My childhood was spend in Altrincham, greater Manchester, towards the end of hundreds of years of history lived within the Industrial age. I can just about remember the look of the towns industry parks like broadheath near the bridgewater canal, that passed through our town on its way into the city of Manchester.
I have been working on a personal art project for about the last twelve months, working mainly with charcoal on paper, I felt that charcoal was the perfect medium to work with as I can remember just how black these places looked as a result of the smoke created from the burning of coal used to create the energy needed to drive the factory machine.
This week I have moved onto creating a series of images painted onto timber boards, using black Acrylic ink. The boards I am using have a great pink and red feel to them and they also have a fantastic horizontal grain that adds a very likeable texture to the finished work! At first I was considering painting the board with a white under painted ground, In the end I made a great choice (I feel) in just painting directly onto the timber.
I intend now to work on a good collection of these boards, working with many different compositions, talking of which I feel this subject is all about composition and I am learning a lot in this area by doing this work, treating the factory buildings as shapes to be visually moved around in my mind, overlapping them and working them into a valuable depth from background to foreground, never letting any object rest and stand by itself until the ones that are the closest to the viewer…..
I spent the early years of my life growing up in Altrincham in the greater Manchester area of northwest England. It was in these years, between the 1970’s and the late 1980’s that marked the end of the industrial age for the town.
This period left much of our local area with factories that became redundant and closed, some locations included empty land where factories once stood, a lot of these locations existed beside the Bridgewater canal.
I am currently working on a visual art project that is calling on my memories of these locations, working both digitally and with charcoal on paper, creating some compositions that reflect on this period of my life, places from my childhood. I am in my 50’s so this is not easy at times but I feel its a great exercise in visual storytelling…
This weekend I gave myself sometime to add a physical Charcoal on cartridge paper drawing to last weeks Digital version in my last post. I wanted to do some work in the style of Trevor Grimshaw as I like his drawings very much and felt there was a lot of value in attempting to produce my own versions, I feel that his use of monochrome with its many varying tones, so carefully worked is wonderful…
So here is my first attempt to produce an A3 size drawing 🙂 I am happy with the results but will keep working hard in order to refine this style of working with Charcoal as a medium ……
I also want to add some Acrylic painting works to the project but for now I am loving using Charcoal 🙂
I guess we always, no matter how long we have lived away from our place of birth feel that Home is Home!…
I have lived here in Ireland for almost two decades now but when it come to artists I still have two at the top of my list who lived and worked as artists in or around the greater Manchester area in the UK.
At the top of my list will always be Ls Lowry 🙂 I have a post on his work here Ls Lowry and here, If you want to know more about his life and work, Manchester has a great gallery (The lowry Gallery) dedicated to his life and his art work, its a fantastic Gallery and a great source for his history.
While I love the art work of LS Lowry the art work by my other favourite Manchester artist Travor Grimshaw has always been very much in my mind when I think of amazing drawings from the industrial past of the city Manchester, along with many other surrounding towns which at the time contained industrial landscapes such as Bolton.
What I like most about Grimshaw’s work is his ability to limit this images down to a single style and his limited use of materials – along with his his use of moody monochromes. I work a increasingly with drawings these days and love the feeling produced when just using medium’s such as charcoal or pastels along with graphite.
Here its like he knew perfectly well that these limited materials were perfect for representing the smoke and coal dust filled factory landscapes of the English north west and he stayed with these materials for the vast majority of this well know works.
Take this image (Two Telegraph Poles) for example, like a lot of his drawings and painting there is little subject matter in them, if you compare these images to the paintings of LS. lowry, these landscape are empty. There are none of the hundreds of people all going about their activities.
All the art work is done here by empty views that contain some of the most moody drawings I think I have ever seen ….
Here is a full description of Trevor’s life and his working career ….
Life and work
Grimshaw was born in Hyde, Cheshire in 1947 and studied at the Stockport College of Art from 1963 to 1968. He developed a unique style working in oils, charcoal and graphite to produce atmospheric, stylised images of the Northern industrial landscape, mainly in monochrome.
As a child he had a passion for steam engines and trainspotting, which continued into adulthood; for example he made the journey to the scrapyard at Barry in South Wales which held hundreds of steam locomotives awaiting scrapping, and made a personal photographic record of the occasion, 34 photo images being used in his publication “Stilled Life”. Much of his work overall features steam engines.
