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Nature’s energy sources in the form of windmills and watermills feature in many paintings of rural life, from Netherlandish art of the sixteenth century, through Constable’s, to the present day. Coal revolutionised technology and transformed society in the Industrial Revolution and has produced perhaps the greatest pictorial record. Coal-mining areas such as North East England produced a number of artists who specialised in recording the scenery, buildings and people of the industry, from J. W. Carmichael in the nineteenth century to the Ashington Group and Norman Cornish in the twentieth.

The products of the energy industry, gas and electricity, are apparent in many urban landscapes and domestic interiors: Atkinson Grimshaw’s gas-lit, night-time streets are well known.