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The first Grimshaw drawing I saw was in 1959 when I was eleven. It was on the wall of the art room at Greenfield Street Secondary School in Hyde, physician emergency
now ASDA. It was of a steam train, visit web drawn in black poster paint with very fine lines, no colour, much like an engraving… and there was nothing like it. It stood alone, like Trevor Grimshaw.
At twelve years old Trevor Grimshaw’s work already stood out, and his very distinctive style was already in evidence. Like his passion for steam trains, his style barely wavered throughout his life. It’s sometimes said that Grimshaw’s style was greatly influenced by Lowry, but as a pre-teenager Trevor Grimshaw had almost certainly not seen Lowry’s work let alone been influenced by it.
But like Lowry, Grimshaw’s bleak monochromatic drawings came from the grim, brick landscapes that were all around him. In the back–to-back Hyde that he grew up in. Newton Street, where he lived as a youngster, was spitting distance from numerous mills, the canal, the scrap yards and the railways – and he passed them all on the way to school every day.
In the mid 1970’s he began to exhibit widely throughout the UK, including at the Royal Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy
At Greenfield Street School, Grimshaw benefited greatly from the support of Ernest Fenton the art teacher, himself a very talented artist who taught classical drawing skills that clearly suited Grimshaw’s development.
Leaving Greenfield Street when he was fifteen, Grimshaw went to Stockport Art College, where he continued to develop his distinctive way of working, adding photography and printmaking to his monochromatic repertoire whilst developing great skill as a graphic artist and typographer. The Stockport townscape featured in many of Trevor’s drawings, photographs and prints of this time; in particular of the magnificent viaduct that spans the town centre.
Like most art school leavers Trevor Grimshaw found a job in the advertising industry and worked for a number of agencies, particularly in recruitment agencies, where he could use his graphic and typographic skills. But the ad industry was never more than a means to an artistic end for Trevor, who in his spare time began to develop and exhibit a significant portfolio of work.
In 1973 the North West Arts Association published Townscape: Trevor Grimshaw; a book with 30 of Grimshaw’s drawings. Grimshaw also illustrated a book of poems by Mike Harding, The Singing Street, and created the titles for the BBC’s, Great Railway Journeys of the World.
Trevor Grimshaw was one of our own. A Hyde lad who rose from working class ranks to make a significant mark in late 20th Century British art. He was ordinary bloke. A rough, diamond but one with an extraordinary talent. Look out for his drawings – even signed prints which you can pick up for a few hundred pounds, are well worth having and a great investment. They also look pretty awesome in the lounge too and always a good talking point with friends.
The Colourfield Gallery in Poynton, which kindly supplied these images, usually has a good selection of originals and prints.
Words by Trevor Leech