Leeds University Library

Images of Industry

Published 04 December 2013

Colne Valley illustration of buildings

Industry and labour have long been a source of inspiration for many artists, but what is it that attracts them to this typically un-picturesque subject?

This display will offer a varied set of industrial themed artworks and publications selected from the University's Art Collection and the University Library's Special Collections aiming to provide an insight into the influences of industrialisation and the urban environment within artistic practices whilst also considering the spread of such subject-focused work across the art world.

TJ Clark, who co-curated the recent LS Lowry exhibition at Tate Britain, said it was remarkable how little visual art records industrialisation in a country that was the world's pioneer. "The fascinating question is: why?" he said. "One answer is that it is a profoundly difficult subject. It's raw, it's grim, it's largely unknown to middle-class painters and it's ugly." *

Through the works of illustrators David Gentleman and Charles Keeping and the output of artists such as Sybil Andrews, Jacob Kramer, and Edward Wadsworth and of Marie Hartley and Gerd Winner, this display will attempt to provide a counter perspective to that of TJ Clark and to offer an interesting and Leeds-relevant overview of the influence of industry upon art.

* Mark Brown, LS Lowry: Leading artist of industrial Britain takes his place at the Tate, (The Guardian, 2013)