Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A day 'oop north

A bit of a detour today and a trip 'oop north' with Penny's Art Group. I'm a bit of a ligger when it comes to a day out - I'll join anyone's party. Just show me a coach and I'm on board. (I'm also quite useful when it comes to Making Up Numbers.)

Our destination was Salford Quays and The Lowry; the L S Lowry exhibits in particular. The small group, of which I am not a member, meets on a Wednesday morning to do things artistic. (Not being a member I'm a bit vague about what things in particular - but suspect, knowing our local community, the motives are social, tea drinking, art and Art. In that order.) Penny's suggestion of a trip to see Lowry's work was taken up with much enthusiasm and thus we found ourselves trundling northwards - in my case towards a very familiar landscape and in the case of my fellow passengers into the unknown.

Salford Quays look very slick now - the days when dead dogs and supermarket trolleys floated in the murky docks are long gone. Now we have culture, heritage and commerce and some exciting architecture in a waterfront setting. We'll gloss over the mundane speculative housing that has unfortunately gone up in its wake....

First stop the L S Lowry exhibitions - and for me a first. Because for nearly 30 years I've managed to avoid coming into close contact with any of his works. Well, I'm breaking family ranks here in saying that I liked them. They had a lot to say - about the teeming life in his northern landscape and about the artist himself. And what we learn about both is not pretty. He seemed a lonely and troubled voyeur painting the desolate hills, the filthy cityscape and its ant-like workers. He became increasingly fascinated by down and outs, cripples and solitary misfits. He said, “I feel more strongly about these people than I ever did about the industrial scene. They are real people, sad people. I'm attracted to sadness and there are some very sad things. I feel like them". I blame his mother.....

Plenty of food for thought there.

We crossed a bridge and took a quick look at the Imperial War Museum North designed by American architect Daniel Libeskind.

Libeskind, to quote Wikipedia, 'rocketed to fame in 2003 after receiving a commission to create the master plan for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center. His architecture uses a language of skewed angles, intersecting geometries, shards, voids and punctured lines to communicate feelings of loss, absence and memory whilst addressing the immediate situation. Most of his works are museums and galleries.'

A great building. Appropriate. Devoid of colour; grey, black, steel and white against a slatey sky. Not a blade of grass. Bleak but powerful. Not a wasted line.

And then there's our bus, it's time to head for home. My friends from the shires have been suitably impressed by The Lowry. The ladies' toilets have been particularly popular as have the sweeping curves and the vivid colours of wall and carpet. Mr Lowry too has made his mark - although the group are wondering what Penny has in mind as a project to follow up this visit.

We head south to Shropshire through busy late afternoon traffic. The light has almost gone by the time we see the low bulk of Long Mountain to the east. A few lights are twinkling out there in the gloaming but otherwise all is darkness.

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