Lowry ArtLaurence Stephen Lowry (1 November 1887 – 23 February 1976) was an exceptional English artist. Many of his drawings and paintings depict Pendlebury, Lancashire, where he lived and painted for over 40 years. He also painted and drew Salford and the surrounding areas.

Lowry is famous for painting scenes of life in the industrial areas of North West England in the early to mid-20th century. He had a very distinctive style of painting and is best known for his urban landscape picture featuring "matchstick men" style human figures.

Lowry was born on 1 November 1887 in Stretford which was then in Lancashire. It was a difficult birth, and his mother Elizabeth, who prayed for a girl, was uncomfortable even looking at him in the beginning. Lowry's family was poor and troubled. His father worked as a clerk and was a withdrawn and introverted man. His mother was a teacher but after his birth her health was too poor for her to continue teaching.

During most of Lowry's early years they in the quiet & leafy Manchester suburb of Victoria Park, Rusholme, but in 1909, due to financial pressures, the family moved to 117 Station Road in the industrial town of Pendlebury. Here the landscape was so different, it was industrial and somewhat bleak, comprising of textile mills and factory chimneys rather than trees.

Lowry once said about this place "At first I detested it, and then, after years I got pretty interested in it, then obsessed by it. One day I missed a train from Pendlebury, a place I had ignored for seven years - And as I left the station I saw the Acme Spinning Company's mill. The huge black framework of rows of yellow-lit windows standing up against the sad, damp charged afternoon sky. The mill was turning out. I watched this scene - Which I'd looked at many times without seeing - With rapture!" This place clearly gave Lowry the inspiration for many of his works of art.

After leaving school, Lowry began a career working for the Pall Mall Company as a rent collector. In the evenings he took private art lessons in antique and freehand drawing. In 1905, he secured a place at the Manchester School of Art. In 1915 he moved on to the Royal Technical Institute, Salford, where his studies continued until 1925. There he developed an interest in industrial landscapes and began to establish his own style.

His father died in 1932, leaving debts. His mother, subject to neurosis and depression, became bedridden and dependent on him for care. Whilst his mother was asleep Lowry just painted and took care of household duties - It was a hard time for him. But it was around this time people started to appreciate his art and he became recognised. He did however express regret that he received little recognition as an artist until the year his mother died and that she was not able to enjoy the benefits of his success. After the outbreak of world war 2 Lowry served as a volunteer fire watcher and also became an official war artist. In 1953 he was appointed official artist at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

After his mother's death in October 1939, Lowry became depressed and over time, neglected the upkeep of his rented house to the point that the landlord repossessed it in 1948. However, he was not short of money and bought "The Elms" in Mottram in Longdendale. He considered the house ugly and uncomfortable, but despite that he stayed there until his death almost 30 years later.

The Lowry Museum

Set in a magnificent waterside location at the heart of the redeveloped Salford Quays in Greater Manchester, The Lowry is an architectural flagship with a unique and dynamic identity. Rising from the regenerated docklands, it is a welcoming building, designed to reflect the surrounding landscapes and flourishing waterways, in its glass and metallic surfaces. To find out more visit their website:


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Editor's Note: 'HARD TIMES' dictates that this article is not finished! It probably never will be. But to help me to get somewhere near to the conclusion your help would be much appreciated!

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