He spent much of his working career at Manchester advertising agency Stowe Bowden Ltd.
Grimshaw exhibited widely in the UK (including at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy in the 1970s) and in the US and Germany. His work was included in the private collections of L.S. Lowry, Edward Heath (two drawings purchased in 1973), the Warburton (Bread) Family and Gerald Kaufman MP., and he is represented in a number of public collections, including The Tate Gallery, Salford Art Gallery, Stockport Art Gallery and Bury Art Gallery.
He illustrated The Singing Street, a book of poems by Mike Harding, and executed limited edition lithographs for Christie’s Contemporary Art. He also did the title slide images for the early BBC Great Railway Journeys of the World series. Artist Geoffrey Key described Grimshaw, a long time friend, as “one of the most important graphic artists working in the north during the last half of the 20th century”.[This quote needs a citation]
While Grimshaw is most celebrated for his black and grey graphite portrayal of post-industrial Britain (e.g. canals, cityscapes, viaducts, steam trains) his portfolio included diverse other subjects such as megaliths, Stonehenge, quarries in North Wales, motorway construction and the solstices (often in combination). Colour treatment was largely reserved for Cheshire landscapes, and pictures of Clarice Cliff ceramics.
L.S.Lowry attended one of his earliest exhibitions, buying three of his major early works to hang alongside his small collection of Pre-Raphaelites. Grimshaw became a regular visitor to Lowry’s home in Mottram.
In 1973 the North West Arts Association published Townscape: Trevor Grimshaw, a book reproducing 30 drawings. In 2004 a major retrospective exhibition was held at Stockport Art Gallery.
By the time of his death, in a house fire in November 2001, Grimshaw had become an alcoholic and a reclusive figure. He held his last show in 1997 in the County Museum and Art Gallery at Prostejov, Moravia, Czech Republic, his 50th show in his 50th year.
Grimshaw’s daughter organised a retrospective exhibition of her father’s work, which took place from February to May 2004 at Stockport Art Gallery.
In June 2014 an exhibition of his paintings, organised by family friend (and owner of the collection).
Ceridwen Grimshaw (Trevor’s youngest daughter) recently discovered negatives taken from Grimshaw’s 1970’s 3 trips to Barry Scrapyard (see above). Almost 100 of these images were unused and 90 will be exhibited at Stockport War Museum and Art Gallery from 11 May 2019 to June 15, titled “Trevor Grimshaw – Unseen Barry Photographs”. Grimshaw’s intention was to show the effects of Barry’s salt air on over 100 steam locomotives awaiting scrapping (although most were eventually saved).
My Heart and thoughts, ever since Monday night have almost entirely been far away from my current home here in County Kilkenny, they have been very much back in Manchester the place of my birth and childhood !!
There are so many things and feelings you could express, the main feeling I have had is that it not easy being away from your spiritual home at times like these, I am so proud about the way so many great and good people have responded and offered so much support in the hours since Monday night !!!
It is with good hearts and minds and life’s that in the end true evil will be overcome !!!!
I came across this poem by : Louise Bailey so I am sharing it here 🙂
I feel a warmth around me
like your presence is so near,
And I close my eyes to visualize
your face when you were here,
I endure the times we spent together
and they are locked inside my heart,
For as long as I have those memories
we will never be apart,
Even though we cannot speak
my voice is always there,
Because tonight before I sleep
I have you in my prayer.
Memories, A poem By : Louise Bailey
On this blog I do my best to keep away from political events and areas of life that can only affect people in a negative way !!!
However flowing last nights terrorist attack in my home town of Manchester I just wanted to make a quick comment and to share what I feel is such a great city, its people and its very heart !!!
This is Manchester, the Manchester I love and grew-up in !!!!
SOFT SHARING PEOPLE!!!
My Heart is Broken!! For the people who have lost loved ones last night and for anyone affected in anyway !!!!
Please go and read this article, it reflects upon the best aspects of life in the city I love the most !!! MANCHESTER , UK …..
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!!!!
