One rainy afternoon wandering around the local museum I came across a wall of L.S Lowry paintings and sketches. Totally surprised, I kept going back over the course of a few weeks, drawn into Lowrys’ world. I admit I had little knowledge of the wide ranging subject matter of his works and even less about him as a man and artist but the more I looked beyond the stereotype of matchstick men, I began to see more and found that there was strangely, a connection to his world.
In 2009 SOUNDICIAN released L.S, a cd based on the paintings of British artist L.S Lowry, where each track was a sonic interpretation of some favourite paintings and sketches. The cover artwork is based on Lowrys’ palette which was very restricted as he used only five colours – flake white, ivory black, vermilion (red), Prussian blue and yellow ochre.
I thought that I would also try to create short films to accompany the tracks on L.S, which was a labour of love and a long term project, finally completed in 2014.
Here is the link to the L.S Film page
‘Based on the work of painter L.S. Lowry (known for his industrial landscapes of British Manchester), the English duo says about the music to “expect something different with a Soundician voice”. This album indeed sounds different from their previous work, as it has a strong spherical approach with lots of underpinning melancholic undercurrents and soft shimmering soundscapes.’
The progress of O.C. & Kit Johnson as Soundician is better w/ every release. New CD: L.S is no exception. It’s super!
THE OLD CHAPEL, NEWCASTLE – upon -TYNE (1965)
The first track on L.S is Chimes, which I felt had to be the opening track.
A major architectural feature found in many of Lowrys’ pictures are Churches, Chapels and Steeples. Here I tried to show how important they were to Lowrys’ paintings and also how varied. There are many churches and steeples in Lowry paintings and when I look at them I often hear church bells but also there is a lot of movement and hustle and bustle as the people carry on with their lives.
SHIP ENTERING HARBOUR (1960)
As with the track Monolith, Lowry was a solitary man and often depicted himself as Monoliths rising from the sea in isolation from anything around him or as dark ships on the horizon. Often Lowry painted and sketched ships as dark, looming outlines and he stated himself that often these images were the representation of himself and his loneliness or as an image of his impending death.
This is one of the most enigmatic and haunting portraits Lowry painted. For me she stares out of the canvas with such poise but also with an underlying sadness.
Lowry loved the sea and spent many holidays here on the North East coast. He painted many seascapes and this one is so calm and reflective, like the sea is whispering.
Several years ago I visited an exhibition of Lowrys’ work which concentrated on his connections with the North East of England. Lowry had a habit of creating sketches on things such as napkins, scraps of paper, matchboxes, to name a few – and one was called ‘Demolition’. This small drawing of children playing on a demolition site in 1960’s Sunderland, struck a chord. It was a poignant sketch. One of sadness, as a man looks on at all the rubble in the name of progress. The children are oblivious to the fact their world is changing but the adults are well aware that things have gone forever, with the wrecking ball. This became the subject of the track ‘Skipping Ropes’
THE SEA (1963)
Hypnotic Grey is a track based on one of the many sea pictures Lowry created – The Sea 1963 – which is in the Lowry collection in Salford.
This video took the longest time to create. When I first saw the picture, Children Playing (1952), the four girls skipping along holding hands looked, to me, like a daisy chain. Hence the title of the track. I just created a vey long daisy chain of girls for the video.
Simply it is both a sketch of fun and magic but also one of poignancy and sadness. When I first saw the sketch I instantly thought of my favourite poem by Stevie Smith ‘Not waving but drowning…’ Both sketch and poem, seemed to me, meant to be together.
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
The Sea at Sunderland (1965)
Man drowning with fish (Sunderland Museum collection )
The Football Match is to be found at the National Football Museum, Manchester, England.
Lowry had a knack of painting large crowds that on the surface all look quite uniform, the annoying tag of matchstick men, but if you look closely there is humour, pathos and a keen eye for reality. And no, the people are all different in some way from each other.
STUDY FOR THE STONE CIRCLE, CORNWALL.(1956)
There is something ethereal about this sketch and quite modern in its abstract depiction of standing stones. The video Stones is based on this unusual sketch and resulting painting of a Stone Circle in Cornwall in 1956 / 1959, which is in the Lowry collection in Salford.
Lowry travelled all over England and produced a wide range of beautiful and evocative landscapes in his own style, as can be seen in the final painting. This represents Lowrys’ underlying solitude, some would say loneliness, which I love in his art. He is renowned for the throngs of people in his paintings but not far from the surface there is a strong element of a man as an island, as he stated himself:
“Had I not been lonely, none of my work would have happened.”
Many of Lowrys’ paintings and sketches include the eponymous little black dog(s) and so I couldn’t leave them out musically.
SELF PORTRAIT (1966)
Pennies is the final track on the album and is about the unusual penny ride in Redcar, in the North East of England. The tiny sketch the track is based on, shows a lot of happy children riding the horse drawn boat on wheels, that ran along the seafront for a penny – a – ride. There is an old photograph which can be found at Remember When – http://www.Gazettelive.co.uk