James Gowan (1923, Glasgow – 2015, London)
The Blue Mill at Backbarrow
Oil on Canvas
The present work exhibits many of the characteristics obvious in his architectural works. There is a very strong architectural composition. The landscape and sky are approached in almost cubist fashion, reminiscent of the Toblerone-shaped roof of the Leicester Building, whilst the figures have a carefree feel to them.
Backbarrow was the place where the blue pigment ultramarine (or dolly blue – used to return brilliant whiteness to yellowed fabrics) was produced in an old mill building by the Lancashire Ultramarine Company. Dust from the production gave the entire village a blue tint until production ceased in 1981. The factory is now a hotel and it maintains a display of machinery used in the factory.
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