Artist Biography

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Lesley Bower



Living in west London most of my adult life I have had a varied career but in the 1990s retrained at Camberwell College of Arts as a conservator of art and archives on paper. Besides conserving paper based objects, I wrote regularly on the care of family archives for publications and ran workshops on making pastels and sessions on the care of prints and drawings. A few years ago I stopped being a conservator except for occasional work on the vast Learning Collection of the V&A Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green.


The exact opposite side of my life from the carefulness of being a conservator is creating art that is intuitive, imaginative and often messy in the making. My formal art training began in the early 1980s in the life class and branched out after graduating from Camberwell in the early 90s into experimentation with acrylics under David Wiseman (a member of The London Group), whose studio and workshops I still attend.


Alongside working at the museum, whose objects are endlessly interesting, I like to explore less well known streets and markets around the East End and other parts of London, as well as the crowded neighbourhoods and street markets of other places, such as Istanbul. 



Landscape offers a similar adventure. Mixed black and white media allows me to capture the texture and atmosphere and exuberance of such busy places as well as the intricacy and pattern and mysterious spaces of the natural world, be they realistic or purely imaginative.


For these works on paper I use more or less whatever comes to hand: sticks, fingers, brushes, bamboo pens, watercolour, India ink, pastel, conté, compressed charcoal, chalk, sometimes collage - all in one image. The drawings are never preparatory drawings for paintings but works in their own right. Any painting on canvas of the same subject has an entirely different approach in order to exploit the particular qualities of the canvas. For both paintings and drawings I might use a couple of rough photos taken as I walk through the crowds as a starting point or aid to memory, or a very rough sketch, then abandon those to let the image take on a life of its own.


For paintings on canvas I use acrylics for their versatility. They allow a painter to create layers of transparent colour, 'take a line for a walk', pour a bucket of paint over, be playful and experiment.


Member, Society of Graphic Fine Art