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 went up to University in Manchester in 1966 and my future wife went up in 1967. At that time you could still see some scenery just like Lowry painted and it made us realise that Manchester was a very different place to London. I bought one of the cheap Lowry prints and it hung in my flat for a number of years. This exhibition gave a broad view of Lowry's work with great explanations and background on the audio guide. We loved the energy and the mood of Lowry's pictures back then and we loved this exhibition. Thank you.

Far too many people were allowed in. It was almost impossible to see anything. It makes the idea of timed entry ridiculous and the whole experience was unpleasant, despite it being a Monday afternoon. I would not pay to see an exhibition here agin.

Hi meladams_23. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'm sorry to hear that the exhibition felt overcrowded during your visit. Whilst we do employ timed entry and limitations on numbers to try and minimize this, the popularity of the show means that sometimes, it is unavoidable. Additionally, we are always happy to advise about any quieter exhibition slots at the point of booking. I will pass your comments on to the relevant departments and I do hope you choose to visit Tate again in the future. Justine, Information team

Having been to the Lowry Gallery in Salford a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed the experience, I wanted to see some of the pictures that had been loaned to the Tate for their own exhibition here in London. I wasn't disappointed. The show at Tate Britain is a joy and I'm so glad that I have now had the full Lowry "experience". The number of works on show at the Tate greatly exceeds what there is in Salford (because Salford has loaned so many of course) and the larger industrial landscapes in particular are really worth seeing. While the Tate exhibition lacks the breadth of Lowry's work, with little of his pre-matchstick men style and none of his later fetishistic work, the number of larger pictures, especially for me the ones of the Welsh Valleys, were well worth the visit. I would strongly recommend a visit to this show before it closes and if you are in Manchester a visit to Salford Quays and the Lowry is a must - and its free!!

Such an amazing show. With great surprise you discover the many different aspects of Lowry's sense of beauty. May its the urban life of the period but you still get the feeling of an artist who's dream was in his life coming from the working class even from grave stones...still the most amazing was how the student separated from his teacher Valette. The con of the experience. Just one; the rude staff in the entrance. But yet not enough to destroy the whole idea of the show.

I went to the exhibition with the popular prejudice of Lowry as a sentimental cartoonist of northern industrial stereotypes, reinforced by the 1970's "Matchstalk Men" song. That prejudice vanished immediately and I was struck by the evocation (but not realistic depiction of ) a social reality related to my own family background. My mother's family was rehoused from the slums of Ardwick to the Northern Moor area of the Wythenshawe council estate in 1938. I remember in the late 1950's and early 1960's visiting Manchester as a child and seeing the remnants of the earlier factories and terraced housing, separated by large areas of rubble-strewn wasteland - communities destroyed and transplanted. Caroline Aherne grew up in Northern Moor and it was the inspiration for her depiction of Manchester working class life in "The Royle Family", coincidentally my own surname and one quite common in South Manchester. Did Lowry ever use the imagery of a council estate? That's where most of the people in his earlier paintings ended up, and during his lifetime.

What struck me most about the works themselves was Lowry's observational representation of crowds. He seems to "hover" from what I would suggest are mostly imaginary viewing points, physically close, but emotionally detached, aware of the crowd's dynamic structure and menacing potential.

So for me, a rewarding and thought-provoking experience!

Just visited the exhibition for the second time. The first time it evoked in me a deeper understanding of society in the industrial north and the hard and grim life my grandparents had. The second time I was much more aware of Lowry's ability to observe and depict the ordinary life of ordinary people. A thought provoking exhibition well chosen and curated. Congratulations

Just been to see Lowry's exhibition. Very impressed with the depiction of industrial Britain, could almost taste the dirty air. Would have liked to have a bit more on the artist's background on audio guide to help understand the grim portrayal - there are no smiles even when at the fun fair or sea side. Found a book about Lowry, maybe I'll get my answers there.

