Record-breaking exhibition celebrates L.S Lowry’s legacy at Hale art gallery – selling 14 ‘matchstick men’ paintings

By Daisy Yates

A record-breaking number of people visited an L.S Lowry art exhibition celebrating Northern artists at a Hale gallery last month – where 14 of the ‘matchstick men’ painter’s works were sold.

‘Lowry and his Legacy’ was held at Clark Art Gallery receiving 600 people on the opening night and a further 3,000 over the course of the show.

Due to high demand from customers, the show was extended by two weeks beyond its original end date, running from June 13 to the end of July.

Bill Clark, gallery owner, said: “There’s been a real country-wide interest in Northern art in the past two months and I’m glad it’s finally receiving the recognition it deserves.”

The exhibit featured works of the late Lowry, undeniably a pioneer of the Northern art scene, whose distinctive painting style and urban landscapes are instantly recognised.

Bill told MM: “He saw the beauty in the industry landscape, at the time nobody took him seriously but he persevered.”

For him, owning a Lowry painting is like ‘owning a piece of history’, a sentiment echoed by the gallery’s guests who come from any and all backgrounds but with one common passion for Northern art.

During the exhibition 120 paintings were sold by the gallery, 14 of which were Lowry’s work worth more than £1.75million.

Lowry and his Legacy coincided with a major show at the Tate in London ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’ boosting the Clark Art Gallery’s profile.

Bill said: “We had timed it to coincide with the Tate.

“We had more Lowrys for sale so really the timing was perfect.”

Previously the London art scene had been ‘a bit stuffy’ about Lowry’s work but now that the Tate has given him the stamp of approval he and Northern art as a whole are in the spotlight.

Clark Art Gallery also showcased the talent of other Northern artists who cited Lowry as an influence, including rising stars Stephen Campbell and Ben Kelly.

Artists were hand-picked for the exhibition based on their ‘unique, identifiable style’.

Bill explained: “I look for individuality, I look for artists who have their own style and their own unique way of looking at a scene that has already been done before.

“For example, Stephen Campbell distorts the landscape in a really interesting way, he’s a real star.”

He said: “We had a selection of well-known paintings and big new artists documenting Manchester in their own style which was a winning formula.”

The gallery is focussing on five next generation Northern artists who he is putting his energies into promoting, each one chosen because of the way they ‘painted the same scenes in different and unique ways.’

The sheer number of visitors for a small gallery like Clark Art is testament to the increasing interest in Northern artists who are finally being recognised on the world stage.

CELEBRATING THE NORTH: Stephen Campbell’s The Lowry Centre

Before his death, Lowry said: “I saw the industrial scene and I was affected by it.

“I tried to paint it all the time, I tried to paint the industrial scene as best I could but it wasn’t easy.

“Well, a camera could have done the scene straight off.”

Clark Art Gallery is open for viewing from Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 5.30pm.

Picture courtesy of Robert Wade via Flickr, with thanks.

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