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David Roberts has been in touch to tell me:
Dear Mr Dilnot,
Thanks for putting up my painting on your blog. I recently sold that piece to a collector in Canada. There's a story, possibly apocryphal, that after Lowry lost the manuscript to Under the Volcano in the fire at his shack at Dollarton, he was left that night with nothing to do but to stare disconsolately across the Fraser River at the Shell Oil refinery on the other side of the water. But the letter S had burnt out from the flashing giant Shell sign. So that all Lowry could see flashing at him in the darkness from across the river were the repeating red letters: 'hell' ... 'hell' ... 'hell'. At least that's the story as I remember it from a documentary I saw many years ago by the National Film Board of Canada. That snippet of remembrance was the inspiration for the painting.