Hi Sonia and thank you for your suggestion. I will pass your comments on to our Interpretation team who are always looking for ways to improve audio guide content. I'm also really glad to see you found our selection of books helpful and I hope you find the answer to your question. Justine, Information team

Hi Sonia and thank you for your suggestion. I will pass your comments on to our Interpretation team who are always looking for ways to improve audio guide content. I'm also really glad to see you found our selection of books helpful and I hope you find the answer to your question. Justine, Information team

I enjoyed the Lowry exhibition as it provided examples of the influences on his work, of which I'd previously not been aware. I also found I really liked his paintings of interiors, offering an insight into the social conditions of the times.

Was Lowry making a political point? Did he paint his sloping little people to demonstrate how they were cowed by and dominated by and dwarfed the enormous factories and mills behind them? No - I don't think so. I think he recorded what he saw. We may choose to put a political slant on the way he made that record but I'm not sure that that was his intention. I do wonder whether he was anti-clerical or, at least, anti-established church. The churches he painted were enormously overbearing and black - look at his St Augustines, Pendlebury. Its huge looming blackness would intimidate anyone. And another one - St Simon's. No comforting refuge there. He recorded everyday life - work, football, the eviction, the suicide, the fever van, the funeral (Oh, how I love that one - with its small - but still bible-black - church, its knot of mourners and the few curious passers-by.) We put the political spin on it. I came up to London from Somerset specifically to see this exhibition and the Mass-Observation photo exhib. at the Photographers' Gallery. They complemented each other in a way that I had not expected. The Mass-Observation one had a series of photos of 'Worktown' ( actually Bolton) taken in 1937/8. So same period as Lowry and same territory. And similar images, tho' captured in a different medium. The photos DO have cars, lorries and corporation buses in them but do they add anything, or just get in the way? I've always admired Lowry and I loved the exhibition - even the George Formby record scratching away in the background (am I the only visitor old enough to recognise the music as George Formby's?), In fact, I enjoyed the exhibition so much I bought the book !

I picked a busy time to visit meaning I was n't able to follow the exhibition in a linear fashion but, in a way, that made it more interesting (and, fortunately I'd not gone for an audio guide.)

The wide range of pictures was impressive and, in places, a lot more colourful than I'd expected. I was fascinated by "The Cripples" in particular the way in which the able-bodied people mirror the viewer by staring, more out of curiosity than anything else, at the those after whom the picture was titled.

Thoroughly enjoyable insight into Lowery's work.

Ann W

I really appreciated the members' early session and the chance to view the pictures properly. I was fascinated that Lowry had spent many years doing life classes, and then appears to reduce his figures to stick figures. For him, it seems the human person is always in a crowd or group and always seen within the social and economic context. And yet often he gives each of his figures a touch of individuality. I love the careful -- almost photographic -- composition of each of the scenes, and the way the action fills the canvasses to the edges. And I admired his commitment to his subject. Nothing beats a straight retrospective!

I know many of the Lowry paintings from the permanent gallery in Salford, so was not expecting much from my visit but I ended up drawn in to the paintings. It is accepted that they are not accurate representations of particular scenes (the painting called Ashton-under-Lyne reminds me more of Stockport as seen from the railway viaduct), so once I started viewing the paintings as arrangements of colour, movement and a set of shapes then I appreciated more his skill and understood where their aesthetic pleasure came from. The inclusion of his sea paintings would have added to the pleasure but I can see that they would have diluted the overall effect and certainly seeing room after room of variations on the forms and shapes of the industrial building prototypes that he uses, allowed me to see Lowry from a different angle. Well worth the time spent.

