For more than three decades James Milroy has painted in every kind of genre – portrait, landscape, still life and even abstraction – but he keeps returning to his favourite subject, the human crowd. In the summer of 2011 he had a major retrospective at Salford Art Gallery of 60 of his crowd paintings which was seen by over 25,000 visitors.
Comparisons have been made with L S Lowry but in contrast to the painter of industrial poverty Milroy likes his paintings to be packed with people enjoying a wide variety of activities. From sports such as marathon running and cycling to more everyday activities like shopping, sunbathing and working in factories and call centres the artist’s aim is to represent contemporary society in all it’s diversity.
Increasingly Milroy’s paintings have included caricatures of real people, especially in his Painters Painting collection which shows crowds of artists painting their iconic works. In July 2012 he was selected by the BBC to paint the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant and this lead to his interest in painting the Royal family in various humorous situations. He also painted a picture for the Marine Society which is being used to raise funds for a new flagship for the Sea Cadets.