It’s ok, it’s not a cult. 12,000 refers to the number of people who visited Djanogly Gallery’s Lowry exhibition last year. Some of us, of course, have skewed this figure by going more than once. But if you’ve not made it yet then make it your first creative act of 2012!
Lowry was the embodiment of the famous Philip Larkin poem, bearing the scars of caring for his mother’s many illnesses and his father’s early death, which left the family debt-ridden. But his life as a debt collector by day and artist by night gave him the perfect opportunity to document the decline of industry in Manchester, Salford especially, and the effect that this had on the people.
The Djanogly exhibition has paintings of Lowry’s famous “matchstick men” style but supplements this with some of his landscapes and pencil sketches. The landscapes include some of the sea and some of the Peak District and, while some might find them bleak and depressing, I thought they were incredibly moving.
Djanogly has made the most of a new room in the exhibition space to display sketches and paintings including some early examples of a more conventional style done while Lowry was at art college. If nothing else, they demonstrate to us that his unique style was a conscious choice and not a result of finding painting feet difficult. (I say this as I’ve never been able to paint feet well – even my toenails are a challenge.)
In short, if I haven’t put you off, you really must catch the exhibition before it closes early next month. As much as I love Manchester, it’s nice not to have to spend 2 hours on a crowded train before enjoying a glimpse of one of my favourite artists.
The Lowry exhibition runs until 5 February 2012 at Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham