'Treasure trove' Rugby exhibition grabbing attention of art world - The Rugby Observer

'Treasure trove' Rugby exhibition grabbing attention of art world

Rugby Editorial 31st Jul, 2016 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

A ‘TREASURE trove’ of works by a reclusive artist which was almost lost forever is generating a national buzz in the art world.

Currently on display at Rugby Art Gallery, A Life in Pattern: The Life and Works of Sheila Bownas is an exhibition of still life, landscape and portrait paintings – and textile designs supplied to the likes of Liberty and Marks and Spencer throughout the 1950s and 60s.

The collection was saved from obscurity by gallery professional Chelsea Cefai from Rugby – who has since been interviewed on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

A Life in Pattern: The Life and Works of Sheila Bownas is on display at the gallery until early September. 30.016.002.rug.jm4A Life in Pattern: The Life and Works of Sheila Bownas is on display at the gallery until early September. 30.016.002.rug.jm4

The collection has also been the subject of articles in The Guardian and a host of national arts publications, including the latest edition of Craft magazine.




And the exhibition is proving to be one of the busiest ever at the gallery – where extra guided tours have been added to the calendar by popular demand, and a successful Bownas-inspired lampshade-making workshop is being repeated in August.

Chelsea said: “The response to A Life in Pattern has been overwhelming.


“Following features in the national press and the interview on Woman’s Hour, we’ve had visitors from all over the country, added extra workshops and guided tours due to popular demand, and received orders for the exhibition catalogue from folk in the Netherlands, America, Australia and New Zealand.”

Sheila Bownas was born in 1925, graduated from prestigious London art school The Slade and forged a career as a freelance textile

designer. But while her work was bought by some of the biggest and most prestigious brands, none bore her name.

Her family discovered the scale of her collection upon her death in 2007.

Researched and curated by Chelsea, the exhibition features early paintings, textile designs, photographs, private letters and a series of intricate botanical studies of marshlands.

The centrepiece is a ‘to scale’ living room set showcasing wallpaper, furniture, textiles, lighting and ceramics featuring Sheila’s distinctive

designs.

A Life in Pattern: The Life and Works of Sheila Bownas runs until early September. Visit www.ragm.co.uk for more information on the exhibition, the lampshade workshop and guided tours.

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