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!


Last year I vowed that my days of being pushed around at art exhibitions were over ! However having so enjoyed "The Lowry" at Salford I decided to try one more. I appreciate that space is limited but this was not an easy exhibition to view. The writing on the wall needed to be larger and on both sides of the painting (as folk approached from either side) and there needed to be more space between paintings. At first I was delighted to see seating, especially as the rooms were far too hot, but it was impossible to sit down and see anything but the rear views of a crowd of folk moving along (and most of these certainly were not matchsticks !) Nevertheless I enjoyed seeing paintings I'd not seen before and also the links with French painters so I'm fairly glad I went.

Absolutely wonderful exhibition, worth several visits. Obviously knew of him and a few of the better known works but didn't know that he was feted in France before the UK. Loved the works in pencil, what a magnificent draughtsman.

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. It was a taste of home for me although quite a dark one! I am a Northern girl (having grown up close to Wigan in the sixties, seventies and early eighties) before moving 'down t'South' 29 years ago. For me Lowry perfectly captured the back drop images of my youth in that area. At that time there was a certain lack of hope and a complete lack of investment in the once highly industrialised areas. The fair was an annual highlight for us and what we called 'walking days' another. You exhibited paintings depicting both of these lighter subjects to balance the otherwise grimness of the landscape scenes. It was interesting to see Lowry's interpretation of Wigan and to see how dark it was! I have wondered over the years if he had ever ventured to Wigan now I know he did! I took my 15 year old son with me and his review was 'It was OK' in teenage parlance I would say that equates to 'It was quite good'! A couple of very small criticisms - I too would have liked to have seen some of his portrait works which are equally dark and I couldn't buy a copy of the 'Wigan' painting in the shop (I take it it is one of his less well recognised works)? The painting that has most stuck in my memory? The painting depicting the destruction caused by the war.

Enjoyed exhibition. Excellant grouping by room of the various works on show. Wonderful seeing all 5 large industrial landscapes on same wall in final room. Also seeing the Welsh Valley's paintings.

Had visited the Lowry in Salford in June. Few of the industrial works on display at that visit. the two exhibitions together probably needed to give full understanding and picture of his work.

I had not really thought of myself as a Lowry enthusiast however as I had some spare time I thought I would take a look and I am very glad that I did. The paintings were breathtaking and really a lot more lively than I had expected. I also had a real moment where I was overwhelmed by one in particular (VE day celebrations) and found myself welling up. Definitely worth a visit whether you are familiar or not with Lowry.

The members' early morning opening on Sunday was wonderfully quiet. I strongly recommend visiting popular exhibitions at such privileged times.

Very good show, with really informative wall panels in each room (most refreshingly, with none of the pretentious language that is often used).

I have known Lowry's work for decades, but had never realised just how political it was. My lasting impression was of post-apocalypse industrial ruin.

I recently went to the current exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery and saw Nevinson's town scenes for the first time. Could one of them have influenced the other?

I have been familiar with Lowry for 50 years now (I even went to Manchester!) and this show was enlightening and fun. His drawings and the few departures from his usual format were welcome, but there is scant difference visually between his early mature works and his last. Pleasingly varied and sincerely felt though the works are they are shallow. There is little attempt to draw the viewer in and the world is seen through a telescope, flat with no foreground.

We recovered in the Caulfield whose works are also flat but more rewarding and intriguing. His wry take on 70's taste will live with me, thank you Tate.

Having never been a big Lowry fan I was fairly ambivalent when I went in but from what I saw I think he probably captured the mood of the times perfectly. I certainly felt a small degree of empathy with the workers he portrayed and it made me stop and think about how we are worlds away now from an environment that is still recent history.

On a slightly negative note there were far too many people in the exhibition when we went and it was difficult to fully appreciate the works in a cramped environment, though on the positive side it is great to see art still so well supported


thought you and your staff dealt with the fire alarm on Tuesday highly professionally and calmly organised the return for the viewing. Suggest some Lowry material held in the main shop for those who wish to collect later.


This was my second visit to the Lowry....this time with my granddaughter. She was suitably impressed!

