For the first time in the town’s history, a painting by English artist LS Lowry will go on permanent display at Berwick Museum and Art Gallery.
‘Beach Scene’ (c1960), which depicts the beach and sand dunes in the former fishing village of Spittal, celebrates Lowry’s long history with the coastal town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was purchased for Museums Northumberland’s collections with the support of Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation), the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, The Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives, and the Guild of Freemen of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Lowry was a regular visitor to the area from the mid-1930s until the summer before his death in 1976. During that time he created more than thirty sketches, drawings and paintings of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
‘Beach Scene’ is now part of the permanent collection at Berwick Museum and Art Gallery and a poignant reminder of the artist’s love for the Northumberland town.
Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “Lowry is probably best known for his industrial landscapes of the North West, but many people don’t know he also produced many paintings of the North East coast, and in particular Berwick-upon-Tweed.
“Despite there being up to 30 drawings and paintings of Berwick-upon-Tweed by Lowry, none have ever been on permanent display in the town. We’re thrilled that local people and visitors will now have to opportunity to enjoy the work of one of England’s most iconic artists in the coastal town that inspired him throughout his long career.”
19 works by Lowry went up for auction in July 2020 at Christie’s first standalone Lowry sale. Museums Northumberland was able to purchase the Lowry painting thanks to funding from Art Fund, the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, The Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives, and the Guild of Freemen of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund said: “It is a credit to Berwick Museum and Art Gallery that this LS Lowry painting of Spittal beach will now be on public display in the town which inspired it. Thanks to the generosity of our members and the Wolfson Foundation, Art Fund is able to support the development of museum collections during this challenging time.”
Julia Brettell, National Programmes Lead at the V&A, said: “The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is delighted to be able to support Museums Northumberland’s acquisition of the painting of Spittal by LS Lowry for display at Berwick Museum and Art Gallery. Considering the affection that Lowry had for Berwick, it is surprising that he was not already represented in the museum’s collection. This view of Spittal will be easily accessible to audiences interested in both the artist and the local area.”
Lowry’s long connection with Berwick-upon-Tweed was commemorated in 2004 with the opening of The Lowry Trail. The five-mile walking route through Berwick-upon-Tweed, Tweedmouth and Spittal visits many of the sites and locations of Lowry’s drawings and paintings of the area, including Marygate, which is the first known depiction of Berwick-upon-Tweed by Lowry in 1935. Berwick Preservation Trust, which established The Lowry Trail, has submitted plans to extend the route and incorporate the location of Lowry’s ‘Beach Scene’ painting.
A representative of the Berwick Preservation Trust, said: “It is exiting news about the acquisition of the new Lowry painting for the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
“In 2004, the Berwick Preservation Trust established The Lowry Trail which takes visitors on a journey following the artist’s footsteps around the town, identifying the sites of many of his finest drawings and paintings of the town. It has, over the years, been very popular with both tourists and locals alike.
“Spurred on by the new painting, there is a proposal by the Trust to extend this Trail to include The Cliffs at Spittal – to see what Lowry saw and erect another information board there. Hopefully this will encourage visitors to the area to explore both the Trail and the Museum.”
The Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives, and the Guild of Freemen of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, have also welcomed the arrival of the original LS Lowry painting to the town.
Robert Steward, Chairman of the Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives, said: “As Chairman, I am delighted that the Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives were asked to contribute to the purchase of this Lowry painting, which has such significant links to Berwick, and Spittal in particular.”
Jim Evans, Vice Chairman of the Guild of Freemen of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, said: “It is a great pleasure to see an original LS Lowry painting finding a permanent home in Berwick. The Guild was happy to assist with acquiring the painting. LS Lowry spent several years coming to Berwick between the 1930s and the 1970s, and produced a number of iconic paintings; the locations of which make up the Lowry Trail.
“I have prints of some of his works hanging on the walls in my home, as have many Berwickers. This painting will join those gifted by Sir William Burrell, both of whom were attracted to this unique town with its ancient history, architecture and outstanding beauty.”
‘Beach Scene’ by LS Lowry goes on permanent display at Berwick Museum and Art Gallery when the venue reopens to the public following national coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
Entry to Berwick Museum and Art Gallery costs £5 adults (concessions £4) and children aged 16 and under go free. Visitors can then enjoy unlimited return visits for a full year.
For more information about The Lowry Trail, visit www.visitberwick.com.
About Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund
The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.
It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work.
The annual grants budget, currently £724,000, is provided by Arts Council England National Lottery Funding. Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 150 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3 million to go ahead. Visit the website: www.vam.ac.uk/purchasegrantfund
About Art Fund
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes.
In response to Covid-19, Art Fund has made £2 million in adapted funding available to support museums through reopening and beyond, including Respond and Reimagine grants to help meet immediate need and reimagine future ways of working. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 159,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. In a unique edition of the prize for 2020, Art Fund responded to the unprecedented challenges that all museums are facing by selecting five winners and increasing the prize money to £200,000. The winners are Aberdeen Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Science Museum; South London Gallery; and Towner Eastbourne. www.artfund.org
About the Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives
For more information about the Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives, visit www.berwickfriends.org.uk.
About the Guild of Freemen of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed
For more information about the Guild of Freemen of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed visit www.freemenofberwick.org.uk.
About Museums Northumberland
Museums Northumberland (the public name for Woodhorn Charitable Trust) is Northumberland’s museum service, which cares for sites of historic interest and collections across the county.
Museums Northumberland comprises Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Hexham Old Gaol and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.
Museums Northumberland is supported by Northumberland County Council and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.