This was my first time to see Lowry's work and I went with an open mind: I was surprised to find that instead of the emphasised "French" inspiration, the Dutch Pieter Brueghel the elder came to my mind (Hunters In The Snow), and stayed there very firmly indeed. I did find Lowry's work a bit two dimensional, sort of theatrical and lacking emotions somehow, a firm distance from the subject, but still - or maybe because of it - the paintings evoked a very real anxiety. One could feel the impact of the industrialisation on their own skin. It was like seeing a Tin Tin cartoon from hell. (Sorry for the analogy, I didn't mean this in a degrading way, quite the opposite: a very realistic news-relay of the era made bearable by the caricature like expressions. ) So I could relate to the subject and see it without feeling guilty. Also, I see why the pictures are still important (and moving), the parallel: our generation is trying to solve the problems (of global warming, rubbish and re-usable energy) partially caused by, or triggered by the very industrialisation Lowry depicts, a landscape that might still reappear. A thought I find intriguing to say the least. So all in all, I was really happy to see the show and although I still don't think Lowry was the best artist of his generation (strictly and technically speaking), he certainly was a visionary and a great 'historian' of his era with a very distinctive voice and I loved the show. The Tate display tells his story very well indeed. Thank you.

I enjoyed the exhibition and seeing some of Lowry's lesser known works.

BUT please put the information panels next to the pictures at eye level not waist level and use a clearer layout. Black on grey is not a good idea. Why not even try to look at the pictures at a time when we proles are peering through and round other viewers. You may then become aware of the problem. I suspect you only look at them before the public are let in.

Malcolm Cedar

A wonderful exhibition. I cant think of a better 20th c. British Artist. He shows us something fundamental to the fabric of this country, something no one else has come close to expressing in painting - the rhythm of life around him - social/civic, the streets the buildings, the workers the families. The late landscapes, whithout people lack some of these ingredients,but solid paintings nonetheless. He has such a grasp of his subject a oneness with it - expressed with remarkable economy.

I've dropped into the exhibition as a Tate Member 4 or 5 times (I'm glad I don't have to pay the full price which seems quite steep to me). I've liked Lowry since my introduction to modern art as a teenager and at university in Manchester my friends bought me a Lowry print for my 21st (from a catalogue in the exhibition I found out they paid the sum of three shillings!)

I still like Lowry's 'naive' style rather akin to Rousseau, though the early drawings show he can draw, and I liked the representation of the industrial landscapes which are very much part of our heritage and which generally artists of his time ignored as something unpleasant.

However, I think the exhibition has led me to reasess my opinion of Lowry. I don't think he had any particular infinity with the people he painted, in fact quite the reverse, I think he disliked them - I found the Cripples particularly disturbing, and the industrial landscapes (made up from a palette of mill types and sinking terraces) became more depressing as the exhibition develops and eventually sink in a slough of despond, reflecting his personality, rather than be a celebration or a sympathetic acknowledgement of working people I remember reading in Richard Hoggart's Uses of Literacy. I think the best represention of the industrial landscape is Bargoed in Wales the last painting. Thank goodness for the seaside paintings, VE celebration and Daisy Nook Fair to relieve the depression.

Nevertheless I found the exihibition stimulating and will go back for a final time and listen to the commentary in case I have missed something

My Mancunian grandparents were both born in the slum back to backs of Hume, Manchester in the late 19th century, granddad having to leave school to work relentlessly all day 6 days a week at age 12 in an iron foundry alongside his dad even though he loved books and wanted to keep learning, he was the 7th child, of many, they had to move loads of time within Hume to keep the rent situation at bay, so contemporaries of Lowry, akin to the subjects of his paintings in a way. I made a special visit to see this exhibition from the North East and am really happy that i did, it was worth it. It was a revelation for me to see so many of his paintings in real life, the scale of them, the brush marks and the texture, loved the landscapes especially because of never having seen his paintings being sinuous and curvy alongside the industrial and architectural straight lines and was amazed at the way he managed to achieve both a sense of dignity, for the most part, in his subject matter alongside the stylised feeling of the figures. Didn't find the paintings depressing, I felt they were genuinely respectful and honouring one reality of working people in their environment in those places during those times on which young people's current reality is built.

