Looking at a Painting : Industrial City by Ls Lowry
I have posted a couple of times since the new year, relating to the Manchester Born artists Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887–1976) he was born in Old Trafford, Salford and studied in the evening at Manchester Municipal College of Art. He was a man who rarely left the North West, finding his inspiration in the landscape of North Wales and Lancashire, and in the streets of Manchester and around Salford.
Possible this painting “Industrial City” is one of my favorite cityscapes that Lowry produced, I say possibly because he was prolific in this area of his portfolio and I love so much of his inner city works.
I grow up in Altrincham, a town only a few miles away from city center Manchester and while I missed this core era that Lowry was working in, I have lots of memories of the city looking like it does in these paintings.
During my early years I can remember these streets and factories being slowly torn down and replaced with office blocks along with new more modern houses. Its hard to imagine these days what life was like for a lot of the people captures in Lowry’s drawings and painting, living and working within the same mile, most people hardly traveling very far outside their surroundings.
Lowry restricted his palette to black, vermillion, Prussian blue, yellow ochre and flake white. Whilst there is a naivety in his rendition, he deftly caught the hustle and bustle of men, women and dogs on the move against a background of terraced houses, mills and factories.
The things I love most about this painting , well firstly its angle of view, Lowry paints as if he was standing on top a hill overlooking the homes and industry below. I also like very much the distance in this painting, a distance that few of the people captured in it could experience themselves at street level. To me this distance captures the expanse of the city, each small area making up the whole, yet enclosing people within their own spaces of home and work and life.
City life itself is captured here, every element of the community (Home, work, shops, play, chat, church and industrial dirt – so much of it!).
In the distance through the city smog you can just make out the hills and moors, fresh air and spaces that so clearly is just out of reach.
I feel this painting is LS Lowry at his very best, some artists go in very close with life in order to capture and reflect on it , Lowry pulls back in his view and adds in so many elements that you have to spend time exploring his work, in order for you to see the full message and story he want you to see.
This was life in a Northern English town, lowry painted it and also lived it with the people he captured!!!!
Just around the corner Nigel. It’s been a while. Maybe I should go visit.
February 17, 2017 at 11:23 am
Hi Elaine 😉
Yes you would enjoy very much, lots of new additions and the guided tour is very good 🙂 🙂
February 17, 2017 at 11:52 am
Hi Nigel. It was with great pleasure that I read your blog post on Lowry. I visit Manchester fairly often but always staying in Hale Barns, just around the corner from your neck of the woods in Altrincham. I have grown to love the area. I’ve not yet been to the art museum, just not sure how to get there by public transport (have taken the tram from Altrincham a few times). I’ve been fascinated for a long time by Lowry’s work and his match-stick figures. I really get his approach. Reminds me of the work of the Donegal Naïve Painters, also associated with an Englishman, Derek Hill (http://glebegallery.ie/derek-hill/).
Thanks again for a very interesting blog post. Now I’m motivated to visit the art museum on my next visit to Manchester.
February 20, 2017 at 10:40 am