Salford’s MediaCity is the new home of the BBC and, with its futuristic glass buildings and sleek architectural design, it is a world away from the industrial landscapes depicted by L. S. Lowry.
The towering factory chimneys have now been replaced by huge office buildings, miserable-looking people have been replaced by creative types and the city is lit up rather than bathed in a stagnant smog.
Lowry’s world is preserved at the excellent Lowry Arts Centre at Salford Quays and public interest in his work has not diminished over the years; his depictions of communities and places of work hark back to Britain’s industrial past, which for better or worse, is fast becoming a distant memory.
This autumn, Djanogly Art Gallery at Lakeside Arts Centre will be hosting a new exhibition of Lowry’s work, from the industrial landscapes of the 1920s to some of his lesser known works when he became interested in representations of figure groups and individual figure painting. Known for his representation of concrete subject matters, this exhibition, which opens on 16th November, is also an exploration of the abstract.
The 1930s proved to be a dark time for Lowry: he had lost both of his parents and was experiencing a growing sense of isolation. It led to him producing an extraordinary series of paintings which also reflect the sense of national foreboding about the impending war. In contrast to the busy street scenes of his earlier paintings, the ones from this era contain scenes of empty, industrial wastelands and portraits of blank, ravaged faces.
By the time the war ended, Lowry was no longer required to look after his invalid mother and began travelling around the UK. The result was pictures of the wild landscapes of the Lake District, Yorkshire Moors and Derbyshire, along with a series of sea paintings. Alongside the impressive paintings, this collection also includes a number of pencil drawings, from rudimentary sketches on the back of an old envelope to sophisticated drafts for his paintings.
Entry to Djanogly Art Gallery at Lakeside Arts Centre, University of Nottingham runs until 5th February. Entry is free.