Former Somerset coal miner and founder of Glastonbury Festival Michael Eavis CBE has been made a Patron of Radstock Museum.
His connections to coal mining span back to his late teenage years, when he was committed to running the family’s Worthy farm, now better known as the location of the festival. At the same time, Eavis was allowed to complete his national service in the local coal mine at New Rock Colliery in Chilcompton instead of continuing at sea with the Merchant Navy.
For the last few years of Michael’s national service, he would milk the cows in the early morning hours, then work a shift at the colliery before returning home to milk the cows again at night saving the farm from being sold.
Eavis explained: “If I had not gone down the mines and stayed at sea, the farm would have been lost and there would be no Glastonbury Festival.”
At the museum, Eavis has stayed in touch with former mining colleagues and attends the Annual Miners’ Reunion at Radstock Museum each September.
Lucy Tudor, Museum Volunteer said of the new Patron: “Michael Eavis will help keep the memory of those miners and the hard and dangerous lives they led alive by helping to tell their story which is so dramatically and informatively displayed within the museum. We are delighted to have him as our patron.”
Separately at the National Portrait Gallery, a newly commissioned portrait has been revealed depicting Eavis.
Painted by British artist Sir Peter Blake CBE, the portrait shows Eavis standing in front of the festival’s Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm.
Unveiled at the festival on 25th June 2022, also Blake’s 90th birthday, the portrait will go on public display when the National Portrait Gallery reopens in 2023, following the completion of its major transformation project, Inspiring People.
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London said: “Celebrating both the sitter and artist’s major contributions to British art and culture, we are delighted to have commissioned this new portrait of Michael Eavis by Sir Peter Blake for the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection.
“As a fantastic addition to our contemporary collection, we very much look forward to exhibiting this wonderful portrait when our transformed National Portrait Gallery reopens in 2023.”
Eavis said of the portrait: “I’m so pleased to have been painted by my old friend Peter, and that my portrait is his first commission for the National Portrait Gallery. That’s a rare treat for a Somerset dairy farmer!”