This morning on social media I saw an advertisement for a soon to be released movie titled Mrs Lowry & Son. Dubbed an untold story of one of the UK’s most lauded artists LS Lowry, the movie’s remit to divulge the Manchester-born painter’s struggle for acceptance by the early/mid 1900’s art establishment.
An odyssey seeking his deserved recognition which saw his mother as one of his sternest detractors. As a fellow northern man with a creative want, whose art has never received any matriarchal approval, seeing the movie’s trailer resonated somewhat with me.
Don’t get me wrong, my siblings and I received excellent parenting from our father and mother during childhood. The family home in Gateshead during our fledgling years one of security, love, laughter, robust mentoring and warmth…… That being said the warmth wasn’t ordinarily the result of steadfast parenting; moreover a consequence of old uncle Bert’s habitual penchant for inadvertently starting chip-pan fires.
I’d like to point out at this juncture I’m in no way attempting to make comparisons between the importance of Lowry and my creative outputs. Such a suggestion would be sheer vain-glorious nonsense on my part.
The parallels I’m alluding to being our northern Englishness, middle-aged aspirations of recognition for the work we believe(d) in, along with being in receipt of maternal disapproval for aspirations of ploughing a creative furrow.
During my formative years, like many young people with a desire to pursue fulfilling career path playing to their strengths, ideas of becoming a writer received parental short shrift. My ‘silly’ late teen notions of following the creative route destroyed by metaphorical lifestyle choice missiles named ‘What would the neighbours think?‘ and ‘You need to get a proper job!’.
My mum and dad’s judgement that I’d not have made enough money to provide for my family by pursuing a literary path may well’ve been true. One certainty, though, is I couldn’t have got less fulfilment than I did on an IT path where I subsequently sold my soul and dignity.
Anyhow, as they say ‘What’s done is done’, ‘There’s no point crying about spilt milk’ and lots of other cliches that don’t cheer me up in any way whatsoever!!
During a period of my life when I was utterly disenchanted through undertaking a role I was forced to pursue to feed, clothe and shelter four people, someone once tried to cheer me up advising “It’s better to have worked in IT than to have not!”…… With it being my bank manager, though, I suspect he had ulterior motives for his well-meaning but deeply flawed advice!
Anyhow, to close the monologue here’s an excerpt from a narrative I penned about Laurence Stephen Lowry in 2016:-
The monochrome scene, created by thick nimbostratus clouds and associated precipitation, made this morning’s journey to St James’ Hospital particularly grim.
Driving my wife Karen to her four weekly appointment for treatment, the only apparent colour on display seemed to emanate from the red, amber and green from seemingly endless sets of traffic lights on York Road. The grimness of the view exacerbated by the morose body language of citizens wrapped in dark coats; their collars and hoods turned up against the elements.
As I slowly navigated through LS9, the Leeds post code area covering East End Park, Harehills and Burmantofts, it felt like I’d been transported into a LS Lowry painting.
Admittedly, the people looked decidedly portlier and there were less flat caps on view than those depicted in the acclaimed art of the late Mancunian. However, the mood of disenchanted passers-by in a sunless northern working class backdrop of hopelessness, exhibited similarities.
Despite Lowry’s paintings being predominantly set in Lancastrian mill towns, would this dank scene in an area of a Yorkshire city, also built on textile manufacturing, be how the artist would have depicted a contemporary scene of northern working class life? ……… LS Lowry in a LS postcode, if you like.
I first became aware of LS Lowry as a young lad in the 1970’s. This wasn’t a consequence of studying his art, moreover through a song by a Manchester duo called Brian and Michael.
In their song Matchstick Men and Matchstalk Cats & Dogs they paid homage to the artistic skill of their fellow Mancunian. It was a catchy song that made number one in the British charts in 1978, introducing me to the name and art of LS Lowry.
I’m no art critic, although I did receive critical acclaim for a piece I wrote on Chopin’s iconic painting of the Mona Lisa…….. Well my mum said it was alright anyway!…… And yes I know Chopin was a composer!! 😉
Despite my knowledge void on art, it doesn’t stop me having an opinion, which is ……….. errrr what was I talking about again?! ….. Oh yes, that the pictures I’ve seen created by Lowry do bring to life the grim, colourless life of industrial northern England in the first part of 20th century.
Lowry’s objective to transport the viewer into the scene of that particular time of industrial northern England history. From my perspective he does; authenticity of scene a prominent quality of the Mancunian’s art.
To borrow from musical duo Brian and Michael who wrote a 1978 released song about Lowry:-
“He painted Salford smoky tops
on cardbord boxes from the shops
and parts of Ancoats where i used to play.
I’m sure he once walked down our street
cause’ he painted kids who had nowt on their feet
the clothes he wore had all seen better days
now they said his works of art were dull
no room allround the walls were full
but Lowry didn’t care much anyway
they said he just paint’s cat’s & dogs
and matchstalk men in boots and clogs
and lowry said that’s just they stay
and he painted matchstalk men and matchstalk cat’s & dog’s
he painted kids on the corner of the streets
that were sparking clogs
now he takes his brush and he waits
outside them factory gates
to paint his matchstalk men and matchstalk cat’s & dog’s