Having really only seen Lowry in prints or poster form, the exhibition was a revelation. How brilliant, only sad that I probably shan't have time to get back for a second look before it ends. May have to trek north before long. The pencil drawings were also super and made you realise how much draughtsmanship there was underlying the paintings. Thanks a million for this one!

Wonderful exhibition. Great draftsman (spelling?). Reminded me sometimes of Dutch social scenes, but usually much more troubling - the groups larger, the individuals homogenized - sometimes trudging in a satire - sometimes just in a larger pattern swaying and moving as the artist wills. The locations for the Dutch scenes can no longer be found. Lowry's locations are still disappearing.

I love Lowry's work, but I was disappointed by the exhibition, which consisted of a repetitive mass of crowded townscapes and bleak industrial landscapes. Where were his peaceful country scenes and coastal views and the more intimate images of people?

I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It gave a real feeling of the life of the industrial workers. The stick drawings of the people are most expressive. We need more shows of realistic painters.

The Lowry exhibition presented some splendid paintings: it was excellent to see them gathered together and with some informative comments.I also found the time-line an interesting adjunct. The audio commentary was clear and engaging and offered appropriate options. However, the captions to the paintings were far too small, had poor contrasting colour and were extremely difficult to read - one should not have to crane forward, as so many people were doing - and and complaining about it. Please, in future, ensure inclusion and accessibility for all by increasing font size and improving contrast colour.

My wife & I visited today and as exiled Northerners in the south came to see what the fuss was about! Spent an absorbing 90 mins appreciating the detail & quality of his work at close quarters while being quietly serenaded by Gracie Fields in the background. The whole exhibition of his work was well laid out in addition to other artists who had been sneaked in to supplement any gaps in other rooms. We realised he is not particularly good at country landscapes but will forgive him. Knowing Wigan we smiled at George Orwell's description of the town in 1937 & Lowry's interpretation of it. Wonderful day; need to decide which print to replace other pictures.

I came to see the show primarily because my mother wanted to see it. The exhibition was well laid out and coherent- I learnt a lot about Lowry and his training with Valette was instructive. I felt that the two most revealing elements were the pencil sketches and the nature of his actual social comment which he incorporated in his paintings. I was not very enamoured of his later work which began to feel like a self pastiche but some of his earlier paintings I really liked especially those with the really dark and brooding palette. The more I think about the exhibition the more I realise that we need someone like him now who can depict the rows of empty houses and empty streets in cities like Liverpool and perhaps someone might notice. The other thought I had when viewing the exhibition was briefly to compare Lowry's paintings with Hitler's paintings of streets devoid of humanity. Need I say more.

I absolutely loved the Lowry exhibition. I was surprised at the vitality and energy in the paintings and when looking closely- character differences between what initially appear to be 'matchstick figures'. This was overcoming a dislike of Lowry from growing up with his paintings hung seemingly high up on Primary school walls in the 60's. At the time I felt the colours were just dull and I did not have any understanding of the world he captured. I loved the show's curation but would agree with others the need for notes to be more accessible - perhaps displayed at two heights or larger print. I almost always love the notes in Tate exhibitions; simply informative and unaffected. I went to see the exhibition twice; the first time with the good audio guide and the second just to absorb the paintings I liked. I had visited Oldham year before last and saw their library's exhibition on Shirley Baker - photographing Manchester and environs in the 60's. This helped me understand more, as did a brief clip of Lowry on film ( BBC - 'Artist's in their own words' responding to the question why he painted as he did and his staccato repeated response 'I just have to'. It was a shame the Tate did not screen Lowry on film more than once - I missed the one in September. All in all a fantastic exhibition!