Excellent exhibition, but covered much of the usual Lowry themes of industrial landscapes. The few sea and agricultural landscapes were interesting, although we had seen many of them in a previous exhibition in Cumbria. The cinematic side was interesting and gave real insight into the period. A pity not to have any of the portraits which show a much wider, and underrated side of Lowry. However, the gallery in Dover Street, London, has a selection of these paintings on show, and for sale!, which is worth going to if over that way. Opposite the Ritz Hotel. The Catalogue was quite good, but for obvious reasons only covered the exhibition, and the book titled "A Life", also on sale in the bookshop, gives a much better insight into Lowry. Overall another very good show following on from an excellent season.

I was already a fan of Lowry before visiting your exhibition. I understand that many people visit the Tate to broaden their horizons, but I was saddened by comments from visitors around me. I am from Sheffield, the other side of the Pennines to Lancashire, but with a very similar social history. Lowry paints a true picture - "matchstick" people because they probably didn't have enough money to eat each day of the week with a sense of community & grime. When Lowry painted there was a definite North / South divide - maybe he's not appreciated for his true insight into life as it was by those who are privileged enough to visit the Tate. I now live in Northampton.


Thank you for an interesting and enjoyable exhibition. The juxtaposition of his work with his contemporaries was fascinating.

I didn't buy the intellectualising of what Lowry was seeking to accomplish. Was it really a social commentary? Seems to me that Lowry was simply painting a version of what he saw. He caught the colour of the area particularly well, as anyone who grew up there will know.

A tiny quibble: could the signs to the exhibition be a little less subtle please?

The exhibition was informative and quite exciting - I find Lowry's urbanist perspective and understanding of crowds truly engaging. But my family who I went with all felt that there he showed little development as an artist over his career, or maybe that is there were only subtle developments; and thus with a significant exhibition at this scale, one reaches the end a bit 'lowry'd out'. None of us warmed to or were convinced by the cripples.

The exhibition is very striking. There is a level of bleakness about many of the pictures. However, that seems to be a reflection of the reality that Lowry was seeing - just watch the film footage of the time. A few pictures were stunning - the light effects created amazing glows and hugely attractive visions of the landscapes that the artist clearly loved. I will return!

Brilliant. Very well organised. We loved the film of him working. I really love the man, he reminds me so much of the life with all the smoke and pollution of all the cities both north and south

Alanej, who added comment on 12th August and whose wife came from Ashton-under-Lyme, would you be the same Alan Johnson (not the ex postman Labour politician) who came from Skelmersdale and used to play with me,my cousins and brothers in the 50's? If so I still have your name and address in my address book! I'm on Friends Reunited if you are...

As someone who doesn't frequent art galleries very often, it's always great to see art "up close and personal". For me, the Lowry exhibition gave his work an extra dimension of reality compared to the one I'm used to of just seeing his work in the media. I could argue the same is true of any artist, however I felt, and was surprised by the fact, that Lowry's work does gain a greater realism (in an impressionistic sense) when viewed in this way. For me, this was not the case when I went into the rooms containing many of Turner's paintings - an artist whose art I have always admired and I really enjoyed looking at these works in the Tate, but seeing them in the gallery did not bring that extra dimension like the Lowry works did. That may be because of the subject matter and the fact that I could see myself being part of the picture in many of Lowry's works - the humanistic side of the content really shines through in his works. I guess this wasn't intentional, but the closeness of the rooms in the gallery with all the people milling about seemed a fitting environment to view these works! It would have been interesting to see a live video feed from a camera placed high in the rooms to see in real-time how people move about and congregate, much like in Lowry's works.

Loved the exhibition. My wife was born in Ashton-under Lyne, so we were disappointed not to be able to buy a print of that particular painting. He also painted a reversed version of he same view, with everything going the other way, like a mirror image. Incidentally Bradford Museum don't do a print either, so I imagine one has never been made.

