Hello! I’m Helen Little, Assistant Curator of Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life.  Since the exhibition opened there have been some great reviews in the press, but I would also like to hear what you think

L.S. Lowry, Early Morning, 1954
L.S. Lowry, Early Morning, 1954

 If you have visited the show, what was it like seeing these urban scenes and industrial landscapes in person? I’d love to hear what you think about Lowry’s apocalyptic visions of the landscape or his connections to French Impressionism

Have you been able to look afresh at his best known work or have you discovered Lowry for the first time?  Let me know your views, stories and comments below. 

I hope you enjoyed this exhibition of one of Britain’s pre-eminent painters of modern life. You can read more about it on my Lowry blog, where you can also share your views. 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts soon!


I have always considered Lowry as a 'naive' artist, a belief probably instilled in me by my art school tutor back in the 60's. Your exhibition demonstrated at least to me, that there was more to him than stick men. However, much as I admired the familiar paintings shown in the first room (unsurprisingly, much better here than in print form) that image began to pall as the theme was repeated ad infinitum. For me, the revelation was in the landscapes of war-torn Britain, some having an almost surreal quality. These, together with his pencil drawings showed that Lowry was far from the naive painter that many critics labeled him. The comparison with a few minor works of greater artists such as Van Gogh, Utrillo and Pissarro added little to my understanding or appreciation of the work. I remember an interview Lowry gave to Kenneth Clark in the 60's -possibly Monitor- when asked by Lord Clark "... do you paint the harsh white background to better express the hardship and daily grind of the factory workers..?" Lowry replied ...E! No, I use the white to make t' figures stand out".

The most attractive part of the exhibit was the sight of Lowry in his context and his debt to his contemporaries - and I hope they appreciated him reciprocally . The closeness to Utrillo was remarkable. Utrillo was the finer, but somehow Lowry is the more authentic. It was exciting to see, too, how much Alfred Wallis there was in him. But he's not a landscape painter; his vision is too dark. The bombed mill threw me to Sutherland's Blitz paintings - more shock there, less gloom. And the blockiness of his buildings, softened by the teeming workers usually, is uninvitingly stark when they are absent.

I very much enjoyed the exhibition - I was especially struck by the landscapes.

I also really enjoyed the use of colour white; something I hadn't previously appreciated about Lowry's work. Whilst the work was often meant to be bleak, there were some paintings that caught me off guard with business and energy (Fever Van, Hawker's Cart).

I will certainly be heading back to see the exhibition again - there is just so much to appreciated that one visit doesn't do it justice.

I really enjoyed the exhibition, but felt it was incomplete. Like many earlier comments, I would have liked to see more of his seascapes and great portraits, which give his work so much more breadth. I hope these will be available at the Tate another time soon.

I thought this was thre best exhinbition of the year. A fantastic insight into his observations of a society in mass transition. Very clear evocation of the "dark satanic mills" and their impact on the society they came to dominate. Showed many different sides to Lowry that I had not previously appreciated. It was very well presented and the commentary was engaging.Well done Tate!

I enjoyed the Lowry show immensely, despite dragging my 3 year old along. She refused to engage with the work, beyond counting how many dogs were in each image (quite a few). I was particularly interested in Lowry's limited palette and his use of red, that he used to highlight certain areas of the image. I preferred the more intimate images than the large paintings in the last room. The Patrick Caulfield was amazing too and seemed even brighter, after seeing the Lowry. The Gary Hume work left me cold and I felt the tern 'Emperor's new clothes' fitted well.


I’ve made several visits to the Lowry exhibition and it just gets better each time! Compared with some contemporary artists who can sometimes appear to be self-indulgent, pretentious, or even cynical, I find his works a hugely uplifting change. Lowry was an artist with integrity, who appeared to be genuinely fascinated with and sympathetic towards his subjects’ plight. Early 20th century Greater Manchester may not have the immediate eye appeal of, say, a languid Provençal setting but his grimy representations of the hardships endured by ordinary working people say so much more to me.

I enjoyed the exhibition but was sorry that so many of the pictures had no notes, either on the wall or in the large print booklets beyond the name and materials. If you don't use the audio description (which I find deeply antisocial when you are at a gallery with friends) it was hard to find more information about some interesting works.

I loved the seascapes and would very much have liked to be able to buy postcards of one in particular. I would be interested to know how the pictures for the cards get chosen as my favourites never seem to be there!

