My find for this month from the Guardian archive is yet another example of the way in which the newspaper intertwines with the history of its location. It comes in the form of a series of drawings by L.S. Lowry, the Manchester born artist whose figure drawings set against the industrial landscape of Salford and Manchester would become both iconic and instantly recognisable.
The drawings were published in the paper in 1929-1930, a time at which Lowry’s work was gaining recognition and growing in popularity, and depict the demolition of buildings in High Street, Manchester, a ‘back street’ in Salford, the Charleston Wakes Ground and St George’s church in Salford, and a Lancashire Street Market.
Two further drawings, which show the Pollard Street and the Every Street Playground in Ancoats, are reproduced to publicise and exhibition of Lowry’s work at the Manchester University Settlement in March 1930.
Lowry is described, underneath the drawings, as ‘the Manchester artist’, and it was perhaps his association with the area which would in part lead to the continued notices, reviews and support of his work from the Manchester Guardian.
Additional research elicited yet more connections. Lowry was a pupil at the Salford School of Art between 1915 and 1925, where he studied under Bernard D. Taylor, an art teacher, and also an art critic for the Manchester Guardian. Taylor would write a positive review of the first exhibition to which Lowry contributed a selection of paintings in 1921, singling out Lowry for praise. One of the interesting areas in which he would influence Lowry’s work would be to suggest that the figures depicted were too indistinct against a dark background, which led to Lowry’s first use of the white, light backgrounds which would accompany so many of his pictures.
The connection between these two Manchester giants is perhaps best illustrated, however, by a drawing by Lowry of the Manchester Guardian office in Cross Street, illustrating the beginning of work on the extension of the premises to include the newly acquired former offices of the Manchester Examiner in 1931. A letter of thanks for the drawing from E.T. Scott, son of C.P. Scott and current editor of the paper, reads:
‘It is most kind of you and the drawing will always be an agreeable reminder of the change over. Perhaps I may add that I do not as yet recognise the members of staff depicted in the foreground.’
Sadly, the drawing is not included in the Guardian archive, but a reproduction was printed in Guardian, Biography of a Newspaper by David Ayerst.
Despite the disparity in their political perspectives, it would seem that Lowry and the Manchester Guardian were united by a shared appreciation of the arts, and a mutual investment in Manchester, and its surrounding area.
What a lovely article Jess. Indeed an iconic figure of the Salford and Manchester area. His paintings of stick figures feature in all works of life; from tea towels and tea cups, to songs written about him which appeared on ‘Top of the Pops’ how many of us can remember that 1970’s show! to ballets performed by the Northern Ballet company some years ago. Which beautifully depicted Lowry’s work in such poetic fashion, contemporary to the time they were painted. A befitting homage to a great man, often sneared on by some, because of the ‘working class’ subject of his paintings. What a wonderful discovery!