Strangely moving to see these pictures for real. They brought me back with a lurch to my childhood in Accrington and Rawtenstall in the early '50s. No nostolgia! Even the sense of community that existed at that time couldn't compensate for the foul air, the smut on the nappies on the line, the smog in the valley behind our house like thick grey soup. But the humanity of this work is such a strong social record. It cuts through to the heart. Lowry reminds us of the social achievements that developed in the UK to raise the quality of life for ordinary folk. A sad reminder at a time when so much is being stripped away in the name of material success, competition, individualistic ambition. So I was left with a feeling of regret that we don't seem to have learnt his lessons, despite Danny Boyle's gut wrenching echoes of it all at the opening of the Olympic Games last year.

The exhibition brought to light Lowry’s skills as a brilliant draughtsman. Seeing his pencil drawings, which were made with such a variety of marks and strokes, was one of the highlights. There were other surprises that also made me see another dimension to Lowry’s work. These include his huge industrial landscape paintings in the last room. I never knew he had done such large scale work. These really allowed him to experiment with detail. Additionally, in the landscape paintings generally, the paint was often applied more thickly and less delicately than in his other work, making it feel more immediate, passionate involved with the subject.

I visited the exhibition with my 7-year old daughter who had heard about Lowry from her art teacher. We were fascinated by the stories Lowry tells through his paintings and how he shows what ordinary life looked some years ago.

Fantastic exhibition!

An enjoyable if very crowded exhibition. I am not a Lowry fan but I did find some of the paintings drew me in. A lot of it is very depressing so I liked pictures like VE day which were more joyful and colourful.

The landscapes in the last room, especially of Wales were lovely.

I live in the town that is famous for the pitman painters therefore Lowry is a favourite of mine I found the exhibition both informative and enlightening the atmosphere of the gallery reflected the mood of the paintings and subject well. The only thing I was disappointed by was not being able to purchase the Lowry exhibition poster as you were sold out I would be very grateful if it was possible to purchase one of those left on the wall which one of the assistants said would be able to buy at some point towards the end of the exhibition.

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As a social commentary of the working and living conditions in 20th century Northern England it was very interesting. Do we take it that there is a certain optimism of the working class, who are determined to enjoy their pursuits, despite the harsh realities of life, or is it all unrelenting gloom. Some of the blighted almost apocalyptic landscape paintings compare well with the WWI paintings of Paul Nash ion the main collection. However -as a painter I think Lowry is of only monor significance, and in art terms --the Pissaro, the Van Gogh and the Utrillo's in this exhibition are of much greater interest. The great enigma of Lowry is that as a lifelong conservative, he is demonstrating the harsh realities of working class life, whilst said to not hold much sympathy for them.


Always liked Lowry. The Industrial Revolution, the aftermath of it and just the "busy bee" matchstick creatures telling us the grim but also honest truth of part of our heritage and history, depicted by a master of observation. Inspired me to do a drawing of the Wembley towers during their demolition. He could have drawn it with Bolton Wanderers playing.

I did not know Lowry's work, so this Exhibition was a shock to me. Having read Hobsbaum's Industrial Revolution I thought that I had some idea of what it was all about. Lowry proved me wrong. And I am thankful for that. Lowry painted the Industrial Revolution. But his focus was not on the machines and the buildings, his emphasis was on people. All of his landscapes are landscapes of humanity. They existed because somewhere somehow human beings were doing things with and within them. The friend I visited the Exhibition with made the following comment: "Even when these people were watching a football game, it looks as if they were working." This captures Lowry's genius. There is a powerful flow in these pictures, it is the flow of WORK. No matter where people are, no matter what they are doing, ALL is framed and defined by WORK. Thank you for a unforgettable Exhibition.