The only chronicle of working class life by an artist. I think to appreciate this fully you had to experience that time. You knew what he painted, you were there walking those damp dirty streets past slums and the pollution of industrialisation. You can see why the sixties exploded - shedding the skin of this past world and seeing the bright new world ahead. I remember the small bits of black smut drifting down through the smog, watching them with fascination and mother rushing out to bring in washing from the black smut. There was dirt everywhere. I would lie in bed with my face next to the window smelling the smokey air through the drafty window.

I was impressed by the wealth of background information about Lowry, and the clear influence on his work from some of the Impressionists and Post-impressionists , particularly Pissarro, Seurat and Utrillo. His changes in mood and style between the 1930s and 1950s were revealing, but most startling and awe-inspiring was the final painting in the Exhibition, Bargoed, an almost apocalyptic John Martin-style landscape. Above all I will remember his subtle flashes of red paint bringing life to otherwise predominantly grey and (impressively) dirty white views. My one criticism of the Exhibition was the very small descriptive titling and notes to some of the paintings, particularly in Room 3.

I thought the exhibition was excellent. I was surprised at the physical size of some of the Urban Landscapes. I also thought the theme around each room was well thought out and the addition of comments from other artists/authors etc. around the room were wonderfully appropriate to his work. The large print books in each room were extremely helpful as you moved round. I would recommend the exhibition to friends and family.

On the corridor wall in my infant school was a L.S.Lowry print. Lowry was the first artist I knew and recognised. I was really looking forward to going to this exhibition, it had a lot to live up to! Was I disapointed? No, not one little bit. I loved it. In one corner were several sketches. What an eye opener! All the faces seen previously were without expression but the sketches were so precise, no detail spared. I have no eduacation in art but I know what I like, we saw 4 exhibitions on our day out and we certainly saved the best until last. Appologies to the staff, I know it was 5 minutes until closing but I could not miss the last few paintings. OK so we took the hint when the lady came round with her broom! We will be back before this exhibition ends for a longer look. Would certainly reccomend this exhibition to anyone.

Thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. Fascinating to feel the coldness and starkness of that era in the industrial north through Lowry's paintings. Liked the way other artists were incorporated. Printed information next to pictures - font size too small.

I am new to Lowry. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition on a few levels; social history, being set in context to the time and Lowry's comtempories, and seeing his development as an artist. I had not realised that he was well thought of in Paris or that he had been to art school and had been taught by a french painter.

Thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition which was much more comprehensive than I expected despite the advance publicity, The Time Line of Lowry's life and times outside the gallery put everything into perspective.

A great exhibition. I particularly appreciated the discussion of Lowry's motivation for painting the industrial scene in the north of England, and the various related political and social comments included in the exhibition. John Berger's highlight of the potential problems of the shift from industrial production to financial services showed remarkable foresight!

I was also impressed by Lowry's paintings of buildings, and I thought that his paintings of individual buildings expressed much of the menace characteristic of Edward Hopper, although I rather doubt whether Lowry ever saw any Hopper paintings.-

Really enjoyed the exhibition found it educating and got me to have a fresh look at Lowry and study his paintings. Feel I learnt a lot especially with the headset found it most informative

Well worth a visit - each time I've noticed something I hadn't taken in before. Great to see how his style has progressed over time. Really enjoyed it each time I visited.

Francis Glibbery's picture

I saw the Lowry show last Saturday, when it was pouring with rain outside. I didn't think the figures looked world-weary. Accepting, maybe. But world-weary, no. I loved the splashes of red in almost every image; on clothes, pillar-boxes and lamp-posts. I thought they looked like Lowry's constant messages of hope! The whole show surprised me in this way. I'm very glad I went.

It is perhaps a pity that it was not a full retrospective, given that the last in London, at the RA, was long ago. This would have shown the portraits, lonely non-urban landscapes and seascapes which several commentators would have liked to have seen. An excellent small exhibition of the latter two categories was shown in Kendal a year or two back which was very popular. What was slightly more puzzling to me was the choice of a Valette painting from Manchester City Art Gallery. The small painting entitled 'Under Windsor Bridge' containing a lonely figure overlooking the Irwell is often seen as potentially the most influential on Lowry, but it was not on view at the Tate. Manchester also has several very small Valette studies superior to those belonging to the Tate. It was an impressive show however, and good to see so many Lowry paintings from private collections

I am too not a fan of Lowry so went to change my mind. Not a success. Very repetitive themes and perspectives, giving the feeling of obsessive expression. A few emotions in the fever wagon, or the 'accident' but not enough in most. And I share the comment about crowded rooms whereas the Caulfield exhibition was cool and near empty.