At the end of last week I posted an introduction about the artist LS Lowry, he is one of my favorite artists and from my home town of Manchester in the UK. I have started a full study of his work and intend to post a few times relating to his artistic development as well as the different styles he worked in and area he selected for his art works.
It think its important to match Lowry with his night school teach Pierre Adolphe Valette, who was a French Impressionist painter. His most acclaimed paintings are urban landscapes of Manchester, now in the collection of Manchester Art Gallery. Today, he is chiefly remembered as L. S. Lowry’s tutor. I post here some of his painting as they cover a lot of the inner Manchester city areas that Lowry also later work in.
L S Lowry is known mostly for paintings,however the artist valued his drawings just as much.
Lowry was concerned with the qualities of line and tone. He continued to draw compulsively until the last years of his life, producing a huge range of works. His work does not just consist of his industrial scenes, but also includes highly finished drawings of the life model, careful portrait studies, rapid sketches made on location and harming sketches of children and dogs.
Lowry did not merely see drawing as a means to an end in producing his paintings, but as a significant and worthwhile medium in its own right. He would often makPierre Adolphe Valettee sketches, in situ or from memory, and later produce a much more detailed, fine piece of art from this sketch. In his early work, Lowry drew in a very strict and linear style, with little or no shading. Over time, however, he came to prefer a technique of rubbing out and over-drawing. Lowry would rub heavily worked areas of tone with his finger to achieve a dense velvety smoothness.
This technique of layering often gave his work a sense of ghostliness especially where traces of an earlier drawing can be seen underneath. Lowry did use mediums other than pencil for his drawings and his collection of work includes pastel, chalk, pen and ink, felt-tip and biro drawings.
Lowrys Night school teach was Pierre Adolphe Valette, when Lowry became a pupil of Valette he expressed great admiration for his tutor, who taught him new techniques and showed him the potential of the urban landscape as a subject. He called him “a real teacher … a dedicated teacher” and added: “I cannot over-estimate the effect on me of the coming into this drab city of Adolphe Valette, full of French impressionists, aware of everything that was going on in Paris
Valette’s paintings are Impressionist, a style that suited the damp fogginess of Manchester. Manchester Art Gallery has a room devoted to him, where the viewer may compare some of his paintings with some of Lowry’s, and judge to what extent Lowry’s own style was influenced by him and by French Impressionism generally.
The Lowry hosted an exhibition of about 100 works by Valette, alongside works by Lowry, between October 2011 and January 2012. It included paintings of Manchester from Manchester Art Gallery and loans from private owners.
I feel that you can see just how well these two artists click in the night school classes, as the influence that Valette had over Lowry clearly stayed with him all his artistic life ….
The Painting of Pierre Adolphe Valette
More painting by Pierre Adolphe Valette here
Selection of drawing by LS Lowery
Samuel Coulthurst: Victorian Salford, Manchester(UK) – (1889 – 1890)
19th Century street photography
Back in 2002 I was back home in Manchester and visited the Lowry art museum and gallery at the Salford Quays, Manchester. This exhibition has stayed in my memory ever since so I thought I would share a post about the display of work I attended that day.
During a two year period (1889 and 1990), Samuel Coulthurst and his brother-in-law James Higson both members of the Lancashire and Cheshire photography union, dressed as what was known then as rag and bone men.
They carried their camera on the back of a cart they used and took many photographs of the people they met and got to know. Many of these photographs have been archived along with details of who these people were and what they did.
They were not simply doing a street walk about with a camera but spent time both living the lives and getting to know the people of Salford.
Many for the street children that the two photographed would have attended the Charter Street Ragged School, they had either lost parents to industrial accidents or to famine or disease. In the grounds of this church owned school is a grave yard that contains 6000 such parents. The city of Manchester has many such locations from this period.
It was in such conditions that these two photographers lived and worked taking pictures that made history. Without them most people would have forgotten in part at least, the kind of live’s that the 19th century people of Manchester lived including my Own Ancestors.
The exhibition is repeated by the Lowry Gallery so if you are in Manchester and into history/photography then maybe you could call in.
Flat Iron Market Salford. Manchester 1890.
Swan Street, Salford Manchester 1890.
Organ Grinder – Swan Street Salford, Manchester 1890.
Tom Shudehill, Poultry Market. Manchester 1890.