Designer Desire: Ken Law

Mosaic of Ken Law artworks | H is for Home

I’ve had a great response from people about my early birthday present, an original painting by Ken Law (1919-1988) entitled, “Oldham Landscape”. I thought I’d look into and share more of his wonderful artworks as this week’s Designer Desire.

For years, there was absolutely no information about Ken on the internet. Then his son John came across an online forum of people all over the world who either appreciated or owned examples of his work. John filled in a few details (one being to confirm that Ken Law the LSO cellist and Ken Law the artist were indeed the same person!). The family still own many of his works and two of the forum members visited Ken’s widow and photographed some of them. These have been shared on the forum.

A dedicated website has been created by Ken’s grandson however, other than some background information, just over half a dozen or so images of his oils and watercolours have been uploaded.

Portrait of Ken Lawcredit

Additional image credits:

Deerfieldpb | Flickr | Ken Law

Ken Law Oldham Landscape original

Original Ken Law Oldham Landscape, etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

We’ve mentioned a few times previously that we love the work of artist Ken Law – and have a small collection of his 1960s prints – Hampstead High Street, Tower Bridge and New York Bridges, to date. Well, I was browsing a well-known online auction website a couple of weeks ago – and did a quick search for Ken Law to see if any of his vintage prints were currently for sale. My jaw dropped when this original oil painting appeared before my eyes – only just listed. Straight away I thought, “Oooooh, early 50th birthday present?!”.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

The painting depicts Oldham – a Lancashire (now Greater Manchester) mill town about 15 miles from here. Perhaps former mill town might be more accurate now; at its peak, it was the largest cotton-spinning town in the world. Justin grew up in the neighbouring town of Rochdale and often went to Oldham on Tommyfield’s flea market day – and for nights out in his youth! So this landscape is very much in his psyche – and mine too, as an honorary Northerner, residing here for nearly 20 years now.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

It’s a classic Northern Industrial scene – factories, terraced houses, chimneys – the Pennine moors in the distance. This picture captures it on a winter’s day, sun low in the sky, snow covering the rooftops and vehicles slipping & sliding down the hill!

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

Ken used oil on gesso – the surface being painted, scratched and gouged. It’s full of character and texture. We’re still researching, but we think that this painting was exhibited at The Royal Academy in the late 1960s.

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

By this point, you’ll realise that we can describe it quite accurately and have taken lots of photos – yes, it did become my 5oth birthday present – it arrived today!

Detail from original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', showing signature, etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

I just couldn’t let the opportunity for a genuine Ken Law depicting favourite subject matter slip through my fingers. There are certainly no regrets now it’s arrived – it makes me happy just looking back at the photos in this post.

Reverse of original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 | H is for Home

Much loved already – I’ll always remember when it came to live with us. A real birthday treat!

 Original Ken Law 'Oldham Landscape', etched oil on gesso, circa 1969 with jug of flowers | H is for Home