I love LS Lowry’s work. I like any artist’s work that seeks to strip a subject down to its essence. Another artist who achieves this is Alfred Wallis. I first came upon him in Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge (well worth a visit) There are some of his paintings in The Tate, St Ives.
In his excellent book, The Drawings of LS Lowry, Public and Private, Mervyn Levy begins his introduction with a quote from the artist: “Can you tell me sir, why does a painting cost more than a drawing..? For one thing (with a drawing) you haven’t got colour to get you out of a mess.” (Levy. 1976.Pg 13)
Mervyn Levy goes on to say that, “Drawing is the most perilous and the most rewarding of the visual techniques.”
“Drawing was an art which Lowry never trivialised. He drew constantly on scraps of paper, on envelopes, on bits of card, but even his slightest notations are perfectly precise.” (Levy. 1976. Pg 13.)
Lowry invites us to see the beauty within a supposedly ugly industrial environment. Learning from this, I have tried to see the beauty in my own environment, living as I do within spitting distance of Hatfield Business Park – formerly the British Aerospace site. I have tried to capture the essence of the area in which I live. But I have been stymied at each turn by the very “newness” of it. The following picture is the closest I have come to recording how I feel about the estate.
This is an image of some flats. The roof design is in keeping with the nearby hangar – converted into a David Lloyd gym- but once housed historic aeronautics designs such as the Dehavilland Comet.
Even this image would have appeared somewhat antiseptic without the addition of a ubiquitous discarded Asda trolley.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself and my skewed view of an all too familiar new-build estate.
Another artist in whom I have faith to provide necessary inspiration is David Hockney. Purple tarmac? Pink or royal blue tree bark? I love it!
Seeing the essence of what is in front of you rather than a conventional view. Perhaps a little exaggeration of the natural presence of these colours but my! Does it warm ip a scene?!
In his Royal Academy Exhibition “David Hockney: A Bigger Picture” (21 Jan-9th April 2012) David Hockney’ s landscapes inspired a resurgence in my own meagre practice at that time. I felt that I could have painted these works myself. It was so accessible, the work, for me. Some of the works exhibited had been produced on an iPad which at that time was still quite innovative.
I loved the colour juxtapositions as well as the homage to Van Gogh’s starry sky. Not everyone was similarly impressed, of course. A friend who saw the same exhibition found the colour choices “overwhelming”.
I felt that I’d been invited to see an alternative view of my natural environment in a similar way to Lowry’s view of beauty in an otherwise unprepossessing scene. Hockney reveals the quality within living things rather than simply green or brown inanimate objects. We are very lucky here in the UK to have outstanding countryside, flora and fauna. To have it pointed out to us in such a way brings a fresh view to otherwise jaded eyes.
Hockney. D. (2012) ‘The Bigger Picture’. Exhibition. Royal Academy of Arts. (21st Jan – 9April 2012)
Levy. M. (1976) The Drawings of LS Lowry. London: Jupiter Books
By the way, Ted talk worth seeing