Arthur Lockwood: Documenting the Black Country

This online exhibition focuses on just some of the evocative artworks created by Birmingham artist Arthur Lockwood (1934-2019), dating from the 1990s to the 2000s. Working in watercolour and pen, Lockwood captured the changing urban landscape of Birmingham and the Black Country; including depictions of demolishment, redevelopment and derelict buildings. Lockwood was also intensely interested in portraying the factories found in this region and the industrial processes occurring within them, both in the form of watercolour paintings and detailed annotations, often found on the reverse of the artworks. Grouping his work into themes, this exhibition aims to highlight the various subject matter that Lockwood portrayed and his individual interpretation of areas and themes local to many of us.

The works shown here, along with others by Arthur Lockwood in Wolverhampton’s collection, were kindly gifted to the Art Gallery by the Lockwood family. This generous gift allows us to view a significant amount of works by an artist captivated by the Midlands and appreciate his distinctive artistic/documentative approach.

The artist

Arthur Lockwood was an artist familiar with Birmingham and the surrounding area, not only as his birthplace but as somewhere he returned to for artistic inspiration. For several years Lockwood lived in London to pursue his RCA (Royal College of Art) education, and to work as a designer in book publishing. However, he was once again eager to focus on his artistic interest and moved back to the Midlands to fulfil this.

The artworks

As well as being visually stimulating, Lockwood’s detailed paintings and drawings serve as documentation. They encapsulate the significance of industry to the Black Country and the decline in factories from the 1990s onwards, many closing down and becoming unused buildings. However, Lockwood was also interested in other subject matter, such as the factory interior and the processes carried out. Subsequently, Lockwood captured various manufacturing methods; machinery; and workers, not only in the medium of watercolour, but also in detailed pen and pencil diagrams found on the back of many of his works. Providing insight into industrial processes, these annotations also help us understand the artist’s practice and his approach; sometimes describing the weather on the day he was painting or highlighting the complexities of drawing on-site in industrial settings.

Do you recognise some of the places Lockwood depicted? Did you, or family members, work in the factories the artist was so captivated by? Discover Arthur Lockwood’s unique representation of the Black Country below.

All images are © to the artist’s estate.

Deconstruction and Demolishment

Unused Buildings and Sites

Streets in the Black Country

Machinery

Views from Canal

Industrial Processes

Factory Buildings and Sites

Lockwood’s Working Method and Documentation