I thought it would be nice to publish an occasional series of blog posts showcasing the best of Salford; a city that is my home and is one of the ten boroughs that make up Greater Manchester. The city has a long history but has generally been over-shadowed by its Manchester neighbour. Even in the past, although Manchester and Salford both grew during the industrial revolution as textile mills and terraces of houses were thrown up, it was Manchester that developed a commercial centre that drew in the shoppers. I am starting with LS Lowry, a Salford hero whose distinctive paintings may have played a part in the prevalence of the view of Salford as a grim city [although Ewan MacColl’s Dirty Old Town probably played a part too]. And yet in the last ten years or so Salford has pulled itself out of the gutter. The arts centre, The Lowry, was the beginning of the transformation of Salford Quays from industrial wasteland to lively and smart destination that is now popular with tourists. The geometric building of The Lowry holds over 400 of LS Lowry’s works and an archive of other material relating to the artist.
LS Lowry found his own distinctive way of painting and drawing. He is best known for his pictures of the industrial scenes of Salford. Using a basic colour palette in his oil paintings that mirrored the colours of the mills of Salford; the red brick buildings and the black smoke; ‘Going to Work’ and ‘Coming from the Mill’ are in his familiar style. Jeanette Winterson brilliantly described Lowry’s Salford paintings as ‘painting the trauma … of industrialisation’.
Visit the Lowry gallery on Salford Quays and you will soon see that there was more to Lowry than mills and the working people of Salford. In his later years Lowry’s subjects moved on to empty landscapes and seascapes, many painted on visits to friends in the north-east and Cumbria. Berwick-upon-Tweed has a walking trail with interpretation boards celebrating Lowry’s paintings of the town during his many holidays there.
If you are in the area get along to the Lowry and take a look at the range of LS Lowry’s work.