Jack Crabtree


The coalminer’s washroom aka Cleaning the boots and filling the water bottles  1976

oil on board

signed and dated

30 x 39 ins (76.2 x 99 cm)



Portal Gallery


In 1975, Crabtree was awarded a year-long residency by the National Coal Board to chronicle the life and work of the thriving coalmining community. He captured the miners’ daily lives with realism & humour as well as with documentary accuracy. Sometimes the paintings reflected the stark reality of their job,  but he also enjoyed a true rapport with his subjects. The project was such a success that he was invited to the industrial Ruhr region of Germany in 1978 to carry out a similar commission.


Born in Rochdale, Crabtree studied at St. Martin’s 1957-1959, and the Royal Academy Schools 1959-1961. He enjoyed a long career as an art teacher, firstly around Greater Manchester, before being appointed tutor at Newport College of Art in 1966. From 1983 to 1986, he was professor of Fine Art at the University of Ulster, Belfast. He started out working in an abstract expressionist mode, but is best-known for his social realist work of the 1970s. He has held solo exhibitions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including Kerlin Gallery, Rubicon Gallery, Ulster Museum, and Orchard Gallery, Derry. His work is held in many private and public collections.