Overall, I thought that the Lowry exhibition was disappointing. I thought that the link to French impressionism was interesting but apart from that it provided little further insight into either Lowry himself and it missed the opportunity to provide a social history context to some of his work. I also felt that some of his paintings had been given too little space to breathe although this may have been intentional. Conversely, I loved both the Caulfield and Hume exhibitions, artists about whom I knew nothing!

The exhibition was brilliant. The visit was a surprise trip for my husbands birthday as Lowry is his one of his favourite artists. The exhibition made his day so thank you.

Really enjoyed this exhibition. Well worth the visit to explore so many of Lowry's paintings in one place. Cannot commend the audio commentary enough it enhanced our visit greatly. Thanks to all who put this together.

This exhibition – along with visiting Gielgud and Duke of York’s theaters – was one of the brightest points of my “cultural program” during current visit to London. I had discovered Lowry for myself somewhere about five or six year ago and – living not in UK – I knew his works only by printed images. It is widely known that any piece of visual art is better to explore “in close contact”, but I was really shocked (in positive sense) by the powerful impact of Lowry’s works which could be experienced only when you see his original works. I felt it most powerfully in his Urban Scenes series, where buildings and figures (being painted quite often on white or pale background) seem gradually are surrounding you so that you become a part of the story. And I noticed that though Lowry’s works usually are colonized by great number of humans (and animals sometimes), there is no figures painted just for the matter of filling the space of the picture. Every figure has its own story, and so a painting acts as a novel – or at least as a short-story. This is amazing! Many thanks to everyone who created this exhibition!


I didn't expect to get very much out of the Lowry exhibition - his work is so familiar etc, but I was really surprised how much I enjoyed seeing his work in this excellent collection! I thought his use of colour and eye for composition was masterful, and the way he used the paint - especially on those murky pools of water etc! I did find his matchstick figures a bit tiresome, but thought the later works were much more successful. I think he's a great British Artist! Also really loved the Patrick Caulfield and the 'Walk through British Art'. There's some BRILLIANT stuff at Tate Britain at the moment - thank you!

Thought the display was brilliant and exceptionally well hung, but my own personal outcome was learning that I believe Lowry's work is dreadful. As visual social commentary it has a place, but as 'art' it's on a par with Beryl Cook.

But, before the display I had no opinion either way on Lowry, so it was fabulous to experience so much of his work and get the chance to form my own (no doubt unpopular) opinion.

The only hiccup with the show was confusion going in. People in the queue became mixed up with people just looking at the timeline on the wall, and I witnessed quite a few heated exchanges.

We visited the Lowry on Wednesday 7th August. The show was well curated and hung though very busy from 2.30 onwards. I specially enjoyed Room 2 with comparisons with other artists, and the last room with the panoramas shown together. I grew up in the West Riding of Yorkshire when the manufacturing base was failing so feel an affinity with the subject matter. However, an overheard conversation between two Home Counties ladies was both amusing and slightly worrying since their reactions revealed that the show was acting for them as a strong reinforcement of stereotypical attitudes to "The North!" Unavoidable? Nevertheless, we greatly enjoyed our visit. New hang--very good but needs more signage near the end. We couldn't find the way out! Yvonne and David Truscott

I think I may be one of the few people who left with a lower opinion of Lowry. Yes, he is an interesting character and he is historically important for the way he looked and commented on the working conditions of the industrial north.

His painting is interesting but it is all the same. In fairness the exhibition says this at the start. I really enjoyed the first room and was impressed by the oversized chimneys and the stooped rows of people travelling to the factory, or to the football. You could feel the sheep like nature of industrial workers and the awful conditions which reduce them to this state.

It was also interesting to see the scenes of poverty and illness which was shown in other paintings too. But apart from breaking it up with a weak Van Gogh and a couple of other masters really Lowry only knew one way to paint and by room 6 I was, to be frank a bit bored of it all.

I think it is admirable that Tate has given a long overdue study of Lowry but in hindsight maybe it would have been better to have continued what was started in room 2 and delivered it in context with others of his time?

Very enjoyable. Having grown up in an ex-mill town in Lancashire and also being mid way through Hobsbawn's Age of Revolution I found the paintings' perspective on the built environment and their rendition of social history fascinating.

