Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Lowry’s Grim Fairy Tale
Chris Dodd of the River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames writes,
L. S. (Lawrence Stephen) Lowry (1887-1976) was an artist who lived in Manchester and Salford all his life. He was a rent collector by day and a painter by night, attending Manchester Art College under the French impressionist Pierre Adolfe Valette, and afterwards at Salford Royal Technical College School of Art. In Lowry’s time Manchester ranked among the world’s top ten industrial cities and Lowry made the stark industrial landscapes of the Industrial Revolution his own while populating his pictures with life he observed in the streets while collecting rents, always with sketch book in hand. Lowry’s pictures now sell for millions, and a large retrospective is now showing at Tate Britain in London, "Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life", which will end on 20 October 2013.
Manchester didn’t rank as a major rowing place, although Agecroft Rowing Club (now in Salford docks) braved the dank River Irwell through the centre of the city from Victorian days, and the world’s great professional scullers, such as Ned Hanlan, took on the top Mancunians, such as Mark Addy, from time to time. Lowry’s sporting observations seem to be restricted to football (Bolton Wanderers supporter), cricket on waste ground and children’s street games, but I detect that one painting in the Tate show – Industrial Landscape 1950 – contains what looks like a sculler on the waterway that winds through it. Much more famous from a rowing point of view is Lowry’s The Pond, depicting a large municipal boating lake, which is also in the exhibition. Every industrial, mill and seaside town in Britain worth its salt had a boating lake from Victorian times – and many still do. For lots of Lowry canvases, visit Tate Britain or their website, here.