1925 – 1996
If there is one artist who can fairly be described as fundamental to The Northern School, then it is the Tyldesley born Roger Hampson, who created a body of work of considerable importance in the canon of Northern Art. Hampson is important enough to have been given his own chapter in the “Big Three” of books on Northern Art – Peter Davies’ original and then reboot “The Northern School” and “The Northern School Revisited”, and in Martin Regan’s “Northern School: A Reappraisal”. Indeed the front cover of the original Northern School book featured a Hampson painting.
Hampson was born in Tyldesley, Lancashire and studied along with Paul Keen and Norman Jaques at Manchester College of Art from 1946-1951. His teaching career encompassed Hereford School of Art (1953-4), Bolton College of Art and Design, where he eventually became principal (1961-7) and Principal of Loughborough College of Art and Design (1978-86).
He was a member of MAFA, becoming president from 1969-1976. He was also a fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers. He took part in more than 100 group shows and 30 solo exhibitions such as Tib Lane Gallery, Manchester, from 1963. The Salford based Lancashire Mining Museum held a memorial show along with Manchester Art House in 1996.
Yet Hampson was not painting “commercial” pictures in any modern sense of the word, nor was he in the first rank of technicians. So what explains his importance?
Throughout his career, Hampson was drawn to painting the people he met on the streets of these northern towns. From his childhood bedroom window, shared with his two older brothers, Hampson could see the nearby collieries and the imposing bulk of Caleb Wright’s No. 6 Mill on Shuttle Street. He remembered Johnson Street as “…an exciting place to live in those days for the road was always busy with horse-drawn carts rattling to and from the goods yard.”
This is the essence of Hampson’s impact – he was motivated to paint a landscape and way of life that he knew was fast disappearing. His paintings capture the bleakness of the northern landscape as well as the warmth and humour of its people.
A book on his life and work entitled “Roger Hampson – a lost landscape” was published in April 2009 to coincide with a retrospective exhibition at Gallery Oldham.