Born in Stretford, Laurence Steven Lowry, or Laurie to his mates, was a Manchester lad through and through and one of the most notable artists of the 20th Century. He is famous for his broad, industrial landscapes which are often seen as studies of the human condition in post-war Britain.
The naive, almost childlike painting style is signature to Lowry. He often utilises bright primary colours contrasted against grey tones –it wouldn’t be Manchester without them- and his legendary ‘matchstick men’ shown commuting to and from work, dwarfed by the chimneys of the industrial metropolis.
His work often comments on the Mancunian spirit and the hard work ethic of its people. Lowry had a sensitivity towards the human condition and his paintings can be seen as a study of this- focusing on the concept of the whole workforce rather than the individual- which was something the art-world had never seen before.
This sympathy of the working class did not develop by accident. Laurie was born in 1887 in Stretford and later lived in Rusholme and Salford- some of the most impoverished suburbs of Manchester. Lowry’s landscape growing up was not of trees and rolling hills but instead textile mills, chimneys and a community of workers.
He was working class at his very core, and even though he broke out of it to become an artist, he kept his routes at the very centre of his work. Subsequently, I hear he is pretty down to earth. Don’t believe me? You can ask him for yourself if you head over for a pint at Sam’s Chop House- he is always sat at the bar.
Founded back in 1872, Sam’s Chop House is one of the city’s oldest traditional pubs and was a favoured drinking hole for our Laurie. It is just yards away from his former studio on Pall Mall, and he was often seen in there enjoying some lunch or half a bitter.
Peter Hodgkinson crafted the 700lb life-size statue of LS Lowry which was hand-moulded in clay and later cast in solid bronze. The statue was commissioned by the owner of The Chop House after discovering a photograph of Lowry asleep on some chairs at the venue. It was unveiled in 2011.
It is such a wonderful tribute to a man who documented a time which shaped the city we see today. Even though Lowry passed away in 1976 at the ripe old age of 88, his memory lives on in a way that is beyond the work he left behind.
So, if you ever find yourself at Sam’s make sure you raise a glass or two to good old Mr Lowry- one of the greatest and most influential artists to hail from gloomy old Manchester.