I have loved Lowry's work since I was at school in the 1960's - although I had only seen a few of the originals before yesterday. Although known for his 'matchstick men', it struck me that he put quite a lot of detail into his people. In the same way as a cartoonist, he conveys a lot about the person by using the minimum of brushstrokes. Something else that surprised me was how bright and colourful the paintings are - the white backgrounds of course, but also a lot of red, yellow and blue even in the stark industrial landscapes. One criticism if I may; even though I arrived early it was far too crowded, with six or more people at every painting - so many in fact that some paintings were obscured by those trying to see the one next to it - perhaps wider spacing would have helped.


really enjoyed exhibition as did the large number of elderly people who may have come together on a coach from Manchester to re-visit their childhood ?.Would have liked to see more film of Lowry painting but it may not exist. A great record of harder times... the Removal (eviction) and the fever van. Derek

Saw 'Lowry' yesterday. Loved the contextualisation of his painting - in fact, my favourite piece was actually Utrillo's 'Porte Saint Martin'. What interested me most was that my favourite Lowry paintings were spread right throughout his career.

Paul H

Sorry but in over 10 years of coming to the Tate this was my worst experience to date - what I could see was great but could not see much, control on numbers entering was totally lost, 11am on a Tuesday in the exhibition made Camden Market on a Saturday look like a cemetery.

There is a system please use it.


I knew nothing about Lowry (apart from the “matchstick men” song) until I read a glowing review of the exhibit in the Grauniad. So my wife and I used this as an excuse, bought airline tickets and advance tickets for the exhibit and off we went.

Overall impression: you let too many people in to what is a “timed-entry” exhibit. It was so crowded, it was almost impossible to see the pictures. This was exacerbated by the number of apparently myopic visitors who needed to look at them from about 6 inches.

Once we figured out that we had to put up our elbows and throw politeness to the winds, we did get to see some of the art on display. OK. So Lowry did show the grimy, smoke-filled, claustrophobic Northern England of his time – and he did it well. You could feel what it must have been like to live there. But – over and over again, the same basic picture. I don’t understand why. Maybe you do need to look at them from 6 inches.

Interesting. But the overcrowding means that we won’t be taking a transatlantic flight to see anything else at the Tate – however tempting. And your Klee exhibit is tempting.

With 2 exceptions, I felt that this was an exhibition which offered nothing new about Lowry, and the huge quantity didn't make up for a lack of real quality. I was very glad to see his little painting of bathers at Lytham, which was new to me, and the enormous painting of the Welsh town, in the glowing blacks and silvers right at the end of the exhibition. The comparison with impressionists was certainly thought provoking, but Lowry came off so extraordinarily poorly compared with them! It was a pleasure to see the Valette. Many of the pictures are already familiar from the Lowry gallery in Salford, as well as from countless reproductions. I have previously come across a seascape of his (at Greenwich, I think ) which surprised and delighted me because it was different from the familiar industrial landscapes, with their repetitive colour palette. I came to the exhibition hoping for similar revelations and was disappointed. However, as the show was packed out on the afternoon I came, it has obviously been a success. It was very well hung, but in view of the crowds, would have benefitted from a much larger space.

Not sure that Anne's comment is quite fair. The remit of the exhibition was 'The Painting of Modern Life'. I don't think is was intended to be a full retrospective of either his life or his work. Indeed, there were none of his portraits (of which there are many), very few of his non-industrial landscapes, none of his seascapes and only one of the many paintings he did in and around Berwick on Tweed where he used to take his holidays. In my opinion the chosen works DID fulfill the brief of depicting modern life, although one might argue that those he painted in his later years were hardly 'modern', rather a remembrance of his youth - but at that age, who can blame him for that!

I love Lowry's work and so was delighted with the exhibition but...

You needed more of his landscapes and seascapes to show the breadth of his vision. It would have been nice to have had his "Man With Red Eyes" self portrait too. And you should have showed the "mysterious" Ann, at least once!

I didn't much like the other paintings that you showed with the Lowrys. They were all wrong. You should have gone for a complementary showing of Atkinson Grimshaw's work along with Lowry's - an Englishman, a Yorkshireman and an utterly brilliant artist who is under-appreciated - almost as much as Lowry used to be!

