As part of the bloggerati art challenge I given Lowry but not the works that every one is familiar with but the lesser know ones.
I don’t remember when I first became aware of L S Lowry and his work, but I do know I was drawn to them because of the mills and factories in the paintings.
I live in Huddersfield and have done all my life, one of things that Huddersfield was known for was its woollen fabrics and of course that meant mills so I could relate to the paintings. Lowry did actually paint at least one view of Huddersfield, but I can’t relate it to a specific location in Huddersfield.
He was best known for these mill scenes and industrial landscapes, often viewed by people as dismal but in “Coming from the Mill” (link below) I think there is maybe a sense of relief that the working day is over and a chance to chat to friends.
This is a scenario that was familiar to me. Both my parents worked in mills my Mum was a hank to cone winder, this involved putting a hank of wool onto a swift (a swift is a tool used to hold a hank of yarn while it is being wound off) on a winding frame which wound it on to a cardboard or plastic cone. My dad was a dye house operative.
I left school at 15 with one “O” level and 4 CSE’s but my mum was determined I was not going into the mill because I had passed my 11 plus and went to an all-girls grammar school. I did end up in the mill but as a trainee laboratory technician at one of the biggest mills in Europe. The raw fleece came in at one end and finished cloth went out at the other end of the process.
That only lasted 6 months, I was sacked for skipping evening classes. I then got a job in a dress shop, that lasted 2 weeks sacked for arranging the dummies in the shop window in silly poses. So, I went into the mill as a winder, I loved it, it was hard work and dirty but well paid and we also had a lot of fun. The foreman was on the take, if you gave him 50p a week he put extra work through for you. We used to clock each other in and out. One day one the lads clocked his mate in, and he didn’t turn up, so he just clocked him out at the end of the day. We used to smoke while we worked no health and safety then. The Manager was the owner’s son-in-law, and he didn’t have a clue what was going on. So, while William Blake saw them as “Dark Satanic Mills” by the time I worked in them things had changed by the time I worked in them
Although Lowry was famous for his industrial scenes, he also painted landscapes and seascapes. It was much later in life that I learned this when I saw some prints in an art shop in Uppermill, (a village in Greater Manchester at one time it was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire) and we bought the one shown below and had it framed.
My daughter thinks it is dull and miserable, I think it is atmospheric, but it was this one that inspired my quilt. I like the brightness of it, and it seems to emphasise the boats rather than the people. It suggests to me that maybe Lowry would have liked to sail away as there are several of his works on this theme.
I like to think that in “Coming from the mill” the people were talking about what they would do later, or what they were going to do at the weekend or maybe just gossip and “tittle tattle” just like we did on our way home and that the landscapes and seascapes show the brighter side of the mill and factory workers lives.
This is the quilt I made, the fabrics are all Moda Grunge, I like the way the colouring on the cream fabric looks like mist and gives it a sense of depth. I haven’t bound it as I think I might make a cushion with it.