ALFIE JOEY is a man of many talents, not only is he the jovial presenter of the BBC Radio Newcastle Breakfast Show, he’s an internationally renowned stand-up comedian, a television actor, impressionist, singer as well as being a fantastic artist.
It’s with his art that Alfie is currently celebrating another in his long line of successes.
A keen artist, the Thornley Colliery-born son of a miner has an exhibition of his work on in the Bob Abley Art Gallery in Spennymoor Town Hall.
Alfie’s wide ranging nostalgic scenes from his coal mining background has garnering so many accolades from visitors that he’s been asked to display his work there permanently.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the response,” says the 50-year-old.
“My dad worked at Vane Tempest pit in Seaham and several uncles were miners in the East Durham Coal Field, so I have an affinity with mines, pitmen and their families.
“The first picture I sold was of miners eating their bait. My Uncle Terry said jam sandwiches were the most popular choice because it was the only thing you could taste down the pit.
“The sugar in the jam gave them moisture and energy. Some ate them with cheese or fruit cake. I drew this scene in chalks, popped it on a few online mining forums and the response was phenomenal.”
Alfie’s other work comprises caricatures around Newcastle and Sunderland football clubs.
A life-long Sunderland fan, Alfie is quick to praise the North-East. “I like to think my work depicts the proud traditions of the whole region; an industrial area with loyalty to their particular football clubs and an era when solidarity, unity and community were the watchwords.
“I had quite a political upbringing. My dad occasionally brought home the Morning Star and we were always encouraged to watch the news, read newspapers and discuss things.
“All the miners in my family were on strike in 1984/85, of course, and I remember being very proud seeing my dad march behind the Vane Tempest banner at Durham Big Meeting.”
Alfie, whose first home was Thornley Working Men’s Club, near Peterlee, admits his dad never wanted Alfie or his brother to follow him, and his father before him, down the pit.
A former pupil at St Bede’s Comprehensive in Peterlee, Alfie trained to be a Catholic priest and then joined a religious order. During his drama degree at Middlesex University he gave up religious life to follow another calling – stand-up comedy. He has performed in Seoul, Shanghai, Dubai and Singapore, and has featured in radio and television shows such as Mitch Benn’s Crimes Against Music on BBC Radio 4, ITV’s Coronation Street, and BBC sitcoms Ideal and Hebburn.
The Bob Abley Art Gallery in the Town Hall also includes the Norman Cornish collection of work for sale, as well as a range of twenty other regional artists work.
The gallery is free to enter and is open Monday – Friday 12.00 – 4.00pm and Saturdays 10.00am – 2.00pm.
The gallery are always looking for new volunteers so if you like meeting nice people in a welcoming and friendly location why not give us a ring on 01388 815263 for a chat about it.