Can this (http://wp.me/p2SuQi-rJ) change your view on Lowry? ) He is the Dostoyevsky of painting, not easy to read, but definitely staying with you once you get to the core of his idea.

Like most people I was aware of his work, but was never a fan. Being a member I now go and see exhibitions of artists I wouldnt ordinarily see. Im so glad I went to see Lowry, I was blown away. So much detail which isnt obvious at first glance. I went again yesturday with a friend from the US. She also loved it, but she was surprised at how dark it was up north back then, with his river scenes looking more like cemeterys than your usual green landscapes. So of the time. I could sit in the final room for hours. Brilliant.

Fascinating to see the links with French impressionists. I thought that Lowry had only ever done one picture of a cricket match (which he didn't like and cut down) so I was very interested to see his 1952 painting of children playing in the street. All this while it was pouring with rain across the river at the Oval!


Really enjoyed this exhibition. Well worth making the most of the members' early morning access at weekends.

Visited the Lowry for the second time yesterday, and having enjoyed the earlier rooms previously, headed for the industrial landscapes.

Whilst the earlier rooms are wry and compassionate views of urban life, I found the later landscapes very moving. The John Berger quotation on the wall in the final room - about the demise of industrial UK - is depressingly relevant today, although it was written almost 50 years ago. Lowry's ghostly wasteland landscapes are eerily prescient.

A really worthwhile visit, which I rounded off with another look at wonderful Patrick Caulfield and Gary Hume.

Really enjoyed this exhibition. No one recorded the life and environment of the working classes quite like Lowry. Showing the work of his mentors and influences was I thought useful to understand his work,as was showing contemporary film of the time.His larger pieces of work at the end if the exhibition were a revelation and coming from Wales I found his welsh landscapes wonderful and I had no idea they existed. If only he had done more.


Very good exhibition. Glad that at last Lowry was given wall space. However way too busy and crowded.

Disappointed that there were no portraits as these are may favourite of Lowry's paintings. Especially the portrait he did of himself when his Mother died, it shows such emotion.

Preferred the exhibitions I have seen in Manchester and Salford. But maybe he is better understood up north.


As ever why are the picture labels such small font! There is loads of space for a font readable from 2 m.

Not the best showing of his work.

It was a shame the two similar fair pictures of a few years apart were not shown together.

The handling of his contemporaries' works was good.

It would have been good if more of his Berwick on Tweed paintings had been shown, and a note to indicate his holiday/ potential desire to move there.

The video loop was very informative but I would have preferred the credits to introduce the clips.

This was my second visit and it was good to re-visit. One of the most interesting aspects was to overhear the ambient conversations of people who had lived through similar experiences to that which Lowry depicts. My favourite room on both occasions was room 4 Ruined Landscapes, the paintings here seemed to be very dark and gave a stark reality to their subject. I am visiting again in September with a friend who has not seen the exhibition yet - so i am looking forward to her thoughts.

A very well organised show. I welcomed the chance to view a lot more of Lowry's work than I have previously seen. I am old enough to remember living in a street full of terraced houses, seeing factories out of the window, and the rent collector coming once a week to collect his money, so it brings back memories. It is interesting now to visit the industrial heartland of the northwest and see how it has changed. My children aged 8 and 13 also enjoyed the show very much and found it a great eye-opener on how people lived not so long ago. Well done Tate.


Very interesting to see so many Lowry's together. I did find the later work less interesting compared to his earlier work. I found a lot of his later work too 'light' and the little stick people did not feel real ... Whereas in his earlier work there seemed to be a darker mood and that gave the whole scene more meaning for me.

There was one sketch in pencil where he had written what he was going to paint and what colour to use ... I would have loved to have seen more more 'work in progress'.

Loved the Lowry exhibition. Being a Salford lad and having seen many Lowry paintings before in my home town, it was refreshing to see different, new work. I found the exhibition an emotional journey too and was moved by many of the paintings involving children's illnesses and the death of adults. Seeing the blitzed ruins of my home town and the paintings portraying evictions and the hardships of daily life also made their mark. Overwhelming all of this was the hardy, stoicism of us Northerners determined to live and survive despite the hardships and trials of life. I really enjoyed the exhibition. Thank you.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Lowry Exhibition, very well presented and showing lots of his work which were relatively unknown to me. Was very impressed by the effort the Tate put into the exhibition making it such a pleasurable experience. Well done, I am sure there will be lots of other famous painters we shall have the pleasure to see in due course. Let's keep on the struggle to succeed. Many thanks.

