In the last few weeks I’ve ticked off a few things on my bucket list and appearing as a contestant on Countdown was one. Okay, I didn’t win a teapot, but I met Susie, Rachel and Colin and had a great time.
Even more so as the television company kindly paid for my three night stay allowing me to have a look around Salford, where rivers converge and the quays are home to Canada geese, water sports, Media City and the Lowry Centre.
The painter LS Lowry, although not born in Salford, spent much of his life here as a rent collector and artist. He is commemorated in a beautiful building on the quays and I spent a very pleasant couple of hours learning about the man, his life and admiring his artwork. Kudos to the gallery staff in the hanging of his work, a few of which caught my eye.
His cityscapes are particularly striking, a reminder of the adversity of the working man in the mid twentieth century. His figures are stick thin, dressed in dark clothing, often bent over as if the weight of the world rests on their shoulders. Even when at leisure, going to a football match or watching a Punch and Judy Show the figures remain oppressed.
His fascination for the sea seemed to equal my own, and his paintings were a reminder of how “terrible” it would be if the tide didn’t turn and just kept “coming on and on”, a distinct possibility almost a hundred years later with global warming.
A phallic “self-portrait” of Lowry painted in 1966, (in my eyes), has a kinship with an installation by sculptor, Anthony Gormley, located on Crosby Beach, about 40 miles away. It was Colin Murray, the presenter of Countdown, who advised I take a look at Another Place, the title of the installation, and it was well worth a detour on my way home.
Gormley has installed one hundred cast iron statues of naked men looking out to sea. The statues are submerged by the tides and open to the elements as well as to interpretation.
I love modern art, absolutely love it and I raise my hat to Mr Gormley. Another Place set my brain alive, conjuring up what this installation emotes, evokes, and means. If you are within one hundred miles of Crosby Beach go take a look. It’s free, impressive and a glorious walk/cycle along a flat stretch of land. (But do take a look at the tide times. I arrived at mid tide and was able to walk sections of the beach. If it is high tide then not as many statues are visible having been engulfed by the encroaching waters.)
The cast iron men are life size, cast from Gormley himself I am told, and are set about twenty to thirty metres apart, covering a two mile expanse of shoreline. Look carefully at my photographs as some figures are actually real, others are the iron men!
A big hug and a great deal of thanks to Countdown host Mr Colin Murray for his tremendous advice. Another Place was well worth a slight detour on my way home to Ireland, and made my "Countdown stay" complete.
Being a fan of modern art I also visited the Hugh Lane Art Gallery in Dublin where there is a fine exhibition of Andy Warhol's work. Running until the end of January 2024 this is well worth checking out.
And just to bring it all back to Countdown, Susie Dent was analysing the word grizzly as in Grizzly Bear. The best place to see bears is in Ireland in Donegal. Take a look at my blog to learn more.