I also learned that Lowry was a Tory and for me this was like discovering a missing link that helped explain why his paintings seem to dehumanise the ant like working people that often populate them. Or maybe it was just his limitations as a painter?

I liked the painting of the Protest March, you can actually see his attempts at faces as the march moves towards him. I'm really glad that he painted these times. The built environment - even at this stage well after the introduction of public utilities - looks toxic to mind, body and soul and brought to mind Engel's descriptions of industrialisation in Manchester a century earlier. The figures look stooped and disfigured.

I hope to visit again, a second viewing is when I start noticing detail.

I've been to the Lowry in Salford three times in the last year and was able to see the additional works added to the gallery on Monday 5th August. I love going to the Lowry as there are many 'angry' portraits which you just know belies the emotional turmoil beneath the mackintoshed exterior. At the Tate I had to ask twice after being misinformed by the male cloakroom attendant where, as a ticket holder, the exhibition was. I finally reachedmy destination just as my allocated 30 mins beyond my slot was coming to a close! My first impressions were it was the first day of a sale as Room One was rammed and people were standing three deep in front of each work so I went to the final room and worked backwards.This worked well as I was going against the flow and I was grateful the curation wasn't chronological!! I think I enjoyed it (I'll need to reflect a bit more) but I think I felt over-faced as there was so much that was similar and it lacked the depth that a few of his portraits would have given to this otherwise comprehensive exhibition The comemorative beer in the gift shop was inspired! Husband drank the beer and I got the bottle!

I really enjoyed the exhibition. Although it was crowded it was easy to see the exhibits. It was very interesting seeing the examples of work by the artists who influenced his work along side some of his work in the second room and I didn't realise how much he had been influenced by his teacher Adolphe Valette.

I spent ages looking at the wonderful expressions on the faces of people in the paintings such as the Prayer meeting and the Cripples.

I really loved his pencil, chalk and pastel drawings which I hadn't seen before. and probably my favourite was the landscape and particularly.

A fantastic exhibition. I found it very illuminating have pictures of his French contemporaries there as well as his teacher Vallette. I shall definitely go again before the end in October.

Didn't envy the picture caption writers in this exhib, repetitive paintings to say the least. I have a vague personal connection with the artist so I have an interest and respect for his art, yet I cannot believe that he could be classed as an English Impressionist. If he had died in 1940, he would have been remembered as one of our greats, but he continued to produce caricatures of the north and northern life, long after it had changed which has been detrimental to his art historical memory.

BUT the Ruined Landscape room. My goodness, this was the first time his passion jumped off the canvas. A pity he didn't explore those themes further.

A delightful exhibition - for so many reasons. Despite "liking" Lowry's paintings for their simple visual appeal, I have always found it difficult to "get" him. Now, I'm so much closer. The exhibition showed him to be so much more than just a recorder of "grime & grind up North" ... instead, a commentator, as the years went by, on poverty, industrialisation, industrial legacy, & the hopes of the welfare state. The judicious inclusion of the works by Vallette, van Gogh, Corot, & Pissaro helped so much, for me, in placing him in his historic, social, and artistic contexts. The large landscapes - in particular, the view of Bargoed - were splendid masterpieces with which to finish the exhibition. Nor can I forget, from the earlier rooms, the bleak "St Augustine's Church, Pendlebury", and the ghostly "Speculators" - works which revealed, for me, depths in LSL of which I had previously been unaware. Strangely, the Outpatients' Hall at Ancoats resembled, in an uncanny way, the Outpatients' Hall at the old Radcliffe Infirmary, in my own home city of Oxford: perhaps, in the early 1950s, it was just as grim "down South" as it was "up North"! I must add a special word of thanks for the audio(& partly visual)-guide: it was pithy & concise - and simply superb. I look forward to visiting again.

I'm not a fan of Lowry - I went to see the disappointingly small Caulfield exhibition and popped in to see if Lowry held any surprises - which it did. It seemed to me his landscapes were better without his "trademark" people in. Like Turner Lowry seems incapable of painting people - the hospital and special school paintings showed just how much he reduced people to archetypes.

