Visiting museums we make acquaintances. We are blessed with many wonderful collections of art in the UK, none more so than in the north west of England, where I travelled to visit family over Christmas last year.
On the way up I called in to Manchester Art Gallery. There I met Adophe Valette, the French impressionist who made the wet Manchester smog his home and his inspiration. Ordinary folk trudge across his canals and squares, silhouetted against the soft grey skies of the city. In the same room, his pupil, L.S. Lowry, showed me his memories and acquaintances. His figures were much more raw and sketchy – compelling. The gallery was quiet and warm. I enjoyed reflecting on these two artists’ views of life, industry and their place of living. Art speaks.
‘Albert Square’ by Adolphe Valette
On the way back down I called into the Harris Museum in Preston. High up above the main staircase hangs a large canvas by Carel Weight, an artist I had met before. Just like Lowry and Stanley Spencer, his eccentricity – his quirky take on life- is celebrated. His large crucifixion scene in Preston features a chaotic crowd of people, a black mass, and a view from behind the cross.
On the landing just inside from the staircase, I saw a piece by Atkinson Grimshaw. I had seen one of his nightscape paintings before – blue skies and silhouettes of trees and buildings – but here I was interested to read how he had trained himself, working to develop his own voice, and eventually gaining recognition for his achievements.
Art collections keep us in touch with our forebears, sharing their experience and their take on the world around us.