During his lifetime Lowry travelled extensively throughout the United Kingdom, only leaving its shores to holiday in Southern Ireland. Lowry’s Travels charts these movements; from Greater Manchester to the Tyne and Wear; from London to Wales and Gloucestershire. Lowry’s love of travel started as a youngster, on the many holidays he took with his mother. At Easter they would holiday at Lytham St. Anne’s in Lancashire, and then during the summer would journey to the coastal resorts of Wales. These were important punctuations for him in an otherwise lonely and unhappy childhood, ‘I didn’t like being a child; I was not interested; my schooldays too. It was not a nice time at all.’ Travelling to these places served as a blissful escape and remained so throughout the rest of his life. Lowry’s travels were also vital to the progression of his artistic career. Even when living in Greater Manchester, Lowry would journey around the streets during his job as a rent collector. As he wrote his chief recreation was ‘walking about the streets of any poor quarter of any place I may happen to be in.’ The artist would always take his notebook with him, continually drawing the streets and people he saw as in Figures in a Street, Street Scene Pendlebury and Stockport Viaduct. During this period he also travelled away from Manchester, regularly going to London where he created Piccadilly Circus and The Tate Gallery, and other areas such as Gloucestershire where he drew Northleach Church. In 1952 Lowry’s retirement coincided with a decline in the traditional industries in Greater Manchester, as well as his desire to depict them: ‘My interest evaporated spiritually in about 1951…’ From this time onwards he began to travel more extensively, finding new inspiration from other industries and areas around Britain. During the 1960s he often went to the Tyne and Wear, to towns such as Sunderland and South Sheilds. Here the booming shipping industry inspired Lowry in works such as Tanker entering the Tyne, ‘The Tyne is a very alive river with a lot of shipping on it and to watch the ships come in and go out keeps me out of mischief…’. These industries also fed him imagery of working men such asMan at South Shields, who is thought to be one of the fishermen Lowry often observed. Lowry’s Travels depicts the artist’s journeys throughout Britain before and after the war. The works included in this exhibition also chart his progression as an artist through his choice of subject matter and his breadth of medium; from drawing to oil painting; from pastel to print.
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