There was a stunning painting of a huge, dark and bleak church towering over the streets, a drawing of a road that lead over a hill - but what lay on the other side? A lot of the pictures re-enforced my prejudices but if I'd had more time I suspect I'd have been intrigued by his breadth.

I regard myself as an enthusiast for Lowry and I have a romantic attachment to his work having grown up in an industrial northern city in the 50s in neighbourhoods very similar to those he reflects. I thought I was reasonably familiar with him through following numerous TV documentaries over the years and visiting the gallery at Salford Quays. The Tate retrospective took me to a new level and I feel privileged to have had the chance to see it. The collection was carefully sequenced to reflect his main themes, influences and techniques. The parallels with other European painters gave a strong insight into the times and social contexts in which he was working as too did the excellent commentary in the audio guide. I'm always surprised to be reminded that he was a Tory. How could somebody with such an empathetic awareness of working class life espouse those values? This, of course, was largely down to family influences and the show helped the visitor understand these. I'd love to get to see it again before it comes to a close but, if this isn't possible, I'lI cherish the day's memories for as long as I'm around.

I have never felt much affection for Lowry's paintings but in my eyes this exhibition does much for his reputation. I would describe it as small scale on a grand scale. Lowry gnaws away at familiar subjects time and time again. His urban landscapes literally littered with vignettes of small and large gatherings, or isolated huddled figures. His intense observation of people in certain time and place their work and play exposing the relentless repetition of a life hard lived. Lowry surprised me with his command of his medium and his subject; the paintings are oddly beautifully painted not bleak, with the ground alive and layered under mill and works, street and houses. Glimpses of under painting moving the eye around as expertly as the few sure marks and dashes he uses to hone a figure. Tate Britain deserves a pat on the back because this exhibition achieves everything for Lowry in terms of raising his stock, which the recent exhibition at the Royal Academy, wholly failed to do for Manet.

As a huge fan of Lowry's paintings and drawings I was very much looking forward to visiting this exhibition as I try to visit every exhibition of his work. I was delighted that there were a number of paintings that were new to me and it was exciting to see the five large panoramic views of the city exhibited in one room that enabled me to fully appreciate the scale and power of these images. However, I left feeling the exhibition, based on the narrow title 'Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life' was quite one dimensional as it did not allow observers the opportunity to explore the many facets of Lowry and his work that includes his fabulous seascapes, enigmatic portraits, great sense of humour and quirkiness. Also, I was disappointed that Lowry's regular visits to Cumberland were not fully represented in the exhibition as his many paintings of West Cumbria warranted inclusion; an exhibition at Abbot Hall gallery in Kendal, Cumbria captured the solitary nature of his work that was quite moving. Maybe the Tate exhibition concentrated more on the paintings and drawings instead of allowing us to see and understand the man who created them?

Second time around, and I enjoyed it even more. I still hate the silly George Formby (was it) music. It interferes with using ones eyes. It is irritating hearing people making out that his work is just one big cliche when actually it is very subtle and sometimes has a real abstract WOW factor. The only ones I didn't like were the big ones in the last room that he was commissioned to do. The one with the pool was OK but the others looked like he hadn't got his heart in doing them. Once again...pity not to have shown some of his portraits and other work; it might have helped some people to understand that 'stick men' is not what he is about!

If 'stick men' are not what he is about, why are 90% of the pictures in the exhibition of this genre? Those that I liked most were the few pencil sketches showing real figures or South Wales landscapes set in a real environment that broke away from the monotonous head on views of imagined townscapes.

Great exhibition! It broadened my understanding of Lowry himself as well as giving me an appreciation that his work was a lot more than 'matchstick men & matchstick cats and dogs'. But on the subject of matchstick men, why was it that in his 'mass of humanity' scenes, the vast majority of the individuals are leaning to the left?

I enjoyed the show particularly the industrial scenes and a real favourite was the empty house it had a real bleakness about it. My only disappointment was the lack of portraits like the girl from front and from the back & Head of a Man but part from that its great to see Lowry at Tate Britain. I will be back for a second look.

