ALAN LOWNDES (1921 - 1978) - The Sheffield Connection

Born 23 February 1921, in Stockport; died 22 September 1978.Gloucestershire

Painter. Scenes with figures, genre scenes, landscapes, seascapes.

The following biographical details are taken from Marais Fine Arts

"Alan Lowndes was born in 1921 in Neaton Norris, a suburb of Stockport. He left school at 14, apprenticed to a decorator. After active service in the Second World War, Lowndes attended evening classes, studying art at Stockport College, committing to a full time course in the late 1940s, but was largely self-taught. 

He began to achieve success in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the period when northern writers such as Stan Barstow, John Braine and Alan Sillitoe were also coming to the fore. He had one man exhibitions in Manchester, London and New York and is represented in many public collections. Like Lowry, Lowndes was a painter of the working classes, represented by the same dealer. They had similarly simplistic styles of painting and like Lowry, Lowndes’s work presents a nostalgic vision of life in the urban north. Many of Lowndes’s contemporaries did not appreciate his art. His father famously offered to pay his bus fare to the wealthy Alderley Edge in order that he might paint the scenic spot referred to as Artists’ Lane rather than ordinary people going about their everyday lives. Willis Hall wrote: ‘Lowndes; artistically at least, has become more of a sociologist than a socialist. He describes, vividly and with great insight; he observes the change, somewhat passively; but he does not prescribe the cure’. Although often compared to L. S. Lowry, he is considered by Terry Frost to be a greater painter. 

From the early 1950s Lowndes began to work in St Ives, Cornwall, settling in the area for just over a decade. He became a close friend of many of the St. Ives School artists. In 1964 the Lowndes family moved from St Ives to the small village of Halestown after he had enjoyed successful exhibitions. He later settled in Dursley, Gloucestershire, but periodically returned to Stockport to work.

Alan Lowndes died in Gloucestershire in 1978. He is today regarded as one of the most important of the painters within the twentieth century Northern School. Lowndes has a wide body of collectors and his paintings are now much sought after."

There is more biographical details on the excellent Blog of Peter James Field

"..no sign of violence in the gentle domestic work of Alan Lowndes – often unfairly dismissed as a ‘naïve artist’. Lowndes was an untrained painter whose career had two distinct phases – an early period from the late 40s through to the 60s observing the comings and goings in his native Stockport (a period of relative success, when he was collected by the Tate Gallery and other major public collections). Then a complete change, when he joined the artistic community at St. Ives in Cornwall.

His work seems at its best to mix painterly expressionism, more akin to European painters like Munch, with a quaint and eccentric viewpoint that is wholly English. Melancholy tolls like a bell through the pictures.

I discovered Lowndes’ work by chance as a young teenager – during a trip to see my great aunt in Bedford we wandered into the local art gallery and got chatting with an extraordinarily posh lady - who turned out to be the curator, Lady Halina Graham. Lady Graham was intrigued by the fervency of my devotion to art – and sent me away with two shopping bags full of old art catalogues she happened to have lying round in her office.

One of these was a 1975 Crane Kalman gallery catalogue for a small Lowndes retrospective. He didn’t immediately hit me as the most sophisticated (or good) painter I’d ever come across, but as time passed that catalogue became one of my favourite possessions (and still is). I found the pictures incredibly human and evocative, transporting me to the street corners of a very recent past, forever lost.

In the early days of my interest in Lowndes (pre-internet) there was absolutely no other information to be found about him, which made it all the more fascinating. What became of him, was he still alive? I travelled to London aged 16 (sad teen that I was) to seek out some answers.

I found that the Crane Kalman gallery still existed and managed to grab a quick chat with Andras Kalman, the ageing owner. He told me that Lowndes had died in 1978. Affected by a stammer that seriously affected his communication, he had succumbed to alcoholism. I wasn’t surprised. I had always sensed the sadness and awkward isolation of a man who’d devoted his life to those strange, clunky observations."

But neither article mentions a Sheffield connection with an artist that is clearly getting national and international recognition.

The Sheffield Weekly Gazette dated Thursday 23rd November 2006 carried this report about the proposed sale of one of Alan's paintings

 

A week later the same newspaper reported that the painting fetched nearly three times the estimate.

Sources 

Marais Fine Arts

Peter James Field

The Sheffield Weekly Gazette dated Thursday 23rd November 2006

The Sheffield Weekly Gazette dated Thursday 30th November 2006

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This page was last updated on 08/12/16 17:17