Thursday, 14 April 2011

Gallagher and Lowry

(Written for ITV's Perspectives website, originally published here.)

Noel Gallagher talks about his admiration of fellow famous son of Manchester, painter LS Lowry.

Noel Gallagher might not be the first person you’d expect to see in a film about one of the 20th century’s most popular painters. But Looking for Lowry film-maker Margy Kinmonth made the connection when she saw the video for their song The Masterplan.

Inspired by LS Lowry’s paintings of crowds in scenes of the industrial north of the early 20th century, the animated video is a Lowry painting come to life. It even includes a swaggering Liam Gallagher, a character that fits seamlessly into the Lowry landscape.

“Everybody’s on the move [in his paintings] aren’t they,” says Noel. “There’s nobody standing still, everybody’s walking, all slightly hunched over aren’t they? I mean, they’re very brilliant.

“Only works in the rain though, don’t you find? You get great skies up in Manchester, real turbulent. Grey skies and tall buildings. And a little scraggy dog.”

For Noel the connection with and awareness of Lowry goes way back. “It’s like when they say ‘When’s the first time you heard The Beatles?’. It’s like, I don’t know, it’s just always been there for me, always.”

Both famous sons of Manchester with a deep connection with the city, Noel has always admired and related to how Lowry presented their hometown.

“I guess all the people that he ever met were all in there somehow,” he says. “Even though there are hundreds of people in those paintings, they’re all individuals in some way.

“There’s like a solace in them I think, you know. And you see them walking, they seem to be in their own little world. And I guess I was like that when I was younger. I was in my own little world and it was quite quiet, Manchester.

“It would be great to see what he could do with a northern town now because all the factories are dead. All those that haven’t been turned into cheap flats are just huge empty buildings that once housed all these people.

“All the houses around and all the people working there, the whole community was based around the factory. It’d be interesting to see how he would paint all these northern towns that are dead now that the textile industry has gone.”

A topic touched on in the film is the continuing issue of Lowry paintings not being considered worthy of serious art criticism. This has resulted in the Tate not displaying the many Lowry paintings the gallery owns. It’s something Noel is at a loss to understand.

“So [the paintings] aren’t considered Tate worthy? Or is it just because he was a northerner?” asks Noel. “Does anybody know why though? I mean, what’s the official line?

“I find it amazing that an artist that’s got that much of a strong identity is not accepted, because surely that’s what art is all about, you know. It’s reflecting real life and you know what it is when you see it.”