The inaugural Lowry Lecture was a near sell-out, I’m pleased to report, with mere punters like myself rubbing shoulders with the great, the good and the expert for a fairly scatty presentation. But the scattiness could be forgiven as it came from a real passion for the art and lent a certain modest charm to proceedings.
Beginning his ‘Why Lowry’s Art Lives’ with an explanation of what he wouldn’t cover – anything kind of personal – Julian Spalding explained Lowry’s art would do the talking. He came across as aged schoolboy; ‘just look, it’s… you know’. And indeed it was.
The whole event’s been boiled down to Lowry’s a victim of Southern snobbery and it’s time that was put right and there was a rallying cry; time for a Tate retrospective and international tour. Spalding demonstrated that Lowry was at least as good as Spencer and better than Freud, Bacon or Hockney (I love all of them, but Spalding’s arguments are compelling). And it’s true that I was surprised when I first properly looked – just a few years ago – and discovered that there are no matchstick men or matchstick cats and dogs, except to the passionless and those in need of stronger glasses. (Although his empty seascapes tend to say much more than the classic industrial scenes.)