James Gowan (1923, Glasgow – 2015, London)
The Blue Mill at Backbarrow


Oil on Canvas

For biographical details and other paintings by Gowan click here.

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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