Just love it although sadly he passed away in 2006, but I’ve had one of his paintings and some etchings for years dating back to 1977 when I met him in London. He had an exhibition of his work at my father’s Art Gallery, Brampton’s in Judd Street.
It was after popping up to see Lowry’s paintings at the Tate and all his industrial landscapes that reminded me once again on the quality of Tom’s work featuring the miners in Durham for most of his life. (pic above and on the left)
Lowry, like Tom, had direct experience of the bleak northern industrial landscape and of the poverty of it’s people, yet Lowry’s paintings appear to be singularly lacking in any kind of emotion. Shouldn’t art respond to one’s emotions as well as be admired for originality and technical expertise?
While Lowry was a rent collector, when the family struck harder times, Tom was for most of his life a working miner. His observations reflected his very real experiences in the mine, his paintings by comparison, are full of passion and compassion for his fellow man.
Tom enrolled for night classes at Darlington School of Art, whilst still working in the mines. When he needed a studio closer to home he bought a large shed which he lit by Tilley lamp and used for the next decade. Can you imagine doing that, just brilliant! Fortunately he became a successful artist and was once offered an apprenticeship, but he told me that he couldn’t paint without continuing to work in the mine, and that comment has stayed with me over the years.
I can identify with that, I’m not a genius painter or writer, but I know that I wrote and painted more when I was working, studying and juggling with the care of my two sons. I stupidly thought that when I retired I’d paint and write much more, but frankly I still need camaraderie and meaningful activity doesn’t everyone? At least I get some of this from a bit of volunteering, my allotment, writing my blog, getting out and about etc. Keeping on the move helps too to generate ideas and I find I write best on trains, sketch in parks or when I am surrounded by equally passionate people.
But more about Tom. He didn’t leave mining until 1983 and I recently learned from Google that he was the artist in residence at Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station in 1984. He also had work commissioned by organisations such as Barclays Bank and St. Mary’s Church, Bishop Auckland, for the stained glass windows.
Lowry on the other hand was so successful in his early career that he gained a reputation in Paris where his work was exhibited at a salon for seven years running, although he kept his day job a secret.
Despite the Tate informing us that Lowry was influenced by great masters including Van Gogh I couldn’t see the connection. One of Lowry’s paintings called ‘The Fever Bus’ was a street scene with a bus that collected sick children who seldom returned home. It appears so representational and lacking in any compassion.
Strangely in such a big exhibition too there are none of his later drawings of women which are owned by the woman he befriended as a young girl and to whom he left his fortune. Recent speculation from different sources says that these works are part of a ‘wall of emotional control’ protection against his mother’s criticism and rejection, also that he was autistic.
Who am I to compare such a great master as Lowry with Tom McGuinness? Just an observer and Tom get’s my vote every time, an intelligent, family man as well as a fantastic artist. There is a wonderful bio about him on following link, read it, be inspired!