Stockport artist Terry Allen labelled the modern day Lowry
PUBLISHED: 16:27 11 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:41 20 February 2013
They're calling him a 21st century Lowry, but the paintings of Stockport artist Terry Allen are entirely his own personal inspiration WORDS BY CARL NAGAITIS
Terry Allen smiles when he recalls the conversation that started between his Auntie Joyce and his dad when they found him carefully finishing off a drawing during a break from playing with his pals in a 1950s Stockport street.
I was only six but I swelled with pride when Auntie Joyce looked at my work, turned to my dad and declared Im going to save up and pay for him to go to art college when hes old enough. She looked at my drawing again and said Hes definitely got something.
Fifty-five years later Terry is still creating pictures oil paintings inspired by a childhood in a working class neighbourhood of Stockport despite the fact that he never made it to art school.
Nevertheless, a growing number of people, including discerning art enthusiasts, are happy to describe this relatively unknown Cheshire artist as a 21st century Lowry, referring to the traditional Northern townscapes that are central to most of his works.
But a Terry Allen painting is not so much matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs. The scenes that inspire him to paint are those that surrounded him growing up in the Lancashire Hill area of Stockport in the 1950s.
The terraced houses, the cobbled streets, corner shops, women in headscarves and flat-capped men riding bicycles are enduring images of the life he lived. He was raised in a house very similar to the humble homes in his paintings.
Educated at nearby Belmont Secondary Modern School Terry, like most boys of his age, enjoyed street cricket with wickets painted on red bricked walls just like the scenes in some of his works.
Theyre memories, scenes from a happy and secure childhood, said Terry speaking from his home in Stockport just a stones throw from where he grew up.
I dont know why but Ive always drawn pictures and painted. It was something I just had to do. But I didnt start using oils until Id developed my style during adulthood. It was more than a hobby, a passion.
After leaving school Terry worked with Cheshire Sterilised, delivering milk to local shops.
I stayed for five years but then decided it was time to see the world and joined the Parachute Regiment.
But Terry failed to quench his thirst for adventure. The military career was cut short when his mum became ill and Terry took the decision to return home to be closer to her.
Back home the painting continued. Friends and neighbours would ask him to do a portrait or a family scene but as soon as he completed a commission he would return to his main area of interest recreating those everyday scenes from his childhood.
Works like Lancashire Hill 1956 featuring the streets surrounding his childhood home, Winters featuring the shopping street home to Winters Jewellers and Stockport Church.
Now aged 61, the twice divorced father-of- four lives alone with his paintings. But at long last his talent is slowly but surely being recognised.
His works have been exhibited at Stockport Art Gallery, Ordsall Hall and Dukes 92 and Terry receives commissions from admirers of his work.
I must have done thousands of paintings over the years, so its nice to know that people appreciate my work. When they compare me to Lowry I am very flattered but I have been influenced by other painters too.
Terrys biggest canvas a ten foot by five foot monster - features regulars of his local pub, the Black Lion at Hillgate. It takes pride of place in his home.
I did it in 2003 and some people featured in it have now passed away. Its sad but at least their memories will never die.
Terrys latest project features a British historical and political legend Sir Winston Churchill. The Wartime Prime Minister is pictured in a suit peering down an ally in Stockports Penny Lane, of course.
One of the hallmarks of a Terry Allen paintings is that the people who populate all his works have one thing in common they are faceless. Quite literally, their faces have no characteristics.
I dont know why, said Terry, Possibly because memories can be like that.