James Lawrence Isherwood

Huge lover of Northern Art, so just had to buy this book, The Northern School – A reappraisal by Martin Regan. 

Enjoying reading about artists old and new but almost fell off the chair when I saw this painting by Isherwood: Wigan, Top Place.

The paintings of Isherwood’s that I have seen before are usually full of colour: 

Very expressionist and can range from a busy scene to a solitary figure, but this one was really unusual and an absolute stunner. 

Very reminiscent of Theodore Major, Isherwood takes you in a journey up through the scene to those towering factory chimneys, belching out the smoke that colours the world in darkness. 

This ticks all my boxes and have painting envy right now! 

Read more about the artist: 


Lowry and Major in Southport

It’s not often a plan comes together, but today was almost as perfect as you could make it.

The exhibition is in one room and the paintings are almost, but not quite alternated between Lowry and Major.

It was overwhelming to be in the room as so many Majors as I’ve only seen one in the flesh before. If I’m honest, the Lowrys paled into insignificance next to Theo’s large canvases (I’m calling him Theo now!). I spoke with an attendant who thought the same as me. You have to get up close with Lowry to see the detail, but with Theo’s work, you stand back and he comes at you, full pelt!

I could talk all day about the works, but won’t. The first large canvas is ‘Crucifixion at Wigan’. He mainly painted onto hardboard, so you get the texture underneath the oil.

The caption with this has Theo saying “I wish to disturb and extend consciousness and this one is incredibly powerful. The background is full of the telegraph poles and the people walk about without noticing that above them is a crucifix. They are all oblivious to the suffering that is going on above them -perhaps their own worries are too great to consider the plight of the working man as a species.

Another of the large canvases is Sunset at Wigan which I felt continued the narrative with Crucifixion:


The bright yellow sun is vibrant at its core, but becomes muddied as the light infiltrates the industrial landscape. The people seem to be gathering as if waiting for something. An art critic, Mervyn Levy said, “What is superficially ugly in the industrial scene, he has transformed into a pattern of startling and moving beauty.” I quite agree. I could have stayed all day just looking into these paintings.

I had better mention old LS, in case he feels left out. This simple painting, called ‘Discord’, went well with the exhibition.


It shows the way in which isolation can be seen even in a cosy domestic setting. I think that is Lowry’s strength:that he reveals subtleties within a simplistic setting that can make you think further than the traditional view of his ‘matchstalk’ people.

If it is possible to be more in love with Theo after today, I think I’m there! Oh, and if you think he is all serious and melancholy, check out ‘Death and the Devil at Wigan’. Just love the train crossing the scene, oblivious to the forces of evil fighting it out.


Theodore Major – Wigan, England, The World, The Universe

Man and Sun

On a visit to Clark Art in Hale, Manchester, I saw this painting  which brought about a great love of Northern Art.  The size of a wall – this was a spectacular painting that led me to explore more of Theodore Major’s work.

Encompassing so many emotions in one canvas – the bowed figure saturated in a magical light was incredible to see in person and was the only time I actually thought that remortgaging the house would be a good idea.

The artist, Mark Elliot, introduced me to the man through the two documentaries that are now on You Tube.  Theo was an incredible artist whose works effortlessly reveal the inner workings of man.  He once said, “The purpose of art is to find and express an understanding of man’s spiritual existence on earth.”  Man and Sun certainly reveals that to us.

The BBC’s ‘Your Paintings’ site has 12 paintings that really show off this incredible talent.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/theodore-major

and they are worth taking the time to explore.

To say I am excited about seeing his work, alongside his friend, LS Lowry, in the flesh next week at The Atkinson in Southport is an understatement – Lowry described his portraits as ‘magnificent and unique’ and who am I to quibble with Mr Lowry?



Two brilliant documentaries that give an insight into the workings of this fantastic curmudgeon!



February Highlights

For one week of this month, I shall mainly be alternating North and South to go to:

Oh yes, and there’s Educating Rita at Liverpool Empire “There must be better songs to sing than this… ” and Oppenheimer at the RSC.

Will be glad to get back to work for a rest 😉

So, won’t make The Whitworth this month, but definitely want to make a day of that one.

Popped out to Birkenhead for a photography exhibition: Behind the Mask http://williamsonartgallery.org

And spent the rest of the day with the Victorians at the Walker. Happy days.

Theodore Major

A visit to Clark Art introduced me to the adorably cantankerous  Wigan artist, Theodore Major,  and it was where I fell in love with this:

Man and Sun

Man and Sun

The painting was simply breath taking.  The man himself was quite a character as you can see from this clip of a TV documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6KPkqvNOgs&list=WL&index=53

His work has an incredible air of melancholy about it but not in a way that is depressing.  Somehow, it lifts the spirits. Expect to see more of his work appear on here!

Take a look at some of these: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/theodore-major