The Cumbrian property that was the backdrop to a companionship between the artist and a young female painter has been granted listed status
Fewer still may appreciate that it provided the backdrop to a blossoming friendship between one of Britain’s best-loved artists, LS Lowry, and a young, female painter he championed.
But perhaps now this may all change as Christ Church, also known as the “Sailors’ Church” or “Mariners’ Church”, has been granted listed building status amid plans to convert it into an arts hub.
It would make for a fitting repurposing of a building that was the subject of several paintings and sketches by Lowry and the Cumbrian artist Sheila Fell, the daughter of a local coalminer, whose work has been bought by the Tate. Dr Eleanor Bolton, who, with Professor Andrew Bradley, is seeking entries for a Catalogue raisonné listing all of Fell’s oil paintings, said she was recognised during her lifetime as one of the finest English landscape painters of the latter half of the 20th century.
Lowry completed an oil painting of Christ Church, On the Quay, in 1954 – the year before he met Fell when she gave her first solo exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery in Mayfair.
“He subsequently arranged to meet with Fell and, after seeking the approval of her parents, agreed to provide her with financial assistance for the next two years,” Bolton explained. “Fell and Lowry, despite their widely differing ages and lifestyles, became good friends.”
Bolton believes it was likely that Lowry initiated the pair’s visits to Maryport, given his passion for depicting industrial townscapes.
In addition to On the Quay, the church appears in at least three other of his works – The Old Quay, Maryport, (1956), Maryport (1960) and Church on the Quay, Maryport (1959). Fell completed several paintings of the town’s harbour featuring the church in the 60s. But by then the town was in decline.
Once a small fishing village, it had grown prosperous when the Senhouse family, who were slave owners, transformed it into a major coal port in the 18th century.
Story courtesy The Guardian