In 1934, an art appreciation class for miners opens in Ashington, a mining town. The instructor, Lyon, arrives in town to teach art history to the miners by showing them classics of Renaissance painting. However, when the miners ask to know more about the fundamental meaning of painting itself, he suggests that they try out painting for themselves. The story of how these rough, working-class miners come into their own is presented through the unique touch of playwright Lee Hall, skilled at drawing out universal sympathy from everyday events, to great acclaim. The audience is given an opportunity to enjoy the work of the Ashington Group, a real-life collective of UK miner artists, and other great works of art, which creates the fantastical experience of entering an art museum set in distant lands.