This was a welcome discovery of an artist whose works, like those of Toulouse Lautrec, have become somewhat associated with the posters we used to hang on the walls in the seventies. Then there are the clichés about the working class and industrial Britain. Maybe it was the surprising thickness of the paint and brushstroke on board or the unique white/grey of Lowry's palette but I soon found myself drawn into the paintings beyond the flatness of the brick buildings and the little people scurrying around into something more complex. The real jolt came with the "ruined" landscapes. You can't walk into room 4 without gasping at the paintings and their sheer power. Speak of Bruegel like scenes elsewhere in the exhibit but broken down telegraph poles amid a burnt out landscape bring to mind the tilting gallows in Bruegel's Triumph of Death. What emotions possessed this rent collector/artist! The panoramic paintings at the end left me far more impressed with Lowry than I expected. Only regret -- I wish the exhibit had given more of a sense of what was actually real in the industrial landscape at the time as opposed to Lowry's interpretation. But it was all very thoughtfully curated, including the quotations on the wall. A rewarding experience -- thank you, Tate!

Yes, Noel Gallagher is a massive Lowry fan. You can read more here: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/film-and-tv/noel-gallagher-pai... Regarding the "Man Lying on a Wall" painting; Lowry said "People.. refuse to believe me when I tell them I saw a man dressed just like that, doing just that, from the top of a bus in Haslingden.. I couldn't resist doing him as a subject" Lowry put his own initials 'LSL' on the briefcase. It is housed in the Lowry Museum, Salford which comprises around 400 Lowry items and is free admission.

Just viewed Oasis clip - brilliant! Thanks, Andy, for recommending it. Interesting to see how much Lowry influenced the whole Northern scene. Shame the painting of a man lying on a wall wasn't in the exhibition - one of his most iconic. This show has really got people talking.

Thank you, Andy Potts, for suggesting the Oasis video. It was great fun, good music, and an enhancement of Lowry's world as shown in his paintings. It was fun to spot all the Lowry details (man lying on wall etc). Highly recommended!

Normally, I don't like Lowry's painting but seeing a lot of his work together and in context made a lot of sense whilst considering what the paintings were about and the era. I thought most of them were very sweet and refreshingly simple. The lovely thing about having Tate membership is that it enables you to see a lot of exhibitions which you might otherwise not think of seeing. Thanks Tate!

I am well acquainted with Lowry and his works and have visited the Lowry museum in Salford a number of occasions. However it was fantastic and inspiring to see some of his most famous works brought together for the first time and also some of his lesser known pencil drawings. I was disappointed that many of his individual portraits and small group paintings were not represented and also most of his seascape and landscape studies. However this is a minor point and I am delighted that L.S.Lowry has received the long overdue credit that he deserves. As a bit of fun I would encourage you to view the Oasis "Masterplan" video which is an amusing and clever tribute to the great man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ9cw98wsoY


I thoroughly enjoyed this show. I had no idea previously about Lowry though I recognized his matchstick men. I really loved his view on industrialization and view of humanity trying to cope with it. I may well go and see it again and it was so rich and interesting. Thank you.

A prolific painter and a well presented exhibition. I thought the thematic rather than chronological viewing worked well. However, the number of paintings emphasises the sameness of them; and there is a "Where's Wally" element to his work. I hadn't seen his larger work before, and loved the 5 large canvasses brought together for the first time and paintings of The Fair, with the larger figures are exceptional. I have recommended it to people already.

Excellent exhibition. Visited it twice. The layout was good and the large numbers of work amazing. I knew little about Lowry before visiting Tate and a lot on leaving. Historically I found it most informative and think that Lowry did us a great service of showing us how dire manufacturing work and life was in the past. The 1966 John Berger quote in Section 6 of the handout and on the wall about the British economy since 1918 still applies today. To think that HS2 is the first new rail line in 100 years!