An interesting exhibition about an artist who most of us think we know well but probably don’t. Room one is a strong starting point but room two, where Lowry is compared with other artists who influenced him (Van Gogh, Pissaro & his master Adolphe Valette), greatly informed the context of his early years. Other highlights are his drawings & the way in which this conservative man reacted to the arrival of the Welfare State. The only (increasingly) annoying thing was the George Formby song played on a loop - audible almost throughout the exhibition.

By the third room of Lowry’s imagined townscapes and stick figures, I’d had enough and moved quickly through the other rooms. He gave some sense of crowd dynamics, but deliberately reduced his working class people to anonymous stick figures, showing misery through pollution and monotony. A few sketches showed he could ‘do’ figures properly and his South Wales works at least gave some spatial variability from his regular square on buildings. These prompted me to stroll through the galleries to Josef Herman’s ‘Three Miners’. The two shared an exhibition early in the 1950s, but the contrast between two painters of the working class could not be greater. Herman set his solid, dignified men and women in the proper landscapes of Ystradgynlais in the Swansea Valley with its canals, bridges, lampposts, sunsets and shadows. Lowry’s repetitively imagined version of Salford is populated by stylised, characterless clones of himself. I know which I prefer - perhaps you should consider a Herman retrospective?

An afterthought. In the Henning Mankell novels, Wallander's father regularly painted the same landscape from the same angle, sometimes with a grouse, sometimes without. Lowry regularly painted the same industrial scene from the same angle, sometimes with a dog, sometimes without.

It is a vast exhibition with so many works - a good 3 hours is needed to fully appreciate. I knew very little about Lowry (although watched the Review Show when it was featured) and felt far more informed by the time I came to end of the exhibition. I particularly enjoyed the Timeline at the beginning of the exhibition placing Lowry's works firmly in context. I wish more galleries would do this. It was an excellent, rich exhibition.

I would have liked more explanation of the development of his work (although it was obvious that a painting from 1925 differed little from one from 1952). My only comment may be that it is a little too long perhaps so that by the time one reaches the Festival of Britain series, one's energy is flagging!

It was fascinating with some wonderful pictures but I think I'd prefer chronological showing with a little more information about the man himself

I loved this exhibition and have re-visited several times, extraordinarily relevant to austerity Britain - the debt collection, eviction and environmental concerns - all sadly current. The audio commentary was fascinating, giving a context to the artist and his work.

I was devasted to read today that the Tate employs staff on zero hours contracts, an unethical and appalling way to treat it's staff. Disappointing from such an organisation.

I liked the exhibition more than I expected to, having long had a fairly stereotypical notion of Lowry's work and probably not seen that much of it. I was particularly taken with the introductory section that demonstrated his closeness to the Impressionists, especially Utrillo and Pizarro. The two things that struck me, that I have never thought about before, was his extensive use of white, and his meticulous presentation of buildings, using ruler-straight lines but also, I think, contradictory perspectives. The film extract showing his at work was very informative and I'd have loved to have seen more of it. After seeing him paint in a dog in about 4 seconds, I kept on noticing his dogs thereafter! I was least interested in the big paintings in the last room: they seemed tired and repetitive. And I agree with other commentators that it would have been good to see a bit of his other work eg portraits.

Took the member's 9-10am tour for Lowry and so could look long and quietly––I hope that Klee has the same facility. Some of the early and many of the smaller paintings had a deliberately 'painterly' character, with variations in texture and mark making that the bigger industrial scene paintings seemed to avoid. In their repetitive imagery these industrial scenes made me think of medieval and renaissance tapestries, objects designed to furnish rooms with apt (but not visually intrusive) mythologies. I tried to imagine what buildings, what occupiers, might have commissioned these. Not Harold Wilson, though the link was made; not industrial tycoons, though the Festival of Britain tried to be a classless palace of industry for all.

A horrid afterthought: musing on Lowry's comic formulae of lugubrious human glyphs led me, not (as I'd hoped) to Orwell, but to Grayson Perry's gleeful ghastly tapestries of taste heirarchies. Alas! there is a link.