Monday, 17 November 2014

What's this L S Lowry?

Continuing my series of art critiques, I would like to introduce you to L S Lowry, an English painter who lived from 1887 to 1976.

Laurence Stephen "L.S." Lowry was born in Stretford, Lancashire, in the North of England and many of his paintings depict scenes from Pendlebury, Salford and surrounding areas. His paintings were usually of urban landscapes and he painted human figures in a simplified way which was referred to as "matchstick men."

The scene you see above is of the Northern town of Huddersfield which was painted in 1965.

Those of you who have read my book "VISIONS", and my other books and stories about Father Ignatius, will know that they are set in an un-named Northern town in England in the 1950's and 60's. The scene above is the sort of view one would imagine Father Ignatius would have from his office window high up in St Vincent Parish House.

You can see the hills fare away, often covered with snow in winter; the small terraced houses huddled together, sharing whatever warmth they have between them, and hiding behind the large tenements providing shelter from the Northern winds blowing down the hills; with people rushing to their homes or places of work as the acrid smelling smoke from those factory chimneys fill the gloomy skies.

In 1932 Lowry's father died leaving the family with debts, whilst his mother became ill and bedridden, relying on her son for care.Lowry often painted well into the night after his mother had fallen asleep.

He regretted that he had not received recognition as an artist until the year his mother died and that she was not able to enjoy his success.

Two years after his death, a famous song about Lowry by "Brian and Michael" topped the UK charts in 1978. I post a video below which shows a number of Lowry paintings and, in case you have difficulties with the accent, I also post the lyrics to the song for you to enjoy.

If you watch carefully, at about 3 minutes 30 seconds of the video, this is the sort of church St Vincent Parish would look like.




He painted Salford's smokey tops
On cardboard boxes from the shops
And parts of Ancoats where I used to play
I'm sure he once walked down our street
Cause he painted kids who had nowt on their feet
The clothes we wore had all seen better days.

Now they said his works of art were dull
No room, all round the walls are full
But Lowry didn't care much anyway
They said he just paints cats and dogs
And matchstalk men in boots and clogs
And Lowry said that's just the way they'll stay

And he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs
He painted kids on the corner of the street with the sparking clogs
Now he takes his brush and he waits outside them factory gates
To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs

Now canvas and brushes were wearing thin
When London started calling him
To come on down and wear the old flat cap
They said tell us all about your ways
And all about them Salford days
Is it true you're just an ordinary chap

And he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs
He painted kids on the corner of the street with the sparking clogs
Now he takes his brush and he waits outside them factory gates
To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs

Now Lowries hang upon the wall
Beside the greatest of them all
And even the Mona Lisa takes a bow
This tired old man with hair like snow
Told northern folk its time to go
The fever came and the good Lord mopped his brow

And he left us matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs
He left us kids on the corner of the street with sparking clogs
Now he takes his brush and he waits outside them pearly gates
To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs

And he left us matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs
He left us kids on the corner of the street with sparking clogs
Now he takes his brush and he waits outside them pearly gates
To paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs

9 comments:

  1. Great video and I loved the lyrics to this song. Most of all I loved the beautifully descriptive words you used in this post:
    "You can see the hills far away, often covered with snow in winter; the small terraced houses huddled together, sharing whatever warmth they have between them, and hiding behind the large tenements providing shelter from the Northern winds blowing down the hills; with people rushing to their homes or places of work as the acrid smelling smoke from those factory chimneys fill the gloomy skies."
    They evoked such a warm feeling in my heart - it was like reading a poem.

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    Replies
    1. Mary as always you are very kind and generous with your praise about my writings. The scene above from Huddersfield, a Northern England town, is what I imagined Father Ignatius would see out of his Parish House office window. In fact I describe such a scene with snow covered hills in my latest book, The Priest and Prostitute.

      Lowry did paint mostly urban landscapes of Northern towns and as you know my books are set in the 1950s and 60s somewhere up North.

      Thank you for visiting me again, Mary and for your constant support and encouragement. By the way, I am writing another Father Ignatius book possibly available in the New Year, God willing. This one will be a little controversial in subject matter, and is proving somewhat difficult to write.

      God bless.

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  2. Oh I loved the song and paintings in the video. I had never heard of Lowery. Thinking back on good days is such a warm thing to do. Thanks for this Victor. Quick question. The northern town is on the sea, as I see. Is that on the east coast or west?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Manny,

      I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Thanx for telling me.

      It depends what Northern town you're referring to, Manny. Huddersfield (the top painting above) is a town in West Yorkshire well inland away from the sea. The un-named town I write about in my books could be anywhere in Northern England. I deliberately don't name it but generally describe the climate, geography and financial situation as it would have been in the 50s and 60s.

      Lowry painted mostly about Northern towns so it could be that one of his paintings is about a seaside scene from up North.

      God bless.

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    2. Can I add that Lowry painted many scenes from Lytham St Annes which is a seaside town on the West of England. He also took several holidays to Berwick-upon-Tweed, the most Northern town in England on the border with Scotland on the East of England. I have visited Berwick many times. It is a wonderful place with many sea views one would wish to paint.

      He also visited friends in Southampton, in the South of England, and could have painted seascapes from there.

      I attach a link to a lovely collection of his paintings here: http://www.easyart.com/prints/l-s-lowry?page=1 The yachts on page 2 are at Lytham.

      See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._S._Lowry

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  3. Hi Victor! Thank you for introducing me to Mr. Lowry. I can't say that his people and animals are quite 'matchstick' to me. I think of that when I try to draw, this is at least a little more fleshed out.
    I liked seeing all the art in the video, and he does seem to focus on everyday life. Were you influenced by him as you wrote, or was it just a happy coincidence? I truly can see Fr. mixing and gazing on these scenes.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome back Ceil. I hope you had a great time visiting your sister.

      When writing my Fr Ignatius books I had several Northern towns in mind; the scenes blended with each other. For example Halifax in Yorkshire, and Edinburgh and several towns in Scotland, especially up North of Scotland; or Berwick on the Border with England on the East Cost of England. All these scenes blended together in my mind - for example the cobbled stoned streets, steep hills, snowy tops of the Pentlands in Edinburgh, or the seaside at Berwick when it's freezing cold. And so an un-named town developed where Father Ignatius was stationed in his St Vincent Parish high up on a hill overlooking the whole town.

      The Huddersfield painting above seems to fit exactly what the priest would see from his window.

      I hope I have described these scenes well in my books and stories. I know I'm not really a good writer.

      God bless.

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    2. "I know I'm not really a good writer."

      Gee! Your modesty is again showing when you make statements of that kind?

      I hear YA! With all dew respect Victor #2, where do you get the expert tease to tell me what I think about some of my writing, as a matter of fact, you haven't even read one of my books yet! Have YA NOW?

      Whow! What a Grouch but for what "IT" is worth, we gods are glad that you put him in his place...lol

      Long story short Victor # 1, like Mary said, you really did warm my heart with all the beautifully descriptive words you used to describe an enchanting winter wonderland surroundings... I better quit now cause there are still a lot more blog post for me to read and thank God that He doesn't allow me to comment in all of these blogs.

      https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=18142394&postID=1519209105863594541

      Thanks again for your spiritual reality prayers and patience with me.

      God Bless you my friend

      Delete
    3. You're always welcome to comment on all of my posts.

      God bless.

      Delete

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