The show could have been stronger: it felt a bit 'samey.' The full range of Lowry's work wasn't displayed, for example bare seascapes and portraits. I saw a particularly striking painting at the Lowry Centre, Salford some years back that portrayed the loneliness and isolation of a dysfunctional family - each person looking in a different direction with no eye contact. Another painting of a Toll House on a bleak moor again conveys the isolation that was part of Lowry as an artist and as a man. None of this came through in this show. The last room was disappointing. Rather than vast canvasses that were no improvement on the smaller ones in previous rooms it would have been interesting to have looked at the influence of Lowry on the Northern artists who followed him: John Thompson, Theodore Major (a master of the bleak, stooped figure), William Turner, Geoffrey Key, Simeon Stafford. The lack of chronology from room to room was somewhat puzzling. I would have preferred to see how his style had developed, for example earlier paintings or sketches showed more rounded, conventional figures that later became the more familiar 'matchstick men.'

Wonderful exhibition thank you - we always come just to absorb the paintings and don't use the audio guide or read the written guides until we come home. But even with this approach to this exhibition we were amazed to learn so much more about Lowry, to discover a new (to us) artist, Adolphe Valette and to see so much that was new and interesting.

Thank you for bringing Lowry to London!

Had expected all paintings to be very similar and bland, yet loved every room. As a northerner, I would have enjoyed learning about the historical movements of Lowry's time in more depth but did come away with a lot - the fever van, the way men walk to football matches like they walk to the mill, children playing football on sites that had possibly not long before held homes. I enjoyed his northern 'directness' through the titles of each piece... 'People Standing About', 'Going To Work', 'Coming Home From Work' and the more intriguing 'An Accident'. He had a great eye for the behaviour and habits of crowds, and the way the combination of people and industry worked. The use of little colour and the simplicity of the pieces was a pleasure, yet revisiting most paintings brought a lot more to the eye - and for me, many more questions.

Highlights for me were 'Coming Out Of School' (seems like it was a similar experience back then than it was in the 80s), ''Blitzed Site' (quite a change to see a solitary figure in the picture), the seaside, 'V.E Day' and 'The Fair At Daisy Nook'. Further reading after the exhibition tells me he produced a few pieces in the north east, even one in my hometown of Hartlepool. Tate, you have created quite a Lowry fan in me!

We found it very busy on a Friday lunchtime despite the exhibition been on for a while. Although it would have been nicer to have more room to roam around, I'm pleased at the event's popularity.

Went Friday mid day, so it was a bit of a scrum, but probably much better earlier in the morning. Exhibition was made more interesting by the writing at the beginning of each room. You then saw some of the choices he was making in his painting, and got away from the myth that he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs because he couldn't draw people. And although I saw several dogs, I didn't see a single matchstalk cat. Interesting to have the Pisarros in, and some of his landscapes reminded me of Paul Nash and of early C20 Soviet painters. My companion and I reflected that his painting style didn't develop much, but as he had a full time job as a rent collector, and probably not much spare cash for materials, that's not too surprising. Also it reminded me a bit of Bert Hardy photos, and an exhibition I saw (forgotten name of photographer) of people living an the North East Coast around Hartlepool. Fewer people, but same placing in their environment.

I have been following the comments on the Lowry show with great interest as it seemed to attract an interesting cross section of people from art critics and art lovers to people interested in the location or the social aspects of Lowry's work. Seems that there was something there for everyone.

It is a great idea to have this list of comments which provide feedback on who goes to exhibitions and why.

Personally, I visited the exhibition on a members early morning so wasn't subjected to overcrowding and claustrophobia in general so could appreciate the paintings at my own pace - much more enjoyable that way.

Had to agree with someone who commented that they had sworn not to join the hoards at the popular shows. Although it must be good that people are visiting museums and art galleries, if you can't appreciate the works at your leisure, it is hardly worth visiting.

Loved the idea that someone had spotted a contact from their distant past commenting and tried to make contact. Has to be an opportunity for a different sort of social networking!

The sign of a good exhibition is how long people stand in front of a painting to really appreciate it. With Lowry every painting has so much detail that you just stand and absorb them. The down size is of course that the rooms were packed, even with timed entry, and very hot. Having said that it was woderful and will definetly go again

I found Lowry's work initially likeable but room after room they remained boringly similar and formulaic. Based on this exhibit Lowry didn't develop much as an artist over his many years, there is the continuous heavy use of snow as the setting for his scenes,, the same high vantage point, the same use of fencing as a device to fill in the right hand corner of the painting, the same lean of the torso of his characters, the same foreground/background fading to infinity, etc. by the end of the show his work felt clichéd. The paintings by his teacher Valette and those by Utrillo and Van Gogh proved a welcome respite. Lowry was undoubtedly talented, his patience and brush control for his crowd scenes is impressive and his work does have an essential "Englishness" about it but for me that wore thin in painting after painting.