feelings and philosophy in paint’. (Biography by Robert McManners and Gillian Wales)