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St James’s Street – Lowry’s Nemesis


I Love Lowry’s work, and I’ve wondered just how he would depict St James’s Street on a hot Saturday afternoon during Pride weekend…

Full of colourful and contrasting features, Lowry’s matchsticks would surely be seen here bursting forth into life in a blazing cosmopolitan stream of urban existence, somehow captured on narrow pavements made seemingly wider by thin road, perhaps in slow motion relishing their disposition, perhaps hurriedly heading to a promise of better pasture…

But this street would lack the dull ordinariness that Lowry captured; there is the absence of over bearing smoky tops and grand buildings reminding us of the imperialist age.

Lowry gave the ordinary its simple structure, so the ordinary could understand it, and subsequently define their place within it.

I’m sure for LS St James’s Street would have presented a number of problems.

It has too much comfort in its diversity. A place where the drunk looks the priest in the eye, where the most disaffected vagrant feels secure with his lot. Dirty, dishevelled, but somehow embodying a snapshot of my favourite ‘Inner Brighton’, full of dimensions, people of many dimensions. Hardly a canvass of inhabitants who are cast as a stereotypical, singular, uniform image of a certain part of existence. More colourful, yet more uncomfortable.

Yet no one in St James’s Street is the same as the next, and their relationships to each other show that unique souls in our culture can co exist without need for purpose built ‘inclusiveness’ or ‘tolerance’ or indeed any other hollow sound bite.

The people of this street just exist and are unaffected by the next person. It’s a Street with a heart that’s beat is strong, despite the darkness of its diet.

I don’t care; I love St James’s Street. I just don’t think old Lowry would…


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