Mother Lily

mother-lily-happy.jpgLily Isherwood doted on her sons Jim and Gordon. But she was devastated when, as the war came to and end, the sons married two sisters. She was so distraught at the thought that her boys leaving home, she refused point blank to attend the wedding.

She stayed inside the walls of 151 Wigan Lane and cried her heart out.

isherwood-with-portrait-of-mother-lily.jpgBut whilst Gordon’s marriage to Molly Bankes was a success from the start, Isherwood’s was in trouble within weeks of the Wigan Parish Church Ceremony.
He loved his wife, but he was selfish and thought that she should be at his beck and call. There were disagreements. Lily was always on hand to interfere and take Jim’s side. There seemed little room for compromise.

Eventually, the two were to part and the general believe is that the artist was only too glad to return to the family fold.
Lily Isherwood had fought long and hard. And had won Jim back.

Throughout her long life, Jim and “Mother Lily” as she came to be known, were inseparable. She supported his art and accompanied him time after time to his one-man shows all over the country.

isherwood-and-lily-plymouth-19522She, like Jim, loved the limelight, and the two were entertained by enthusiastic collectors. Both loved drink and Lily always on hand to look after the money. It’s true that mother and son scrapped like wildcats, drink usually acting as trigger. They were both over-opinionated and in disagreement, neither would give an inch. As they rowed, she criticised his paintings. She once threw a hot pot at him – it missed and hit the wall. The slithering food stain was still there next day when both were best of friends.

Isherwood painted hundreds of portraits of “Mother Lily.” He immortalised her hands and feet. He painted her in an array of different hats. And he even made a sketch of her after she went through the windscreen when he crashed the car.

But the obsessional friendship came to an end when Lily – always a hypochondriac – suffered her last illness and died in Billinge Hospital. The son was bereft and photographed her in her coffin which rested on his Wigan Technical College scarf in the front room of their home. In death, she was surrounded by thousands of paintings which Isherwood had devoted to her and which were never for sale …at any price.