Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Tate Lowry exhibition Clem Davies, and the Finchley election 1950

The Street Scene -soon to be back on display at The Atkinson Southport
What has Clem Davies  got to do with the new exhibition at The Tate and how is it related to the 1950 election in Finchley?
Well I was waiting for a meeting and with a couple of hours to kill I went to see if I could get into the much publicised new retrospective of Lowry's work opening at The Tate this Tuesday. The placed was packed, but I got a ticket. Lots has been written about Lowry and I have nothing new or original to add -other than to urge you to go and see The Lowry owned by The Atkinson when it re-open in a few weeks.
And so to the politics of the exhibition. Lowry was an old Lancashire Tory through and through. He was not impressed when Harold Wilson sent out Christmas Cards using one of his paintings as the illustration. There are not many of his type of Tory left in Salford. What caught my eye was an exhibit featuring a copy of the Manchester Guardian from February 1950. At the top of the half folded paper was a new picture by Lowry-obviously a big event in Manchester. Also visible were two news reports featuring Liberals. One was by the then Leader Clem Davies advocating the banning of nuclear weapons and declaring the need to work towards
World Government and the second was a report of a speech by the Liberal candidate at Finchley ,Sir Andrew McFadyean . Now the 1950 General Election was not a good one for Liberals we got 2.5 million votes and 9 MP's .It is therefore impressive that there are two articles on the one half page.
Sir Andrew McFadyean was President of the Party having taken over from Elliot Dodds and a former high ranking diplomat/civil servant. Lord Bonkers will remember him as he worked at the Treasury under Charles Masterman. He went on to strenuously advocate that the package of reparations inflicted on Germany after WW1 was wrong. In this he was allied to J.M. Keynes who first really came to public prominence with his publication'The Economic Consequences of the Peace ' Well, on the eve of the
1950 election Mc Fadyean was advocating European Union to the electors of Finchley. He did remarkably well against the trend increasing his vote to over 9,000. Finchley was, of course Mrs Thatcher's seat, and John Pardoe gave her a fright in 1964 when he polled 30% of the vote. The world would have been a different place if he had managed to squeeze the Labour vote a little bit more.
So if you go along to the Tate look out for the Manchester Guardian and read about Liberals and nuclear weapons, world government and European Union.

And so to the Birkdale connection. Sitting in a cinema one day Birkdale business man Monty Bloom who lived in Ryder Cres saw a short film about L S Lowry. He was to become his patron and a great collector of his work. Bloom and his family lived in Birkdale in the 60's and those who visited the house say it was stuffed full of Lowry paintings in every room -including the toilet.

Apparently it was Bloom-who had some connection with Ebbw Vale- who suggested to Lowry that he should visit South Wales. Later in his life Lowry had lost interest in the northern industrial landscapes and the
welsh rural industrial settings inspired him anew. The room that contains the Manchester Guardian also has those large scale welsh paintings

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