A couple of things you missed out on ... occasionally, as a joke, he sometimes used to put animal heads on his figures - making them human cats & dogs! You could have bought a Lowry back in 1966 for about £300. That same painting today would cost you between £1.5 and 3.2 MILLION!!! Going To The Match first sold by Andreas Kalman for just £300 - the last time it sold it went for £1.7 million!

When Lowry moved house from Pendlebury to Mottram, he couldn't take all his paintings and canvasses with him, so he left a good few for the next house owner. What did the new owner do? To his lasting shame and utter lifetime of regret ... he burnt them!!!! What an expensive bonfire that has since proven to be!!!!

Apparently, (so legend has it!) he never swore in his lifetime and disliked people who did. he never had a drink, never smoked, never travelled outside Britain, never flew in an aeroplane, or owned or ever drove a motor car, never owned a TV and was over 80 before he succumbed to actually owning a telephone!

What he achieved, with exemplary visionary control over just a 5 colour palette is incredible - he only used five colours - vermilion, Prussian blue, yellow ochre, black and white - all pure Windsor & Newton colours, straight out of the tube! Utterly amazing!!!

Apart from that, it was an excellent exhibition that breathed new life into the vast canon of a highly skilled artist who had a profound and highly unique vision and who was a very lovably likeable man.

He still today holds the record for turning down public honours - including a knighthood!

As Jonathan Horwich said: "Lowry was neither a simple man, nor a simple painter."

Three books to push on L S Lowry are the wonderful books by the late Shelley Rohde: L S Lowry: A LIfe L S Lowry: A Biography

And the brilliantly anecdotal and delightfully entertaining L S Lowry: Conversation Pieces (Andreas Kalman in conversation with Andrew Lambirth)

And also the superb ITV biopic: Perspectives: Looking For Lowry

Atkinson Grimshaw next , pretty please!! Then John Singer Sargent perhaps...?


The pictures in the exhibition were great – strongly reminded me of my days as an apprentice in Sheffield and Barrow and the mill towns where my Father’s relatives lived – Rochdale, Todmorden et al. Lowry not only captures the grey, industrial landscapes but the body language of the people in whatever activity they are engaged in. I had not appreciated this from small scale reproductions.

The exhibition was crowded as expected. So why do you persist in placing the captions and notices level with the bottom of the pictures in small print??? This means every one moves forward to read them and blocks off the view of the pictures. ‘tis not beyond the wit of man to print the information in large type that can be read at 3 paces and to place it above the picture so that people can stand back, read the information and leave a clear view of the pictures. Personally I’d paint a white line on the floor and encourage people to stay behind it, but that’ probably a step too far. There must be a curators’ course that teaches the former layout as I have commented on this at other crowded exhibitionas exhibitions.

The gents toilet was in a disgusting state with half flushed toilets and loo paper towels all over the floors, in the basins and the cubicles. Yuk!

Roll on the reopening of the members’ room – the substitute was AWFUL and the fare on offer so unappetising that we walked to the nearest pub.

A number of comments: !) Apart from a few post-war paintings (the Waiting Room, the Welsh paintings) Lowry showed little development as an artist. 2) The early social commentary paintings (eg The Fever Wagon) show an interest in people that had largely disappeared by the 1950s. 3) Post-war his interests became increasingly topographical, the figures being little more than decoration. 4) Looking at his paintings and his personal history he was clearly on the Autistic spectrum. 5) The two best paintings in the exhibition are both by French artists.

Very interesting show, and full of revelations. Agree with earlier comments that 1) the artist lost the plot a bit after the second war / from the 1950's onward, and 2) the galleries were extremely crowded. I sympathise with the difficulty of managing such a popular show and, anyway, feel very lucky to have seen it. Just had no idea how brilliant his earlier work was. Too bad he only thrived amidst gloom and that he didn't adapt to a more positive world/Britain!