“this art is a terrible business”


L.S Lowry once declared that “this art is a terrible business”, but I disagree.

My parents have always been hopeless at putting up art. We have pieces that are framed and ready to go, but never quite make it further than the floor. For years Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ has been propped up against a wall, and Matisse’s ‘Dance’ has done no better. The only piece of art that has managed to make the cut, and now hangs proudly in our house, is L. S. Lowry’s ‘Man Lying on a Wall’. As such, it has a special place in my heart.

Us Mancunians are proud of many things; from Canal Street to the Curry Mile, the Stone Roses to Oasis, and Emmeline Pankhurst to L. S. Lowry. We are so proud of him that we have dedicated a whole gallery to him named ‘the Lowry’ and several of his works are on display at the Manchester Art Gallery. And, in addition to having the honour of hanging in our kitchen, ‘Man Lying on a Wall’ is also the star of the show in his very own solo collection in Salford Quays.

His hometown of Stretford had an enduring impact on Lowry and he repeatedly used Manchester and the North West as the subject of his work; complete with imposing industrial landscapes and his distinctive stylized matchstick men. But there is more to his art than just factories and faceless figures – Lowry’s matchstick men are fighting back. ‘Man Lying on a Wall’ is all about celebrating the tiny acts of human resistance against the dreary factory chimneys that tower over the sleeping man. The splash of blue and red on his black coat cuts through the grey and sepia severity of the canvas and hints at a hidden vibrancy. As does L. S. Lowry’s cheeky inclusion of his own initials on the man’s briefcase. The contented man on the wall has always captivated me, and now that it hangs on the wall at home, I love it even more.

To me, there will always be something endearing about the man lying on the wall.

Photo credits: Man Lying On the Wall


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